Ryan Donnelly's Blog

Ripples In The Water

The damage substance abuse causes affects everyone in your life. I have this vision of what my pill popping drug addiction did to the people around me. Imagine a body of water with little sail boats on it. The boats closer to shore are the ones closest to me in life. Now picture pills falling from the sky, falling into this body of water causing ripples, ripples that rock these sail boats. As my addiction got stronger and I was more reliant on these drugs, larger pills fall. The larger the pills falling from the sky, the bigger the waves, till eventually I knocked over all the sail boats close to me. Till some were washed up and broken on shore. Never to be the same again. My addiction destroyed parts of people’s lives and I was drowning in the waves of the storm I created.

A couple of months after rehab, I was into my studies and concentrating on how to better myself daily. The more I read, the stronger I became. A new-found fascination in books. Never being much of a reader throughout life, I realized the education in these words. My eyes were glued to books, sometimes reading whole books in a day. Besides the raw education I learned from my destruction, the real tough love from my boys in rehab and consequences I was facing, these books broadened my thinking even more. No more fighting negativity with negativity. As Confucius said, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” Positivity was the answer.

Sure people were going to talk. They were going to bash my reputation, rumors were going to fly. I mean the truth was bad enough, but that’s just the way things are. So I would hear little things here and there about what a terrible person I was. But what I learned from reading, and promising myself every morning when I woke up that I would face life with a smile, that it didn’t matter what people thought about me. I was ALIVE. The reason for that is to help other people. Another spark was lit. I need to take advantage of every breath to open the eyes of the sick. Lifting people up soon became a passion. Something as little as letting an elderly man in front of you on line in the supermarket could change that persons day. It felt good to make people smile, it felt good to be real.

I wanted to make people smile that helped me personally. I saved up what little money I had and sent a care package to the ARC that changed my life. I sent a package to the guys that made a huge impact. It included razors, deodorant, shampoo, soap and of course Newport 100′s. I waited about a week and called to make sure the guys received the package. The news I received that morning was yet another reminder of drugs and their life consequences.

I asked to speak to the house manager Brian who became a good friend of mine while in rehab. He was a 29-year-old ex-Marine as I was a 26-year-old ex-squid (Navy) so we had a lot in common. The man who answered the phone was none other than guess who? Frank! He was so excited to hear from me and the feeling was more than mutual. We spoke small talk for a little about how he was doing. It was awesome to hear his happy Puerto Rican twang. Frank let me know that Brian was unavailable at the moment. So I responded with the question, “Is Felix available?” And the response I would receive still sends a shutter down my spine…

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