- Friends & Family
During the Moments of Change conference, I sat down with Hollis. Hollis has been in recovery for five years and is the executive director and founder of a recovery program and facility in North Carolina. Here is the story of his recovery and his path to helping others.- Abby F.
What I sought in addiction was peace. Peace is what we always seek in life; peace, love, whatever you want to call it. When I got into recovery, I found out that I was seeking that same things: peace and love. I just began to look in different places for it rather than the drugs.
I met a man a couple of years into my sobriety that really tried to point me inward and told me that that peace was inside of myself; nothing was outside of myself. I didn’t believe him until I really started doing a lot of uncover discover discarding those things that were blocking me from that peace.
I found out that my struggles are not outside of myself. I learned that my struggles are always within, so it comes down to really simple things like acceptance and resistance.
I found that I reach problems after I experience resistance from forces that are outside myself. My answers are, unfortunately, to always go within myself, because only one person needs to change for me to be free– and that person is myself.
Like the big book states, pain is the touchstone for spiritual progress. Pain was my best friend for a long, long time, because it propelled me to see that something was not right within myself. The things that I’m working on, and the things that I struggle with are always within myself. It’s simple things like not showing enough compassion toward myself or toward others. My pain had nothing to do with anything material, or anything like that.
What I’m most proud of personally, within my own self, is the peace that I’ve found within myself. That’s what I’m most proud of. The only way I can show peace or love to anyone else is when I have it myself. That’s a good feeling, to be honest.
I use many tools to help me along the way. I continue my growth in recovery through fellowship and faith. My experiences with dying actually help me grow–I had a lot of trauma from dying several times, and the traditional linear way of treating addiction only went so deep. I was forced through my own pain to perhaps go a lot deeper than a typical person in early recovery. So I had to do things like neurofeedback, sound healing, breath work, meditation, and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). I used many really deep healing techniques.
My experiences with growth, healing, and recovery inspired me to see that these types of treatments are also available to others. We’ve been treating addiction in a very linear way, a one-way approach, for quite some time. Evolution now is calling for us to reach out to… well, how many more people can we reach?
In order to reach others, we need to create different pathways toward healing– not just a one-way approach. You can tell right now by how many people are dying in our country on a daily basis that the way we have done things up to this point has only worked so well. Evolution is calling for us to branch out, to do more, to offer more.
If this is a brain disease, we need to treat it as a brain disease. When someone comes in and says, “I’m resistant with the twelve steps,” many people say, “well he’s just not willing, he’s just not ready.” That completely discounts the brain disease approach. I definitely believe it is a brain change. I believe the brain is greatly affected by trauma. But if that is the case, then that whole “he’s not willing” thing goes out the window. We need to offer more on our end (on the professional end– call us professionals, call us facilitators, whatever you may want to call it) We need to able to grow ourselves so we can help save more lives.
My favorite thing happens when I see a healing moment just “click” for another person. Whether they may stay sober or not stay sober, when you see that click in them, the resistance is dropped, even if just for a minute. They feel it. They feel the peace, or something—perhaps they feel the relief that they sought in the addiction. When I see that, I can feel it within my own being when they feel that. It’s incredible. I love it.
For those who are beginning the journey within, the journey of recovery, know this: The fear is never outside of yourself. The fear is always within ourselves, and we must look within. There’s that saying, even the darkest of nights turns to light. Every single time, the light overshadows the dark. So when we begin to go in, it may begin with a feeling of fear. That feeling is the ego and that’s in the mind. Once we overcome the fear with the light from within us, it will work every single time. Every single time.
It’s so important to find a mentor, a facilitator, or a loved one to help you bridge that gap and allow you to go in. Once you do it for the first few times, it’s on after that.
The fear kind of dissolves, and in that fear you come to a deep understanding within your own self that that fear was just … not real. Of course, this is much easier said than done. It reminds us to admire the people who came before us that were willing to go to that next level.
So, here is my story. I’ll share my experience. I went to treatment 24 times. I got locked up over 30 times. I went to detox maybe over 40 times. And, finally, I actually died several times. To say I had no hope would be an understatement. There was no hope whatsoever.
There’s a saying that a guy from San Diego, where I got sober, used to say: “Before I came into the program there was Bob Hope and there was no hope, and Bob Hope died a long time ago.” But, being around the fellowship of like-minded people going in the same pathway (or a similar pathway) showed me hope and that it was possible. That hope grew, certainly, with the work I began to do on myself. Others helped me along my path, and my hope grew. That hope really propelled itself. For me, the spiritual connection is essential– and spiritual connection really is a connection to myself. That’s all that spirituality is about- connecting with my inner self. There’s always hope, though, as long we’re still breathing. There’s always hope.