So I share the following honest, somewhat confronting but inspiring story about my friend Ryan (with his permission of course). It’s about a young guy who made a number of ‘poor’ choices in his early years and battled with a range of addictions for 20 years which saw him burn a number of bridges, including his relationships with family and friends.
I was inspired by Ryan’s story because it shows that it’s never too late to turn your life around and start making a positive impact on the lives of others.
I met Ryan in a burger restaurant in Seminyak on the last day of my trip to Bali in February 2017. We were sitting on separate tables, but we were both by ourselves.
While we were sitting there by the window, a big dumping of rain came down and it was clear we weren’t leaving anytime soon.
Neither of us were in a hurry so we decided to order a dessert and we began chatting. Chatting about; Life…Love…Adventure…Overcoming Challenges…Happiness… the list goes on!
He explained he was visiting Bali with friends but had decided to go along to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that afternoon which was close to this burger restaurant (hence the reason he was there chilling out).
Curious Ange decided to continue the conversation as she was interested to know about Ryan’s life and what he had been through. He explained that he had lived with a range of addictions for 20 years, since he was a teenager. His addictions ranged from drugs to alcohol to sex, the list goes on!
Eventually, he found himself broke, unable to keep a job and stealing from people (including his closest friends and family). He got to the point where his family didn’t want anything to do with him because he would only ever call for money. He spent time on the streets and continued this destructive cycle until one day when he finally realised that enough was enough. He realised that he was miserable and something needed to change.
After hitting rock bottom, Ryan headed to a treatment centre where he embarked on a journey to ‘get clean’ and turn his life around. He joined the Narcotics Anonymous program which provided him the opportunity to learn about the recovery process and how to get back on the right track after so many years.
Ryan describes the process as challenging as he failed the first few times he went into the recovery program. It wasn’t until he experienced a certain level of misery that he became really willing to change and get the help he needed. His recovery included a four-month treatment and after-care while he went back to work for another three month transition period. He had to figure out who he was ‘clean’ through a process of self-discovery that he says still continues to this day.
As time went on, Ryan began mentoring individuals struggling with addictions. He became passionate about showing others, particularly young people, there’s another way of living. He was a living example that it’s possible to overcome addiction. He made it his mission to show people there’s a way out of their situation and that they can go on to live a productive life, one to be proud of!
I was so moved by Ryan’s story I knew I wanted to stay in touch with him and that I needed to write about it and share his story.
While I was visiting Vancouver this October, I knew I wanted to get in contact with Ryan and see if he was willing to catch up again. I let him know I would be in town and asked if he had time to meet up. We ended up heading for a hike up Quarry Rock with his friend Cody and his dog Optimus Prime (haha)!
As per local tradition, we also stopped by the infamous Honey’s Doughnuts in Deep Cove after the hike.
Side note – I am on the search for the most amazing doughnuts in the world and this place is currently sitting in my top three <3
It was great to hang out again on the other side of the world – one of the incredible parts about travel right?!?
Of course I asked about how he’s been going with his recovery program and the mentoring. I was so glad to hear that he’s been doing really well and has continued to stay on track.
He continues to have an amazing sense of pride in finally overcoming his addictions and staying on track. He’s been working on managing temptations constructively and knows that ‘falling off the band-wagon’ isn’t worth it for a drink… or a hit of something. He holds himself accountable for his decisions and knows that he has choices and can continue to make positive ones which supports him to achieve his goals.
Ryan has now been ‘clean’ for three years and continues to make positive choices to improve the quality of his life. While he recognises that this isn’t always easy, he is incredibly motivated to stay on track and help others in the situation he was in a few years back. He’s been keeping himself busy with work and is planning a trip to Peru next year to hike Machu Picchu and explore the Amazon.
Ryan has also continued to rebuild his relationships with family and friends. He makes sure he spends time with like-minded people who support him to continue to be a better version of himself.
Ryan’s advice to anyone who is having problems with drugs and/or alcohol is to seek help and not give up if it doesn’t work the first time. He suggests continuing to try because the end result is worth the effort. He considers being clean to be the ultimate freedom.
All I can say is what an inspirational guy. He has overcome some serious challenges in his life and continues to support others to do the same.
I want to take this opportunity to say a massive congratulations to Ryan – you deserve to be proud of how far you’ve come over the years. Keep supporting and inspiring others to improve their lives!!
Life lesson learnt: We can all overcome challenges and grow to be a better version of ourselves (it’s never too late).
Bonus life lesson learnt: Helping others and ‘giving back’ can be extremely rewarding and be a source of genuine happiness.
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In the meantime, happy travels.