“A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke.” (Page 64~The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous)
Over the last recent years I have teamed up with our Sheriff to visit our schools here in Porter County. We show the video we put together about our horrible Heroin Epidemic and then I share with them the harsh realities of drug addiction. From what I understand from the feedback – other than I cuss too much, is that it has been a welcomed frank approach. That I speak the truth and let them in on what to expect if and when they decide to start experimenting with chemicals. And then we open things up for a Question & Answer time for the kids/young adults to openly and freely ask myself or the Sheriff some questions about drugs, addiction, or life itself. But over the last several presentations we have done, the Sheriff has himself asked me a question for the audience to hear. One that is the inspiration of this blog entry.
“Herb, how important would you say it is, for these young people to watch/ pay attention to who their friends are?”
My response, “That may be one of the most important things/decisions that you do in your life.”
I do not know why I haven’t really dove into this topic before. Maybe because It just seems so common sense to me? Maybe it just wasn’t time. But here we are. Right here and right now.
We take inventory on all sorts of things. We, my Wife and I, personally look in our fridge and cabinets before we go grocery shopping so that we know what we need for the week. We check our mileage on our vehicle so we know when to expect an oil change. We do our checks and balances on our finances. We do inventory on all sorts of things in our day to day lives. Why shouldn’t we, and this entry is especially geared toward two audiences: 1- young people, in high school and middle school, maybe some college who have never done drugs, are thinking about doing drugs, or might just feel a little directionless. And 2- People in early recovery. Why shouldn’t we do inventory on our relationships, our friends, our peers, the places we work, the music we listen to, the movies we watch, the things we eat? I know that we SHOULD take inventory on these things, but how often do we? And why don’t we more? And I think the answer to that second question is because we get used to where we are. IF we were to take an honest look at our environment, then that might threaten our comfort. It might challenge us to make some changes and get vulnerable, which is difficult, but vulnerability I believe is a strength and needed for improvement. They say that we are the average of the 5 people we associate with most. So what does that make you where you are at right here and right now? What does that make me? Would you be happy with the Mathematics of that one? You+Your closest people divided by 6= you. ? I know that none of these ideas that I write about are original and super dooper cutting edge. I don’t know if I have ever had an original thought in my life. Have you? I mean, I know that’s an exaggeration, we all have original thoughts from time to time, we all have ideas- that’s how the world progresses over time- one great idea followed by action after another. But you get the point. But maybe that is the point, maybe we sometimes feel like we don’t have any good ideas, or the right drive and passion, because we’re not surrounding ourselves with people who challenge us. Maybe we haven’t “Audited our Circle” in a while and so were stuck in the same ol’ status quo…
I am often asked why recidivism rates, why relapse rates are still so horribly high. And the obvious answer is, Addiction is a disease for which there is no known cure and people will always continue to relapse and go back to jail as long as addiction exists. But as I think about that more and more, I think the answer can be found in the cycle of the process itself: We’re addicted>We get arrested>We got to jail and sit there long enough to get clean and finish our court dates>We get released right back to the streets and the only places we have to go are the exact places we just came from>We get addicted>we get arrested>….. You see the idea here. Our circle doesn’t change. Our environment doesn’t change. When a rose bush, or a beautiful flowering tree doesn’t perform well in your yard you don’t treat the flowers, you treat the soil. Or you dig it up and move it to where it would get more nourishment. Same idea right?
*This is why every single county in every state that is capable needs to make addiction treatment and mental health services a priority by building more and more half way houses/Sober Living Facilities like Respite house, Morraine house, Alice’s house, and the Caring Place – All four which are located right here in Valparaiso, In. So that people who are in need of an environment change and who want to give recovery an honest effort have a safe, structured, monitored, and healthy place to grow without being subject to temptations the like of which they were just subject to in their former lives.*
When I finally got clean, *and I actually had to delete what I had originally typed(“when I first got clean…” because when I first got clean, I relapsed, and the second time, and the third time, etc… because My circle never changed. I didn’t audit my life. I fell back into that cycle.)- When I FINALLY got clean, it was because, as many of you know, I was arrested and facing a very long time in prison. But it takes what it takes right? But I remember having some serious reflections on my life. I remember “auditing my life” I knew that IF I were to some how some way actually get a real shot at turning my life around, then EVERYTHING about my former life had to change. And it was a bitter and hard pill to swallow, pardon the pun. but it was. And it was scary. But I had to get honest and vulnerable with myself once and for all. Who was I? Why was I put on this earth? Did I even know what Joy was? Did I know how to be happy? Did I want to be successful? And what was it going to take to make that happen? It is very hard to explain all of this as I write, but I am doing my best to make some points here, and I hope you can all follow along as I do so. They say that the only thing we drug addicts need to change is everything. I, as I sat in that jail, was a product of the way I had been living. I was the sum total of all of my life decisions. The people I hang out with, the places I went, the things we did, the drugs, the booze, all the way down to the music I listened to. everything I did, thought, spoke, and ingested worked hand in hand with the lifestyle that brought me to this jail cell. It brought me to my knees. I became my environment in every way. I couldn’t stop thinking about using drugs, so I hung around drug addicts, and I ultimately became a drug addict. Garbage in, Garbage out- GIGO. So I started changing everything right inside that jail. I wasn’t going back to the world, to the lifestyle that I came from, that was for sure. But what version of ME would I go back to? So I changed everything from the music that I listened to, to the things I read in my down time, to the way I talked, and even the people I “hung out with” In jail. instead of spending all of my time sharing war stories and listening to rap about drugs and guns and bullshit, I spent my time in prayer, listening to the local christian radio, and reading recovery literature and my Bible. And little by little things started to change. And I have continued those very things to this day. I am very careful about what I put into my body- and yes, my ears, and my eyes, and my brain are part of my body. I fill my eyes with motivational things, pure things, good things, I’m sorry but if you’re on Facebook and are constantly sharing negativity and things that don’t line up with what speaks to me, then you have already been deleted and I apologize. I listen to spiritual music, not constantly, but very often, I pray, And I am always very careful to avoid high risk, negative situations and people. I have audited my life in major ways and continue to do so. This is what they mean when they say that “We must always remain Vigilant.” – On the look out for potential danger and to always proceed with caution. Does this mean that I am always “mousing around” and afraid of my own shadow, absolutely not! Because I have audited my circle in such a way, that I now have Life Speakers, Encouragers, Motivators, Family, Strong People who keep me Accountable, whether I fucking like it or not. Iron sharpens iron, and stupid sharpens stupid. Period. I choose the former today. Does it mean that I’m perfect and without flaw, HAHAHAHA- No. but it does mean that I have chosen to always strive to be better. Day in and day out. Sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly. Progress, not perfection.
But these ideas here, don’t JUST apply to the recovering. They apply to those “Normies” out there, too. In your work, in your families, in your schooling, in your churches, in your neighborhoods. Who do you run with? Who are your people? Who is your “Plus 5”? Are you with people who are strong minded, success driven, goal oriented, accountable, reliable people? Or are you with “Blessing Blockers”? It is totally okay to close your eyes at night, or pray, or meditate on your life and answer these questions honestly with yourself. Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? Is what you’re doing right now going to help you get there? Is who you’re with going to help you “bloom and grow”? What about how you eat, how you think, what you listen to, who you depend on? Is it speaking life to you? Is it helping you grow? You are not a bad person if the answer to these questions is “No”, and then you make a change, just try not to hurt anyone in the process. You are not selfish, you are not a bad person, for taking care of YOU, first. It is okay. You don’t have to be anyone other than your truest self. That’s who you were meant to be anyways. Audit your life, audit your circle, audit your friends, even your family, audit what you listen to, and what you put into your body & Mind. So many people out there, think that a diet is just what we put into our bellies. But it’s so much more than that. It’s what we put into our minds, and our hearts- our eyes and our ears. If we want to be successful, then we have to witness our own behaviors, we MUST be selfish in that aspect, because only we know what we truly want, and only we know what our inventory is. we must, be able to take a stance and say, “this is not going to help me grow, this is not serving my purpose, this is not who I was intended to be” Whether your 15 or 65 years old, its never too late to realize these things and step out toward our true purpose. So I challenge you all today, tonight, whenever you choose to take this on: To audit your life, Take some inventory, pray about it, think about it, write it down, paint it, whatever it is that you do- what do you have, what don’t you have, what do you need, and what needs to go? Or who? We should always be doing our own parts- accountable to ourselves- to be growing and doing our best to walk in the Mission which we are given. And if the people who you’re surrounding yourselves with are not helping you do that, then I am sorry to tell you this, but they are not your friends. Sometimes it takes a great deal of vulnerability to break into these types of circles, but I did it. I put my hand up in Bible study and said “I need some help here, Men.” I shook hands after NA/AA meetings and invited myself along for coffee after the meetings had ended. We have got to be willing to test our limits as we audit ourselves too, that’s how our limits, our circles, our challenges will continue to grow. So much of our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health depends on what we “Feed” ourselves. GARBAGE IN. GARBAGE OUT. And I will once again share this with you:
One reason we don’t like change is we get comfortable where we are. We get used to our friends, our job, the place we live. And even if it’s not perfect we accept it, because it’s familiar. And what happens is, because we’re not willing to change, we get stuck in what God used to do, instead of moving forward into what God is about to do
Just because God’s blessed you where you are doesn’t mean you can just sit back and settle there. You have to stay open to what God is doing now. What worked five years ago may not work today. If you’re going to be successful, you have to be willing to change
Every blessing is not supposed to be permanent, every provision is not supposed to last forever. We should constantly evaluate our friendships. Who’s speaking into your life? Who are you depending on? Make sure they’re not dragging you down, limiting you from blossoming. Everybody is not supposed to be in our life forever
If you don’t get rid of the wrong friends, you will never meet the right friends
^Spoken Outro: “Ill Mind of Hopsin 8- Joel Osteen