Addiction has been a part of my life since I was born. Whether it was my parent’s addictions, or later in my life my own is beside the point. The point I’m trying to make today is that the disease of addiction has paved a road in my life whether I care to admit it or not.
I remember laying in a bed in a treatment center eight years ago, and thinking to myself..” I can’t do this.” Many of my fellow clients had been in this treatment center three to five times. Hearing this over and over again took it’s toll on my thinking and more importantly on my hope. I remember the phrase..”there’s no way I can do this that many times, the first time almost killed me!” rolling around in my head for what seemed like hours that night.
Then I had a small flashing thought, I thought to myself..”they don’t have martial art! Even if they do, they don’t have an inspiration like Dan Inosanto or Steve Fristoe, or an art like Kali, or an art like Jeet Kune Do,or Silat, or..” well you get the point.
That thought that I had that night literally saved my life. I woke up the next morning and spoke to my counselor. She saw something different in me that morning and chose to let me keep that motivation by providing me with time throughout the week to practice martial art on my own on the unit. My friend and teacher Steve Fristoe was the only person to visit me for those seventy-five days of my treatment, providing further times for me to train (mostly doing sensitivity drills behind the soda machines when no one was looking).
Fastforward to 2016, after eight years without a drop of alcohol I was given the unique opportunity to give back. While doing my internship at Lakeside Recovery which is a local treatment center in Wausau,WI, I was able to use a specific sensitivity drill to demonstrate the therapeutic value of martial arts training and it’s relationship to Yoga.
In an occupational therapy group at the treatment center, clients learned the drill called “Kali Push Hands” that I had learned from Rick Faye and his student Josh Prior.
Clients stepped out of their comfort zone and enjoyed learning something new that day. It was great to see them smile and have some sort of small physical outlet that day to deal with what I remember as the fight of my life.
I hope to be able to continue this type of work in the future both as a helper, an instructor, and perhaps someday a substance abuse counselor.
Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with excess as well as extremes every day both in my life and in my relationships but I am so thankful for the life that I am fortunate enough to live today. I think that we all struggle to find balance or as I have learned to refer to it as, the line in the middle.
Instructor Jamie Sparling