One of the best articles ever written on our story of addiction and recovery

Belmont Article

This is one of the best articles even written on John and his/our story. It was written by a Belmont University student about how addiction found an active role in our marriage. It’s a great summary of the toll addiction had on our marriage and family. Here’s to taking life one day at a time

A Long Road to Sobriety



My Biggest Fear Is Not What You Think 

It’s John, here. Thanks for coming to read this personal story of mine that centers around my journey to face my biggest fear. Keep reading and I think you might find that my biggest fear might actually be yours, too. You probably just don’t know it or, you know it and just don’t want to admit it. Study after study show that most people’s biggest fear is public speaking. Countless people fear speaking in front of a group more than death. That’s extremely profound! The official name for it is Glossophobia. Surprisingly, public speaking is not my biggest fear. It’s my second.

Anthony-Robbins-Picture-Quotes My biggest fear is facing my true self (see video at end of blog of my speech). I have yet to   find anything more challenging, depressing and, yet,  liberating than digging to the deepest parts of  my  being to  discover who and what I truly am and why I  do the things I do. Most people would rather  go on  making poor decisions about their lives, their  relationships, jobs,    finances and health than to stop and work backwards for a period of time to discover why they do what they do. I have discovered through literally thousands of hours of  medical and psychological care that going as far back as you need to – and many times it’s going back to your early childhood events – can reveal valuable information  about what fears currently drive you today.

The mission of Mabry Living is to “serve others by using our unique gifts and outrageous antics to ignite creativity, growth and laughter in the world, with an emphasis  on fitness, simplicity, truth and love.” Fulfilling that mission entails communicating effectively through the various mediums Sarah and I use to express ourselves (i.e. this blog, Facebook, Vine, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube). Public speaking is a part of what we do to share our experience, strength and hope about our real world struggles.


In an effort to be best prepared to deliver clear, effective and moving speeches to groups about my life’s journey, I joined a local Toastmasters group to help coach me to be the best public speaker I can be. For those of you who don’t know, Toastmasters empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders and is accomplished by having members work through a number of speeches that are critiqued by your group.

My journey toward addressing my second biggest fear – public speaking – started by first pressing the “pause” button on life to seek out my true self, which was completely disjointed and mangled. Honestly, excavating through the minefields of my past was the most fearful thing I have ever done. It was more frightening than making the decision to amputate my leg. I never knew what I would find in counseling sessions, inpatient treatment and through working the 12-steps of a recovery program. At any moment a bomb from my past experiences could blow up, causing me to react in anger, fear, disappointment, loathing, jealousy, disgust or self-hatred. I, like most people, don’t want to turn over the wreckage of my past because it is too painful and takes too much time and effort. I have found, however, that what initially looks like taking steps backwards by stopping to deal with your true self – which is many times broken and closed off – actually yields profound results in moving forward in one’s life. Like I said before, I think many people out there are actually more afraid of connecting with their brokenness than anything else. If that strikes a nerve with you, watch the video below.

To help demonstrate the difficult, yet rewarding, journey toward unearthing my true self, I would like to share with you a version of my very first Toastmasters speech. The goal was to introduce myself to the group through a 4-6 minute speech about me. The title of my speech was “Public Speaking Is Not My Biggest Fear.” Here is a video of what I presented to the audience. Life is too short not to offer the world your best. I hope you will find some inspiration that you, too, can overcome any obstacle that stands in the way of connecting with your true self.

People with chronic pain just complain, right?

Have you ever felt like the struggles you’re going through are so unique that no one would understand you, even if you tried to explain them? And even if you could explain them, you don’t want to because it might make you seem weak, like you’re a complainer and not a fighter. I often feel like this with my chronic pain, but it’s not something I talk about much. Since my car accident, it has been difficult not to let my struggle become my identity, as I did for so long.

2- Hospital in College Station, Texas

When my severed nerve fairs up at night, I get an ingrown hair or a blister forms on my residual limb from my lower leg amputation my first reaction is to ignore and conceal the issue. All that does is cause more problems. So what happens when you actually let people know what’s going on with you? You might be surprised by people’s reactions.

Like many who battle with chronic pain and chronic illnesses, I attempt to minimize it to be seen as “normal.” I don’t want to be perceived as a complainer or lazy so I keep much of my pain to myself. When a particularly painful ingrown hair formed on my amputated limb recently I felt overwhelmed and depressed to the point of not wanting to get out of bed. Instead of keeping it to myself I opened up to Sarah to let her know about it.

Surprisingly, she didn’t roll her eyes in judgement or imply that I was worthless like my mind told me she would. Instead, she exercised compassion and patience and served as a voice of reason. See, I still wanted to ignore the problem and go workout. I mean, how can someone call an amputee who’s working out lazy, right? When the infected ingrown hair was causing me as much pain as it was, working out on it would have been just plain stupid. So not only did Sarah suggest that I not go workout, she encouraged me to take it extra easy that day and to keep my leg off as much as possible so that I didn’t continue to aggravate it. I experienced such mental and emotional relief to be validated and supported for being in pain. The hardest part was admitting to myself and someone else what I was going through at that particular moment.

When you’re dealing with any kind of chronic physical, mental or emotional issue you can’t merely stop fighting. Life is going to happen around you whether you like it or not. What this recent experience reminded me is that sometimes continuing to keep fighting means to surrender and ask for help or to simply let someone know what you’re struggling with. I strive not to let my chronic pain identify me as a victim or a complainer, but many days it’s just too overwhelming. Maybe the good side of it is that it allows me to identify as being a normal human being and, that possibly, I have been sent along this path to help someone else who is hurting. If this is you…KEEP FIGHTING!