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Memorial Day and Recovery

Alright everyone, what is up? Welcome, welcome back to another family education support group here with your host Parham. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be back again and to be able to hopefully share a topic that would add some value to your world, to your lives. And what do we got here? We got Blondie from Los Angeles, what up? Good to see you Jess from LA now, new location, same person, that’s awesome. So what we want to do today – it’s going to be kind of interesting. 


Let me give a quick introduction of myself. So I said my name is Parham. This is something we do here every single Saturday for the most part. I miss for travels of pickleball or training or something like that but for the most part, I’m very committed to this for the past four and a half years. I have a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I am a licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. I am a college professor at a local community college here called Saddleback Community College. I am a high school basketball coach – I’ve been doing that for 15 years now. And I’ve also been in the recovery process myself, so June 13, 2008 is the day that I changed my life around, we’ll call it, because I don’t want to minimize it and dumb it down to just drugs and alcohol because it’s a holistic change. It’s all areas of life. It’s overcoming things anxiety and depression. And no Jake, I didn’t man. This is my buddy Jacob – he’s a good dude. Jake, I did never message you. 


But let’s get into this let’s get into this talk today. The talk I want to do is going to be really nice because we all know here, at least in the United States if you’re watching this in America, Monday is Memorial Day, and Memorial Day is a day that communities and societies, they all get together in remembrance of those men and women who fought the ultimate fight and they were willing to sacrifice their own lives for the greater good. And when that happens I want you to hear this, that it’s important to pause and just think and just reflect on the impact that has had on our lives, but also the impact that it’s had on their lives. This is a family support group so when someone passes away it doesn’t just impact that individual, it impacts their spouses, it impacts their parents, it impacts their children. There are spouses that now have to figure out what am I going to do in life, how am I going to go continue this journey. There are parents that it’s not natural for a parent to to lose their child before themselves and children are now wondering what’s going to happen to me. So the impact that it has is huge and this isn’t just veterans in this country. It’s all over the world. But Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and so what I want to do is to look at holidays when they come up. I did it for Mother’s Day, I did it for Persian New Years, I do it for New Year’s day, I’ll do it for Father’s day, maybe even Labor Day to talk about our toxic work culture. But I wanted to take a moment and see what type of lessons can we extrapolate and pull from this day and apply to our own lives with the intention of honor and respect there, but also with the intention of improving our lives and the quality of it. So don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that fighting in a war and recovery are two separate things. So when I’m comparing Memorial Day in the lessons to the lessons we can apply in our lives and recovery I hope that you don’t take it as face value, but look at the underlying theme and the similarities that exist, not the differences. Because in life if you choose to look at the differences in anything in life, it’s really hard to be able to find value and a learning opportunity in that. But when you look at the similarities then the possibility for transformation, for growth, for healing exists. I’m going to go ahead and share six different lessons that we learned from Memorial Day and what it represents, and how we can apply those to our own lives, our own recovery, with the intention of making improvements in all those areas.


Good Morning to everyone that popped up. Jaleh Joon, what’s up? Jacob, what’s up brother? Bita, what’s up? Mom and Dad, number one supporters, what’s up? Katalin, we got the whole world. This year we’re covering the globe so now what we’re going to do is just get into it.


  1. The very first one is this thing called the power of sacrifice. What collective group of human beings demonstrates the willingness to sacrifice than those who have fought in the armed forces? The men and women of the military and by the way, if you are an active duty or a past military member I just want to thank you for your service. And if you have lost somebody as a result of that, I want to extend my own empathy and my compassion to you, and I stand with you in whatever grief that you’re still holding on to. I’m well aware of this grief process now personally, but much deeper than I was before. I’ve seen the impact that it could have on parents and siblings and children and spouses. So I just want you to know that there’s a lot of compassion here available and present to you if it’s something that you need to hear or if it’s a community of support that you need to be a part of. You’re very welcome here. 

So the power of sacrifice. One of the things that always gets me when I’m watching a social media reel or something that it’s the moment that it’s a hidden video and in that hidden video there’s a little kid, a little boy, a little girl that might be in class. I’ve seen one in a karate studio, I’ve seen one in a baseball field, softball field. And the kid’s there and the camera’s kind of hiding and then as the kid’s doing whatever they’re doing, they’re talking to the class, or they’re doing some karate, or they’re swinging a bat, all of a sudden the mom or dad rolls up in their active duty gear and they just walk up to their kid and they embrace their kid, and the kid turns around. They can’t believe that the parent is there and I get goosebumps, man, that stuff gives me goosebumps. Because it shows the power of human connection, it shows the power of love, but also it shows the ultimate sacrifice. If you have someone in your life that you love that much and you could just tell that Mom or Dad just freaking loves their kid, you could tell that kid loves their parent. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do any deductive measures of analysis of what you’re seeing in the video. It’s right there and how do we know it’s right there? Because whoever watches it they feel the same way. It’s universal. It exists. It’s as true as the truest truth that exists. But check this out. Despite of that love, despite of that connection, they still choose to go on and sacrifice. Now why is this important in recovery? Because there are things in our lives when we are trying to heal and recover that we must sacrifice. The question I always ask people in the recovery process is the following. Are you willing to sacrifice who and what you are for who and what you want to become? Are you willing to sacrifice the comforts, the repetitive nature, the way you’re living your life, are you willing to sacrifice it all in order to get uncomfortable, in order to grow, in order to experience a new life? Are you willing to? Some people are and some people aren’t. I’m telling you this – if you are in the recovery process your new life will cost you your old life. Are you willing to make that sacrifice? And if you want to know what that looks just look no further than those videos. I’m telling you. The power of sacrifice is so big because if you’re willing to take that risk, if you’re willing to put it out there, knowing that you may lose the things you love the most in life, yet you do it anyways, that’s powerful. That’s where you can transform, that’s where you can just experience a life unlike anything else. And I believe that that’s a very beautiful way to be able to see it.


What’s up Jim? Hey Jim, you’re gonna be the topic today, my man! Feel free to share it anytime you want, and that’s the first thing that we can learn on Memorial Day – the power of sacrifice and can we apply that to our own recovery? Can you apply it to your own recovery? I mean, parents sometimes, you got to sacrifice your enabling behavior, sometimes you got to sacrifice the cape that you put on and become super mom, super dad, super spouse to go save and rescue somebody. Sometimes you might sacrifice sitting on the couch because you’re tired because you got to go do something for your mind, your body, and spirit. Are you willing to? They teach us really well. day in and day out, what that sacrifice looks like.


  1. The next one I have here is commitment to a greater cause. What is the greater cause? Well in that specific case it’s often times for safety, for protection, but mostly that greater cause is for something or someone, not themselves. The greater cause is for others. The greater cause is for society. However for individuals in the recovery process, the greater cause if it’s not yet established, if it’s not well defined, if it’s not crystallized in your mind and manifested in your thoughts through your actions, if you don’t have that greater cause, what happens? I’ll tell you exactly what happens. At the first sign of adversity, at the first sign of overwhelming fear, at the first sign of psychological and emotional triggers, what people do is they lose that commitment, and they go back to the way that they were living their lives. You’ve seen this in your loved ones if you’re in recovery yourself, you understand what I’m talking about. What they do is as soon as they just get uncomfortable they forget their commitment and they go back because they have no greater cause. Let’s look at that in the soldier analogy that we’re using here because of Memorial Day. They take on a greater cause, they’re committed to a greater cause, they go places and in those places that they’re at, you don’t think that they experience fear? I’ve talked to countless people, over a couple hundred veterans in my life. They tell me as strong and brave and powerful as they need to be they experience fear. They’re human beings. You tell me that they don’t get triggered, they don’t hear things and see things that bring up all of their own unresolved stuff? They absolutely do. You tell me that they don’t experience sadness from being away, homesickness from being away, for their loved ones receiving cards in the mail rather than being able to hug their families? They experience sadness but do they just say “I’m out of here?” No. Want to know why? They’re committed to a greater cause. That’s what you got to think of. In recovery what is the greater cause? And what the greater cause for all this stuff, my friends, is through the recovery process we not only help our own lives, we not only help the lives of those around us, I truly believe that we help our communities, we help society, we make the world a better place. So all that being said, thank you, so that’s the greater cause right there! And that’s where we learn it. So that was number two – number one was the power of sacrifice, and number two is a commitment to a greater cause.


  1. Let’s get into number three. These are lessons that we learned from Memorial Day lessons, that we learned from the the lessons that they have taught us over years of dedication and sacrifice. Number three is perseverance, the importance of resiliency and perseverance. If you’re having a hard time tracking this in terms of how is the recovery process similar to people that go off to the war, if you’re thinking you’re comparing apples and oranges let me hopefully share some insight to you. And the insight that I want to share is this. People that have experienced trauma in their life, it could be you watching this right now, it could be your loved ones, people who have experienced psychological, physical, emotional, sexual abuse inside of their own homes, people who are tormented by mental illness, those individuals I truly believe wholeheartedly from the bottom of my heart, are of the most resilient human beings on this planet. They have been able to overcome what they’ve experienced. Not give up, show up every day, and continue to fight. There’s a reason why trauma that happens to soldiers overseas used to be called shell shock. They’ve been able to change that label around and make it more humanistic and they turned it into something called post-traumatic stress disorder. There are different modalities of treatment for that type of trauma therapy. There’s a TMS for treatment resistant depression, there’s EMDR for traumatic trauma symptoms, there is talk therapy, all that kind of stuff for that specific population. However what they realized is that sometimes people didn’t even have to leave their hometowns, sometimes didn’t people didn’t have to leave their homes, to experience the same symptoms of those who go fight the wars. They experience the same thing – the battlefield is inside their house. So we learned that from them on Memorial Day. It’s easy to say Bam! right there, that’s the definition of resiliency. Those people are as resilient as this planet comes. I’m telling you this. People that have endured substance abuse, trauma, mental illness, grief and loss, they have the same DNA. They have the same resiliency so that’s another thing that’s really important for us to not only acknowledge and internalize, but hopefully accept. You might say, “Man, I don’t know, it’s just not landing well.” Guess what the symptoms are? The same! If you look up at the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder that happens to soldiers, hypervigilance, inability to sleep at night, jumpiness, shakiness, being triggered by smells, by sounds, not being able to think clearly, being foggy, having anger outburst, impulsivity, if you look at all those symptoms guess what? They are exactly the same as people experiencing PTSD that never went to war. So if we can acknowledge that in those individuals, “Hey you guys, you men and women, you guys are just straight resilient, you persevere through all obstacles.” Why don’t we extend that same grace to those who have fought those fights inside of their own homes? I hope this encourages somebody to look at it that way.


By the way if there’s any questions or if there’s any feedback, feel free to share. This is always a dynamic conversation – it’s for us to be able to learn from each other, to grow from each other, and we go from there. 


  1. So the next one is this thing called acknowledgement and gratitude. On Memorial Day the whole society of the United States, at least let’s just talk about America, they pause, they completely stop. I mean it’s a federal holiday so everything just stops. What’s the main purpose? Remembrance. Acknowledgement and gratitude. We all know that that’s the theme of it so we know that for those individuals who go fight those fights, they deserve at least that one day for that. I’m telling you as human beings, even if you’ve never been in a war, that type of war, we all deserve the same acknowledgement. Being acknowledged for who you are and the things you do in life is a human need. It is something that when experienced, when we allow ourselves to experience it, it is something that feels good. It has healing potential. However, since I’ve been working in the mental health space for 12, 13, 14 years now, I’ve noticed something. There are a lot of people that have a problem with being acknowledged. There’s a lot of people that have a problem with receiving compliments, receiving positive words towards them, and if you think about it, it kind of sounds bizarre. Because it’s why would a human being have a hard time experiencing someone saying, “Hey I’m proud of you. I see how well you’re doing. I see how hard you’re trying.” You’ve made so many changes in these areas of your life why would someone have a hard time receiving that? Two reasons. Number one, they never received it in life. Nobody ever told them “I see you, I’m proud of you.” Nobody ever told them “you’re doing a good job.” What they probably heard is, “You’re not good enough. It’s not good enough.” Or they didn’t hear anything at all. Their actions were unnoticed by those around them. So then they get into therapeutic circles. Their peers or counselors say, “Hey man, I see you man, you’re grinding, you’re working so hard. I’m so proud of you,” and they get uncomfortable. They can’t accept it. The second reason is because when you don’t receive all of those things in life growing up, in active developmental years, the impact that it has on your self-worth and self-esteem is profound. If you never got compliments your self-esteem stays low. If you never got told that you’re doing well and you’re worthy of love your self-worth is low. A person that has minimal to no self-respect and selfworth, first of all does things to their mind, their body, their spirit, their soul that matches that kind of relationship with that, but also has a hard time receiving acknowledgements and love back. In 2011 my brother and myself, my brother rest in peace, we did this workshop together and it was one of those intensive workshops. It was multiple days – each day was over 12 hours long. 12 hours in the same room. You didn’t leave. And let’s just say there’s 60 people in that group. It was an advanced forum and one of the things that people had to do was, one at a time you had to go on the stage, with all 60 people and the group presenters and the people that were helping there, they were all watching you on stage. First of all, that’s just a terrifying experience for a lot of people, believe it or not. As much as I love talking and I’m all into this back then, it was scary, man! If you’ve never done it before it’s not an easy thing to do. But you would go there and you have to say “Who I am is the possibility of…”, and you would say three different things. So for example, health, love, generosity. Whatever you wanted to to create and bring about this world you would acknowledge that you’re the possibility of that. And if you said it kind of under the breath, if you said it low with no energy, they’d be like, “Nope, say it again!” And you say, “Who I am is the possibility of health.” And “nope, say it again, get to the point.” You would have to stand there and say, “Who I am is the possibility of…” and you would say it as loud as you could and if it passed the test of the facilitators, the entire 60 people in that room would stand up and start giving you a standing ovation. They would whistle, they would holler, they would scream, they would yell, and they would just clap for you. And you’re standing on the stage vulnerable and there’s people clapping for you, and just screaming and yelling your name, and just really energetically giving you love. I learned something back then. I wasn’t even a therapist yet. I was just a counselor. I barely got through graduate school. I learned something there. Oh my God, we are all uncomfortable with being acknowledged. We are all uncomfortable with having that energy coming towards us. And some people would just start crying on the stage. I’m not kidding – they would just start be falling on the stage when people are acknowledging them because they felt they didn’t deserve it. Some people would just get so uncomfortable they get off the stage and walk away and they’d have to bring them back on. By the way, no one could leave that night until everyone was done with all these experiments. So it was powerful. So if you had to be there for 20 hours you would stay until everything finished. But what happened was after the first 30 seconds of discomfort, 30 seconds of just feeling so uncomfortable in your own skin, because you’re getting a standing ovation for the first time in your life, then they started to just smile and laugh and just look around the room and make eye contact. They were soaking it in. And then something even more profound than that happened when they went off the stage and the next person went on and they did the same exercise. “Who I am is the possibility of…” and once they passed people start clapping. Once they did that guess what happened? Those that got off the stage, they were the loudest, they had the most energy. I mean all 60 people, for a minute, every single time with a timer, you had to go as hard as you could. So for 60 minutes straight everyone just gave everything they had to those on stage, to acknowledge them, to make sure they were seen. Everyone lost their voice and I’ll tell you this. The ones that would go off the stage were the loudest because they received the need that they never had in a long time. It’s kind of like walking through the Sahara desert just dehydrated, dying of dehydration, and that one minute was the water you needed for life. That’s the power of acknowledgement and the power of gratitude.


I mean Jim just put there, “Gratitude’s an attitude.” I believe that. And “Grateful people are happy people and those who aren’t, aren’t.” I also say, “Gratitude that’s not expressed doesn’t exist.” So the reason why we’re grateful for what those people did when they go overseas and fight the wars, those men and women in armed forces, were grateful for it is because it allows us to have a specific thing in our life and that is the ability to live the way we all live, the freedoms we experience. And unfortunately when it comes to the world of mental illness and substance abuse, not only do we take that freedom for granted, we also double down on it and imprison ourselves in the prison of the mind and the body and the spirit and the soul through those substances and those lifestyles. So please make sure that you acknowledge yourself. Be grateful for your progress, acknowledge those around you, and be grateful for who they are and how they show up in your life.


  1. The next one that we have here is honor and respect. I mean, if you see someone with a veteran hat or you see a young guy or a girl wearing an active duty thing you walk up to them and often times they’ll give them a little handshake and say, “Hey yo, thank you for your service.” There’s places like Home Depot which have designated parking spots for those individuals to visibly demonstrate their respect and the honor they have for them. And we know what it is to honor those people. We know what it’s to respect those people. They do something that is honorable and respectful because it’s so damn hard. But if we have accepted the fact that I’m correlating the experiences we have in life when you endure substance abuse, trauma, mental illness, grief and loss, if we accept in this conversation that even though they’re completely different on paper, they’re different experiences, but the impact that it has is very similar, then guess who else deserves that honor and respect? A person watching this right now, the human who’s endured all of that in their life and they’ve been resilient and persevered and got here to this moment, deserves that honor. But guess what we do with ourselves? Often times we don’t honor ourselves, we don’t honor our mind, our body, our spirit, our soul. Sometimes we don’t respect it. You put things in your body that purely disrespected it. So because I know you understand that honor and respect with them it tells me that you should understand it with you. And if you understand it with you and you choose not to honor and respect yourself, then you got to stop and ask yourself why. What is it in them that I see that I don’t see in myself? What is it in them that I respect that I’m not respecting in myself? Because if you have the same characteristics and you don’t give it to yourself then there’s a significant problem. There’s a quote that says, “Compassion that is not extended to self is incomplete.” Extend that compassion to yourself, honor yourself, and also honor the journey that you have been on. I just did this talk a few minutes ago for our program participants and I said, what’s really fascinating to me is that there are 8.something billion people in this world and not two life journeys have ever been the same. Think about it – the journey that you’re all on is completely different than the journey of any other human being in this world. That’s awesome man, honor that, cherish it, respect it, but I will tell you this. When you get off this talk and you go do whatever you’re going to do this weekend, or next week, or next month, or next year, or next decade, you’re still on a journey. And if you choose to live life through these principles that we’re teaching today you’ll be able to honor the hell out of that. But if you live it the way you did before with all the pain and agony and all the discomfort, all the heartbreak, why do you think your journey is going to change? See, I don’t think that the journey stays the same because I believe in the possibility of human transformation. So if you transform yourself, you transform your journey. Now it’s a matter of what kind of journey you want to live.


  1. So the very last one I have here is something called leaving a legacy. On Monday, at a lot of the different cemeteries in the United States people go and they have real memorial services honoring those who have fought and served and lost their lives. And again it’s not just them. Please don’t ever forget about their moms and their dads, their spouses and their children, don’t even forget about their dogs. I’ve seen a German Shepherd – man, destroyed me, this little German Shepherd which was a canine, a military canine. He lost his handler and the human that was taking care of him and he went to his memorial. Oh my goodness he knew that he’s in the boxes. I’m sure he could smell it and it was just the saddest thing I’ve ever seen. So don’t neglect those little guys, they’re awesome. To leave a legacy we learn that and people go to these memorial sites and they sit there and they look at their names of these people that have lost their lives, and they left the legacy. I mean, that is it, that’s a legacy. So why is it important for us to leave a legacy? Here it is man, simple. I’m 40 years old. If I’m lucky I got another 50 in me. If I’m super unlucky I got another 20 in me. And if I’m somewhere in the middle, all the things I do in my life, all the things I say, all this and that when it’s all said and done, it’s over. However, the way we realize in the military because of what they did and how they lived their life their memory remains. So you, my friends, have the same choice in life. Some of you might have 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, some of you might have 60 years, 70 years, maybe if you’re watching this in your young 80 years, if you’re just super advanced and you want to level up your life, I really envy you if you start that young. But that’s it, somewhere between 10 and 80 let’s just say is the range of this audience, then it’s all done. So leaving a legacy becomes probably the most important factor of this whole thing called life. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want to leave behind? How are you going to go about accomplishing that? See, when you think about that higher purpose, that greater purpose, that greater cause, the little things you go through day in and day out in life shouldn’t matter as much. Because if it’s not in the legacy it don’t matter. If it’s not in the end why does it matter? 


Now so in conclusion of today’s talk, I want to tell you guys that the reason I did this was because first of all it’s something thats happens in our community, society right now. And I said it’s a day of remembrance of those men and women who have fought for this land or whatever land they got. They lost their lives, the ultimate sacrifice. They’ve sacrificed things that are very important to them. How do we know that? We’ve watched enough videos to know that the love that mom or dad has for their kid when they come back and visit them is as good as it gets. But the reason I really wanted to do this talk is because I wanted to wake some people up to the fact that some of you who who have endured pain as a result of addiction, mental illness, grief and loss, and trauma, man, you’re soldiers, you’re fighters, you’re resilient. Make sure that you extend that same dignity and grace that you do to those individuals, to yourself. Because you deserve it. Because you’ve been fighting a fight. You’ve been battling a war. Yes, mental illness and addiction is a fight, and it doesn’t just impact the person. It impacts the whole world. And if you apply what I’m saying today to your own life and get out of this war, and ultimately experience some freedom in your life, here’s the thing. I’ve shared this before, and I usually do this on my fourth of July talk. I say this – addiction comes from the Latin root, Addictus. Addictus means to be enslaved to. So back when the word was originated, back in the the Latin world we’ll call it, if I owed Jim here $100 and I couldn’t pay Jim back, Jim would take me to court, and the judge would say, “That Parham is addictus to Jim,” which means that he is enslaved to Jim. That’s the Latin root of addiction, addictus. You ask any slave in the world what’s the only thing they want – it’s freedom. They don’t want want a job, a car, money, wealth, status, prestige. They want freaking freedom. When you get free from the buyings of active addiction, from the chains of active addiction, when you heal your mind and work on your mental health and you experience freedom, first of all, you’ve honored and respected what those men and women go fight for anyways. Second of all, you can live the life you deserve. You can leave the legacy you want to leave. You can have the impact you want to have and just make this world a better place. All that being said, love and appreciate all of you. I’ll see you back next week, same time, same place for another education support group. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Enjoy the long weekend, get some sun, get some good food in your system, and I look forward to seeing you soon. Bye, everyone!

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Kelsey Gearhart

Director of Business Development

Kelsey carries multiple years of experience working in the substance abuse and mental health treatment field. Her passion for this field comes from her personally knowing recovery from addiction.

Prior to Buckeye she held titles of Recovery Coach, Operations Director, and Admissions Director. Kelsey was brought on at Buckeye Recovery as the Director of Business Development. She has a passion for ensuring every individual gets the help that they need, and does so by developing relationships with other providers.

Kelsey also oversees our women’s sober living environments – The Chadwick House for Women. She is committed to creating a safe, nurturing, and conducive environment for all women that walk through the doors of Chadwick.