By Erin Pad
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“I’m sick of your lies,” my mom yelled, “get your stuff and get out of my house!”
It was a freezing, January, Michigan night and my mom had finally drawn the line. She had taken a stand. I just stood there and mocked her like a selfish brat, but this time it was different— she was different.
There was a time when America made empty promises and lied to part of its family. It took a strong parental figure, like Martin Luther King Jr. to show America that it needed to change. He drew a line and he took a stand. When my mom drew that line for me, I realized it was time for me to change.
I sat there shivering on the porch, wondering how the hell I was going to “change.” Throughout my using career and my countless tries at getting sober I walked through darkness. I thought of no one, but myself. I was the victim of life. G-d hated me, and that was why I was the way I was. I was constantly angry and had a bad attitude. I did not care who I hurt because I was the victim, the black sheep who no one understood. I hated everyone, including the monster I had become. I decided I was sick of hating everything. I wanted to change and be a better person. I wanted to “walk in the light of creative altruism.” After a few failed attempts at recovery in Michigan I decided to call Beit T’Shuvah, a place I’d heard could change lives.
Rabbi Mark is always talking about T’Shuvah, meaning return. Doing T’Shuvah is the process of returning to your authentic self, your true self. It is when you perform an act of kindness towards another human being. T’Shuvah in itself can be selfish, but when applied in the right mind frame, it’s one of the most selfless acts one can do.
Martin Luther King Jr. once dreamed of a nation where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Today, I am recognizing the contents of my character and how I treat others. I try to stand for what is right and not judge a book by its cover. I try to treat everyone as an equal and be kind and compassionate, even to myself. My mom and I have an amazing relationship today. I treat her with respect, something I was incapable of doing while high. I am trying to be the loving daughter she’s always deserved. And she is my mother, the most beautiful, loving person in my world; something I’ve always known, but never acknowledged. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that changed America forever. T’Shuvah is my dream.