My name is Jeff and my sobriety date is October 24, 2017. Being in recovery is having a masters degree in life. In order for me to live the life I live today I had to go through those trials, I had to go through all that turmoil and that heartache. I spent a quarter of my life incarcerated in different institutions, starting at age 11. For as long as I can remember, I couldn’t sit with my own feelings. I realized once I got sober that I had been trying to change that way that I feel for as long as I could remember. The alcohol and drugs were the solution to my problem. A lot of people are in this delusion that they have a drug problem. No, you have a ‘you’ problem, and you use all this other stuff to change the way you feel.
My alcoholism and my drug use drove me so far down that hole that I had absolutely no support. But, going to the prison this last time was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I was an unlicensed dietitian for other inmates. What that means is that my mom sent me college course books in anatomy, kinesiology, and how the body works. For a little under 2 years all I did was study these books. As I was studying these books I would put together diet programs for the inmates to help them lose weight, depending on what sort of money their family was sending them on their commissary. That’s how I made it through prison. I read books, played chess, and jumped rope. When I got out of prison, I started drinking again. The thing is years ago I knew I was a drug addict and alcoholic but I didn’t care because I knew I still had a home. I can burn the world down and I could still come home. It wasn’t until my mom said you can’t come home and that she wanted nothing to do with me. That’s when I started feeling the desperation. I was lucky enough to eventually get scholarshipped into a treatment center. I asked my mentor there if I could stay home for the holidays because I was incarcerated the past several holidays. I’ll never forget this, he said If you go to treatment now and get sober you will never miss another holiday for the rest of your life. He said that they saw something in me.
I didn’t just complete treatment. I got out and God literally gave me my entire life back. I I learned I can’t expect extraordinary results by living an ordinary life. What I’m trying to produce for myself and the community is very extraordinary. 3 years ago I’m living down south. I haven’t picked up a pair of boxing gloves in 11 years. I went to my buddy’s house who was going to get a punching bag at a sports store, where I picked up the gloves. Eventually together we built a gym in his garage. My first client ever told me he wanted to lose weight. He’s down 112 lbs now. Next thing you know, it’s spider webbed. HOA showed up because we had so many clients show up. A client told me that he felt like the black sheep of his family. It stuck and I developed @BlackSheepBoxing . I moved into another friend’s garage to train, where we again got shut down for too many cars in the driveway. I told my roommates years ago that I would one day own a gym to help people with addiction and mental health. I created my own job title as a Fitness Manager at a treatment center. The results and testimonies were incredible and so rewarding. I was saving every penny. I knew it was going to go towards a gym one day. One of my mentors told me to not worry about money and just give as much as I could until the universe decides to give back. Today, the universe has given back to me ten-fold, and I’m currently opening up my own boxing gym for people in recovery.
Inspiring individuals is what inspires me. You have to tap into it daily. It’s our job to wake up and continue on this path. All in or nothing. At the end of the day it’s so clear what I have to do. For me my God is spirit and positive energy. We are all connected like Avatar. Channeling all that energy and actually putting a smile on peoples face. And through it all, my biggest goal is to remove the stigma around addiction.- Jeff M
(Trigger Warning: Eating Disorder) My eating disorder began back when I was in high school. I purchased a prom dress in the fall of my senior year, way ahead of time. In the second half of the school year I got a boyfriend. So, naturally, I put on some weight as a result of us eating out and enjoying each other’s company. When prom season rolled around I realized that my dress no longer fit. My mom told me that I needed to lose the weight because she was not buying me another one. In that moment, my eating disorder was born. What started as a crash diet for prom would soon become much more in the coming months and years. I was addicted to it. As someone who lacked control in their life as a child I loved the fact that I had control over my body and what I was eating.
This continued for years until one day I literally woke up and decided I didn’t want to live like this anymore. Something I think people don’t understand is that it didn’t matter how many times people told me to get better. It wasn’t going to happen until I decided that it was time to get better. My bones didn’t hurt anymore and I had so much energy – I really liked that and wanted those feelings continue. I was also falling in love at the time and I had so much positivity in my life as this was all happening. Although, when I had finally mentally gotten over my eating disorder, I had run into some medical problems. As a result of malnourishing my body for years my stomach could no longer digest food the way it was supposed to. After being told by many doctors that there was nothing wrong with me physically and that I was still suffering from my eating disorder I finally found a surgeon that gave me the attention I needed and completed two surgeries in order for me to fully regain my life.Today, I can happily say that my mind is only consumed by positive progress thoughts. Looking back, I was never excited about having my full life ahead of me because I wasn’t feeling well, I wasn’t eating, or talking to my family. Now, I am optimistic about the future and so excited about what is to come. I no longer fear food and instead I use it as means to measure how I am feeling everyday! – Jess T.
My parents were foster parents for years when they decided to have a family of their own. They knew that because so many children needed homes, that adoption was the right choice for them. I am one of five adopted sisters in my family. My sister Leanna was adopted first from Puerto Rico. I was adopted second from Vietnam. When I was adopted I was 6 months old, underweight, and very sick with asthma. My sister Jana was adopted third from Cambodia. Similar to myself, she was also very sick. Next, my sister Maya was adopted from Vietnam. Lastly, my sister Belle was adopted. We grew up in a small town in New York. We were the only people who made the town diverse. I honestly didn’t notice that I was different until 5th grade. I never personally felt discriminated against. But that didn’t mean I didn’t have my own struggles. There were times that I hated being Asian. I thought that I was ugly and different. With that being said, I’m so thankful I had my sisters there with me and that we had the same shared troubles growing up. As I got older I had a lot of friends and was welcomed. But there were definitely instances I remember some insensitive comments being made like, “you’re pretty for an Asian.”
It didn’t happen often but having a great support system definitely helped. Looking back on my experiences today I realize that things were much different then as they are now. Nowadays, subtle racist comments do not fly and a part of me wishes that there was the same kind of awareness back then as there is now. I had tough skin and was able to ignore those micro aggressions. I was thankful I got to experience those things when I was young. I spent the majority of the time during childhood doing gymnastics. I went on to be a college gymnast and no one would have thought that from my initial doctors appointments in the U.S. It is so amazing that I had that opportunity here because if I had never been adopted I never would have been able to reach my full potential. “ -Kendra B.