The Nightmare of Who My Dad Was

I had a nightmare last night of who my dad really was, and knowing that I’ll never have time with him again broke my heart this morning.

When I think of the man my dad was I think of an intelligent, gentle, kind, and caring dad. He was so organized, clean, and down to earth. He couldn’t stand a speck of dirt on his white shoes. He spoke with sweetness and curiosity. Because of the disease he suffered with, he sat on the couch slumped, half asleep, with food spilling from his mouth all over his shirt he had been sleeping in for days. His eyes were glossed and he slurred his sentences. I couldn’t stand the sight, and he couldn’t stand himself.

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When I think of the man with the disease I understand why it was his time to go. He was very sick, hurting physically and mentally. You could hear it in his voice, you could see it from his frail body.

When I think of the dad that raised me into who I am, I feel robbed of so much time. From the time he relapsed to the time he spent in prison for crimes he committed under the influence. The times where the disease controlled him. All that time, where my real dad, the one that gave me countless lessons on how we should help others, that time was so short. So today I woke up after a nightmare.

In my nightmare my dad and I were going for a ride, probably to Boston from our home because we loved to take that trip for a fun adventure in the city when I was young. In the nightmare I remember so vividly resting my head on my dad’s shoulder and him telling me he loved me. We sang in the dream, like we always did together, and I giggled and so did he. A car suddenly jammed on their breaks in front of me and my dad tried to swerve. In the nightmare the part where we were flying through the air from the impact into the guardrail lasted what felt like 3 minutes although I’m sure in a real accident it would last 5 seconds. While in the air my dad looked at me with fear and regret. I looked at him back love and acceptance. Finally after what felt like those 3 minutes the car landed into an empty lot and we were both okay. He looked at me in the eyes and said I’m sorry.

At this part of my nightmare I started coming to. I started opening my eyes lightly to reality. But you know when you’re in that part of your dream where you know you’re self but you still don’t know what’s real? I said to myself, “Wow! That was scary, I have to call my dad tomorrow, I really miss him.” Then in a panic I really jolted awake. Have I not talked to my dad in that long of time or is he really gone? Is he really gone? This can’t be. How can this be?

I have nightmares almost every night. Usually there much more violent. Usually my dad is so high he can’t talk and I try to get him to come with me but he can’t move. They take place in our old house in Carver and someone is always chasing us and trying to kill us. Usually my dad is sick in my dreams. I wake up with a bad feeling but no heartache.

Today I woke up with a heartache that I haven’t felt before. Because of my dads disease I wasn’t able to see him as often as I’d liked. So sometimes we wouldn’t talk for a week or two and still I felt it in my heart that he was with me. I woke up yearning for that call. But the moments when we could talk were so beautiful and up-lifting. I can’t explain to you how wonderful of a man my dad really was. He was so funny and sweet and always spoke his mind. He didn’t tolerate talking bad about others and he always was honest. He would sing and repeat you to be funny, even if he knew it got on your nerves. He’d pinch my ear and make fun of my tiny size. And then he’d hold my hand and tell me how lucky he is that I’m alive. He was everything to me. When we’d talk my energy would rise from a 1 to a 11. If I had a bad day or something on my mind he’d ease all my worries.

All I want today was to talk to my dad. Today I am remembering the man my dad really was and not about his disease and today I have cried a lot and it’s only 8:30am.

 

I miss you dad. One day I’ll tell my children about the man that you were: a smart, intelligent, kind, protective, funny, and slightly annoying (on purpose) dad. There’s a lot of people, including me, working to change the way we view this disease and to show others that this disease isn’t who the person is. Although it’s hard pill to swallow that behind the disease I lost the greatest man in my life, I will continue to remember who you truly were and that that is the person I lost years before you passed away and I’m so sorry we didn’t have a solution for you.

Demi Lovato’s Addiction

IrDemi Lovato released “Sober” on June 21st, 2018 which was an apology for relapsing. On July 24th Demi was hospitalized for an overdose. She was sober for 6 years. There’s not a word strong enough that can describe the shame of a relapse.

 

After my dad would overdose, all I wanted to do was call him and act like it never happened and that’s what I did. You just can’t ask why. No matter how badly we want to know the reason why- to be in the head of someone struggling with addiction and control the impulse like a joystick- we just can’t.

Owned by Getty Images demi lovato
Owned by Getty Images

I wouldn’t let him know that I knew he overdosed or relapsed. He’d call and I’d tell him I loved him. I’d repeat it. I’d ask how he was mentally and skip over the fact that I knew he was hanging by a thread of hope that it’d be okay.

I saw my dad struggle more with depression and guilt than with the addiction itself. To hear that he felt like a failure to me. No matter how many times you tell him he’s your hero he denied that it could ever be a possibility to be a hero from the pain he caused me.

Demi Lovato is a hero to a lot of people who are struggling with addiction. Like her song said she is only human. And what she is going through is in the public eye. Her song, Sober, reminded me of that pain in the most vulnerable and caring way.

It’s hard to accept love, forgiveness, and hope after a relapse. 

My hope is that she see’s the side of addiction she is shedding light on and that it gives her the strength to get sober. But even more so than getting sober again, I hope that her and people struggling just like her, and like my dad, find peace in not being perfect. I hope that she and people like her find a way to continue to say I’m sorry like she bravely did and continues to forgive herself.

Even when I forgave my dad, he never forgave himself. People that understand Demi Lovato’s struggle forgive her. Life is not meant to be living in guilt and shame.

If I could have one moment back with my dad I’d tell him one last time that he is my hero and my inspiration and life and for him to hear it, accept it and feel it.

If you’re struggling with addiction… you’re meant to be an inspiration. You’re as deserving of happiness and love as anyone else. There’s hope and we want you to forgive yourself. I accept you for who you are.

 

 

 

A New Look at Addiction to Consider

Maybe we’re looking at addiction wrong. Would it be insulting or hurtful to the addict if I said I am anticipating their relapse? Maybe not anticipating but maybe I’m sort of expecting it, but not in the way that I am wishing bad things or not believing in the person to fight the battle full force.

Steve Olbinsky Sobriety

In the last months of my dad’s life, I no longer felt a pit in my stomach that my dad was using drugs. I anticipated he was. The scariest part of his addiction wasn’t the drug use anymore, it was his desire to die. He was using drugs not to get high but to feel like he could hold on for just one more day. Physically he was down to almost 100 pounds, and mentally he couldn’t stand himself. I recorded our last conversation we had where he painfully told me his desire to close his eyes while weeping for my forgiveness. He said, “I tried to like lay down and I started to stop taking all the pills and everything.”

I anticipated that my dad would use drugs again but is that really even the issue? Because an addiction is the disease but is the drug use even the day to day issue? We’re all living to find a reason to continue living. With this disease, living becomes a dependency to a substance. So to fight that dependency it takes giving up something that you depend on and that takes a kind of power that we shouldn’t put so much pressure on to achieve unless we’ve been in those shoes before. Why can’t you just stay sober? It’s only like holding your breath from the moment you wake up till the moment you fall asleep. And good luck catching your breath and have a pleasant dream at the same time.

I had 5 years to decide how I was going to handle my dad’s release from prison and his freedom to make good or bad choices with the tough task of re-entering society. We wrote to each other every week just about and we talked about the things we wanted to do and the way we loved each other so full we could take over the world if we wanted to. In a way, I think that’s why it didn’t work out. Our love was way too powerful.

While he was in prison I wrote this blog post, why I won’t be upset if my dad relapses. It was my eternalized emancipation to his addiction. I wrote about the realities. A drug addiction shouldn’t ruin a bond like the one my dad and I had. I knew I couldn’t enable him. I wrote about the emotions. I understood I’d feel a bit heartbroken inside if he were to relapse. But most importantly I wrote what I would hold on as a truth. I would never let his addiction measure how much he loves me and the chapter doesn’t end until the day that I give up. And here I am continuing to write about my dad even after his passing.

I loved and love my dad more than anything in this world. I don’t even fear death anymore. That’s how our strong our bond was. He fulfilled my life and he gave me my riches- his love, his advice, his heart. I hold onto his letters, photos, and notes like treasured artifacts.

Despite this crazy love, I can confidently tell you that I anticipated his relapse. And to be honest, it made my life so much easier- and maybe his too. It wasn’t something I ever said to him. It should really go as an unspoken truism if you choose to adopt. I no longer had the ups and downs and celebrations with every day that passed that he wasn’t using. I also didn’t have the disappointments either.

When my dad and I went to Bruno Mars, he was excitedly choosing which outfit he should wear for his big night. He had on one shirt but when he decided he wanted to wear something Bruins related, he threw on another over. His frail body looked as though the shirt was weighing him down, but he was so excited to be back in TD Garden it didn’t seem to bother him much. He went over to his pills and he said, “Leanna should I take my pills?” I didn’t know what to say. My heart was beating fast and I had to take a big deep breath. He was looking at me so deeply and so desperately and yet I didn’t know the answer he wanted to hear. I really think he wanted to hear that if he didn’t take the pills everything would be okay and he wouldn’t be in pain but we both knew that wasn’t true. I calmly, with a choke in my throat, said, “Daddy, take what you need so that you’re comfortable at the concert.” It was such a scary feeling to know that if he didn’t take those pills he could’ve been in agonizing pain. He could’ve had a heart attack or a breakdown.

The day after the concert, he was so happy. The happiest I had heard him since he lost his license and totaled his car. He was singing, celebrating, and appreciating how beautiful life can be. He said, “This is what life is about, Leanna.” About 2 days later, I tried calling and didn’t get an answer. I knew that he was using again because if he wasn’t I would’ve had a text back instantly. Regardless, I continued to text him, “I love you, daddy!” I didn’t feel an ounce of regret, anger, or disappointment. I just wanted my dad to be okay, and I was waiting for his next call.

I was my dad’s reason for living. I gave his life as much meaning as I could. I would’ve given him my life. I would’ve traded my beautiful apartment, all my possessions, all my confidence and learned skills to let help him understand how much he meant to me. I tried articulating it in every way possible. The last letter I sent him I said if I could have the richest, smartest, dad that was a Doctor I wouldn’t trade him for you for even one second.

So what if we all stop putting so much pressure on sobriety as the solution? Could it potentially give loved ones more sleep at night? And more importantly, can it help an addict to feel like it’s as rare as it really is to not relapse? I just think it’s crazy that we ask so much. We think our love is enough to make a person want to be sober. Sobriety is desired by all addicts who’ve seen the pain they’ve caused. Your love is not a measurement of sobriety. Your support is, however, a measurement of love. But maybe we redefine support. Maybe we can accept that helping our loved one find meaning is more of the mission rather than helping an addict be sober. 

In the hospital when my dad was pronounced brain dead, my grandpa with tears streaming down his face said, Leanna. You saw dad different. I never thought he would die, I thought every time he was sober it’d be the last time and he would stay. But you accepted him and loved him for who he was.

Here is another glimpse of the last call my dad and I had. One day you’ll hear the pain and see my reaction as I accepted this nightmare but until I’m ready, read our words and please understand that addiction is more than using drugs. It takes away your life and puts you in a prison of depression.

Steve Olbinsky Last Phone Call

[Dad] I’m just so tired. I’m so… They took my f***ing license. Without a license, I’m like a fish out of water. I have no way of even attempting to even get a job. I don’t know how I’m going to get anything with the way my arm is. I’m… I don’t want to do drugs. I don’t want to have relapses anymore. I don’t want to have nothing anymore. I just like. I was really sick in bed for days. I couldn’t get out. I couldn’t do anything. I just like…

[Leanna] It’s okay daddy I’m here for you

[Dad] if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t even want to live. I can’t do that to you. I just can’t leave you. That’s the only thing that’s stopping me from… from just … it’d be so nice to just go to sleep and not worry about nothing anymore. Not have any more problems. Not have any more letdowns. Not have any more you know?

The Wrong Approach to Heroin Addiction

We are taking the wrong approach on the heroin solution. As our Government begins to become aware of the heroin epidemic that has swept America our heroin solution is all wrong. This disease continues to kill precious lives and imprison innocent humans and we still haven’t gotten the solution OR the problem right. Right now our government addresses addiction as the problem and sobriety as the solution. As with any disease you’ll come across, the side effects are more daunting and damaging than the original cause. The cause is the drugs but the problem isn’t addiction. The problem is the internal, mental, and physical ailments that face our loved ones in each sober moment the addict faces. To send a recovering addict to a halfway house or a sober house or prison is like putting a bandaid on a wound. An addict doesn’t need to be sequestered and put among other people that they are now categorized as in society. You go to prison you are a bad person who can’t contribute to society. You go to a halfway house you are an addict who needs help by being isolated.

I’d like to call out the weaknesses of this point before I move on because I want you to realize that I’m not naive to a few things. One, the addict has to want to get sober on their own. Two, each situation is different and this can’t be applied to every situation. Sometimes there are bad people that do drugs. But n0t all drug addicts are bad people and that is my point. In fact- most people I know struggling with addiction had an amazing life and were extremely kind in a sober state of mind.

In order to change the heroin epidemic our solution needs to be less black and white- we can’t just expect an addict to get sober and move on. We need to look into the day to day struggles that an addict faces from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed and even what they dream about. Have you ever thought about what an addict must feel like when they are sober? Have you ever had a dream where you do something awful and you wake up and can’t believe that you’d ever think that way? What if you woke up and it was reality? That is what an addict feels like when they become sober.

The physical health issues and mental health issues that arise from addiction are way worse than the struggle of staying sober. Even with the pounding impulse to use, nothing is worse than feeling like a dirty, worthless failure to the ones you love and cherish most. And to think you feel like it is out of your control is unbearable. Every time I talk to my dad he doesn’t wallow in the fear of using again. He cries and begs to escape himself. To hear your best friend, your parent, and your idol tell you everyday he wants to kill himself to escape the pain is way worse than hearing that he craves a high. Because it’s no longer the high he wants. He just wants to not feel the pain he is the cause of. He sees himself as a monster and although I don’t view him as a monster, society tells him he’s a monster. Society tells him he can go to a sober house, but he’ll never have a job, he’ll never be able to vote, he’ll never live the American dream that he moved here for, from the Soviet Union. 

So do we really want to fix the problem and stand by our loved ones? Do we want to put in the time to give a bit of sympathy? Or do we want to continue to tell ourselves that if every heroin addict was sober there wouldn’t be an epidemic anymore?

Below is a video I made on what an addict is dealing with, how to build relationships with a loved one that is an addict, and how our health and the addicts health can both be at a stable place.

Join my Facebook group I love someone suffering from a heroin/narcotic addiction here.

Visit my website on Rising Hope, my vision for a non-profit for managing relationships with addiction here.

If you have a loved one struggling with addiction and need someone to talk to I’m always here. Email lolbinsky@outlook.com.

The Eyes of Honesty: Saying Sorry For Addiction

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Last year I wrote a blog post about my dads eyes when he was high and how the eyes never did seem to lie to me, even when he did. Now I want to share the truth that my dad give to me and still continues to give to me. Let me take you back to a time I remember vividly from when I was 16 and first opening up to my dad about my feelings.

My dad was never afraid to say sorry when he was sober and I think that is what made my heart grow two sizes when I was going through all of this. I knew he was in agony emotionally. How can you not be? Your life is crumbling below your feet and you want to hold on but you can’t and in your mind that’s your own fault and you begin to eternalize that. So to be able to let the words, “sorry,” come out while looking into my eyes is bringing all those emotions to life. That is ownership. My dad was taking ownership in what he thought was the shattering of my life. Truthfully, it didn’t ruin my life, it gave my life meaning. Especially on this day.

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My dad came into my room, my sanctuary that kept me protected from the life I had outside of those pink walls,  and sat on my bed next to me. He held my hands in his and shaking he looked up into my eyes.

“I’m so sorry” he spoke with what I can imagine felt like a spiked rock in his throat.

I can’t find the words to describe the way he looked at me. But it was something like a life or death thing. Like if he could run around the whole planet to show how sorry he was, he would’ve. It was as if every bad thing he had ever done, had been put into his words and he was trying to get rid of all of them with his eyes. What I guess I’m trying to say is it was the most sincere sorry I’ll ever hear in my life. And it puts the phrase, “Apologies don’t mean anything if you keep doing what you’re sorry for” to shame. Because that apology meant everything to me.

It wasn’t about if he would relapse again because I knew it wasn’t an empty promise at all. It was a sorry from the heart begging to be set free but knowing it wasn’t that simple.

When my dad said this to me, I began tearing up. I could tell he was choking up and the thought of my dad, the toughest Russian I know, crying made me crumble inside.

I’m not sure what I said right then but I’m sure it was along the lines of what I still say to this day. I love you, you’re my best friend and nothing will ever change that.

One of my favorite things about my dad is the interest he takes in my life to the minuscule detail. It never has bothered me because I find it really cute that a tough burly man loves the dainty details of a teenage girl. When I had my first boyfriend, he’d not only ask if I was treated well. He’d ask what we talk about, how happy I am and what makes me smile most. Once when I went on vacation and came back he was like Leanna did he give you a kiss when you came back? He better have missed you! I was like, dad! NO! But he was like C’mon, Leanna. And I bashfully said yes. It was embarrassing but it was sweet that he asked.

As my dad and I were sitting on the bed, I told him I kept a journal and wrote about my feelings when he was high. He asked to read them. My heart sank as I walked over to my Windows XP, and opened my Xanga account (what would be today’s Tumblr). It was my private account that I kept my day to day musings of a 13 year old living with the stress of other kids being mean, liking boys, worrying about being liked, and dealing with addiction.

There were posts about real suicidal thoughts in there and I mustered up the courage to talk about them to the man that created me. If you’re curious exactly what they said, I wrote a post about them a bit here.

I read them and it was no longer a spiked rock in our throats it was full on sobs. We cried together and absorbed our pain and in all that pain we found strength. We grew together even more than before.

After we both found tranquility in our comfort, my dad asked me, “Leanna, please print these out for me? I want to have them.”

I printed them out and my dad came to me a few days later. He read them at his Alanon meeting and told me the whole room went silent, “So silent you could hear a pin drop”. He said he could feel the way the words resonated with the group. My truths, my deepest feelings that I wrote for myself, were used in resonation and that is when I decided that I’d use my words and my feelings and my dads love to heal the world.

On a sober mind, my dad is honest, gentle, and caring. He is the most sincere man I know. My dad gave me the truth of my meaning that day. That we were put into this situation to help others with genuine honesty.

Yesterday my dad texted me “Sometimes I wonder what if but than I would not have the most perfect daughter in the whole wide world. I love you my BabySo.”

It hasn’t been an easy few months for my dad and I, but there isn’t a day that I give up hope. I don’t rely on change, but I cheer him on. I’ll always hold on to his sorry and sobriety. Because I know it’s still in his heart, fighting to come out.

 

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.

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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.

Does Drug Addiction Make People 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.

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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.