In the past, the only loyalty I would show is to those that would ultimately ruin my life. I was loyal to the people in the room who were holding the drugs or money etc…, not realizing that I was digging my own grave with these actions. I continued to do this for many years and only through a miracle I am still standing here today. I took a lot for me to understand the “true” and “healthy” meaning of loyalty and to be 100% honest, I am still learning more about it. It took me over a year to figure out where my true loyalty belongs, which is with my true self, my family and the ones who have spent the time to sit with me to better my life, without giving up on me. Salina and South Orange County Detox & Treatment (SOCD) will forever have my loyalty. Without them I would literally be dead or on the streets, or even worse if you could believe that. I can say that they have put up with more than any other relationship I can think of and still stayed loyal to me. It’s been a long bumpy road, and sometimes it still is, but I always know that if I have trouble or need a shoulder to lean on they will always be here for me. l will always show that loyalty back to SOCD and to those loved ones who have been loyal to me.
To me, effective leadership requires independence, strength, creativity, optimism, passion, & commitment, and in my field, the driving force of LOVE. As the President of South Orange County Detox & Treatment my visionary leadership role is driven by my LOVE for helping people, specifically addicts who are struggling to find healing and purpose in their lives. With the rising opiate epidemic, many people are stuck in the torturous cycle of addiction, while their families and loved ones are lost in a constant state of perpetual worry with limited answers to quench their thirst for solution. On this painful journey, I have sat with loved ones as they grieve the loss of their child, sibling, friend, and partner; brilliant and beautiful people lost in the depths of addiction too soon. I’m often asked why I do this job, investing so much into my work with clients when the losses are so painful? To that question, my answer is because of my LOVE for people and for the greater cause of fighting the battle of addiction. The benefits outweigh the grief and sorrow that I feel when a beautiful life is lost to this disease. The honor and reward comes from seeing people’s lives transform and loving every minute of it, despite the struggle. I have been fortunate enough to have helped many people find themselves, their higher power, their passions and vocations, and their sobriety, while rebuilding a connection to their families along the way. I get the pleasure of offering love, hope, and a future to those who are lost. God has divinely inspired this path and given me the ability to see the potential in others when they are unable to see it for themselves. I am grateful to be in this role and feel privileged that so many people have allowed me to privilege guide them out of darkness into the light.
I truly believe God has given every person the ability to LOVE with some form of greater purpose . On “Valentine’s Day”, the day dedicated to LOVE, I encourage you to find your purpose of LOVE and to give LOVE freely to another person. You may be surprised to see the powerful impact the one kind act of LOVE can have on another person’s life As Henri Nouwen so beautiful questioned,
“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love?' These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will be many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.”
Love is more than just a feeling. Love can be a vibe or atmosphere when around something or someone. It can be as simple as being content with my passion, or love with a significant other. The love I have for others isn’t about looks but who they are as a person. Being non-judgmental at first, taking the time to know and understand them. I find the inner beauty in others. Past or present, experiences, negative or positive, truly caring, loyal, honest, and compassionate for this significant other helped me fall in love over time, disregarding their appearance or past, only focusing on the present. Love isn’t something you want to rush into at first sight, this can be decieving, it takes time. Whether it’s a relationship or your passion, love is something you commit yourself to. Working through the difficult times and the outcome will be well worth it
For those of us addicts, who are clean & sober, we also celebrated the freedom from chemical dependency and addiction. Addiction is an unexplainable phenomenon unlike any other. For the fortunate ones who don’t suffer from this disease, and who may not understand the imprisonment of being addicted to drugs and alcohol here’s a small glimpse of the bondage that addicts and alcoholics face.
Imagine a world where all logical and rational behaviors are nonexistent. Imagine a world with no God; with utter chaos and war. Imagine a world in where only our own selfishness to drink or use to ease our extinguishing discomfort exist. Imagine a word that is absent of love and free choice. Imagine a world where causing pain and suffering to the one’s we love the most, seems like the only option for temporary relief, physically and mentally. Imagine a world where there’s such despair, guilt and shame in a rapid and vicious cycle that feels hopeless and never ending.
For me, freedom is being able to open my eyes first thing in the morning giving thanks to my higher power for cutting loose the shackles that addiction has so heavily burdened upon my life. Freedom to me is enjoying meaningful relationships of those whom are close. Freedom to me are continual acts of selfishness and grace. Freedom to me is hope in a better tomorrow. Freedom is Love, and To Love is Life.
Love is something that is felt but also something that is shown through action. To show that you love someone is to do things for them that show you care for them and your grateful for them. Doing things for them shows that you care. But something just as simple as telling them or expressing how you feel, can make a major impact. Throughout my life I never felt love or acceptance, and if I did it was normally from a false idea of love or an idealized version. Being sober gives me the chance to truly discover who I am, and learn to love myself so that I can give and show love to other people, by showing the people I love that I care and appreciate them.
SO far in sobriety I’ve gained many gifts, gifts that I would have never understood or appreciated in my using. When I was using and probably even before that, gifts to me were materials, money, presents, etc. I thought that these things could and would make me happy. These things would end up used, spent or forgotten immediately and the so called “happiness” was a farce. Getting clean after hitting my rock bottom was hard to see positively from right off the bat. But putting work in I slowly started to gain little things here and there such as friends, energy, motivation, etc. The little gifts that I never would have thought of are now helping me move forward. Soon after that I got the gift of my family’s love and respect back which now motivates me to stick with my recovery and never forget the gifts or give them up for anybody. In sobriety I have learned to play guitar, write songs, sing, quit smoking, show integrity, show honesty, change a negative, perspective and have gained the most important and meaningful relationships I’ve ever had. These are the gifts that are now priceless to me thanks to South Orange County Detox & Treatment for showing me the way.
As far back as I can remember, I always knew that I was given the gift of artistic abilities. This gift has given me the opportunities to express myself in many ways that I may have not otherwise engaged in. This type of creativity comes natural to me and holds a special place in my heart while being an outlet to express my soul. This gift of mine has helped me through dark times and in a way has provided me with an escape from life when I needed a break. I’ve used my gift not just for myself but with the intention of helping others as well. Friends and family find interest in my capabilities and tend to be overcome with smiles when I do art for them. Art is also a way for me to connect with others. When I’m focused on using my gifts I find that I have a better connection with everyone. We should never take our gifts for granted, especially if they make us happy and brings smiles to others. I have come to understand that in order to be able to spread the love that is my gift. I need to maintain a path of recovery and honesty so that I can fully expresses my creativity and channel it in a more positive way.
My first gift in sobriety, at the time, didn’t feel like a gift at all; it was the gift of desperation. I hit the same bottom I always do, the bottom of burning every bridge I had with one choice to go to treatment or possibly die. Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have family support so I didn’t end up at Charlie Street. The little things in life can be seen as gifts depending on the way I look at them. When I make the choice to take a disadvantage and flip it into an advantage, it makes collecting a 30-day chip A Gift. Now, I have over 8 months of sobriety and I am enrolled in school to become a hairdresser. That’s not just A Gift; that is A Miracle! What goes around comes around and with the help of Salina and South Orange County Detox & Treatment, I’ve learned to put my energy into hard work rather the in using. Watching it pay off while learning the skills of being comfortable being uncomfortable has shown me how to push through stressful situations that, in the past, I would have ran from or needed a substance in order to cope. The gift of learning who I want to be as a person has helped me understand who I really am. My favorite gift in sobriety is being able to push through my doubts that used to hold me back from growing, now I’m able to test my beliefs and prove the negative thought wrong. Life can one big gift if you’re willing to see it and open your eyes to the gifts that are there for the taking.
Prior to my journey in recovery, there was many times in my life that I chose to deal with grief in destructive ways. I used drugs as if it were the solution to bringing my friends back to life. The actions that I took only led me into situations that would inevitably cause more grief. Now that I’m clean, I perceive things much differently. In this disease we lose friends who don’t make it past surrendering. Although it is a horrible feeling, I think to myself that although the body is gone, God still keeps the soul on the ground. In a way, your loved ones, and really everyone’s loved ones, are still here. I am still quite new to the way God works things out in life, but really in this little amount of time I have seen true miracles and beauty that only God could produce.
We all experience grief in our lives. Grief is the deep sorrow we feel after something, especially someone we hold to great importance is lost. My experience with grief has been for the most part slim, due to my drug use; I’ve never really allowed myself to want to feel much of anything. I’ve had to learn to grieve in recovery after the loss of my dog that meant so much to me, my good friend Albert, and later Zach Weinberg. Allowing myself to experience grief isn’t easy but I’ve learned it’s much healthier to do so. For me the importance of grief and the grieving process makes the difference of how I feel. The mindset I have after expressing grief is much more clear, without grief I remain stuck in negative thoughts and wanting to isolate. Grief can be settle or overwhelming but is meant to be natural rather than stuffed away.