I broke my collarbone this weekend while playing in a charity ice hockey tournament for disabled Veterans. As I sit here with a sling on I am reminded what it feels like to be powerless. Rocky Balboa was right when he said after his fight with Thunderlips: "Boy, sometimes charity really hurts."
Before each hockey game, between teams of disabled veterans from around the country, each team did 22 pushups on the ice because the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 22 Veterans take their own lives each day.
I feel powerless right now because I can't do anything with my right arm. As much as I may want to take back that power, the pain won't let me. I have no choice but to accept that I am at the mercy of my body until it recovers. As many of you know, I have struggled with drugs and alcohol for much of my adult life and thankfully I have been sober for the last 6.5 years one day at a time. I always thought I could control the addiction if I needed to. I believed that I had the strength to stop. But, no matter how much will power I tried to exert over my substance use, I could not stop.
I was only able to stop when I finally thought about my addiction the way I think about my right arm today. Powerless. I hate having to ask people for help, but because I am powerless over my arm, I have to ask people to help me do everything from drive me around to tie my sneakers. I also needed help to stop drugging and drinking. When I finally did ask for assistance, I was humbled by how many people wanted to help me.
Many of those 22 pushups we did before each game are for Veterans who struggled with alcohol and drugs before taking their own lives. There are many Veterans who are struggling today. There are millions more people who are not Veterans and also struggle every minute of every day with addiction.
My hope is that we never have to do pushups again, but even if we only have to do 21 next year I will be happy. We all have things that happen to us, like a broken bone, that make us feel powerless. We all have moments when we genuinely need help to survive. The depths of addiction are these moments as well.
We are powerless. It is ok to be powerless. We need help. It is ok to ask for help.
Call me. I have time. Just give me a few seconds to take the ice bag off my shoulder and pick up the phone.