79.9 F

Can We Recover… from Hopelessness?

Can We Recover… from Hopelessness?

Chris Fahey is a combat veteran and former military photojournalist with more than 20 years public affairs experience. St. Isidore's mission is to feed the body, nourish the soul and transform the community through "offensive generosity." He is a current psychotherapy student at Sam Houston State University and is committed to affecting positive change in the community. 

Can We Recover… from Hopelessness?

Ever witnessed a miracle? Humanity is certainly full of them. They can be quite subtle though. Tucked between moments. You have to be ready for them; intentional and mindful in your daily life. They are often hidden in the small interactions we share, and when they occur, the actual moment doesn’t last long.

I saw one recently.

I was touring Great Oaks Recovery Center down in Egypt, Texas. I’ve seen several recovery centers across the nation and wouldn’t recommend many. It’s hard to find a quality program. As a combat veteran with service-connected PTSD, I’ve had my share of stays, but I was touring Great Oaks specifically to see if solid recovery could be found – and I know what to look for. My father was a veteran suicide, my stepfather drowned, and my mother experienced an extreme amount of sexual trauma. Being surrounded by constant loss, I had very low self-worth. People terrified me, and I had zero trust, which gave way to hopelessness. Although capable of success, I considered my entire life a mistake. I needed help, found it and after thousands of hours of different therapy modals, a near-complete formal education in Psychology and A LOT of shouting matches with God, I stand today emotionally secure, socially adjusted, and happy father of three. I live a recovered lifestyle full of close friends and meaningful relationships. Still, the work continues, and I wanted to see if people like me could find hope at Great Oaks.

I sat next to a Marine Corps combat veteran by a fireplace. The heat on his back was comforting. He was detoxing from opiates, shivering, clammy and weak. He was a large man, dark circles under his eyes and in deep need of help. He was brave in his life, strong and had very little time for small talk. He said he had been to several recovery centers before, and nothing stuck. He felt confident Great Oaks would be different. His certainty confused me. Before I could ask why he felt so sure, he locked eyes with my tour guide. A development lead by the name of Alonzo. Once he recognized who he was, the Marine vet leapt to his feet. The movement was so fast it caught me by surprise. I rose to action thinking something was wrong. The Marine, who could barely hold his head up just moments before, was overwhelmed with emotion. He wrapped his giant arms around Alonzo, his eyes filled with tears and at near collapse repeated the words “thank you” over and over. I was in disbelief. We both helped the veteran back to his spot at the fire, and seeing my surprise, he explained. Alonzo had helped the Marine get to Great Oaks. It took months. Day after day, Alonzo spoke strength to him, keeping him focused. They had developed an incredible connection but never met in person. He detailed desperate conversations filled with midnight confessions, doubt and hopelessness. Alonzo helped navigate his insurance and the needless complexity of it all, while encouraging him day-after-day. It was above and beyond not just his job title, but what most human beings offer another. What some even refuse to do for their loved ones. (If you know that feeling, I’m sorry, and you are loved). It was a real moment of vulnerability, and I witnessed it all in real time, with a fellow veteran, while sitting on the stones of a fireplace. It was incredible!

Although beautiful, the miracle of that situation was more subtle. Many seeking recovery from combat PTSD and addiction don’t trust. Period. For many, they have no experience with it, so trust is a foreign concept.  It takes time but once that seed of trust is planted, the person becomes willing. Through that willingness, recovery can be found. That’s how it works. Without willingness, nothing is possible and without trust, wiliness doesn’t exist, which is likely why the veteran’s past recovery attempts failed. It’s a VERY hard step and serves as the doorway to seeking lasting maturity and positive change. Everything leading up to that first step is very dark. Pain and suffering beat us into submission and once the powerlessness of it all is too much to endure, we seek a new way to live. Those are challenging words “a new way to live,” because in those five words, recovery teaches a simple lesson. Happiness is there. We just need to change one thing – everything. So, how do you convince an addicted combat veteran to commit to such an extraordinary challenge? You can’t. That’s the miracle. That trust must be earned. Alonzo was GIFTED months of time to prove his dedication to this veteran’s wellness. Each day, the veteran was GIFTED with suffering. Day-after-day, trust was built through the consistent exchange of pain and hope, pain and hope, pain and hope. These two strangers showed up for each other and never gave up. That’s the miracle I saw. Two human beings connected in a common goal to provide and receive help without ever meeting each other. Their motives and actions so transparent and authentic that even while in the throws of a serious detox, the love manifested in a single, heartfelt hug. It was beautiful and reminded me of a couple things. First, quality recovery can be found if trust exists. Great Oaks knows how to inspire that, which was what I hoped to see while on my tour. Also, we live in a distracted society. Our focus is stolen so often and redirected to shootings, corruption, disease – the trauma of the world. It takes intention, but if we align our focus on the good, miracles can be seen all around us.

Can we recover from hopelessness? We certainly can. Work to inspire trust in each other and use that trust to guide each other toward a positive goal. Be willing to ask for help and willing enough to invest in a process you may not understand. Above all, work through the disappointment of it all. You will get let down, and we all get hurt. When that occurs, trust again … and then again. As many times as it takes. This is the work, and through the work, we can recover. We can exist above hopelessness.

- Advertisement -

More Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


- Advertisement -