Recovery Spotlight: Jason Lawrence

My name is Jason Lawrence.  A little over four years into my journey in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction,  I discovered running.  It has become an integral part of my life in recovery and an activity I can share with others who are also overcoming addiction. When I was a kid I didn’t feel like I fit in with any of my peers.  There were groups of kids who were good students,  good at sports,  good at drama and arts,  or just good at being outgoing and social.  I tried my hand at all of these and never felt that I measured up. When it came to sports I got good at shooting hoops but didn’t have the athleticism to come off of the bench.  I made the JV soccer team in high school.  Being on the team involved a lot of running which I hated.  Coach would follow behind us when we ran before every practice.  If he caught up,  we had to run extra.  I was always at the back of the pack feeling like I’d die.  I rarely made it off the bench all year. The last thing I wanted to do was run and I wouldn’t for many years. Sometime in the middle of high school, I got drunk and tried marijuana for the first time.  It cured me of the feeling that I wasn’t good enough or didn’t belong.  I’d finally found the people I belonged with.  I jumped into the “party life” head first.  I was all in.  It didn’t take long before the alcohol and drugs were making all of my decisions though I didn’t see it.  If I were invited to go somewhere,  my  first thoughts would be “Will there be booze?  How can I do this and still get high?” Whether I participated in the activity depended almost entirely on the answer to those questions.  If I wanted to buy something I’d have to think about how much booze or how many drugs that money could buy before I made the purchase.  As my addiction progressed,  I began to use drugs I’d said I would never use.  I started to have legal troubles,  family problems,  relationship problems, and employment problems.  For years none of the consequences of my drnking and drug use were enough to convince me that I had a problem.  What these crutches did for me always outweighed what they were doing to me.  I stole money from my grandmother’s purse when she let me live with her after I could no longer live with my parents.  I left my girlfriend and future wife in the city far from home more than once after getting drunk at an event.  I borrowed money from my parents I couldn’t pay back.  I was arrested several times for behaviors associated with drinking and drugging.  I lost jobs and had a ton of debt.  When I had finally had enough of the guilt that comes with hurting those I loved and the consequences of legal trouble, I was ready to stop but found I couldn’t do so alone.  I went on doing these things despite a desire not to.  I wouldn’t lower myself enough to ask for help.   It took being arrested for my third DWI with possession of crack on the night that my wife’s water broke with our first child to push me to the point of surrender.  I knew then that I couldn’t do this alone. I asked for help and found others in recovery who showed me to God and the way that they were able to recover from their addictions.   I had stayed sober for about four years and my life had improved drastically in that time.  I had always been overweight but in recovery we sometimes find it hard not to overindulge in other things.  Eating was a big one for me.  I found myself at over 250 lbs.  I had started to do exercise videos and watch what I ate. Gradually,  the pounds began to come off. My daughter’s dance class was having a fundraiser 5k.  I had some friends in recovery who were into running marathons.  I thought they were crazy but I put out an invitation that if they would sign up for this 5K I would run it with them. This was almost laughable given that I was still considerably overweight.  With guidance from my buddys who run, I worked my way up to 2 miles before the race.  When I finished the race I felt accomplished and I found that “runners high” I’d heard about.  Little did I know that this was the beginning of another addiction.  Within a year I ran a 5 miler, a 10 miler, and a half marathon. The pounds kept dropping off.  I began doing long slow runs in the mornings when training for a marathon.  This proved to be a great time to have conversations with God and reflect on the beauty of nature and the blessings in my life.  I’ve now completed a marathon which I never thought I’d be able to do and I’m currently training for my first ultra. Running has helped me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined.  I’ve found that I keep improving and that I can push myself harder than many others.  I attribute this to the stubbornness and strong will that are often characteristics of people with addictions.  That same tolerance for pain that allowed me to go out in the elements and bang sheet metal all day with a massive hangover and very little sleep was now helping me to push through a race when my body and mind are screaming to stop.  Recovery and running have both taught me things that I can apply to all aspects of life.  I can do things I never imagined were possible if I set a goal and do the work.