Words by Hayley
Every time you step into the studio, you see one of our fabulous, fearless instructors. They radiate light and positivity and encourage us to be the best versions of ourselves. But just because they embody such wonderful traits that inspire us to do and be better doesn’t mean that they have not struggled. In fact, the struggles and challenges that they have endured have helped to shape them and make them who they are today. One of our newest instructors, Roger, went to hell and back and came out the other side a better, happier version of himself. Ready to be inspired? We have the story of Roger’s struggle with addiction and successes in overcoming it for you here. We can all learn a little bit about seeking help when you need it, the power of the mind and loving yourself from our new badass instructor.
Hi Roger! So nice to finally chat with you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your life before and your struggle with addiction?
I’ve always struggled with obsessive behaviour. Drinking, drugs and eating were all manifestations of my obsessive tendencies. I never knew that I had this disease called “addiction.” I learned that in rehab. I was so happy to learn that it had nothing to do with character defects or with my discipline. I just couldn’t handle or express my emotions, and, because of the disease, I started to numb it in various ways. I always thought my life was normal: I studied, graduated, worked, etc., but now living clean and sober, my old life was covered by a black cloud of lies, manipulation, denial and ego. I handled life for a pretty long time whilst on drugs, but in the end, it got out of hand, and I couldn’t do it alone anymore. I needed help – professional help – to overcome the mess I had made.
Wow. It is amazing to be able to ask for help when you need it. No easy feat! How did the experience affect you physically?
Addiction is not only about substances, as it’s as much an obsessive behaviour as a physical addiction. I learned that it’s a disease that came out at a young age in the form of overeating, gaining a lot of weight until I reached 128 kg. It was just a way of dealing with my inner self and trying to hide emotions and feelings. Thank god I lost all the weight, but unfortunately, because of drugs, I did a 180 and took really bad care of my body. I wasn’t even thinking about my physical condition. Bad or almost no eating and losing lots of weight as a result.
Sounds like you really struggled. And how about spiritually and emotionally?
This is a hard question. The things I’ve experienced and lost due to addiction and the damage I’ve done to myself and the people around me is very great. The constant need to numb your emotions in different ways made me feel really lost; when I was in active addiction, I had no clue what was happening. Now looking back clean and sober, it feels lonely, and I have the feeling I have to get to know myself again. Feeling true emotions that are not based on substances or obsessive behaviour is just life as it’s supposed to be, I guess.
We hope that you never truly feel lonely, as you have our unconditional love and support always. Do you feel like a different person now?
Hell yeah! It only brought me good and positive things. All the things I’ve lost are getting better again. Just the simple things like having my own house again, hanging out with friends instead of using by myself behind closed curtains. The cravings are subsiding little by little, and that’s the best thing! It sometimes makes it hard when it strikes me, but I know what to do now. I have a choice to stay clean now, and for me, it’s all about “action.”
You are totally right. We all must choose to live positively and well, no matter what we’re struggling against. So congrats with becoming a Rocycle instructor! Was health and fitness important in your journey?
For me, fitness is one of the keys to success. The body is so powerful, so strong. We are programmed to think with our minds and really don’t pay enough attention to the body. Moving and challenging my body gives me the energy that I need to stay clean. It keeps me focused, and the growth and progress that I see make me feel proud again. And, most of all, it gives me back my self-love, which is something that I had lost for quite some time.
Incredible. We can’t even tell you how happy we are to have you in the Ro’family. So, we are focusing on how challenges can actually be a positive thing. Have you found this to be true?
I would say yes, but challenges also mean sacrifices. I sacrificed many things, things that were important to me. I was sick, so it happened, and now I can only look forward. I try not to hang too much in the past, as that’s deadly. So yeah! Challenges in life are a good thing! They make you grow, reflect on yourself and, most importantly, they make me grateful for what I have at the moment. How you behave following a challenge will eventually lead you to your path in life.
Beautifully put. Speaking of behaviour after a challenge, do you do anything differently in your life now?
Just easy things! I try to make sure I’m never, never in a rush. I always leave 20-30 minutes earlier so that other people’s stress and hurry can’t hit me. I try to stay in my own space, and if I miss the train or tram, then that’s perfectly fine. Also, I eat healthfully and try to be conscientious about it. Not enough sleep, eating too little or too unhealthily affects me more than I’m aware of sometimes. I learned from sharing my thoughts and struggles, and it’s helping me and others too.
What’s the best advice you can give to others for embracing challenging situations?
The best advice I have is: give it time! Challenging situations require patience, effort, strength and love from your friends and family around you. Love and energy at the point when you can’t give it to yourself. Embracing is also living in the moment. Don’t hang in the past, don’t look into the future. Just live day by day! Easy does it, really!
Duly noted. That’s fantastic advice. Alright, we’ve got one more question for you: what does Challenge. Change. Grow. Mean to you?
I think all people experience challenges in their own ways. Life is a challenge, people get challenged by actions of others where they are powerless and people face personal challenges that they can accept and tackle. However, it is good to challenge yourself in life when you have the choice. It makes you become stronger and helps you get to know yourself even better!