Breaking Through Barriers, One at a Time

When I was living in my addiction, the world around me was a dark place and I looked at other people that were happy and didn’t think that it was real. It all seemed fake and I thought that the world was full of lies. This is because I could not see anything beyond my own eyes and beyond my own thinking. I was stuck inside a prison inside my head and the only way out was by using drugs and alcohol to numb the way I was seeing things and the way I was feeling.

I didn’t know at the time that the only way to escape this prison inside my head was to get sober and start working through all the lies and deceptions in my mind. When I was using, I was always unhappy and I wanted everyone around me to feel the same way I was feeling, so I didn’t have feel alone in this way of thinking. I remember it was very hard for me to be happy for others or have any empathy because I felt trapped and everything was dark.

I didn’t realize that the longer I lived in this way of thinking, the more negative I was. The darker the prison got, the higher the walls were to climb over. Everything was emotionally too much to bear. I found the only thing to help me be ok inside this prison was my drug use, which further pushed me into darkness and despair.

Once I got sober, I could finally start working on overcoming these issues and I could start climbing out of the prison that I dug myself. It wasn’t just that easy though, and it took a lot of work. I needed the help and support of close friends and family to get me there. I couldn’t have done it without the love and support that I got from my time at New Life. I always had a hard time with thinking of how others judged me and perceived me. I felt less than a lot, and had very low self-esteem. The walls that I had built up inside my head kept me from doing so many things, and kept me from building so many relationships.

Putting in all of the work that I did when I went through New Life really taught me how to maintain personal determination to push through the challenges that I come across and that I experience. It was the most challenging thing that I had ever been through up to that point, but I was able to stick close to my support group and get through it. That taught me that I can get through anything and since I was no longer trapped inside my prison, I saw that I could tackle any challenge that came my way.

I think now that is one of the things that really pushes me. I have seen that when I have a challenge to face and when I have a goal to push through, I feel really good because I am doing something that is making me stronger and I am conquering it. Even if it is something small, like trying to add one more thing to my daily routine or something a little more challenging like trying to push through some physical goal that I am trying reach on an athletic scale. Lately I have been working on breathing exercises and pushing myself to be able to hold my breath longer to increase my lung capacity for various sports and physical activities I enjoy. I see it in my mind as layers that I have to push through, but I take it one step at a time.

The only way I am able to do this is because I have learned how to push myself forward one step at a time, something I could never do before. I would always look at the problem as a whole and I wouldn’t have any idea where to start. Before I would say to myself, “ I can’t hold my breath for 4 minutes I’ll never get there, the work to get there is too hard.” Instead of telling myself,  “I will start with 1 minute and I’ll work my way up.” So that’s where I started and after a few weeks of practice I was up to 4 minutes. Some people might think it’s a weird goal to have and some of my friends think my practice is strange but to me it’s priceless. It’s about more than what the actual goal is itself, it’s the fact that I can set goals now and I can reach them. Plus, it’s pretty cool to say that I can hold my breath for 4 minutes!

This is just a small example of the things that I have been able to do since I decided to get sober. The most important thing today is that I am no longer a prisoner to my own thinking and I don’t have to always believe the thoughts that trickle into my head. I’ve learned to work through them and I have learned to break down the walls that once kept me from doing the things that I love to do and the goals I have wanted to achieve. This has allowed me to begin pushing through fears that I had as well with personal studies and education that I can start working on the goals I have set there. I am grateful for the tools I have acquired today and for the ability to be free from the prison inside!

-Josh B., New Life House alumni

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