I guess I've always had an addictive personality. Growing up it was books that I devoured, one after the other with dreams of one day writing my own novel. Spurred on by my insatiable love of reading and writing, I signed up to study English Literature at the University of Alberta. Only it wasn't long before my new found independence and the influence of new 'friends' meant that uni became less about studying and more about socializing. We would drink every night but whilst my room-mates seemed able to shake off their hangovers and head to lectures, I had trouble accepting that the party was over.
It wasn't long before my extra-curricular, binge drinking escalated into addiction. I'd wake up at midday and instantly needed alcohol just to feel normal. Without it I was anxious, irritable and in physical pain. With it I was an obnoxious liability, alienating everyone around me. And either way, I never made it to my lectures so it wasn't long before I was kicked out and sent home to my stunned parents. Living away, I'd been able to hide my addiction from them but back home their anger and disappointment was palpable. They'd paid my tuition fees in the hope I'd come back with a degree and make them proud, yet here I was less than a year later, addicted to alcohol and utterly broken.
They vowed to get me clean and they kept that promise. They accompanied me to every doctors appointment and every referral. They drove me to AA meetings and were there in the middle of the night when I'd wake up screaming and begging for a drink. Over the next few years, their love and support helped me to make a gradual recovery. I began to feel faintly normal again and even got a part time job in a supermarket. Things were undoubtedly improving but as I emerged from the fog of my addiction, my self-esteem was at an all-time low. It began to hit me how much I'd let my family and myself down. The opportunity I'd blown and the ramifications it would have on the rest of my life haunted my daily. As the people I'd began uni with were graduating, my dreams were in tatters and it hurt. I became depressed.
I believe if I'd carried on with those negative thoughts it would have been a downward spiral to relapse. But it was around that time that I started writing a blog. It began as an outlet; a place to write about my road to recovery, my hopes, dreams and fears. It was cathartic for me and felt good to be writing again, even if my subject matter wasn't the most upbeat. In time I began including book reviews and photography on my blog and the readership grew. Then one day, out of the blue an email pinged into my inbox from a stranger – Mike. He'd read the blog and loved my style. He ran an independent lifestyle magazine and wanted me to write an article about my experience with addiction. He was even willing to pay me a small fee. I couldn't believe someone wanted to pay me for my writing, this was what I'd always wanted! Of course I accepted and a few months later my article was published.
Seeing my name in print was a huge buzz but it didn't stop there. Mike wanted me to work permanently for the magazine. He said my voice was unique and fresh. He wasn't put off by my past. He could see I desperately wanted to change and gave me a chance to do so. That was the start of my career. Today I still contribute to the magazine but work full time as a self employed copywriter. I married, had two children and live a life I wouldn't have thought possible ten years ago. People say that the road to recovery is about discipline but my recovery was down to the grace of others – my parents for their unfaltering support and Mike for seeing the potential in me when I couldn't and giving me a chance to redeem myself. I owe them everything.
Mel Daniels, Canada.
Comments from Sandy
Mel has mentioned the person she found who helped her and she gives his website. It talks about Grace – an Act of Grace – which is perhaps a little bit akin to “luck” – one of the definitions of which is “blessing”.
I am of the opinion that by deciding upon something and taking that first step, everything in the Universe conspires to guide and help you towards that goal. I would encourage Mel to pat herself on the back and say “Well done!” to herself as it would not all have turned out so well for her if she had not had the will and desire to take the first step towards her own healing. I am moved here to quote Goethe (as I do in all my CHI Seminars); he is the famous German Philosopher who wrote:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, a chance to draw back. This is always ineffective concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary proof – the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans – this is, that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too – all sorts of things occur to help one, that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do or dream you can do – begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it – begin it now!”
I also have more spiritual beliefs about “Grace” …. But I won’t go into those right now.
Mel believes that she was “lucky” to overcome her addictions. She might say (and I agree) that she “had Grace on her side” in that she had loving, supportive parents; she now has a loving husband and two children; and she had that stroke of luck – or Act of Grace – for Mike to come across her blog and invite her to write an article for his magazine.
I hope Mel’s story may be an inspiration to some people and even encourage others to be supportive to somebody who needs your help.
Thank you Mel for your excellent contribution.
So, remember to take the first step - "the moment that one definitely commits oneself then Providence moves too".
All the best
"Your gift from God is your potential – Your gift to God is to use it."
I have shared my depression story with many friends and how your CHI course helped me to tell my psychologist that I don't need the pills and the consultation anymore. So I am forever grateful to you for that.
PP is a very special place to me and I use it in times of reflection.
Like in your case with your family member, I am at peace with having a distance relationship with my elder brother and feel ok with it.
Thank you so much for your birthday wishes which are very timely because I was feeling a little blue but just hearing from you changed all that in a flash. Wishing you and your family good health and happiness created intentionally of course in 2015. TT, NSW.
I'm getting on a bit now - aren't we all! I still use PP all the time after learning it from you many years ago now, and it is to my great benefit and advantage - it's changed my life. SJ, Vic.
I returned to the CHI Seminar to: confirm and explore goals I need to achieve in the next 5 years and look back on my goals of 5 years ago.
I have been able to find much more clarity and determination of purpose.
But beyond the “goal” quest I have met new friends and spent a peaceful and thoroughly enjoyable 5 days.
I have an unspoken goal of not leaving it another 5 years before I “re-invent” myself once again.
Thank you so much Sandy for your help and guidance. BC, WA.