By David “R.J.” Vied
I am inspired by fear.
How can this become a strong point? There were many times in my life when failure was comfortable, when losing everything became second nature. How do you tell a person with years of emotional collateral damage that he can become an asset? I have come to realize lately that my identity is no longer realistic in the world I now live in.
Living a clean and sober life comes with many hurdles. Hurdles not created by my peers and colleagues nor my family. No, the hurdles I face are created by me alone. Becoming OK with who I am has been nothing but an excuse to stop pursuing. They say true happiness is in the pursuit of something.
What are we pursuing and why? Most importantly, how can we overcome stigmas and social constructs of how recovery is viewed?
With this comes recognizing truth from what we’ve been taught. The world is bad, school is hard and dream jobs are just dreams. All not true, yet we grow up with a mindset that this is all real. We diminish ourselves from our own potential. We sell ourselves short.
Mark Twain wrote, “The two most important days of our lives are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”
Why are we so afraid of success? Better yet, why are we so afraid to lose what we have acquired?
For many years, I have seen my life through blinders. The next 10 minutes were all my mind could consume. Now, clean for some time, I have taken those blinders off, a process that has been by far the scariest part of my journey. With any process comes some pain and discomfort, and with discomfort comes growth. We call these growing pains. This has opened new opportunities, relationships and major self-awareness.
Disclosing this information to a “normal” person may create mass confusion. How anybody could be given so many gifts after years of heavy drug use, prisons and institutions become so consumed with fear?
That’s easy: It’s like a famous baseball player signing your glove when you’re a young kid. You have that glove, you cherish it, yet you’re protective of that glove. You show your friends, yet you will never let them borrow it, use it or even touch it. It’s the glove that he holds as his shining moment.
Now, say someone in recovery is handed a job, a girlfriend, a car—you will find that same exact reaction as we did with the little kid and his glove. Ask yourself, what do we have left once our “gloves” are no longer there?
Bottom line: Perception is everything. Truth is not what we have been taught. It is something we discover. With the blinders off and a change in identity, we can find this process quite simple. I can easily say, “Hi, I am an ex-heroin addict and alcoholic,” or I can say I am capable. I have strengths and experiences most don’t live through. I harness those strengths with a desire to pursue a long, fulfilled life. I exert those strengths when beneficial to myself and others. I have evolved into an ever-changing man. I am a human experiencing a spiritual journey. Today I am capable, successful and able to overcome fear.
So when I say I am inspired by fear, I am saying you’re strong. You are not a label. You are not what you have done but what you are now capable of doing. Know that today has nothing to do with tomorrow, and cherish what you have inside. Build a foundation of awareness, acceptance and love. Life is life. That will never change, yet our perceptions of even our hardest days will become strong points for our next. Realize our greatest gift is what we hold inside, a power held inside by fear and false perception. Faith is the courage to get through fear. Welcome to a lifelong journey. We’ve already been born. Let’s find out why!