In 2012 I lived at my drug dealer’s apartment. Our arrangement consisted of me providing transportation in exchange for a blanket on the floor in the living room and the occasional free hit of heroin, meth or marijuana. When I was physically able, I delivered pizzas for Papa Johns but any money I made was always a wash as it went straight to the dealer and into my lungs or arms as soon as I had it.

It was a miserable existence. Our arrangement was tenuous at best, and I saw and experienced things that I’ll never forget. Every day that I woke up on that floor (if I slept at all) was a stark reminder of my continued poor choices and inability to pull myself out of my sickness.

That was the year in my life where things truly started to sink. Depression and madness lived in my bones. My parents were getting involved with PAL and were learning to let me write my own story and I was failing at it. While it wasn’t the moment I embraced change and moved forward with my healing journey, it was pivotal in setting the stage for those next steps. It was remarkably devastating in every possible way, and it was exactly where I needed to be at that point in my life, and it wasn’t interrupted by my parents trying to step in as they likely would have before.

I’m grateful because people don’t change when they’re comfortable. Our physiology on a molecular level is set up to reward and strive for homeostasis. Even keel. Comfort. When outside circumstances threaten that state, it invokes in us a response to achieve that homeostatic balance once more. I never understood why individuals expressed gratitude for the miserable circumstances that they endured. In hindsight it’s perfectly clear – crisis facilitates a mindset that’s more open and willing to change.

The part I never appreciated or had the capacity to think on at the time was how hard it must have been for my parents. To endure the commentary from people in their lives who didn’t understand. To have other family members and friends hold an antiquated and codependent thought process that actually enables individuals to stay sick. To sit with themselves at the end of the day with lingering doubt, questioning themselves (am I doing the right thing?). It’s a tremendous weight to carry that I never thought about in those moments but appreciate so much today. Just as I had to live through my own pain to be here with you now, they did too, with theirs, in their own way. 

I want to thank my parents for living through that and challenging the way they historically interacted with me. I want to thank them for enduring those times with grace and poise, eventually (it’s not always smooth sailing getting started.) I want to thank them for not giving up on those principles and practices even when every inch of them screamed that it was the wrong thing to do. I want to thank them for holding on when confronted with hardship and holding true to the idea that this program of action could work.

As a person in recovery, I want to thank YOU for doing the same. The lives you’ll touch, and the healing you’ll eventually have in your own life is worth the pain required along the way. None of us are perfect, none of us will hit home runs every time we step to the plate – what matters is our willingness to try and to continue doing so even when we inevitably fall down. I want to encourage you in your ways – that you keep these principles close to your heart, that you continue using your tools in your interactions with your loved one (to the best of your ability) and that you never give up hope for the person in your life who’s struggling. 

If you’re here, you’re right where you need to be. Just like that apartment was for me all those years ago. 

Miracles happen every day. 

People get better every day. 

With love, 

Sean – In Recovery