You may see someone who is broken, a soul that has been drug down into the dirt and put me on my knees. You may see someone who’s been thrown through the ringer a few dozen—or hundred—times, and that someone who has lost his profound innocence that he started with. Oh my Lord, I may look tattered, and I definitely have some bruises. But, what you see is only what you see; to sound cliché. I may look all of these things to you, but I know, and I am proud to say that I am stronger because of it. Today when I look into the mirror I can say that because of you I am strong.
There have been times that you’ve had me banging my head on the wall while screaming, “Stop it! Just stop!” I know these times haven’t been easy, and you have been a hardship in my life, that is the absolute truth. Oh how I’ve struggled so profusely and there has been that designation in my life to feelings of depression, angst, and horror. And far too many times have I felt stricken and ill because of you. I’ve been tired and I’ve waited for just a way to, finish it all… all too many times. But with each last gasping breath I say, “Today I am stronger because of you.”
I remember you and I’ve hurt one’s in my life. I remember the life’s that have loved me—some still do, some will never again—and I’ve not looked back; until now. This has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions for myself, my mother, my father, my brother, and the stranger six years prior. I remember them all. All of the faces, dimples in their cheeks, and cries that they now weep. I remember how they all have had an impact in my life, but none of them have impacted me more than the hardship you’ve put me through. I can feel the grip you once had on me, baring me to struggle from breakfast to noon, noon until dinner, and dinner until I arise again; you were always there. But, now I know, it was you that pushed me. You pushed me to go further than I ever had in my entire life. And now I know, it was a blessing. Now I know that I’m capable of so much more. So much more! And I know that “today I am stronger because of you!”
So as I sit here and give you the impression of a broken down, defeated, hurt person and don’t let that fool you. Because oh no, no that isn’t me. You see? I AM stronger because of you, and that is NOT a lie. You see? Because, all of those times that you pushed me to fight for one extra breath just so I’d know I’d make it until morning? That was a test that you had me go through, a test for when the real work began, just to know that now? I am ready. And you know what? Today I am stronger because of you.
Do you know that all of those times I lay and I cried because of you, the times my face and pillow lie soggy and moist because of the things we’d done? These are not times to dwell on for negativity, but these are times to share with our brethren and sisters, exuding joy, knowing that I am now the perfect individual to tell the next struggling person, “You WILL BE okay!” Because last time you’d made an example out of me. But, today? Today I am the pivotal example, I am the turning piece in this puzzle, I have risen to share of how hardship creates triumph. And I owe that all to you…
Today, I am stronger because of you! Today I AM stronger because of you! TODAY I AM STRONG!
Those are words I can happily say and do not have to associate with your name anymore. This is my redemption, my coming of age story if you want to call it that, and I know I would never have had it unless you were there, hard times were had, and I overcame. I beat it! And whoever is reading this letter, I know you can, too!
So you will hear me say it over and over again, for now is the time of our lives to lift ourselves up and let that hardship hold no more grasp. Today is the day, as is every day just one at a time to say, “Today I am strong… and today it’s not because of you. Not anymore. Today I am strong, because of me.”
Whoever you are, wherever you are, and whenever you are, just know that I’m proud of you and it will be okay. For the story I speak isn’t mine… this story is a mirror that I’ve put in front of you. This story I speak, is that smile glaring back at you saying, “I’ve got this. I’ve got YOU.” This story, is you. It is reassurance that a Phoenix will rise, we will conquer, and we will defeat the war at hand. It is power from within, now shining brighter than you could’ve ever imagined, and it’s coming from inside your chest. It is your heart telling you, “Today you are okay. Today you are safe. Today you are sound.” So now I say, you are strong, you are loved, and you will rise a hero in your own story, and the story of many just like you. Today, you ARE strong, and need not worry. For today, we will rise. Just for today. Amen.
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