The Heroes who keep me from getting high on drugs
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Coach Carter, Denzel Washington
Dashingly feisty, she swiftly swings her light saber with the raw power of the Force against a dark, shrouded nemesis. Zhzhzhzhzhz sounds as the plasma blades clash and crackle. But she pushes her enemy back, empowered by a connection to an Energy beyond measure.
Despite the lack of Jedi training, she faces up against the villainous Kylo Ren, and more than holds her own.
Rey is my hero.
When I’m feeling pushed down by the world, facing enmity that threatens to crush my soul, I remember her and how she refuses to ever give up. She reaches for inner strength and embraces it. Like I must, so I don’t have to go back into rehab.
A man rises from humble beginnings. Not white, not black, he’s of two worlds. Campaigning on the streets of Chicago’s brutal politics, he brings with him hope. He rises, meteorically, to the highest office of his country. Despite nasty attacks on his character and assassination attempts on his reputation, he surpasses all, becoming the most presidential president in decades to a nation riven by a cruel culture war.
Barack Obama is my hero.
When I feel caught between my world, one which I slip so easily into, and the “real” world of mundane anxiety, I relate to him. When I try to act with integrity even when it’s so tempting to give into spite and verbal barbary, I think of how he was a noble statesman in the whirling cesspool of Washington DC. I think of how he embodies honour and is one of our age’s true gentlemen. It helps me from falling back into drug abuse and dishonour.
A monster, he ravaged Europe from Ireland to Italy, and beyond. He consumed more blood than a hundred humans hold. He killed and pillaged for fun. He devastated villages. He ruined great houses. Until he came upon a gypsy girl. Her death at his hands changed his life, for he was cursed with his soul. The weight of a conscience on his vampire’s mind broke him, drove him into quivering insanity. For close to seventy years, he hid away in the shadows of a sewerage system, feeding off rats.
Until he found a cause to redeem himself in his own eyes. To finally face his actions, and to own them. To become a hero for humanity.
Angel is my hero.
When the guilt for what I’ve done, in the past, during active addiction, when I consumed drugs and alcohol in such vast amounts, did actions that I felt irredeemable, like how I betrayed my own family… or those I let down when they needed me the most…
When shame and guilt threaten to cripple me, I think of Angel leading his ragtag band of misfits in one last fight against the demonic forces of evil in his show’s finale.
His courage in facing himself helps keep me from falling back to drug and alcohol abuse.
He dreamed of flight, as he watched birds gain lift with the beating of their wings. Designing a man-sized kite, he fought against the forces of gravity. Desperate to understand the inner workings of the human body, he dissected cadavers in a place and time where such acts were forbidden – on pain of death.
He was a man of science, developing an understanding for the natural world, with its wonderous phenomenon. He was a man of invention, as he designed machines only to be realised in a future time. He was a man of art, as he painted, over four long years, the single most famous smile in history.
Leonardo di Vinci is my hero.
His quest for knowledge is a thirst I understand. His drive to become a master in a multitude of disciplines is my own desire. When I feel the pull of inactivity and procrastination, I turn to him, so that maybe, just maybe, my own name can live on through the ages – just like his. A possibility if I keep clean from drugs and alcohol.
I struggled to find my way after I left rehab. That’s because rehab provides you with the tools and the safe, healing environment to learn to use those tools. But when you’re out, you need to actually make use of them. Houghton House does offer continued support and therapy beyond that, making the road to recovery easier. However, I personally wage war with myself, with daily demons from within me seeking to claw me back into the hell of my own making.
I need heroes.
And I have them. They are legion.
Each one represents an ideal I aspire to in my life-or-death civil war.
I believe everyone needs heroes. Heroes are a source of inspiration, a rallying cry, a banner to fight under.
So, what was the process I used to find mine?
Well, I’m passionate about history, about politics, about sci-fi and fantasy, about the human condition. And I’m passionate about creativity.
This last one is a genetic gift encouraged from the time I could hold a crayon. My maternal grandmother was a talented painter. I remember far back into my early childhood: she was always buying canvases and paints for me to illuminate my inner universe.
Meanwhile, my grandfather had an old typewriter – which was already a relic of the past at the time – but I loved tip-tapping away on it, pretending to be a best-selling novelist, writing my next big thriller-horror-love story (girls were still very icky to me at that age).
Creativity empowered my mind’s eye, allowing for a clear vision of anything imaginable. So vivid, they became real.
When I find someone captivating – whether they’re fictional and brought to life on screen or if they are part of the powerful tides of history or they make the pages swiftly turn in a book – they enter my psyche, and become enmeshed.
(Some even come from rehab.)
They breath, they live, they think, they feel, they react. In one sense, they commune with me.
For me, they are as gods among men – embodying the best characteristics of humanity, whether it’s never giving up, like Rey, or simply never giving in, like Angel. I aspire to them. As someone who slips into his own world so easily, I always find my heroes available when I need them.
It doesn’t matter that some don’t exist, some are long-dead, and some have never even met me. It matters that I hold them in my heart.
It may seem odd, carrying them with me as I do, but what it is, is connecting to the purest form of my morals, values, and ideals. Remembering them.
Haha. Being scolded by Barack Obama makes me feel like an embarrassed school boy. I experience shame, so I endeavour to be a better me. Then we go play hoop in my lounge (sad-lol).
When I’m socially anxious, and enter a room full of people giving me long glances, I’m suddenly wreathed in a poncho, six-shooter on my hip, and a brimmed hat crowning my head, with Clint Eastwood’s Man-With-No-Name by my side.
(Not to be aggressive, but to feel a sense of self-assuredness. Clint and me, we don’t run from showdowns.)
Heroes keep me on the road of recovery from the drugs and alcohol that ravaged my body and mind. A personal rehab of heroes I take with me everywhere.
There’s even a hero directly in my life, but who also exists dualistically in my own mind. She truly grants me serenity. Moreover, enables me to question everything I do wherever I go – and thus make the right choices when I need to – in the form of ongoing therapy (including the real, but imaginary, debates we have in my head while I’m bumbling about life).
That is my therapist, one of Houghton House’s excellent counselling team. It’s through the team’s daily experiences with healing fractured, broken souls that they became heroes. Heroes with a great understanding of the terrible condition we addicts go through.
If it wasn’t for Lagertha*, and for Houghton House’s caring rehab staff in general (including the highly-empathetic counselling team, veteran nurses, the understanding admin and office peeps, the wonderful kitchen ladies, there’s too many to name), I wouldn’t have any heroes at all.
So there is hope. For anyone who’s still suffering in active addiction. And there’s more than just the chance to get clean. I found, through Houghton House’s rehab centre, there’s the chance to redeem.
I’d like to end off with my all-time favourite quote. It’s from one of my heroes formed at the ringside of my mind. Rocky Balboa, who went the distance.
It’s a good one to remember when you’re pushed down in the journey of recovery, perhaps feeling self-piteous, perhaps feeling desperate. It’s darn empowering. And it’s awesome.
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” – Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone
*Not her real name.