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  December 12, 2015      
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Juan Martinez

"My Story is about Potential."

If you would have approached me three years ago and predicted my future as it pertains to recovery, I would have told you that you were crazy. Let me start by saying that the turning point that got me to where I am today, occurred on January 13, 2007. I was arrested for dealing crack to an undercover police officer (a story for another time). Since then, I have been through a couple of 28-day rehabs, but nothing prepared me for the work that I was about to do when I entered Samaritan Village Veterans Program.

I have been through many difficult times in my life and have endured many traumas and as a male in a Hispanic culture that does not tolerate showing weakness, I was forced to turn my demons inward and it nearly cost me my life. Actually, if you really look at it, to a certain degree it did cost me. I lost my wife and I have not seen my eighteen year old daughter since she was less than five years old. My sisters have pretty much disowned me for the hell that I put my mother through as my addiction rendered her useless in her ability to help me. But I digress. Let me tell you the price I had to pay to enjoy the freedom that I have today.

Let me start by saying that addicts are never ready for recovery until they are "tired of being sick and tired." This is a sentiment that has been echoed by many a recovering addict. And even at the point of entering the Veterans Program, I wanted to fight the process because I had been doing it for so long that it would be the equivalent of killing off my best friend. Addiction was the friend that knew me even better than I knew myself - it's hard to get rid of that twisted relationship. In fact, no one never really truly gets rid it, you just have to get better at recognizing that there is no future in that life.

The "price" that I had to pay in the early stages of recovery was I had to reveal all of the garbage that I had stored inside throughout my entire life, whether it was physical and/or emotional abuse of a relative, or the pain and fear that I had inflicted to those closest to me, even the traumas suffered as a result of going into combat during Desert Storm. I had to reveal ALL of my pain, embarrassment and humiliation at the things that I had done or have had done to me. Once I put it all out there, I was able to get help in a way that was foreign to me. I found out that I was not alone. No one judged me and I could talk openly - a comfort that would allow the healing to begin.

I can tell you all day what recovery means to me but without some kind of reference, it's kind of hard to understand the gratitude that I feel every day when I wake up and know I choose NOT to be a slave to my urges. I have the ability to call or visit someone and let them know that I am having an urge, but know that all feelings pass. The best way to fight this disease is to expose it before it is able to inflict its damage.

I went through sixteen months of residential treatment and the biggest lesson that I have learned is that nothing that can ever happen to you in your life can be so bad (or so "deep" where I come from) that it merits "picking up" a drink or a drug.

Recovery. What does it mean to me? Everything! I would not be living as I do now. In fact, I would probably not be living at all. Jail, Death, Institutions - is that what you call life? "Living life on life's terms" is a challenge that I welcome every day in my recovery because it gives me the opportunity to learn more about myself and how to deal with the day to day issues that I would certainly have run away from in my addiction. My life is filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and potential, emotions that make me want to help others who are suffering.

I tell my story, in part, because it helps to keep me honest. I am forced to recall things in my life that which I am not particularly proud, forcing me to stay focused on the path of recovery. The more important reason that I tell my story is that no matter how many times I tell it (and it is never the same because there is so much to tell) I always have someone come up to me after I speak that can identify with me or that knows someone who is living like I lived. I tell my story because I may get someone to see that living a life of recovery is possible no matter where you come from or what you look like. Believe me, you are never too old to begin a new life - I have wonderful friends that can attest to that! Greatness is in us all.

My name is Juan, and my story is about potential. What's Your Story?


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