Friday, January 20, 2012

Belief Can Change the World One Drug Addict at a Time...

As I sit here tonight, eyes nearly crossed from only four hours of sleep and two days of tax preparation for this self employed guru; my wheels still continue to turn and I am beginning to wonder if I need help for that. Passion is what has always driven my wheels and my passions were set on fire today by a phone call I received from an old friend after I wrote encouraging words on his Facebook page.

I always post positive things on my own page; something inspiring, encouraging, or funny because we all hear enough negative over the course of a day that my contribution to that would be deemed unnecessary cruelty. I also realize just how powerful words can be, so I make it a point to regurgitate sincere thoughts on the pages of others when I see a post that triggers me to say something. I have only been triggered negatively a few times on Facebook and did not refrain from saying something diplomatic at those moments either.

When I was growing up, I had a rough time. I had moved to a southern state from Massachusetts and well... never quite fit in. It was over these many years that I learned just how badly you could be affected by people who chose not to accept or believe in you. It was then I decided that no mater what I did, it would be  something that would lift the spirits of others. I also made the decision to prove all my nay-sayers wrong by never taking my mind off of my dreams to succeed.

You see... we all make mistakes, some are more severe than others, but everyone deserves to be heard and everyone deserves another chance. We all have a story, so don't be so quick to judge without hearing it; open-minded I might add. For the past two years, I have worked with Help Portrait; a Non-Profit Organization that puts together a professional photo shoot one day a year for the less fortunate. It has been an amazingly gratifying event that I have witnessed changing lives. I was involved with a group that goes to rehab centers for drug addiction and I learned that people who have been addicted to drugs are rarely believed in by anyone once they try to get clean. It was an awakening for me hearing the stories of some of the people I met.

Many people believe that once a druggie always a druggie... I say NOT so. I will say however that often it is the case when someone has spent time in prison for drugs and that is where I feel I can enlighten you now that I have met several people with these stories. Close your eyes and picture this... you were young and stupid, you got involved with drugs and got caught. You go to jail, lose your kids, spend your time and get out ready to change your life. Nobody will hire you because you have drug charges... you can't get help going back to school because you have drug charges, your kids are in foster care and you have no chance of getting them back because you have drug charges. All you want to do is become a better person, but everyone around you distrusts you, assuming all drug addicts are liars and thieves and cannot be trusted. You continue to keep trying to make it  and prove yourself but fail because nobody will give you a chance. Hmmm what happens? You give up and travel down the same road that everyone assumes you are still on anyway.

New scenario... same scenario as above except this. You get out of jail wanting to turn your life around, you seek help and you get it. You find a job with an employer that gives you a chance to prove yourself and encourages you to stay clean by offering you incentives to do so,  promotions... raises etc. What happens? Five years later you are making great money, you believe in yourself and have others around you believing in you too because you are so dedicated. A life of drugs seems so distant and you don't want to ever risk losing what you have now earned. Why? Because a person who has been in jail has learned that life is short, they take nothing for granted and unless they are a sociopath (different lesson altogether) they DON'T want to go back.

In the past two weeks, I have had two people from my past who have spent the last ten or more years in prison reach out to me on Facebook. I encouraged both to never give up. I believe in them and hope that enough people around them will do the same. These are good people who made big mistakes and they do not deserve to be judged. Only one person has the right to do that. They both lost their mom's while sitting in jail and they wanted nothing more than to talk to someone and connect being that for 10 or more years they had no connections at all. I am very glad that I took the time out of my crazy schedule for these two people and I hope that something I may have said helps them believe in themselves enough to not become a statistic. I must say that it was also nice to get a phone call rather than a text... kind of the same feeling I get when I get a hand written letter! <3

Moral of this story?
Belief can change the world... one person at a time. 

Recovering drug addicts at the Help Portrait event 2011
I sent them a Christmas card with this picture and wrote on it