• Mona Cooley

Living a Purposeful Life

Attending the Recovery Conference in Calgary, Sept 11, 2019, the speaker David Sheff, shared his harrowing journey through his son’s addiction. David is the author of their journey “A Beautiful Boy” that influenced a feature film adaption of the challenging experiences their son and family endured. They have turned a difficult time into a meaningful purpose to make a difference for others to know they are NOT ALONE! Hearing David’s compassion, heart and drive sharing their story shows how meaningful it is to help others.


“When you align your personality with your purpose, no one can touch you” Gary Zukav

Who would believe you can find your purpose in life through a harrowing experience? I would. In 1995, I was feeling depressed, frustrated and angry about what to do with my life. The rest of the family had it together but I, the mother/wife, was lost. I remember yelling out – what the hell am I suppose to do with my life? With a fight within myself, I said “By the time I am fifty (47 at the time), I will know what I will be doing with the rest of my life.”


Lightening struck with a force that woke me up. Our daughter Candace’s near death experience had her spiralling out of control, believing she had the cure for aids, not functioning well on 2- 4 hours sleep and bolting out the door to escape us! Our Sunday night dinner was turned upside down with us rushing her to the hospital; she was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This traumatic time pulled on every core of our family’s strength to figure out what to do with what has been handed to us.

We had a couple of options. One was denial- once she gets help, she’ll be back to normal and everything will be okay and be back to normal. What is normal? We were not doing as well as we thought but we were doing the best with what we knew at the time. There were many battles; however, we couldn’t see it. My son in law told me later that he felt like he wanted to jump out the window when he heard us battling with each other. We needed to see what he was seeing; reality needed to kick in so we could realize that we needed to do something different.


We turned the corner as a family started to pull together and I stopped trying to fix my daughter’s issues. As Gary Zukav says “When you align your personality with your purpose, no one can touch you”


Gary’s statement is so true!! I tried many careers; however, none filled the hole in my heart. I didn’t find my purpose in life, it found me. Family has always been a huge piece in my life. I had many battles with my adoptive family, biological mom and biological dad. The gift was having the drive to build relationships, not have broken relationships. I felt the pain of trying to figure out how to get through the tough times when my daughter was struggling. As a mom, I thought I was supposed to be able to fix things. WRONG! I had to learn what I needed to do differently; in short, I had to clean up my own stuff and figure out what going to result a better outcome long term. This led to teaching others how to approach difficult situations. Learn, change, practice and teach others.


Like David, his life work is educating that “Addiction isn’t a choice. It’s progressive, chronic, and potentially fatal disease”. It isn’t about blame, but compassion. As my daughter would say – Mental Illness does not define me. Addiction does not define his son.


If you are struggling with mental health, you are not alone. Reach out, have conversations with those who have walked through the path of painful situations and get the relief like so many have. Conversations are making a difference. Join the conversations and change what is not working in your life. The choice is yours.


What purpose will align with your personality?


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