reflections on hardships, drugs and perseverance

I read this article today about addiction wrpt the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, and there was a good phrase in there that rung out about life lessons that gave me pause. Addiction aside, I pondered the following statement and finished it differently.

“…to believe that if we try hard enough, if we care about other people enough, if we are smart enough, we can avoid…” failure, disappointment, abandonment, etc.

I’d never quite captured this perspective on myself until I read that statement and followed it with my own thoughts, including reflections on hardships, drugs and perseverance.

During my evolution as a person, I came to believe, or rather wish, that this was all it would take to prevent bad things from happening to me. This may have been a valid position to hold when I was young and probably worked for me then, too, but it is a bit of a fairytale to hold onto, now. Wishing for change, hoping for someone to save me, never worked in the past, therefore, I began putting all of my efforts into being good, the best I could be…to not give a reason for bad things to happen and yet, sometimes they still would.

As we should all have come to understand by the time we hit adulthood, the bottom line is that bad things will happen. It’s inevitable. We only wish that on that scale we don’t have to deal with really bad things like the untimely loss of a loved one, poverty, sickness, unusual cruelty, etc.

While there is a bit of luck in the draw for what comes my way, there is also a lot about my direction and mindset that can influence and even change how difficult situations are handled. I’m not talking about grief, I’m talking about the ability to differentiate a situation as not being about who I am as a person, or what I do/did, or how I am good or not good at something.

When I hear people talk about mental health, this is what I want to be talking about. The ability to recognize our contribution to our daily satisfaction in life. Followed by our ability to distinguish those aspects of life that are not about us. To tap into the root of who we are and take satisfaction in where we are in our journey of life. The weight of the world does not lie on any one person’s shoulders. :) And, perseverance is only a temporary solution to getting through tough times.

People make mistakes, get depressed, have sadness, get angry, frustrated, picky, dissatisfied, and so forth. It’s all part of the beauty of being human. But to fool ourselves into thinking we can’t be better or that these aspects of our human nature won’t be played against one another, is also a fairytale. We are never too old for introspection, reflection and change. We are capable of handling so much more than we give ourselves credit….if we allow ourselves the space, time and patience.

I know things get hard. I have definitely felt like I’d lost everything at one time, felt a lack of support and wondered why it all matters anyway. It doesn’t, matter that is, unless you want it to…and drugs and alcohol are too easy to hide behind, distorting one’s ability to think clearly. Sometimes the idea to just get up, get dressed and greet the day seems unfathomable but that is what life is about…our ability to do this. Sometimes we can be surprised at what a day can bring, in a good way.

There is light in this tunnel of life but we have to create it and nourish it with what matters to us. That is the only hope there is. That is the only strength to cling to, especially when it feels like all is lost. This is an ability we should strive to enrich and know that no matter how many times it feels like we are starting over, it’s not really from ground zero.

I guess, in parting, my final thoughts on this are that we do the best we can with what we got and sometimes it’s still not going to be good enough. That is life. If you want out, go, but this is the only shot you get to experience the myriad of pleasure and pain that comes with living.

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2 Responses to reflections on hardships, drugs and perseverance

  1. Manny Teitelbaum says:

    What I find tough about his story that you can live clean for so many years and then lose it because it is so easy to forget where you came from. It makes me think about the value of a community where people care about you and will help you to find your spiritual center. I have a friend who celebrated 25 years: he goes to a meeting just about every day and organizes his own prayer and meditation group. I guess I try to focus on examples like his for motivation and encouragement.

  2. That’s the tragedy of it all, isn’t it.

    I’ve lost a very good childhood friend to drugs. He battled for some time in and out of them causing friends, family, his girlfriend and new son a lot of grief. Eventually, he let it get the better of him. He was clean for awhile, too…trying to start a new life, setting a good example for his new family, but threw it all away and lost his life too young.

    Your point about community involvement is critical, but it’s tough to hang in there and even harder to know when someone is about to lapse. Therefore, it’s imperative that addicts believe they have the ability to prevent themselves from going there….to reach out and enlist that support before taking a step. I’m guessing it’s the mentality that ‘just this once’ or ‘I’ll only have a little’ that causes the problem. We hear about these accidental deaths from overdosing, yet it still happens. People must really believe it’s not going to happen to them. :(

    Btw, Kudos to your friend for organizing his own prayer and meditation group. I hope he celebrates another 25 years and inspires others to strive for the same.

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