This is a guest post from Peter Wang who shares how his sense of self-worth motivated him to seek recovery.
Five years ago, I was sleeping on the streets of Philadelphia with needles hanging out of my arm.
Addicted to heroin and homeless, I felt incredibly alone.
I felt like there was no way I could ever do anything with my life. I didn’t think there was any way I would ever turn it around.
Now, I am living in a beautiful house in Atlanta with my amazing wife. I work full-time as a freelance writer and internet marketer. I have been clean and sober for nearly a year, and I am doing better than I ever have in my life.
The journey from that homeless 28-year-old to the person I am now has been intense. I’ve struggled with drugs and alcohol throughout. Over the years, I tried time and time again to get sober, and time and time again, I relapsed.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, we pick up white chips every time we come back in to get sober after a relapse. There’s a saying for chronic relapsers that we’ve picked up enough white chips to tile a bathroom. That definitely applied to me.
So how was I able to finally get sober once and for all? How did I find the strength to stop relapsing? I think the main reason this time was different from every time before is that I had truly found a sense of self-worth. I went from not believing in myself at all and thinking I couldn’t ever possibly do anything with my life to waking up every day with an optimism about life.
Here are four ways I’ve found an inner strength I didn’t know I had throughout my journey.
1. Seeing how others believed in me helped me believe in myself.
After I was hit by a car in 2014 in Philadelphia, my mother offered for me to come stay with her in Atlanta. She took care of me as I was in a wheelchair for nearly two years. My mother drove me to recovery meetings every day.
She drove me to the methadone clinic every day. My mother helped me put on socks and tie my shoes. She supported me, seeing a strength in me that I couldn’t quite see.
In 2016, I met the woman who would become my wife. She helped me to finally take the steps I needed to get sober. My wife helped me through the crazy rapid drug detox procedure I went through to get off methadone.
She sat beside me at recovery meetings. She showed me how to get into a new field and helped me work again. My wife loved me and never gave up on me.
Thinking about how my mother and my wife have supported me and believed in me through my journey, I can now see how I was able to get to a place where I believe in myself.
2. I tried something new and found a great passion.
My wife helped me to get into freelance writing and marketing. The more I worked in digital marketing, the more I discovered how passionate I was about it. Because I was open-minded and willing to learn new skills and explore a new field, it opened doors I never even imagined.
I spend a lot of time now following internet marketing experts on social media, listening to related podcasts and watching videos, reading marketing blogs, and learning everything I can about the field. One of the things about staying sober is that you have to fill up the time you used to spend at the bar or hanging out with your drug buddies. In finding a new passion, I now had a ton of other ways to spend my time.
3. I have helped others less fortunate than myself.
Whether I’m volunteering at my church or a homeless shelter or simply giving food to the homeless men and women I see in downtown Atlanta, helping others who are in a position similar to the position I was once in fills me with joy.
I can’t always volunteer as often as I would like, but even in my freelance work, I spend a great deal of time trying to promote recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
4. I fill my life with positive influences.
Reading positive books like The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle or watching uplifting television shows like Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday are some of my favorite things to do. I also love going to Passion City Church and listening to positive and inspiring music.
Or sometimes, I like to listen to motivational videos and podcasts from speakers like Tony Robbins and Joel Osteen. Simply put, I like to surround myself with positive people who support me and believe in me.
All of these things have helped me immensely on my journey. Finding your own self-worth, your own inner strength is essential if you want to be happy and productive.
And if I can discover something worthwhile about myself, anyone can.
Peter Lang is a freelance writer from Atlanta, Georgia. In recovery himself, he is dedicated to helping those who are struggling with addiction or substance abuse. If you or someone you care about are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, it’s important that you reach out for help. If you are the friend or family member of someone who struggles with addiction, it’s especially important that you offer your support as your loved one seeks treatment.