Friday, October 19th, 2018

Letter from the Editor: How interviews have changed my perspective, Alejandro Escamilla

Posted on January 25, 2016 in Letter From The Editor, Perspectives
By Krysteana Scribner

Last week, I sat down with Andrew Kiezulas for an interview about the Students and Recovery group and his own experiences with addiction. Never have I felt more comfortable talking to someone than I did with Andrew. He greeted me with a hug and was very open and honest during our conversation. His words were a reminder to be thankful for every moment in life and to never take anything for granted.

I blatantly asked the first question, “What can you tell me about your experiences as someone who suffers from a substance use disorder?” With my notebook in hand, I was completely unprepared for how moving our conversation would be.

“When I was five years old, my mother bought me these boots,” he chuckled, passively looking down at the table as if lost in thought. I wasn’t sure where he was going with it, but I wanted to hear more.

“Those boots were the coolest thing ever. I can remember rocking back and forth with the arches of my boots locked into the corner of the steps. There was this moment where I leaned a little too far forward and I thought, ‘I’m just going to fall.’ So I did. I fell flat on my face. I was bleeding and bruised up and hurt.”

He paused. Andrew’s eyes expressed a sadness so genuine. I wondered about all the things he had been through and pondered on everything he had overcome.

“This theme sort of followed me through life. My whole life I’ve been faced with two choices when making big decisions: One had consequences, one did not – and often times I took the road that led to a negative outcome. A life with drugs. A life with alcohol. I chose to treat my physical, mental and emotional pain the wrong way. Most of my youth and adolescence I was just trying to deal with life and figure out how to make everything okay,” he said.

Andrew told me personal struggles: How his tipping point was an overdose with a reminder that every day he shouldn’t be here. He has lost people he loves to drug overdose. He’s made mistakes and learned from them. Yet regardless of all the negative things Andrew has experienced, he was adamant about the fact that life’s greatest gift is overcoming obstacles.

“The mountain is life’s obstacles. We literally are climbing a mountain. I didn’t realize that my mistakes could be a celebration, that my life-long recovery with a substance use disorder could be shared with others. I want to change the perspective. Recovery is possible.”

Maybe he could tell, maybe he couldn’t – but I was on the verge of tears myself. Andrew is a reminder to everyone that any struggle can be overcome. All he wants to do is spread the word about substance use disorder, a critical issue that needs to be resolved and it isn’t going to go away any time fast unless we do. Our conversation felt warm and honest and genuine: Childhood memories gave me an insight to his thought process and made me appreciate my own memories even more.

I stand with Andrew. I stand with the other people who are looking for help who didn’t know it existed. I stand with the idea that recovery is possible and if you need someone to talk to, USM’s Student and Recovery group can help. Andrew is there each week along with a group of people who are just as kind and caring. If you get the chance to talk to him about his outlook on life, I’m sure it will be just as life changing for you as it was for me.

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