I Am My Own Hero

Can you remember a time when you felt helpless?

I can – I felt that way many times.I was hopeless, kicked when already down.  I was humiliated and I just wanted to give up.

My Journey

I am an alcoholic, and it didn’t take long to learn that there are two available paths: recovery or self-destruction.  My journey to alcoholism and self-medicating directly resulted from emotional, physical, and psychological abuse stemming from childhood – a relationship with my mother that was devoid of guidance and communication.

I had a toxic – and cyclical – relationship with alcohol.I would periodically stop drinking, enroll in CBT therapy, and maybe read some books and articles on alcohol addiction.My early attempts at sobriety lasted about 2 weeks before relapsing.This cycle kept me dependent on the status quo – holding on to mindless jobs, staying in passionless relationships, and stopping the pursuit of my real dreams.In this life, unhappiness equaled stability, and I could live with that for a time.

Pain and Hardship

Sometimes the pain in life seems like too much to bear.There are days when I just want to give up considering extreme hardship.Recently, the sudden passing of a young friend (age 27) and a lost court battle involving my partner and the child he shares with his narcissistic ex-wife threw my family and me into a tailspin.  

During times of grief and loss, the term “supposed to” comes up a lot.

  • He was supposed to marry a friend of mine.
  • They were supposed to have a long future together.
  • They were supposed to have children.
  • He was supposed to dance at my wedding.
  • Our kids were supposed to play together.
  • He was supposed to grow old.
  • He was not supposed to die.
  • My partner’s daughter was supposed to join our family.

The death of my friend was undoubtedly tragic. But our relationship gave me the strength to mourn him and show compassion for his family – who were experiencing their own “supposed to” moments.

While very sad, the court judgment following a two-year battle still allowed my partner and me to love his daughter and each other and fight on if needed. While the temptation to complain, bathe in negativity, and become complacent may seem the easy way through the pain – we might relinquish our own curative powers, wishing that someone else might set us on the right path. Whining, crying, self-pity, blaming others, waiting, hoping, and wishing would keep us from healing ourselves; we risk strength, confidence, and conviction for comfort and taking control of our lives.  

I’ve been separated from my family for the past two years because of the pandemic.  I received news of my favorite pet’s passing over the phone, and the distance seriously damaged my relationship with my sister. 

What comfort could we give each other when we are 2,000 miles apart?  

Finding My Power

When I fully understood that my addiction was not going away, I joined Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).I got to a point when I finally realized that no one is going to save me.  I had to take control of my recovery and happiness myself.

This revelation allowed me to see that I was frustrated sitting behind my desk in the UK while imagining my future elsewhere in Europe.  I worked for the biggest video game industry corporations, but I knew that these jobs weren’t for me anymore.  Money motivated me, not the purpose. My tasks were to make the video games more engaging and addictive to their players, and I felt like I was a legal drug dealer myself.

Taking matters into my own hands, I stopped working in the video games industry and, with my partner, moved abroad. Today I am writing and have become a co-founder of the nonprofit organization Partners in Men’s Health. I am far from becoming a famous writer, but I am trying. I am often broke, but I am not giving up. 

I know that trying and failing is always better than doing nothing.

I didn’t know how strong I was until I faced challenges and overcame negativity.  This takes hard work and commitment; making dreams happen is hard.  It’s supposed to test me repeatedly. So, I keep going, even when I don’t see any change.

Living With Purpose

Many attributes can facilitate “saving”; among them are love, faith, kind people, and gestures.  We gain strength when surrounded by heroes who can inspire through their examples of love, power, compassion, and responsibility.

  • One of my best friends took on a 3rd job to provide for his sick stepsister.  Their “father” abandoned her, so he – my friend – is taking on that difficult responsibility.
  • My colleague stopped smoking weed and using drugs to escape his problems.  Despite his experience of emotional abuse suffered at the hands of his wife and in-laws, he has found an inner power.  He is getting a divorce.

The past year’s events remind me of how it feels and what it means to be alive.

I’ve learned to love more. Facing mortality allowed me to get my priorities straight.  I asked questions like, “What am I doing with my life?  And if I died tomorrow, would I have any regrets?”

All that has happened has taught me to appreciate the love and express it often. I treasure moments with my loved ones because I know how painful it would be to lose them.

I don’t let a day pass without letting them know my feelings and how grateful I am to have them.I don’t hold back my feelings because I know the weight and burden of leaving words unsaid.  The only thing that remains when someone in your life is gone is the memories.  I have learned the importance of creating memories while still having people who matter in my life.

After my friend died, I created a unique support group among his friends and soulmate.  We were a group of 36 strangers, united to support each other through a time of great need. Daily he shares his grief with us, expressing his thoughts, fears, and memories of his beloved partner. 

We listened.

The Future

With 3½ years of sobriety, Wednesday AA meetings remind me that I can overcome obstacles.  No matter how unbearable a situation may seem, I have the power to unleash my inner heroine – the one that saved me from hopelessness and helplessness.  Establishing healthy relationships (many I have met during recovery), and reaching personal and professional goals, I no longer feel that I have to be “saved.”  

I think about drinking often, but I have spent so much time and hard work creating a new future for myself.  When I think about quitting, I think about why I started. I envision the day I will look back on this “unbearable” day and know that pushing past it will be the best decision.

I have hope – for change, for strength, for love. I hope things won’t be as hard as they’ve always been.

Hope means not giving up and constantly seeking alternatives.  It means looking deep within myself to find what seems lacking exactly.

There are moments of doubt in becoming a new version of myself; however, I know that tough times aren’t meant to destroy me. Instead, they are there to encourage me to rise and step into my power.

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