I’ve been having a lot of ups and downs this last week, and I haven’t been able to figure out why, but then it hit me like a big of bricks to the face. I had this epiphany, and this resulted in some clarity about why I’ve been feeling the way I’ve been feeling, and maybe you can relate. Something I teach others but I had forgotten was that when people say, “This too shall pass,” we never think about how the good things will pass as well.
For the last five years, my life has been going incredible, and it’s something that I’m truly grateful for. See, seven years ago I was a hopeless drug addict and alcoholic who had a 10% chance of living. I was laying in the cardiac critical care unit of UMC hospital here in Las Vegas when my mom got the phone call to come to town because I might not live through the night. By the time of my rock bottom, I had lost everything. I had no friends, no family, no job, no car, no money, and I wasn’t even allowed to see my son. Through all of this, I also had no willingness to live.
Luckily, my mom who was seven years sober at the time ended up saving my life by giving me the ultimatum to get sober or live on the hot summer streets of Las Vegas. I traveled to Fresno, California, with her and moved into a sober living where I’d create a strong foundation of sobriety and find the will to live again. Through hearing the stories of other men and women, I developed hope, and this is something I had been lacking for most of my life even before the drugs and alcohol came into the picture.
Early sobriety sucked. That first year was hell trying to figure out ways to stay sober even though I had lost everything. I had to learn how to deal with all of my feelings, emotions and awful thoughts without self-medicating by snorting a pill or drinking a bottle of rum. Although the first year sucked, I made it through, and after a little over year of sobriety in Fresno, I decided it was time to move back to Las Vegas and be an adult. I hadn’t worked that entire first year, and I only saw my son once, so I figured it was the right time to come back and put the pieces of my life back together.
Remember how I said the first year was hell? Well, the second year was even harder.
After moving back to Las Vegas, I hit a string of bad luck and my expectations were still way too high. I figured that with a year of sobriety under my belt, everything would be perfect. That’s not what happened though. I ended up getting a job and losing it within a couple months, most of my friends still wouldn’t talk to me, and my son’s mom still didn’t trust me. There were so many times that I wanted to give up that second year, but I remembered what my sponsor kept pounding into my head.
As long as you stay sober one day at a time and try to be a better person each day, I promise things will get better.
I used to hate when he said this, but he was absolutely right. I had to quit feeling sorry for myself and just do the next right thing. This is something we can all benefit from. We’re all so impatient and want instant gratification, but we need to realize that the most incredible buildings were created one brick at a time. Our life is the same way. Each day, when we make baby steps towards improving ourselves and our situations, they eventually turn into something amazing.
Life started getting better, but it took time. Although I was experiencing a ton of anxiety on a regular basis, I had to keep pushing forward. Even though I’m not a religious person, I developed a faith that if I stayed on the right path, things would get better, and they did. I ended up getting an awesome job working with great people, and then that job led me to an even better job.
My new job was at a drug and alcohol rehab, and I had about three years sober at the time. When most people talk about a “better job” they’re usually referring to the amount of money they make, a position of power or a combination of the two. This wasn’t the case for me. Yes, I was getting paid more, but it wasn’t much. Success for me was that I was able to work with drug addicts and alcoholics who struggle with mental health issues every day and give them some hope.
Part of my DNA is having a strong work ethic, and I strive to be the best at whatever I do. When they hired me for that job, they told me that I was going to be fighting an uphill battle to build the alumni program here in Las Vegas, but I took that as a challenge that I was up for. Within a matter of months, I was able to build the alumni program to the biggest one out of all of our treatment centers around the country.
Although I had absolutely no experience working at a rehab before, upper management saw what I was capable of. In less than six months of working there, I got promoted to Lead Alumni Coordinator, which involved supervising, training and assisting the other alumni coordinators around the country. Aside from the promotion, I got a significant raise (when I say significant, I meant significant).
In my book Canceled: Inside YouTube Cancel Culture , I discuss what ended up happening with that job, and although I wasn’t happy there at the end, I’m extremely grateful for the experience.
The best part of that job was that through helping thousands of people with their addiction and mental health issues, I realized I could help more people. After the job at the rehab, I put all of my effort into the YouTube channel, and I gained over 100,000 subscribers within a year. My lifelong dream has always been to be my own boss and have full creative control, so I had reached the top of the mountain.
That is until it all came crashing down. And that’s what Canceled is about as well as my journey of coming back from it.
This Too Shall Pass
So, as you can see, things were going pretty amazing for me for quite sometime. I’ve been experiencing bouts of depression ever since my controversy a few months ago, but it’s been hard to explain where my confidence went. I also tell my girlfriend on a regular basis that I feel like the old version of me just hasn’t been here, and I haven’t had that same motivation or hope that helped me dig myself out of my addicted lifestyle.
Then, while talking to my lovely girlfriend yesterday, I realized why this has been such a different experience for me. It’s because I haven’t had it rough in so long, and all I was experiencing was the winning. The problem is that nothing lasts forever, but even if that’s true, we don’t give up.
I realized that I’ve been getting caught in thinking traps where I compare everything I do to the successes that I previously had, and that’s not fair to do to myself.
Whenever I release a book, I compare the sales or free downloads to the numbers I had at my peak. Whenever I release a new YouTube video, I compare the views to what I used to get. When I look at my financial situation, I compare it to when things were going extremely well.
While I completely believe in staying motivated and always trying to improve, we need to separate rational and irrational thoughts as well as realistic and unrealistic expectations.
This is one of the million reasons why I’m so grateful for my girlfriend because she sees what I don’t, and this is why we all need great people in our support group. In my mind, I’m failing because I’m not as successful as I once was. Meanwhile, she’s over here explaining to me how I’m doing phenomenal. She watches me on a daily basis work my ass off and slowly rebuild this thing that I created. She sees that even though I’ve been given plenty of opportunities to give up, I haven’t.
If you can relate in any way, I hope you try to catch these thought traps. You and I can work on it together. We need to celebrate our small successes and quit comparing them to our old ones or even the successes of others. Sometimes, there may be days where the biggest success we had was just getting out of bed, and that’s something to celebrate.
Never forget that each day, all we can do is our best. As long as we put in a little bit of work each day, things will get better. They might not get better when we want them to, but they will get better.
Visit www.TheRewiredSoul.com for books I’ve written, and you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @TheRewiredSoul