She started using heroin at 16.
She started with a bang and never looked back.
Most people stop here and really want to know the hows and the whys. Absent parents? Abuse? Wrong crowd at an early age? Horrible decisions coupled with a genetic tendency towards addiction? Maybe it’s all of these. Maybe it’s none. It doesn’t matter, because here is where we are. The past is no more. Today is all there is.
15 years later and I am amazed that she is even alive. She is as well. Luck? Genetics? God’s will? I don’t know. Maybe a combination.
Her face is pock marked. Her teeth have fallen out. Her muscles emaciated.
No friends but users and dealers. Her family had to turn away years ago.
She practiced what a colleague of mine called “scorched earth policy”. She burned everything she could get her hands on. Jobs, money, friends, relationships, family. She left nothing viable in her wake.
Now, inside the flames of her destruction, she looks up for help. For hope. For something other than what surrounds her.
Our current actions are the only things that dictate our present and our future. Nothing in the past exists. There is nothing she can do now that will fix the past. But there are things that she can do now to fix her present.
She can open up her mind to growth. To the possibility of change. To re-birth. To imagine that she is whatever she tells herself to be. If she sees herself as nothing more than a worthless addict, then that is exactly what she’ll be. But because she starts to see herself as something more, her world can expand in ways she never before realized were possible. And the only thing that limits this is her mind.
Next, she has to take action. Intention without action is worthless. Every step, no matter how small, is worth the effort. Now that she has changed her mindset, now that she believes it is possible, she will start to see the small successes grow. They will compound before her eyes. Will she have set backs? Of course. This is real life. But now that her mind is full of abundance, she can continue to learn and grow from these setbacks. She will start to see difficulty as a chance to better herself. And now, she is unstoppable.
She can start to give back to others. A life of service. A life worth living.
When people criticize the treatment of addiction as being futile, I’ve often wondered: What’s an acceptable success rate? 70%? 50%? 10%?
Of course, those of us involved don’t care about percentages. We will settle for 1. We will settle for her.
So, what do you do after the earth is scorched?
You till up the ground, re-plant, and get to watering.
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