I started to drink at an early age, stealing liquor from our home for weekends. Alcohol somehow gripped me in a way that led to more serious problems. At age sixteen, I was arrested for impaired driving, and a spree of drinking occurred that resulted in my wrecking several cars and failing out of high school. To finance this lifestyle, I even stooped to writing “bad” cheques.
Binge drinking consumed my money, and my car was repossessed. The landlord of a small apartment where I was living changed the locks and I found myself homeless, without money, and an alcoholic at age 26. With two friends from the street, I started a life of panhandling and dreaming unrealistically of what I would do in the future.
On the morning of December 23, 1971, I had a moment of clarity. There was no magical “one thing” but just a confluence of circumstances that led to a crashing conclusion. It was too many nights on park benches, too many nights running from the cops, too many lies, too many, too many. It was apparent that alcohol and I did not mix. I said, “enough” and threw in the towel, for it was either die or change. I recalled an ad I had heard for alcohol recovery while borrowing five dollars from Isadore (Izzie) Reingewertz, a former customer whom I had sold paint products to.
That day I met with a group of people who shared my challenge. The first meeting confirmed I had made the right decision, and with the support of Joe, my mentor from the program, and Izzie, I slowly began to piece together a new life away from drinking. I initially worked full time for Izzie and leaned heavily on Joe. After four months of my staying dry, Joe purchased a second-hand suit for me, and within a short period, I had found a job selling cleaning equipment.
To change a negative value, in my case alcohol, you need support and you must be ready to try and change. I was 51% sure that I did not want to drink again. I built on this and today I am 100% sure.
Initially I was trying to do everything at once, and trying to turn impossible dreams into reality. In a way, I was hoping to overcome the previous twenty-seven years of my life with one quick move. I started to realize that change did not come that quickly, and that it would take smaller successes that built on each other.
We all have an internal prism that takes the outside environment and filters it and presents us with how we see the world. Just slightly altering this prism is easy; for example, changing a job, changing a bad habit, etc. When you do, the result is that the outside world will appear to be different, and accordingly, your view of it will change.
One small positive change can affect the outcome of your life.
Bio: Frank O'Dea was living on the streets at age 26. His life turned around when he gave up alcohol. He started a successful chain of coffee shops called the Second Cup and has since been able to devote much of his time to helping others. Provided by: www.survivingadversity.com
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