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Ryan Stewart: Overcoming Addiction by Letting Others Help Me

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 7, 2023 3:04 am

Ryan Stewart: Overcoming Addiction by Letting Others Help Me

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 7, 2023 3:04 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Ryan Stewart struggled with addiction for a majority of his life, and it was only through the help of others that he was able to come out on the other side.

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Chipotle for real. And we return to our American stories and up next we're going to hear from Ryan Stewart, who's been on our show before and told us the story of how he became a professional dog Walker in New York City. Today, Ryan shares with us the importance of simply helping other people. Ryan struggled with the importance of helping other people. Ryan struggled with addiction for a majority of his life, and it was only through the help of others that he was able to come out on the other side. Here's Ryan with his story. Suppose I could say I used to be an alcoholic, but supposedly that means you're an alcoholic for the rest of your life.

So if you're reflective, you can look back and you can see the markers that were always there. Like when we got introduced to beer in the seventh grade, who was the one kid who drank too much and acted like a fool? It was me, right? Like all the other kids seem to be able to get drunk or whatever and not destroy anything. So the markers were always there that alcohol wasn't good for me. But I didn't really totally spiral out of control until like maybe in my thirties.

I drank too much, but I somehow was with what's called functional. And then I slowly start drinking more and I start drinking more. And then when I get in trouble drinking and I mean like let's say I'll get in a bar fight, you know, I'll get arrested or something like that.

Then I have that to deal with that that type of shame, you know, and then so that adds to it. I was in a dark place, you know, drinking and drugging and not liking myself. And then I got these ideas that happiness was maybe being famous or rich. And I was in a haze like for decades, you know, like trying to be an actor and a dancer. The reason I wanted to be a dancer was because I watched females when they watched guys who moved well and they liked guys who could move well. So I'm like, OK, I'll be a dancer. So New York City is the center of the dance world.

And so that's where I'm going to go. So I came in New York City very quickly and I decided to go to this Alvin Ailey school and I got a scholarship there. I was, you know, I was pretty good as whacked out, flexible, which helps, you know. Then I talked with my primary ballet teacher who is David Howard and another mentor I had named Hillary Cartwright. And they're like, well, we know Benjamin Hark-Harvey over at Juilliard. You know, he's the director of the dance program. And so they sent me over there. I got to meet him. And then I started doing the interview, you know, the process to matriculate into Juilliard.

I was taking an adult ballet class at night because, you know, you take the professional classes during the day, but if you're studying and you want to be the best, you keep on taking classes all day long. And so at night the adults came in and one of them was a doctor and she noticed this bulge from my neck. And she said, you know, why don't you come in for, you know, and let me check that out for you.

And I laughed it off and said, you know, like, I don't have any money, you know, I don't have any money or any insurance. And she said, don't worry about that. I went to her hospital and she somehow waved me through everything.

You know what I mean? Like, I just went in and got a chest X-ray and was out in a busy hospital with no insurance and no money. And that night I was taking class and then the pianist stayed and played for me so I could do like practicing, you know, big movements. And she came in with the big yellow envelope, you know, that has my chest X-ray. And she said, I think you better sit down. And that's when I got my cancer diagnosis.

And she said, we're going in tomorrow to Memorial. I know someone at Memorial Sloan Kettering. And she got me into the best hospital like in the country for cancer. So I did 14 months of chemotherapy, you know, lost all my hair, but it was probably the happiest time of my life. It might seem odd to be diagnosed with cancer and have it the happiest time of your life, but I didn't have to worry about becoming something, about being successful. You know, that pressure that, you know, what am I supposed to do with my life?

Who am I supposed to make happy? I didn't have to worry about any of that. I just had to go to sleep at night and get better.

And all that's what everyone told me, you know, the doctors like, you know, just get better. And that made my life really simple. All the nurses and doctors knew me. You know, it's like cheers, like everyone knows your name there. It was a happy time in my life. It was a lot different.

Yeah, like from having everyone care about you to taking SSI, you know, because I was disabled due to my treatment and I was still getting some checks for it. And one of my friends says, how could you take that money? Look at you. You look like you can work.

And he shamed me and he was right. You know, I could work. And so the next interview at the office, when they ask you, like, are you feeling bad? You know, blah, blah, blah. How do you feel? The guy sort of encouraged me, you know, to like keep the checks coming. You know, he says you're only like a few months out from cancer treatment.

You know what I mean? And I said, no, like, I don't want any more checks. I can work.

And he was in disbelief, like in disbelief. But my friend had shamed me. And so I took myself off SSI.

And, you know, that's the contrast of like everyone caring for you to having like your friend saying you're a lazy bum. You can't take money. You can work. When I left the hospital, my doctor said you cannot because you took a cardiotoxin as one of your chemotherapies. You cannot lift really, really heavy weights and you cannot take drugs that accelerate your heart rate. So I disliked myself so much that I joined CrossFit.

That's weightlifting for crazy people. And I became a cocaine addict. So that's how much I loved myself. For a lot of people, it's something really terrible happens. Like they get a DUI and they go to jail for the first time in their life and they're shocked out of it.

You know, like some one moment happens to them. For me, it wasn't like that. It was just like at one point I just thought to myself that there's nothing left to me. Like I'm just a tumbleweed now just blowing in the wind.

There's nothing left to me. And I knew it was time to quit. There's a reason people don't quit even though they're ruining their lives and they're killing themselves. It's not easy to quit. The first 90 days, that was the hardest thing I've ever done.

Going 90 days without drugs or alcohol. I always thought like you see people accept awards or whatever or talk about their career and how like they worked so hard. And you know, they did a lot on their own, blah, blah, blah.

That wouldn't be what I say. I would be saying like every step of the way someone helped me and do anything alone. You know, it's like the Peloton, you know, the beauty of the Peloton, which is a group of riders. When you watch the Tour de France, it just pulls the people in the front do the work because they hit the wind. And so they're working the hardest and they go until they're tired and then they drift to the side and someone else takes their place.

And they come and they drift back to the middle of the pack or the back of the pack and then they rest there. And everyone takes their turn, you know, like hitting the wind. There's people who will step up and help you and want nothing back from you. And now I know the path forward is to always help others. And I'm not doing it to try to be nice because I'm not really a nice person.

I'm quite a jerk sometimes. But if you hold the door open for someone or you help someone with like a heavy load or something like that, like, you know, you're walking on the street and someone's like struggling with something. You help them for maybe five seconds or 10 seconds. You forget your own problems and your own concerns and you help that person and that person forgets their own problems.

And they're like, someone's helping me. And both of you are just in the moment. You're not in your own head thinking about yourself being alone.

You're in the moment with another human being. Through, let's say, a lifetime of messing up and just face planting right into the pavement and really having a miserable life that I brought upon myself. I somehow retain the ability to learn from it like I learned from this. I've had fantasies before about being rich and famous and wearing nice clothes and having a nice car. And you know what?

It's not me. I was able, with God's grace, to remember who I truly was at the core. And I only made it out by letting other people help me.

And a beautiful job on the production by Madison and a special thanks to Ryan Stewart for bearing. Well, bearing just about everything. He talked about his early time and struggles, bar fights and, of course, arrests. And that's a struggle. When it starts hitting arrests, you're in trouble. I was in a dark place.

I was drinking and shrugging. By the way, it simultaneously had this tremendous talent. You don't just stumble into Alvin Ailey and Juilliard.

We have some people here who've been involved in the New York theater and know what those institutions are. And this is the best of the best in the world. And there's this lady who notices something wrong with this young man, and she's a doctor. And as he said, she just waved me through everything. And the cancer diagnosis came, and he said it was the happiest time of his life because he wasn't working on anything else but being better. And then, of course, he just kept going until he hit bottom.

And that's what happened. And then the pathway back, serving others, getting out of yourself, getting great people around you. We love to tell stories of hope like this, redemption like this, and God's grace, as he said in the end, and feeling gratitude for who you are and where you are in life.

Ryan Stewart's life. We love stories like this here on Our American Stories. . Chipotle's new chicken al pastor is where fire meets flavor. Starting with chicken fresh off the grill, combined into a rich marinade of seared Merida peppers and ground achiote, balanced with a splash of pineapple for the right amount of heat, and finished with fresh lime and hand-cut cilantro. Chipotle's new chicken al pastor is fire on every level, only available for a limited time.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-07 04:52:11 / 2023-04-07 04:58:26 / 6

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