Happy Sunday, friends and family!
My latest post, A Gift For Recovery, filled you all in about the first big leap of faith I took in the world of charity. It was something I'd quickly learn to turn to, in good times and bad. That ended 2013, on a high note...
2014 would bring more opportunity, more change, and more hardships. I came out of 2013 full of energy around recovery and service, and with a two year degree - none of which I believed I'd ever see. My life began to fill up with work, recovery and satisfaction. Throughout the year, I continued tutoring in school, leaving me with four different, part-time jobs. I also began doing a little work at the halfway house I went through, including painting, small repairs, etc. Life was busy. It was also fun, and fulfilling.
Early in the year, I reached out to Fountain Centers, the inpatient treatment center where my recovery journey started. I was hoping to find a way to give back to them and others who might be in the same position. They put me in touch with someone who worked on the outreach team there, Jenine. We set up a meeting for what I believe was a Thursday morning. She was very pleasant. I asked what I could do to help. She started the process of setting me up to come back as a regular speaker. As I began telling her a little about my background, she realized she had just presented at my old high school - NRHEG - earlier that week.
Out of nowhere, she asked "Are you busy next Tuesday?" When I told her no, she simply said "you are now, I'm taking you with for my next presentation!" What that really meant was I was going to be the next presentation. Only five days away, with little time to prepare. Thankfully, a story of experience isn't something that needs a whole lot of preparation. And, I didn't have that fear of public speaking to scare me away. However, this wasn't just any speech. This was to so many teachers, coaches, and even friends turned teachers, that watched some of my worst years. The truth was about to come out.
I presented that next Tuesday. In a room of probably 75 staff. As I mentioned, the fear of public speaking wasn't a big thing in my life. Sharing some of my most sensitive moments in life, however, with so many that knew me, was a bit daunting. I had always told my story in recovery settings, mostly to people that only really knew the Jason in recovery, and people that also shared similar backgrounds. This was different, much different. I could feel the confusion around addiction dissipate in real time.
See, there's nothing quite like lived experience, especially when it's conveyed with vulnerability and transparency, to really force humans to consider perspectives, attitudes and beliefs. I suppose it helps living on the right side of addiction, building evidence to support the thought that change is possible, and that it's possible for someone who once lived a life of damaging relationships and humans to live a fully productive life. People gravitate to experience. Period. And that's exactly what happened on that winter day in New Richland.
Ultimately, so many of those that attempted to support me over the years were able to see the real Jason. They were also able to let go of the "what could I have done differently?" questions and insecurities. They wanted to help. They tried to help. They just didn't see the immediate results. And for that, they felt insufficient. As teachers. As mentors. As people. What they did do, along with so many others, was plant seeds that would later grow and be remembered. That's, at minimum, what we humans do when we lend the hand. I assured all of them what they did was enough. Tears were shed from beginning to end. It was quite possibly the most moving talk I've ever given, for sure up until that point.
I drove away from New Richland that day knowing, without a doubt, I had found my greatest talent and passion. I could sense deeply that speaking and writing would be an integral part of my recovery, as well as my life. Something happens when I tell my story, whether in person, through videos, or through writing. A Spirit shines through and drives words and emotions like no human can. It never wavers.
That's why you're reading this. That's why you've heard me in person. That's why you've seen the videos. And that's why I'll never give up on this movement. Ever.
Until next time!