I know many of you may not understand why I am the way I am. I’m sure many of you at times have probably thought I’m mentally ill because I’m outside all the time picking up debris, keeping my yard, a few others, and the street as well, clean. You may even think how absurd it is when I’m outside at times like 1am, flashlight in hand, picking up leaves. There’s a good chance some of you have even labeled me as OCD and judged I need medication, a job, or both. I’m quite sure some have even found my outdoor habits annoying at times, but can any of you really say you truly know why I am the way I am? This is why I decided to share those reasons with you here today.
My life feels very upside-down these days and has for a good while. It’s been at least four years now since I experienced any real happiness or joy. Living with chronic pain can do that to a human being, especially when you never get a break from it, even more so when no medication or any over-the-counter thing does any good except give plenty of negative side effects. For as much as I’ve wanted to go that natural route by using medical marijuana or some other THC-related coping mechanism, I haven’t because I’m a hard-core addict, who knows himself so well that if it gave me any relief, I’d start consuming as much of it as I could, becoming an active addict all over again. So, I do my best to cope with my painful state, fighting to not follow in my parent’s footsteps who both took their own lives, fighting to not relapse, and fighting to believe that there’s something Greater out there still guiding me through all this darkness.
Every day I fight to live, to overcome a psychiatrist’s warning I received many years ago, who told me I had a 60 percent chance of taking my life due to all the tragedies I’ve been through. What gives me purpose and helps me to keep going are two things, one you regularly see and one you don’t. The one you don’t is the volunteer recovery work I do in the addiction realm, while the one you do is my work outside.
Doing my work outside as obsessively as it seems, does help me to feel better. It truly helps to shift my focus away from my pain and all the things I’ve endured in life. My parent’s tragic and very abrupt deaths are only a scratch on the surface of what I’ve been through. Honestly, I consider myself a walking miracle for still being alive and sober from alcohol and drugs for the 26 years I have. The amount of PTSD I’ve experienced and worked through with things like being chronically bullied, molested, and emotionally and mentally abused more times than I care to remember, I know many in my shoes would probably already be dead or heavily medicated just to cope with it all. But, I’ve learned I have to find positive ways to keep going, and the one you all see the most is me outside, toiling away, on a task that I know is repetitive and I’m sure at times a nuisance.
Nevertheless, maybe the next time you see me outside, doing a task that undoubtedly appears overly obsessive, pointless, and possibly irritating, you’ll understand a little better now that it’s one of the only things I have left that makes me feel slightly better, that helps me to keep going on plenty of days, and gives me some sense of purpose. I pray none of you ever have to walk in the shoes I have thus far in life, because I wouldn’t wish that upon any of you. Regardless, I love you all.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson