I can only imagine the thoughts racing through my step-brother, Jeff’s, mind as he drove the 45 minutes from Bellevue to Tacoma to carry me away the day I tried to kill myself.
My sister, my always-there beat of hope, called me seconds before I plunged the needle of life-ending crystal myth into the one vein I had left. She called, and I chose to answer. Picking up the phone was a choice, a first choice, that immediately triggered the biggest life change I would undergo.
My sister lived in Texas, so she called Jeff. She told him to get me immediately and to not, under any circumstances, let me out of his sight. Whatever his thoughts were on the drive to get me, I know what his experience was when he reached me.
When he opened the door to where I lived, the smell is what I imagine hit him first. The pungent odor of animal feces, mold, unwashed clothes and my unbathed body must have been revolting. I lived in the darkness, wallowing in misery and loneliness. There is no doubt that he walked into the presence of evil the day he came to save me.
Jeff threw my clothes, any clothes he could find, into a duffel bag as I lay on the floor, stretching my shirt sleeves to hide my arms. He carried me to the car and drove the 45 minutes back to his house.
When we pulled into his garage, I was coming down from my high and was debilitatingly scared. My fear of change was palpable. I didn’t want to die. I knew that. But, I didn’t know how to live. If I was going to stop being Trish, the addict, then who was I? I slowly rolled up my long sleeves so that Jeff could see the track marks, bruises and wounds. They were the physical manifestations of my despair. As I got the courage to look him in the eye, I saw him crying the tears that I wasn’t yet brave enough to shed.
The next day he took me to the airport. He held my hand as he walked me to my gate. I flew to Texas and when I landed, my sister was there, at the gate, waiting to hold my hand. I had made the choice to change my life. My sister and step-brother were both there to hold me accountable and see it through.
Change Is the Constant In The Journey To Enduring Success
As I think back to the first of five choices I made that brought me out of the pit of despair to the peak of success, it’s obvious that change is the constant foundation through all of it.
- When I picked up the phone, change showed itself as an opportunity. I chose to take it.
- When I entered into a two-way agreement with my sister to get clean and sober, change showed up as a new lifestyle and new perspective. It was hard, but I chose to commit to it.
- When it came time for me to leave the security and safety net that my sister had created for me in her home, change was there in the form of learning to trust myself, even through feeling raw and vulnerable. I chose to trust.
- As I began to realize the importance of creating community (something I had never had before), change manifested itself through genuine friendships that, again, left me feeling scared and vulnerable. I chose to let people in.
- Embracing love required a deep change in my heart to both give and receive love, in all aspects of my life. It was when I finally chose love, that I began to see the beautiful light flowing over the peak of success.
Overcoming The Fear of Change
Change has been present through each of my choices to achieve enduring success. Unfortunately, fear has been there too. It’s been my choice to change. And it’s been my choice to face fear in the midst of that change.
At each point of transition, I’ve felt awkward, anxious, stressed, nervous, and self-conscious. Sometimes I’ve taken (embarrassingly fallen, really) a few steps back before stepping forward. It’s not been clean, or easy. But change has also been exciting and full of the most wonderful surprises.
Change is full of emotion, both good and bad. As someone who has intensely experienced it, the best news that I can give you is this: the hope and opportunity of change overcomes the fear of change.
That night as I sat in my step-brother’s car, the fear of not changing surpassed my fear of change itself. I knew that if I didn’t change, I would die soon or spend my life in prison. I acted despite the fear, desperately clinging to the hope and opportunity that change would bring. Sometimes, fear can be exactly what we need to drive us to make the best choices for ourselves.
Overcoming the fear of change is possible, even when it feels like it’s not. You can overcome fear and choose change using the same steps that I took on my journey to achieving enduring success:
- Break your bad habits and replace them with good habits.
- Make one small change at a time. Starting small improves your chances for success.
- Take a leap of faith with trust and hope that what you’ve done to prepare for it will result in the outcome you want.
- Find (and use) accountability.
A Reading List To Support You Through Change
I’m inspired by books whose authors share a bit of their own journeys to success through their written words. I’m excited to share with you a few books that have helped me through my filled-with-change journey in hopes that they will also inspire you:
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams Gifted to me by my dear friend, this book gives us a peek into the conversations had between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu around joy and the obstacles that we all face in achieving moments of joy. In response, they offer “Eight Pillars of Joy” to help those seeking enduring joy to find it. The book also includes each of their spiritual practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives. These two great men and great thinkers have decades of insight and practice to share with us and the world. This is a great text to return to again and again when you’re looking for a way to be intentional and actionable about your journey to joy and your own enduring success.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. This is a beautiful novel about creating enduring success no matter your circumstance. The story begins when Count Rostov (the main character) has been forced into house arrest, in the Hotel Metropol in Moscow, by a Russian Bolshevik Tribunal. As the world changes before his eyes, he’s stuck indoors, powerless and apart from society. The novel explores his interiority as he strives to understand what it means to be purposeful in life. I delighted in Count Rostov’s journey to enduring success as he chose, again and again, to embrace the unexpected love that presented itself to him (and within him) even in the tiniest places.
Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls through the Seven Transitions to Adulthood by Lisa Damour, Ph.D. Another recommendation from my fellow-mom friends, this book is a guide to helping parents, especially moms, embrace the natural (albeit scary and frustrating) changes of our daughters growing up. Filled with simple and relatable lessons, wrapped in real-life stories and analogies, Lisa Damour, Ph.D. uses her expertise as a child psychologist, director of the renowned Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls, and her experience raising her own daughters, to help us, help our daughters transition to healthy, happy young women.
Atomic Habits. Earlier in my life I didn’t believe I could ever trust myself and I never believed any one could ever trust me. But after incredible hardship and a year after I pulled the final needle out of my vein, I had become trustworthy. As I recovered from my drug addiction,I learned if you do the little things great, great things happen. The book Atomic Habits demonstrates how making good, small decisions each day can transform who you are. James Clear exclaims that habits aren’t about getting something or losing something; habits are about becoming someone. I have so many highlighted passages and underlined statements throughout this step-by-step book. It’s one I keep coming back to time and time again!
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. My Choose & Become Interview guest, Imran Qureshi, introduced me to Carol Dweck’s “The Growth Mindset”. This science-backed book reveals that we can choose to believe our abilities and skills are fixed (a fixed mindset) or believe that our skills and abilities can be continuously developed (a growth mindset). Which mindset do you think will fuel your journey to enduring success?!? I liken, conceptually, choosing a growth mindset to embracing our boundless capacity to love. We can choose to believe we have a certain limit, a certain capacity to give and to receive love. Or we can choose to believe that we have a boundless, never-ending, capacity to give and to receive love. I choose the latter.
Organization Psychologist Jim Bright has found that 1 in 3 people would avoid change if they could. So how are you feeling about overcoming the fear of change after hearing my story? I hope I’ve inspired you to embrace the hope and opportunity of change. Today, take the next best steps on your journey to enduring success!
About Trish Kendall
An expert on creating enduring success, inspirational speaker Trish Kendall, transforms audiences’ belief of success. Trish brings candid stories, humor in the face of true hardship, simple lessons, compassion and love to all her speaking engagements.
“Since I heard you speak, I have been carrying you around in my head. …so profound because of the challenges overcome, lessons learned and success defined. We can all benefit from your utterly sincere acceptance of the guiding principle of “loving and being loved.”