Thursday, March 31, 2011


What can bring on hopelessness more quickly than the experience of trying to help someone who has an addiction? Says Harold, a man with firsthand knowledge of how it feels, ”Because of the nature of addictions I can become hopeless. A lot of people in my world have been through the process many times. In a sense, they know what they need to do. It is extremely frustrating to see them not do it.”

Are there powerful stories that can keep us hoping when the situation appears to be beyond repair? For Harold, and myself, and all the others who need to hear hopeful stories WHEN their hope is threatened by addictions, I recommend two books:

Playing With Fire, The Highs And Lows of Theo Fleury by Theo Fleury, and

When All You Have Is Hope by Frank O’Dea

What do Theo Fleury and Frank O’dea have in common? Plenty, it seems. Both had have highly successful careers. Fleury is a hockey star. O’Dea is the co-founder of Second Cup, the coffee chain that claims to have begun our transition to the life of buying good coffee at coffee shops. Both felt distant from their parents in childhood. Both were sexually molested as teen-agers. Both were beset by addictions. Both sank to a very low low. Both reached out for the love and support of generous, patient people. Both found a life beyond addiction and both have something to say about hope.
Beyond their similarities lie their differences. Each has his own story. Fleury had his addiction and his career success at the same time. O’Dea had to come in off the streets of Toronto before he could embark on a career. Fleury’s drinking lasted much longer than O’Dea’s.
There are differences in the way things were reconciled for each of them. In later life, Fleury asked for and received an apology from his parents. O’Dea’s mother said on her deathbed that she would never forgive him for the hurt he had caused his family.
Both books are implicitly hopeful though there is not much direct mention of hope in either. That said, each of these remarkable men has a hope gem to offer us. Fleury says: “It is important for me to share my experiences in order to create strength and hope for others. No matter how far down you go, it is never too late to
come back.” O’Dea says, “When you wallow in remorse over yesterday, or quake in fear about tomorrow, then you lose hope.”
I believe the world has many people who, like Fleury and O’Dea, have gone forward into a life governed by forces other than addiction. It is hard to find them because we don’t hear much about them. We hear about these two, not because they are doing well, but because they are famous for other things. Using that fame to command our attention, they are able to share with us their addiction experience and triumph. For this we must thank them because we need hopeful stories.
And, by the way, they both have a few more things in common. How do these men carry themselves toward a hopeful future? Both of them reach out to loved-ones and cherished friends, and both work hard to support charities.

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