If I could talk to my old self, what would I say?
At one point in my life, I was guzzling down liquor bottles by my lonesome, not to mention snorting enough cocaine to kill a horse, swallowing opiates like there was no tomorrow and smoking enough weed to rival Willie Nelson.
I often think to myself, what would the new me say to the old me?
I think it's easy to say that it's as if I've lived two different lives. I know for one, the new me wouldn't associate with the old me. Our values, thought processes, habits and philosophies are about as opposite as opposite can get. But none the less, we both have the same potential in life.
The old me honestly thought that binge drinking and using was completely normal, "everybody's doing it". I really did believe that was what everyone else my age was doing! I thought it was normal to have totaled multiple cars, to have lost my wallet and phone on multiple binge drinking occasions or that it was normal to miss work and constantly be late to everything. I literally saw nothing wrong with "cracking a cold one open with the boys"...all the damn time.
The new me clearly sees the insanity in all of that. I can see the viscous cycle of alcoholism and drug addiction plain as day without even speaking to someone. The new me sees the fact that I used drugs and alcohol to cover up emotional pain as being a key indicator of my problems with substance abuse.
What would I say to the old me?
I believe I would sit down next to myself and ask for just a minute of my time. I would look into my eyes and tell myself that it is ok. I would say, "I know this may be hard to understand, but I am going to be here for you. We are going to work as a team to build your life to where you have always dreamt it as being. The most manly/badass/helpful thing you could do, is take full inventory of your life, admit all of your shortcomings and take full responsibility for what you do from here on out. Becoming vulnerable is how you will truly become a man. It's not the other way around. People will disagree with you no matter what you choose to do in life, so you might as well choose to do something that helps you accomplish your own dreams and goals. Forget about what anyone else thinks about someone asking for help. It is ok to ask for help as the greatest leaders of this world have asked for help for one thing or another. All of this will help you set a foundation for the rest of your life! The greatest things in life will always take hard work, determination and a first step. There's never a right time to ask for help other than asking for it right now. This may be the most spontaneous thing you've ever done, but I am here with you 100% if you choose to build your life. What do you say?"
I think I was always yearning to become a man in my own eyes as well as in the eyes of others. I kept trying things out such as college, jobs and relationships but I always seemed to fail at those things which made me feel inferior. I would turn to drinking and drugs to numb the pain. But all in all, it was the drinking and the drugs that led to my failures and inferior feelings in the first place.
It wasn't until I admitted to myself that I had a problem that I was able to realize all of that. I wasn't able to admit those things until it was almost too late. I became more and more sick as time went on. I was on the verge of suicide when my family offered to be on my team. I decided to do the most spontaneous and badass thing imaginable in that moment and I went to treatment.
4 years later I am a completely different person. My beliefs are different, my association is different, my habits are polar opposites, I am truly happy for once and I'll be damned, I feel like a man!
Although I am a completely different person from the Austin over 4 years ago, I see now that all along, I had incredible potential to be where I'm at today. And the lesson I learned from that shows me that no matter who I am right now, I always have the potential to become anything I want to in life. 4 years from now, who knows...I could be sailing around the world with my love, I could be the CEO of a major corporation, racing in the Iron Man competition...
What I do know is, that it is most important to take inventory of my life right now, accept responsibility for everything in my life and to take that first step forward.
One step at a time.
One day at a time.
Love you all!
-Austin F. Cooper