Are all Drug Addicts Failures?

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I recently listened to a TED talk called, “A kinder gentler philosophy of success,” by Alain de Botton. He talked about our modern ideas of success and failure. He talked about our governments ideal view of meritocracy and what stuck with me was the hidden validation that meritocracy is associated with.

Meritocracy Governance by elites who deserve to wield power because they possess education and skills. On one hand this is great. It means that people that work hard, are charismatic, and who try really, really hard will get ahead in life and therefore be successful. They deserve to be successful because of their merit. But then when we look at the other end of the spectrum this means we also believe that people who can’t work as hard, who may have made mistakes in their lives are unsuccessful and deserve to be unsuccessful. But as compassionate people who understand that we all have hardships and mental and physical ailments, merit is a dangerous way to judge success.

Success is favored by prosperity of wealth and job status in our society, and when we’re on a path where that path doesn’t look attainable, it’s very easy to spiral continually downward. And then society looks down upon us. And instead of reminding ourselves that we are good people who have more to be proud of than a status, we look down on ourselves just as harshly if not more harshly than society does to us. And something to pay close attention to is not to blame ‘society’. It’s each and every one of us. Whether it’s consciously or not, it should be our duty to stop asking others what they do, or judge them by what car they drive. We have to take the blame for ourselves.

Once someone is looked down upon and adapts the psychology that they can’t be successful and aren’t successful, we begin to have self-doubt, a lack of confidence, and sometimes more severe mental stresses including depression.

So what is success? Sometimes we can go through our whole lives without realizing what success is to us because we’re too worried about what success is to society. We are told we’re in school to get an education, but why? To get a job, have a family, and to one day retire and live comfortably. So first of all we can rule out this form of success in relation to happiness right away because you must know at least one person who is well on their way to that lifestyle but they aren’t happy. Second of all, education is so much more than to get a job but we don’t realize that till later in life. Third of all, this is so broad a vision that it’s literally impossible to feel this success. You’ll be chasing it till the day you die because we aren’t to the point in technology where we can view our lives from a third-person view and say, yeah I’m successful as I review it from a different perspective. We live out everyday and every moment and everyday we’re getting closer to that house, that job, that family… it won’t be enough.You should have your own vision of success and it should be as specific to you as you can make it. Step away from what people expect and really think about it. Sometimes it can be something that you can accomplish everyday and eventually all those little successes turn into a lifetime of happiness.

Let me tell you about my altered (shortened) view of success and then I’ll get into if drug addicts can be successful. As most of you know I work in marketing remotely for a fitness company called Sworkit. We are a fitness app rated in highest regards by ACSM and we were given the largest tech deal by Shark Tank in February of 2016. We only have 6 people on our team but we have 24 million downloads. I live decently. I have a beautiful apartment and I have a wonderful education that I’m very fortunate to have.

So am I successful to you? Now do I consider myself successful? I feel successful when I am talking to someone that has never heard of the app and they tell me that this could really help them to exercise because they are cautious about working out in front of other people. I feel successful when someone tells me they lost weight using the app and they continue to check in with me to share their progress because they know I care. I feel successful when I make someone on my team’s life easier by taking on a project and taking it off their shoulders.

If you think success stops from the day one of getting your dream job you’re going to be in for a consequently up and down rollercoaster of a ride in life. Next you’ll chase that promotion and the next one and the next.

Notice how I correlated success with my career instantly? You probably didn’t even think twice about that did you? Because that is what we’re taught to believe. Success is your career. I also listened to another amazing TED talk by David Brooks. He asked the question, are you living for your resume or your eulogy (seeking connection, community, and love)? So what are you living for? Have you thought of this? Have you found the balance of what you’re living for? If you haven’t rethink your view of success. Think of other ways in which success is possible.

My long-term die-hard vision of success is to tell my family’s story. It’d be a successful life to tell how my dad and mom taught me to always be kind, to not judge others, to hold myself responsible for every action I take, and to get through any hardship that comes my way and to do it with honesty. I want to help people to see a different side of addiction and to never let my dad’s disease live in vain. I also want to raise a family and carry on the love my family has given to me to my kids.

I want to tell the true beauty of living with two parents that love you harder than anything in life all while struggling with addiction, mental and physical diseases, and a lifetime of hardships. My parents are unfairly judged by society as unsuccessful.

My parents are the most successful people you’ll ever meet.

They have filled my heart and my whole being with so much love and have sacrificed every last ounce of their being to love me. Even on my darkest days and even if I did something horrific I know they’d go to battle for me.

I think any parent would agree that for their child to feel the love that I feel from them, it’d be the greatest success of their lives.

Yes drug addicts can be successful. Maybe my dad will never be a 6-figure doctor and maybe he’s not on the cover of the newspaper for something to brag about, but there’s nothing you can do or say to take away that my dad is the most loving parent who would walk across the planet if I said I needed him. He deserves to feel that success. He might not ever be looked at by society by this success, but it’s the most important one we’re all living for as parents.

Cocaine, Alcohol, and Drugs: How, When, and Why Should I talk about it with My Friends

When you are around people who are drinking and smoking, you think it’s the norm. That’s what all the students are doing. It’s okay that I’m doing it too. I fit in. It’s not even a matter of peer pressure at that point. It’s just what you believe to be true for kids your age so you participate. You don’t have to experience peer pressure to do what you think is the norm. The truth is, there are kids that are at the library on weekends and there are people that want to change the world and don’t need to party to make their week feel complete. There’s a bit (a lot) of truth behind FOMO. The fear of missing out is a captivating feeling and once we’re in the middle of all the action, we don’t want to miss it.  In High School, I considered myself lucky to be in a relationship for most of the years and distance myself from that fear of missing out because I had everything I felt I needed close to my heart. It didn’t mean I didn’t have any friends, either. I still consider everyone from my high school a friend and if anyone were to reach out to me, we’d most likely have a long conversation on just about anything. I loved that balance. I was involved in student groups, loved my teachers, and loved seeing friends in school. It wasn’t completely as romantic as it sounds as my relationship was toxic but at the time and even now, I never regret it.

In college, it wasn’t the case. I did attend parties. Not being in student groups due to the hours I worked at the restaurant and at the health club, I was surrounded by conversations that made me feel angry, jaded, and confused. My dad was in prison and my mom and grandpa were relying on me. And I would hear people talk about their education like they deserved it and didn’t need to work for it. I also heard people talk about substances like they were just a casual thing to do. At that point in my life, I felt that I was surrounded by privileged people who only knew how to make choices based on what made them feel good at the moment. Nothing hurt more than hearing people talk about cocaine, and seeing it for the first time in a college made my heart fall to my stomach. I couldn’t believe that the very drug that I saw my dad’s life go from working middle class to prison and helpless was the drug that kids were doing as a recreational activity, just in a different form.

It’s twisted to me that just because I had seen the awful effects of crack cocaine on a person who I love more than anything may be the only reason why I find it so wrong. Would I agree with my peers that cocaine is a casual activity that places me at an elite level if it weren’t for my experiences? Luckily I’ll never have to find out and I’ll never feel the peer pressure to do it because I saw my dad with a loaded pistol standing over me while I was sleeping. Waking me up and telling me to follow him into the attic because someone was up there spying on him.

As I really try to understand how to help with prevention I’m always going to have to take into account the experiences that students are having. If you grow up without the experiences like I had, it will just seem like a fun party activity. It will seem as innocent as drinking because ‘there’s no worse drug than alcohol.’ Now that I can share these experiences and tell you that there will always be a point where it’s no longer fun, I will make it my job to do so. If not for you, for someone else. When my dad first did heroin he did it with a friend, just as something to try. As for my dad’s friend– he never touched it again. For my dad, it detained him. It infiltrated his veins and crawled right into his brain. It captured him as a prisoner and would never let go. He couldn’t stop himself from that point forward. And to think, it was just a social activity they were trying out after a day at work.

Now I am watching my dad suffer. Every time my mom or grandpa calls me I think it’s going to be the day my dad has died. Because now it’s not just addiction we have to worry about. His body organs are failing him and even worse, his mind and soul. He is beginning to not believe in himself and he has a disillusion that his life no longer has meaning. He can barely walk. He can barely tolerate himself. He needs help and I spend at least 5 seconds out of every minute wishing I could save him, but the truth is I can’t just do that. I’ll always support him and in complete love and despair of the disease, I’ll remind my peers and students of all walks of life to consider the next time your friend is having fun or your having fun with friends to ask when it is going to stop.

When are you going to finally say, “I think I want to stop spending my weekends doing this.” And if you know that this isn’t your life forever, do your friends know that too? Start with the conversation about how this isn’t always going to be what you want to do. It’s hard. I’ve had the conversation before and to be honest, it’s usually going to be taken harshly or the wrong way. Of course, you don’t want to tell friends that eventually, if this goes on forever, it can become a problem. But until you look at it that way, it’ll always just seem okay. You go out to bars on the weekend, you’re surrounded by people doing the same, and you have a good time at that moment. How uncool of you to point out that it could eventually  become a lifestyle, and not just ‘a social activity.’ You owe it to yourself and them to talk about it. Especially, when you start talking about harder drugs, the conversation is more detrimental. You can cross dangerous territory if you’re not setting expectations and boundaries of how much fun is too much and when you’ll draw the line.  Maybe they’ll hate what you’re saying, but maybe you’ll save someone from their outlook and even more-so, their life. Is it really that funny that you have that staple friend that does too much cocaine? It absolutely won’t be when they’re no longer able to be your friend without it.

Have you ever had a friend that is mad at someone so you get mad at them too? You hold onto the grudge because that’s the impression you’re left with about that person. But then all of a sudden, your friend is back to being friends with that other person again and you suddenly feel a strange feeling. You were angry and upset in place for someone else. And now you’re left on your own to erase those feelings because your friend has forgiven that person. That’s what friends are for, right? But when it comes to addiction the same thing happens here in a more toxic way. You and your friend do whatever it is together. It’s a bond, it brings you together, and you know you can rely on that person to back you up. Once someone from that friendship decides it isn’t for them anymore the other friend suddenly feels betrayed and confused. You really do owe it to your friend to tell them that you’re not going to be mad at that person forever and that you’re just blowing off steam just as much as you owe it to your friend to say something about your recreational activities.

There’s no better time to tell a friend you’re worried about them than the first time you get that feeling. It really sucks. It’s not your place. But eventually, if it does get worse, it may be too late. I really wish that my dad’s friend and him had a conversation like that. It may have not changed his choices, but what if it could for your friend?

 

One of the hardest parts about having this conversation is looking hypocritical right? I mean, I go out and have drinks and even after this conversation maybe I continue to do so. So now my friends think I’m being judgemental and not even taking responsibility for myself. Don’t use this as your reasoning. Even if you become who you didn’t want your friend to become, now they know that this isn’t what you wanted and they may be the one to save you because you’ve opened up that conversation. I think this is one of the few cases where words speak louder than actions and do as I say not as I do tie together and make sense. We’re all hypocrites. It’s what keeps me from blogging 90% of the time. Sometimes I feel like a walking paradox. But I will be a walking contradiction before I let that fear of being labeled as a hypocrite force me to bury a friend.

 

Meeting My Favorite Artist Kehlani in Boston Tonight

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I’m so excited that I’m meeting Kehlani tonight! She is coming to Royale in Boston and I went all out and got a VIP ticket because how many times will you get to meet your favorite artist in the world?! Probably not often! I’m not sure if I’ll ever go VIP again, but for Kehlani it was a no-brainer. It’s funny because normally when you find an artist you love, you’ve listened to his or her music first. It’s funny because I first heard her interview on “On the Come Up,” on HotNewHipHop. and instantly fell in love. Watch it below.

I was hooked to hearing her story when I found out she was only 19, was super down to earth, and knowing that she wanted to be a dancer. Hearing more about her story and where she came from, it struck a cord in my heart. We’ve had a really similar story, although I can’t compare mine to hers at all. On a very broad level, she’s had a hard upbringing with parents in and out of her life but always with the unconditional love and from that I believe is where her passion towards life comes. Just the other day she tweeted about being over passionate and it’s true for me too.

Here’s a post that I wrote last year in September when I first heard Kehlani on the radio and had a total geeky-fan moment!

 

O-M-G. HOT 97 has been playing Kehlani and same with JAM’N 945 and I’d like to take a moment to brag and boast about how obsessed with her I have been.
➡️ First of all, how did I find out about her music?
I found Kehlani while watching interviews on On The Come Up by HotNewHipHop.com last April!
➡️ Why did I fall in love with Kehlani?
How real she is. In the interview she is like 18 and has already been through so much and keeps it so real. She knows she’s young and has to learn but she is also so humble for how much talent she has and how far she had me even at that age.
➡️ What are my top favorite things about her?
❤️1. Obviously her music. Her style of storytelling and meaningful lyrics are rare plus she has a beautiful voice. I love how she admits she can’t rap despite people assuming so by all her tattoos. She’s r&b and I love it.
❤️2. She has always been loyal to her crew. She was once in a band and on a talent show she was asked to go forward but solo and she declined without hesitation. It’s all or nothing.
❤️3. Her and I have had similar experiences in life and similar to me, she loves her parents and appreciates life for everything it has to offer, even the negatives. She doesn’t regret anything and she has a positive outlook on everything.
❤️4. She uses social media to encourage people to do the right things and promotes happiness and kindness always.
❤️5. Her style is OG and I love it. She can wear whatever and pull it off with confidence. She keeps everything interesting and embraces her creativity.
➡️ What are my top favorite songs? In this order:
🎵 1. Unconditional (My dad has always shown unconditional love even with everything going on. That’s a true man who loves his daughter, and that’s why I show most people I meet love) 
🎵 2. Down For You
🎵 3. Be Alright
🎵 4. Yet
🎵 5. The Letter (Note: I recently played this in the car with my dad and almost started crying)
🎵 6. You Should Be Here
🎵 7. Jealous
🎵 8. How That Taste
🎵 9. Alive
🎵 10. Bright

Of course this was before the release of her new album, SSS, Sweet Sexy Savage. Now I have a whole new selection of songs that I love that you should check out for yourself. Her music isn’t just about success, like a lot of artists are sticking to. She tells a real story. She’s a human and expresses human experience in her music that we can all relate to. Sometimes I’m having a bad day and I instantly start playing her song in my head, 24/7. It’s okay to not be okay. This playlist below is one that I curated in honor of Kehlani. I can’t wait to meet you tonight! I can’t imagine the weirdness for artists when someone is so excited to meet them and you don’t know them but they think they know you. I hope to just be able to say thank you for your realness and relation I feel towards you. Eminem sort of got me through my anger and confusion and heartbreak as a child and now I can reflect on things with your music, Kehlani!

 

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LISTEN TO THE KEHLANI INSPIRED PLAYLIST HERE

 

I love your silliness and light heartedness and how your so open about constantly changing. Yes, we’re young! So of course we’re living and learning. Passionate people fall down fast. When they are down, they’re down and you remind me that that’s okay, and quite honestly that keeps me up.

 

 

 

 

You should be here @kehlanimusic #kehlani #youshouldbehere #songsfromscratch #howthattaste #FWU

A post shared by Leanna Rae Olbinsky (@lolbinsky) on

 

Something Tells Me There’s Something Good Happening

My life has been filled with love. So much love I could explode. So much love that, even when people are mean, hurtful, or cynical I can still find a bright side and accept a person for who they are. We’re all here to do something extraordinary with our lives. We can take what makes us love hard and live passionately and turn it into an ambition that we’ll let no obstacle stand in our way. Our love comes from something in our adolescence that we’ve embedded in our hearts to love. Our passion stems from what hurts us most. When we hit absolute breaking point, to the point where we don’t think we can live on, but we do that’s when passion is created. The love and pain come from my family. My passion, my love, and my ambitions in life, all stem from my parents.

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We don’t choose the family we’re born into but I wouldn’t trade mine for the world. I’ve written about my dad’s drug addiction and about the pain of not being close to my mom over the years, but I really want to start this 2017 blog revival off with the things that I love about these two amazing humans who each have a story of their own that led them to where they are.

We all come from somewhere and somehow, no matter how hard life starts out, there’s something about our past that we can embrace and take with us on this journey to mold us into who we want to be. We’re a product of our environment and genes. It’s up to us to take what we’re made from, polish it, and embrace the heck out of it.

 

Here are some things that I love about these two people who made me: 

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My mom is the smartest woman I know. She knows every answer to Jeopardy and if you ask her about a movie she will have answers faster than IMDb. She’s never been the type to ask people for advice. Even if she’s conflicted, she sticks by her decisions and doesn’t turn to anyone for approval. I love that about her and I’ve never noticed till my friend recently pointed out that she loves how I just do things when I say I want to. I get that from her and I’ve never appreciated that about my mom till recently. She thrives on getting better. No matter how sick she gets, she loves to impress herself and go above and beyond what the doctors expect of her. I know a lot of people say their mom is the best cook ever but I challenge that. My mom is Mexican but gosh, does she cook Italian well. In fact, I didn’t even realize that most of our meals at Christmas were Italian dishes till I moved to North End and I correlated lasagna and stuffed shells to Italian. She’ll never sit down to eat with us because she’ll be cooking until everyone has had their dessert. I myself love cooking for friends and I now see the enjoyment my mom has when she did this for us. It’s about creating the conversation without even being there. You do it with a meal full of love and that’s the most rewarding part. My mom’s sense of humor is dirty and twisted, just like I like it. Most importantly, the way my mom raised me as a baby is something that will always amaze me. Watching the tapes of her talking to me and telling me to take care of my dolls, taking them for a walk and making sure to tell them they look beautiful. Her voice has more love than a lullaby when she speaks to me.

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My dad is the most stubborn and sweet man. It will always seem to me to be the 8th wonder of the world how a man so masculine can have a daughter and instantly melt into a cute teddy bear. I’ve never seen someone who would sacrifice so much for someone. Living in Allston, I remember a woman had locked her keys in the car and was crying and my dad made sure to help. I remember thinking of my dad as Superman from that day. When I scraped my knee riding bikes at the Charles River he told me he’d ride both bikes and I thought he was so silly, but when he rode his bike with one hand and the other hand on my bike, as I hobbled along I thought he was a genius. Whenever I’d have friends over, my dad would give my friends $20. He was so generous with money, he just wanted everyone to be happy and has never had an ounce of greed. School became the most important aspect of my life and that was because my dad put a value in my accomplishments at school higher than anything else. The only thing that my dad instilled that was greater than my education was my morality. Right and wrong, ironically, was something he didn’t take lightly. I remember sitting on the steps of our basement while he did laundry, explaining to me the importance of being honest and kind. Making sure to only use honesty as a way to better serve someone, and to not take actions that will hurt others. Brushing stress and negativity off my shoulders has been much easier remembering all the phone calls where my dad has reminded me not to make mountains out of molehills.

 

 

 

Heroin addiction

Eyes Don’t Lie

Looking into my dads eyes while he was high was the hardest part of dealing with his addiction. Glossy, incoherent. His eyes shut slow in slow motion with a blank stare. They were my dads beautiful eyes, but something had an evil varnish over them. It was in his voice as well but nothing was more painful than losing the life from eyes that used to shine so bright.

If he were able to hold his composure for a minute he would look at me. Often I would ask him what he was doing.

“What is wrong with you?!”I would say.

“Nothing. Im tired.”

“Nothing? What is wrong with you?!”

The answer was never anything truthful or anything I would have liked to hear. But I think that was the problem I was searching and begging for an answer that would make everything better, but in reality it would never happen. There is nothing an addict can say while they are high that will make it better. We will always search for something to hold onto, however, because we will always love that person.

My dad would never admit he was high. Whether he was denying it or making excuses it was an unbearable pain. Why are you lying to my face? Why are you hurting me? Why do I want to believe your excuses? Why can’t you change?

It’s a bad habit to get into asking these questions all the time. As much as we wish our loved one could answer these questions truthfully, optimistically, or promisingly, we must be honest with ourselves. You will see the eyes you love and have known, and then you will see that thick plexiglass blocking all the trust, faith, and strength that they are trying to let break through.

The lies will spill from the mouth and you will want to believe but the eyes do not lie.

The best thing you can do is refocus your energy. Take the truth that you learn from the eyes and remember that these aren’t the eyes that see you as a friend, a loved one, or family. It’s distorted in their mind because there is just one thing that can distort any sort of love and faith that person wants to give.  Stay strong.

 

Why I am not worried if my dad will relapse again

It has been almost five years since my father has been in prison and sometime in August he will be released.

It is something that is a bit bittersweet. Of course I have not been able to see my dad often in the past five years, I cannot call him whenever I want, and I just really miss him being around. While in prison, I know that my father has medical attention, he has a place to sleep, and he is eating (and I know he has been eating because he has gained so much weight). Most importantly I know that he is not getting high.

I am going to support him 100% and I will cheer him on everyday. I have faith in my father but I do understand that it will be a struggle for him everyday. My dad has forgot what freedom feels like and my dad has only heard about, but has not seen, the painstaking increase in heroin addicts. It is going to be something he will have to confront and an urge he is going to have to fight everyday and I understand that.

I will support my dad and I will think of him every moment I am not with him. Unlike how I dealt with his addiction when I was thirteen, I now know that I have nothing to do with the choices he makes. I know that it is not a measurement of how much he loves me. It is a power he needs to reach inside himself and grab. There are going to be a million and one reasons he will be discouraged upon his release and I know I am not one of them and that is the most I can do.

If my dad were to relapse I would not hate him. I would not resent him. I would be disappointed. A little heartbroken. I would not be an enabler. I would be honest wit him and tell him I cannot allow his lifestyle to interject with mine. But I would let him know that he is always going to be my father and I will always love him. And we as a father-daughter relationship stand for a rare family love that people rarely find in life or at least until later.

My dad and I are meant to set an example to the youth and young parents who are addicts, that the choice of painkillers and drugs are not meant to destroy a relationship like a father-daughter have (or any other relationship). Time will tell whether the next chapter ends well or bad. The chapters only end when I give up and that won’t happen.

TAKEN FROM BUZZFEED

I don’t feel bad for you.

The picture featured for this blog post made me cry and I think its very relevant for the following piece you are about to read. This piece is a harsh narrative full of advice I have for you and your biggest battles. It is honest and sincere and I hope that it either makes you mad or makes you think. Either way, it will motivate you.

There is a thin line between having compassion and being an enabler of excuses. When I wrote this piece I was thinking about myself and my experiences and what I think people need to hear when facing their problems. When I was in 9th grade my teacher explained that if he gave us an excuse for not doing something the way it should be done, we would accept the excuse and use it, because that is just the way humans are.

In order to succeed we need to stay away from coddling, self-pity, excuses, enablers, and vices.

Continue reading “I don’t feel bad for you.”