Dear 19-Year-Old-Michael,

Don’t do it.

Put the pipe down. Sprint, flee, fly as far away as you possibly can.

You’ve spent the last year or your life getting sober and you’ve worked so damn hard to get there too.

Think about Mom. She saved your life man.

In a few days, you’ll be sitting on the floor strung out from smoking crack, in a room filled with guns, prostitutes, needles, and dangerous people…you’ll look down at your bruised, bloody, track-marked arm and you’ll feel ashamed. Defeated. Worthless.

When you called her on your 18th birthday to tell her you were leaving rehab to get high again, you were expecting her to yell and scream. But she didn’t. She begged, teary-eyed until you agreed to return to treatment.

Mom was keeping hope alive, even when you tried your damndest to stomp it out.

She didn’t want to lose you, and it wasn’t until that conversation that it clicked.

You walked back through those doors, you worked the program, and you did it. You learned about the power of vulnerability, the value of authenticity, the importance of empathy. You came to understand the necessity of showing up for people regardless of their emotions, even when they are at their absolute lowest.

Remember what our counselor said: “A real man isn’t just physically strong and void of emotion. He is courageous enough to be himself in any circumstance. No matter the situation. No matter the person.”

But somewhere along the way, that light switch was turned off, and now we’re having this conversation.

Remember what our counselor said: “A real man isn’t just physically strong and void of emotion. He is courageous enough to be himself in any circumstance. No matter the situation. No matter the person.”

But you don’t remember. All you’re thinking about is putting that crack pipe to your lips and taking a hit.

You’ve run out of reason why not to, so you’ll call your sponsor and tell him, “I think I might go get fucked up.” You think about it for a minute. And then that’s just what you do.

The next week will be the absolute worst week of your life. In a few days, you’ll be sitting on the floor strung out from smoking crack, in a room filled with guns, prostitutes, needles, and dangerous people. A week later, shooting up heroin, you’ll look down at your bruised, bloody, track-marked arm and you’ll feel ashamed. Defeated. Worthless.

The very next day, you’ll decide to get sober. And you’ll stay that way for the next nine years.

A lot of people say that they won’t change anything. That everything happens for a reason. But not here. I would take back all of that week, every second of it. You didn’t learn anything new, Michael. Not one damn thing. You just re-learned something you’d forgotten.

Here’s what I would tell you instead. When you call your sponsor and say, “I think I might go get fucked up,” instead of doing that I want you to jump straight into service work. The only times in life when you feel totally alive and free is when you are working with other alcoholics and addicts. The power behind meeting someone who’s rock bottom is so much lower than yours is momentous. Your problems become utterly insignificant. Dive into service work RIGHT NOW. Immediately. This will become one of the guiding principles of your life.

And secondly, walk into CrossFit NRG. I know you’ve already been eyeballing it. Go check them out. CrossFit will find you one way or another anyway so it might as well be now. But first, use the tools you know you have. Lean on your support system. Serve others.

Just don’t do it, friend, please.

Mike


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