It’s only a 4 letter word. It’s a terrific motivator. It determines whether or not I think life is worth living. And if it’s lacking it’s awfully hard to move on with daily tasks. Yes I am talking about hope. It’s funny how quickly my concept of hope changes. But today I am feeling overly optimistic.

You see among my illness I thought I lost something that was near and dear to me. Growing up I was always known for how smart I “was.” I could do even the littlest amount of work and get amazing grades. It was kind of my claim to fame. That and sports. I was known as the smart jock. Well when my illness was at its peak I thought I had lost my smarts. I obviously wasn’t doing well in school and I couldn’t comprehend why. I attributed it to me no longer being smart.

Well this year, things changed. I’m doing amazing in school and enjoying it and I couldn’t be happier. There’s a certain pride I take in knowing I am considered smart again. It’s like my illness has taken a lot from me. Well I shouldn’t say that, I have chosen to lose a lot with my illness. But my smartness is not one of those. And I am so happy to brag about it. Cause well just a few short months ago I didn’t have much to brag about.

This time last year I was at Homewood Mental Health and Addictions Facility. My how things have changed. Although I certainly thought over the Christmas break I was heading back there. But you see there’s a difference between last year and this year. Last year I was a helpless mess up who didn’t understand the difference between good and bad. This year I know exactly what is right and what is wrong, I just chose to neglect it for a matter of 3-4 weeks because I thought I didn’t want what I had. But you can all quote me on this, I would rather live stably in sobriety than the mess drugs and alcohol create in my life. Of course it’s hard for me to sit here and say, “Yeah I’ll never pick up a drink again.” But I know the effects of alcohol and how detrimental they are to my life so I think it’s more realistic to say I will never have more than 1 drink at a time again. Just because I know that after that the rest is history. 

My father’s father (aka my grandfather but I don’t get to call him that because he was a huge alcoholic) threw his entire life away for a substance, alcohol. Which is shocking because alcohol doesn’t love, it doesn’t give you happiness. It’s a depressant. It doesn’t give you pride and it most certainly doesn’t give you quality of life. I could never comprehend how this man literally went homeless over this drug and eventually died from its misuse.

But then I got to thinking, I thought, why am I following in his footsteps? Do I want to be homeless? Do I want to lose my family? Do I want to lose MORE friends? The answer to all those questions is absolutely not. I have all the help I could need, I just need to get my head straight and acknowledge that yes I have a pretty great life. But I think it’s important everyone knows they have hope in their life. 

When I was seven years old I moved to a very very small town. For most of my adolescence I grew up in this small town with very little concept of what a city was. Every few months or so we would road trip (12+ hours) to the “city” (Toronto). I would remember the second we approached Barrie because all I would see were the tall buildings and the sparkling lights. I loved the city lights. They symbolized civilization, excitement and opportunity. For the better half of the last 3 years I cringed at these lights. I would think to myself how the hell can you shine so bright when I feel so dim? It’s as if you’re taunting me. You don’t symbolize greatness, you symbolize my misery and why I feel life is not worth living.

Well tonight that sparkle returned. I looked up at the CN tower with nothing but a giant smile on my face. So to that I say, even if it’s just a dim light, even if it is so faint you could almost mistake it for darkness, hold onto it tightly and never let it go because one day it will sparkle again. I know how easy it is to fall victim to your symptoms. They can gain power so easily and rapidly. But even if you just look at a similar situation in a different light, there’s hope glimmering somewhere. And for my quote of the day: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Albert Einstein.

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