Most people have never heard of a “Recovery High School.” To change this let me start by first telling you about how I became a teacher at one.
To do that, I must go back to May 27th, 2016. At 3 a.m. on that morning I stood outside watching a fire engulf our family’s home. One hour earlier I was sitting alone on the back porch having a cigarette; a bad-habit that I would partake in when I battled insomnia. The fire that I watched burn, the fire that would leave my family homeless, this fire, was my fault.
Guilt, shame, anger, fear, hopelessness-all the emotions I was already trying to cope with in my attempt to get sober came to a head that morning. As bad as I felt that day, looking back now, it was just like any other day for an ‘addict.’ The feeling that your life is over is just way too common amongst those that struggle. When I close my eyes today, I can vividly recall being huddled under that fire-lit sky, believing that I would forever be defined by my struggles, thinking about the endless failed attempts to put my life back together. At that moment my dream of achieving some sense of redemption, just like my house, went up in flames. How did my life end up this way?
In the spring of 2001, my senior year of high-school, a major news channel had chosen me as their “Athlete of the Month.” The segment highlighted my achievements on the field as well as my performance in the classroom. Back then, I was “that kid”- An All-star athlete, honor roll student, homecoming king. This is not to brag. In fact, the truth is that I am more proud today of surviving my failures than I am reminiscing over these past achievements. The point I need to make is that addiction and mental illness can affect anyone. I am living proof of this.
Before I go on, let me just make one thing perfectly clear, people with addictive tendencies or emotional instability can struggle with any type of substance-from alcohol and weed, to heroin and cocaine. Because of this fact, the substances I used is irrelevant.
As I write this I am thirty-six years old. I have lost more than I could ever explain due to my substance use. I have slept days, weeks, months away battling depression. I have hated myself. I have spent years regretting bad decisions. I have punished myself more than anyone else could ever wish to punish me because of personal anguish introduced by life naturally. I have been a failure, a loser, an addict.
The destruction I caused and my struggles are difficult to overlook. Too often I forget that in my time on this planet I have also done some very good things. The thought of which was never enough to grant myself forgiveness.
Getting healthy for me meant reinventing myself. I needed to find my purpose. To accomplish this, I needed a fresh start. A nice idea but a very tough thing to do when you carry so much baggage.
But then I found a “Recovery High School” in Massachusetts. Or maybe the school found me?
In ‘the program’ (that’s AA and NA for those of you trying to learn) I heard people say “all things happen for a reason.” Could this really be true? Did I have to struggle myself to help understand how to be a useful asset to these kids?
At this school I am surrounded by people that respect me for what I have been through, and support me with things I am continually trying to overcome. They appreciate my struggle, and try to learn from my experiences. Here I do not need to hide things that have made me who I am. I can honestly say they love me just the way I am.
When I suggested to my students that they write editorials so that people could learn what went on here, many were understandably hesitant.
This left me in a dilemma. As any parent or teacher knows it is hard to make a child go out on a limb and do something uncomfortable. Most often times, we as the adults must show them first by doing that uncomfortable thing ourselves. So, I had to ask myself, do I put myself out there?
I am not a fool. The ‘stigma’ does still exist. Some people reading this will judge and ridicule me for my candidness. Some may call me delusional for thinking that the success of our children is so important to society as a whole.
After much internal debate I decided that it was worth the risk.
These young minds are determined to live a life where substances do not derail their dreams. Lives that are focused on making the world a better place- for them, their families, and everyone’s’ future. We need them to succeed!
To increase awareness, and share our hopes and dreams with one another, we are starting a website- “RecoveryHighSchool.com.”
To promote this website we will create a FaceBook Page; “Social Recovery 101.” Let us discuss our journey there! (Please ‘Like,’ ‘Follow,’ ‘Share.”)
“U. R. Loved And You Are Not Alone!”
Together We Can!
"It's Been A Ride."- Not Afraid by Eminem
Question Of The Day:
What does ‘Social Recovery’ mean to me?