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Voices of Recovery: Kyle Ward
“Overcoming Addiction, a Prize Worth Seeking”

I wrote this story when I took my three-year chip. I thought “What a difference three years can make!” But the biggest changes aren’t the physical ones. It was three years ago today that I got sober, and my life truly transformed. Here’s a little about what it was like then, what happened and what it’s like today.

COMPLETE FAILURE
I had come to the point of complete failure. I had lost a career,  failed in my marriage, failed my friends, failed my parents and, most of all, failed my young son. Maybe it would be better if I weren’t around at all. The situation seemed hopeless. I tried so many times to fix myself. I may have succeeded for a while, but it always ended up in the same failure. However, this was not where my story would end.

DIFFERENT THIS TIME
Because I would take my prescription pills in un-prescribed amounts, then black out and drive, I was arrested for yet another DUI and put in jail. However this time would be different. I would not be bailed out and would end up staying for 7 1/2 months.

As I lay on that metal bunk in complete agony, detoxing from all the pills in my system, something that was said to me ran through my head: “When you decide to make a change, and take the action behind it, you separate yourself from the person you are and start yourself on the path to becoming someone different.”

But I also knew I would not be able to do this on my own. You cannot fix a problem with the same thinking that created it. I needed people who had been where I had been and had found a new way to live that I could learn from. I have the disease of addiction and, no matter what, drinking or drugs would never work out for me. It was time to get help.

SOBER BUT EMPTY HANDED
I came out of jail with almost nothing but 7 1/2 months of sobriety and enough money for a cab to the halfway house where I would be living. Rent vouchers, bus rides, and food stamps were foreign to me, but thank goodness they were there.

I took the first job that was offered, found a group of people that could show me the path to recovery and began the most important work of my life. A good friend who had been sober for a while said to me: “Kyle, you know how to make money but you don’t know how to stay sober, maybe you should work on that for a while.”

So that’s what I did. I worked at a low paying job that, at one point, would have been beneath me. When I wasn’t working, I learned how people like me stay sober. I learned how to connect to a power greater than what I possessed. Some call it nature or the universe, some call it God. As for me, I don’t care what you call it. All I know is that – as I took an honest look at myself and stopped trying to control things I had no control over, as I peeled back the layers of my personality, discarded what didn’t work, and learned principles that did – amazing things happened. I began to know a new freedom and happiness.

POWERFUL CHANGES TOOK PLACE
I no longer regretted my past and, in fact, saw how it could help others. I could truly comprehend the word serenity and know peace. The feeling of uselessness and self-pity disappeared. My self-seeking began to slip away and I became interested in helping others. My outlook and attitude on life changed. The fear of economic insecurity began to leave, and I intuitively knew how to handle situations that used to baffle me. For the first time in forever, it felt like I was swimming with the current, I was not separate from everything but a part of it all. I saw that my life could be so much bigger than all those little things that I spent so much time worrying about.

ALREADY A WINNER
As I celebrate three years sober, I look at the national bodybuilding competition I will be competing in in two weeks. I can’t help but realize that winning, even though it would be awesome, at this point is just icing on the cake. The fact is, I have already won. Today I get to carry a message of hope to others that suffer as I did. The gift of seeing someone come back from the abyss of addiction is like no other. Not only because they now have a life back, but loved ones will not longer suffer with them. Mothers get sons back, sisters get brothers back and most of all, when a little boy gets his dad back, just like my son did.

NEXT CHAPTER IS UP TO YOU
Addiction doesn’t care how much money you have, how successful you are or how high your standing in society might be. It will take you down all the same. The good news is that the inverse is also true. You can recover regardless of your circumstances. No matter how far down the ladder you may have gone, no matter how hopeless your situation might seem, it only seems that way! If you’re still breathing, your story is not over. But the next chapter is being written, and it’s up to you what it will say.

  • Will you become honest with yourself and take responsibility for your actions?
  • Will you try something new?
  • Or will you keep doing what you have always done and keep getting what you always got?

No one can save you from you. You can only be shown the path and it will be up to you to walk down it. My experience is that whether it’s recovery from addiction, or just trying to be a better person, when you participate in the process of growth you will be truly amazed at what your life can become!