In Episode 50 of Far From Finished Joseph talks about how his poetry, particularly his poem “Talk Ugly” (which is about talking to people when they need to hear it most), has taken him down a path where he has become an advocate for recovery. Active in the recovery industry (working with adults in the industry and treatment centers) Joseph’s words have served as inspiration for others to share their story, create a community and bring light to issues that they are all touched by.
Joseph’s life before addiction is hard to define. According to Joseph “when you are born into a home where there is addiction, it always has a way of influencing who you are, even before you understand what it is.” It wasn’t until he got much older that he understood how it had affected himself and his family. He went into college with the idea that anyone who did drugs or alcohol was a bad person. He had seen what had happened to his father and growing up as an angst-filled teen only fueled this negative outlook. By the time he’d left college he had only used marijuana but his ego and hubris led him to try harder drugs. Ultimately cocaine would be the catalyst for his downward spiral.
Moving to Upstate New York, where he was a spoken word artist, Joseph only planned to stay for the summer. Because of drug and alcohol abuse, summer turned into three years where he burned every bridge he had created within the space as well as outside. Once he became hooked, Joseph wasn’t performing or even touring. He recalls a night when he put on a one man show and just how high he had been throughout the entire show. Joseph learned that whatever it is you think you love the most, when you become addicted to a substance, you will put it before that thing, whether it’s your family, art, or something equally important in your life.
Needing to change his environment, Joseph moved back home where his father (who had been sober for over a decade) guided him towards beginning his recovery. They broke down his story. They shared it. Because he’s a performer of poetry, he was setting up his own little meetings, before he even fully understood what they were, as a space to be able to share openly. When Joseph went to his first official meeting it helped provide the stability that he needed in his life. It was poem inspired by a passing of a friend that would change his life forever.
Now in active recovery he feels like the weight has been lifted. Through forgiveness, through therapy, through just hearing the stories of so many people and being accepted into so many communities, Joseph’s been able to let that weight go. He feels he does things only out of love. He believes in the idea of empowering people through love as prevention is something that needs to be done through love and care.
Podcast may contain mature language and situations