203. It takes strength.

They tell us that $#!+ happens.

And that it will happen to all of us at some point.

No one is spared, no one escapes scot-free.

Which means we need to be prepared and ready to face it head on, move past it and continue with our lives.

The Habit of Staying Strong has been the focal point of our attention for the past two weeks and it is this very habit, more than any other, that will see us through those times when life throws its proverbial curve our way.

So, what does it mean to stay strong?

Staying Strong means taking the time to master the one skill that, more than any other, plays a leading role in determining the quality of our lives in both good times and bad.

We have spent much time over the years discussing the following; how perspective impacts our everyday lives; how we alone choose the meaning of everything that happens to, and around us; and how the meaning we choose determines how we are emotionally impacted and affected by everything in our world.

With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to my new friend Janet who I have never met but with whom I have had several fascinating conversations. Janet was, by her own description, a 36-year-old drug addicted alcoholic who, between stints of living on the street, worked odd jobs only long enough to obtain a temporary roof over her head while indulging in the pseudo-pleasures provided by drugs and alcohol.

Eight years ago, on a bitterly cold winter night in her hometown of Austin, Texas, Janet cradled her best friend Tony in her arms and held him tightly as he died of an overdose.

Grief stricken, the trauma of that event brought her to the cold realization that there had to be a better way. With no money or resources, she resolved to “clean up my act,” get clean and sober and build a life free of chemical dependency that would provide a permanent place to call home.

And she did it. It was not easy. There were many times when her body begged for relief from the aching agony of well entrenched cravings but Janet was determined that this was one resolution she was going to keep

Without knowing its name, she grabbed onto The Habit of Staying Strong and clung to it for dear life.

And then one day – one great day – she awoke without the usual fog and, as the day progressed it dawned on her that she was feeling no cravings, no anxiety and no need to fight that evil presence she been battling since the morning after Tony’s death.

She taught herself how to stay strong and by using every available tool from local social agencies, found the first job she’d had in many years.

The work was menial but Janet approached it with the sense of pride usually reserved for those who truly have achieved greatness.

Over time her employer noticed her remarkable attitude, dedication and commitment to excellence and thus began a series of promotions which have brought her to her present position as a senior manager overseeing a high-performing marketing team.

Today she lives in a house that she owns. She pays the mortgage and all her other bills on time and has recently begun a live-in relationship with a man she met while making a sales call several years ago.

Janet has been reading my blog for several years, but it was only two weeks ago, after reading the first piece on The Habit of Staying Strong, she felt compelled to connect and share with me how this habit helped get her sober and build the life she so loves today.

While she did ask me not to print her last name, she gave me permission to include a statement she made during one of our calls.

I was struck by the power of her quote, “You will never know your own strength until you allow your fears and doubts to guide you to it.”

Amen.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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