Aspen Luzier is one woman impacting countless lives through her non-profit, Rebel For A Change. Her work is grounded in helping people fighting addictions or unhealthy habits. Her work has created a community of love, healing, and courage for people touched by addiction, and it all stemmed from her own personal journey as the daughter of an addict.
We asked Aspen to share pieces of her story with you to spread both awareness and hope.
What inspired you to start Rebel For A Change?
What a deep and intimate 9 worded sentence that ended with a question mark.
Let me do this off the bat, and allow you all to know something about me, I'm a deeply rooted individual. So when trying to answer a question like this, my heart and mind battle one another to speak first. Let's allow the heart to take front row and center for this one.
I was inspired to speak out of pain. An emotion that came from the inner child in me who never stood up for herself. See, Rebel For A Change was brought to fruition by a journey I knew all too well- addiction. Addiction was what stole the more significant part of who I love and remember to be my father. Addiction was what was framing the greater part of who I knew myself to be, and stealing everything positive I worked so hard for.
As the larger part of today's society understands, drug & alcohol abuse, self-mutilation, sex addiction, gambling, etc. negatively impacts the person choosing the behavior. But most don't look beyond that. What happens to the addicts' family and support system who did not choose to battle addiction head on? I will tell you first hand- the ones who love an addict, we are ALL IMPACTED. Image, getting phone call after phone call of a threatened suicide, or a jail bailout, or as simple as needing money to eat. Those were the type of phone calls I received nearly every day from my father. Meanwhile, I was trying to raise my small children and run a photography business while my husband toured the world doing what he loved. So yeah... I felt alone, shameful, fearful of my fathers well being, and doing everything possible to make sure everyone around me was satisfied while keeping a social media status that life was just peachy! When truly deep down, I was heartbroken, scared to talk to anyone about my father's addiction, while personally battling a stable mental well being for my kids by drowning out the pain with what I understood best- alcohol.
In short- where my mind wants to speak, Rebel For A Change was inspired by everyone like me who loves an addict but is too shameful to speak their truth. I wanted to free people of the stigma today's society views anyone connected with addiction. I wanted to allow individuals to know they have the strength inside to fight for happiness and help them understand what their healthy outlet is. I want to reframe today's society and allow them to hear about addiction through another light, hear from the ones who love an addict, who have compassion over the disease. And with Rebel, I now have that platform to do so.
What is one thing you do for yourself every day to maintain self care?
Self-care is, in my opinion, one of the most significant factors in mental health. How can you love and care for your addict/recovering addict, if you can't love and care for yourself? In my personal experience, the only thing that allowed me to fight back for my happiness was to finally show up for myself. What that meant was to love and accept who I am and who I have become through the fight. When I say 'fight,' I literally fought to be happy through the internal power of boxing. Let's set aside the physical workout you get from boxing and focus on the empowerment that happens within. The amount of self-love and self-care that one gets from showing up for themselves, something no one else can do for them...it's breathtaking, vulnerable, impactful, it's loving YOU.
Ha- listen to that heart! Boxing is my everyday go to- 100%!
What has been the biggest challenge related to Rebel for a Change?
The biggest challenge I've faced with my organization is ironically enough, myself! I've had a VERY difficult time feeling like I have been worthy enough for this position in life. Every day, I have people messaging me that because of my journey, they now no longer feel like they need to live in silence. They feel like their dark path has a reason to be spoken about. These individuals have gone so far as getting 'Rebel' tattooed on them. It's intense. I'm grateful beyond words- if I could show the world my heart, I'd be able to express it more deeply. But just feeling like I'm worthy for this is hard. See, the way I view it is, Rebel has already been in existence for decades and decades before me, and will be passed on to our children and will outlive me. All I did was give it a title for people to wear and be proud of.
What is the biggest myth about addiction, and how can we change the conversation surrounding it?
Myths about addiction... well, there are many viewpoints. First, that comes to mind is how today's society has shaped what addiction looks like. The typical stereotype of an addict is one who can't hold a job down, someone who is uneducated, who could be homeless and have criminal behavior, showing signs of weight loss, etc. When in reality, addiction could very well be the exact opposite. This disease doesn't care who it targets, and for that, the most successful business owner could very well be the most successful functioning opioid abuser.
I believe that the way we change the conversation point around addiction is the same mission Rebel For A Change is carrying forth. We choose to make a change by hearing from the ones who love an addict and understand the truth of addiction, a reality that is uncensored. A place that pharmacies, doctors, & therapists might not have a leg up on. Because let's face it, everyone's battle is different, and what works for one family might not work for another. So let's share our battle and find our common ground through love.
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