I define hope through transforming adversity. Throughout my life, there have been challenges and obstacles, which when they happened seemed to be overwhelming yet in hindsight they were all pivot points on the journey.
That journey began in the fourth grade with a head injury. I thought I would be Evil Kenevil for the day and rode my bike off a loading dock. Of course, I wasn’t wearing a helmet. Luckily for me, a friend was with me, and she rode home as fast as she could to tell my mom. Not so lucky for me, my short-term memory was impacted.
About a year later, my father was dropping my sisters and me off after a weekend visitation. When we pulled into the neighborhood, we watched our mom’s new boyfriend being escorted by police out of our house.
In high school, I dated a drug dealer. This world was wild, crazy and ultimately brought me to my second hospitalization. I had overdone it with drugs and was hearing and seeing things. I broke up with the drug dealer and later that summer she was arrested.
When I was in my twenties, I called my dad to ask if I could stay with him until I got back on my feet. In a defeated voice, he told me no.
During my illness, I couldn’t fully appreciate these events. I was shut off from the world, numb and nothing mattered. I couldn’t feel anything but deep anger, and when you’re burning with rage, you can’t see clearly. In anger, we react instead of act.
What these situations were showing me was that people have always been there for me and that I’m much stronger than I ever imagined. I just had to believe this was true. I had to let go of the anger and let people be there for me, and once I let go of the anger, I was able to begin making myself stronger.
The same year I had that challenging phone call with my dad, one of my aunts gave me my first yoga mat as a Christmas gift. Two years later I was in a yoga-training program. I didn’t finish this program, but it had a lasting impact on my life. During the program, we did activities like plotting out a timeline of our life and filling in the years with goals we wanted to achieve. It was the first time in my life that anyone had asked me questions like this.
When my high school girlfriend was arrested, it was under unfortunate circumstances, yet I was beyond grateful not to be involved in the situation. If I were, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here sharing this story with you all.
Seeing my mom being treated so horribly made me realize that when I was old enough to start a family, I would do whatever it takes to keep my children protected and never to treat a woman so poorly.
Without my friend, Kristine, who knows how long I would have laid in that parking lot bleeding from my head?
How do you define hope?
Again, I define hope through my history as well as the opportunities that lay ahead. Now that I’m a stronger person, emotionally, I love looking for the opportunities found in challenges and obstacles.
One of my Buddhist teachers says, “In every situation, we can ask ourselves what am I to abandon and what am I to practice?” In so many of my life situations, it boiled down to abandoning anger and then practicing patience.
This compelling question and practice can make a world of a difference in our lives, in our recovery, and even in our relationships with others. When we ask these sorts of questions, we see the world with fresh eyes.
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Originally Published on charlesminguez.com