What excites you the most now when you get up in the morning? |I really like the feeling of waking up and being able to meditate, pray, and stretch. Then I look forward to coffee, putting on the clothes that I like, and listening to NPR or a playlist in my car. These are little habits that I’ve been able to build and slowly learn to appreciate as self-care practices. I am still shocked that I can smile on command nowadays.|What is your motto? And what about this motto appeals to you? |“Thy will be done.” It’s important for me to understand that I am only a small part of the universe and that my ideas of what’s right for me are not always going to be the case. By accepting the comings and goings of joys and challenges, I can avoid self-judgement and expectations that bog me down.|What has been the best part of recovery for you? Why? |My personality has returned and it’s been a journey getting to know myself again. Every day I am getting closer to trusting my true self to guide my behaviors. After years of lying about my feelings and desires, I am now comfortable with honoring them. |What would you say is the biggest success (professional or personal) you’ve had since leaving Mountainside? |I have been accepted into the MFA program at Southern Connecticut State University, where I am studying poetry and teaching college writing. I am almost done with my first semester, and it has been going really well. I’m finally doing something that Cole wants to do, instead of what Cole thinks everybody else wants him to do.|What has been your biggest hurdle in recovery and how did you learn to overcome it? |When I got into a relationship, even just for a few months, I was experiencing so many strong emotions for the first time in years. This caused me to feel highs and lows like the days of using, and I became exhausted and discouraged. Now, I look back at that time with gratitude because it has proven to be a trial of acceptance and independence for me.|What was the turning point that led you to get help? |I was arrested, and for the first time, I saw substances as the enemy. I realized I may not have another chance to get my life back on track before something bad happened. With the support of my family, I was able to seek treatment.|If you could, what would you tell your younger self? |Don’t be afraid to get some help. I used to think I was unique in my hardships, but now it is clear to me that so many of us can connect through honesty and vulnerability.|What would you like people who are afraid to receive treatment know? |I was too. I felt like I was abandoning my friends and even overreacting. Listen to your deepest self, and if it wants to be free, give treatment a chance. That’s what I did, and I haven’t regretted it since.|What suggestions do you have for the newcomer? |Surround yourself with people who you want to be like. This means asking positive people for support, like rides to meetings, sponsorship, coffee, their phone number, and general help. We’ve all been through what you’re going through. Take the chance to put yourself out there, and it’s pretty clear, people are a big help. |What is the best advice you have been given? |“It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.” I was offended when I was first told this because I thought that it was meant to dampen my enthusiasm, but today, I can see what this meant. I am committed to something that cannot be rushed through. I was sprinting at first. Luckily, I was able to pace myself before I burnt out. I think this means being patient and taking things one step at a time, which is difficult. I want my life to be better now, however, it takes a while to get from out of the woods.|What is the one item you can’t do without? |My headphones. I do a lot of reading and writing, so I listen to classical, opera, and piano playlists to help me concentrate. It is very difficult to find peace and quiet, so my headphones allow me to bring it wherever I go.|Would you rather be an inventor or a leader? Why? |I’d rather be a leader, probably for my ego, and also because there is a lot of room for social influence in leadership.|Who—dead or living—is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party? |I’d take Mike Tyson, Plato, Cleopatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Barack Obama fishing.|What’s the one thing people would be pleasantly surprised to know about you? |I smile a lot.|What are you currently reading or what song have you enjoyed recently? What do you love about it? |Outside of class, I am reading A Portrait of a Young Man as an Artist by James Joyce. I like the depth he goes into the emotion with. In addition, the imagery, like when he likens a boy’s hand that was just struck with a switch to a burning leaf. “Marcus’ Gospel” by Hopsin is a new track I enjoy: it is mellow and deep.
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