I got paid to play a game that I loved. From ages 5-20 I had one passion, one goal, one love, and that was hockey. I worked endlessly, day in day out, and honestly didn't really focus on anything else... My parents always told me to never put all my eggs in one basket. To always have a backup plan. I didn't listen, and made my whole world hockey. I wanted nothing else, and honestly didn't see anyway I could fail. I obviously knew that a very small percentage of players actually get to the point of making it a career, but with the work I was putting in, and the skill I had, I thought no way I wouldn't. But sometimes, life has other plans. Sometimes things outside of your control can COMPLETELY shift your life's direction, your life's purpose, and ultimately your identity.
At age 20 I signed my first professional contract with the Hunstville Havoc in Alabama. As an aspiring hockey player, you can imagine how big this was for me.... I was fucking ECSTATIC!!! I was so close to reaching my goal I could taste it. All the hard work, the time away from family and friends, EVERYTHING was going like I had always dreamed. It was a steady rise for me, and was I on a fast track to achieve a dream that hadn't wavered for over a decade. It was my first game with Huntsville, and my first fight. Oh yea.... I forgot to mention a lot of the "Skill" I talked about having was with my fists. I fought and that's how i made a living. I was good at the game, but if I wasn't willing to fight, I wouldn't have gotten to the level I reached. ANYWAY what was I saying......... OH! it was my first fight, (and BOY was it a good one) but my shoulder ended up dislocating towards the end of the tilt ( I had already had one surgery to fix this problem). My season was done. I needed surgery AGAIN, and I got it within the next few months. This was devastating for me. It was a setback, an obstacle, but never, NEVER something I didn't think I was going to come back from.
Recovery from the surgery was tough.......... I was in a sling for 8 weeks, whacked out of my mind on percocet daily, and my life went from active, to couch ridden. I was SO excited to get to a point where I could start physio and get back on the ice. Like I said, with this surgery came percocet.... I got hooked. I 100% over used and became dependent on this drug (That in my opinion my doctor gave me WAY too much of). So here I was battling my body from the surgery, and now also battling my mind/the addiction. I overcame it. It was fucking tough, but on my own (not wanting anyone to know I had a problem) I got clean. I worked my ASS off and refocused 100% on getting my shoulder back to a place where I could continue my hockey journey. After months of hard work in the gym, physio, and on the ice, Huntsville signed me again for the upcoming season.
It was almost like dejavu...... First game, first fight, my shoulder popped out again..... I started to feel scared, INSTANTLY in the middle of that fight, when I felt my shoulder dislocate, I also felt my world start to crumble around me. After MRI's, multiple doctor visits, attempted rehab, I couldn't get clearance to play anywhere.... the doctor ultimately told me that my hockey career was over....... I was destroyed. It felt like someone had ripped away my
entire identity. I didn't know who I was without hockey. I didn't know how to even introduce myself. I WOULD LITERALLY not go out to bars or social functions
for the first little while after because I was embarrassed. It went from " Hey i'm Jon, i'm a hockey player" to " Hey i'm Jon.... and I honestly have no idea who i am"
I had to move back in with my parents.... I had left home at 16 years old to pursue hockey, and I felt like a FRIGGIN BOSSSSS.... and was now back in my parents basement at 21 with no direction, no desire, no motivation, and no self worth. When people find themselves in these situations, and these mindsets, it can be dangerous. I turned to booze and drugs to cope. I got back on percocet (along with other things) and began drinking extremely heavily.... This worked perfectly for me, and I felt great and I went on to live a super successful life..... SAID NO ONE EVER. The dark place I was in became darker.... if
there was any light, I was single handedly making it dimmer everyday. I was a mess.
Within a year or two after hockey ended, and still not being in a good head space, Big Brother Canada came along.... Long story short I didn't watch the show prior, my sister did. She wanted me to audition, so i did. I got picked for the show, and won the damn thing. This game (and winning) gave me a short term sense of worth.... Having $100,000 in the bank... Guess what happened!?!?... I partied... I partied hard and I partied often. Fuck I even got PAID to party.... I quickly again, became a mess, PISSED away my money and any opportunity that Big Brother could have given me. I was thrust into a world of reality
TV, was a household name in Canada, and I got my 15 minutes of fame. I thought I was happy, I thought I was living a sweet life (and don't get me wrong, to a lot i was), but i was miserable.
It was 4 years of this..... I was skipping from rental apartment to rental apartment.... more often than not, not being able to pay rent. I hit rock bottom. I had addictions and demons that I was fighting with everyday, and 99% of the time losing. I was a fighter my whole life, and these addictions were hitting me like I've never been hit. It was a daily fight where I kept getting the shit kicked out of me... I was embarrassed, I was ashamed, and I fuckin hated
Just about a year ago, I decided to take active steps to get sober/just be a better person, and make something of myself. I have heard my whole life how much potential I have, and I FINALLY wanted to at least try to live up to that. I wanted to be something....I wanted to be something... Someone. Many steps I took failed, many attempts lead right back to the bottle/drugs and me sitting in my house alone. I was losing, but I was trying. Then, the thirstlounge.....
The thirst lounge came along and I saw it as a way out. I saw it as the biggest opportunity of my life, and I wanted it. SO what did i do? I spent the first 4 months drinking. I spent it fucking off and doing EXACTLY what I was doing back home, just in a different place. I woke up every morning and again, HATED myself. I couldn't understand why I was the way I was.... why I was pissing away another opportunity. It needed to stop.
I got in touch (Well Bill got me in touch) with a mental coach, Elliott Roe.... He was amazing. He opened my eyes to who I was, what I was, the potential I had, and a different way to look at life. It completely changed my perspective. He was someone who without really knowing me, took time to invest in me and took me (rather quickly) to a level where I felt worth. He opened my eyes to the opportunity here, and how it doesn't matter the outcome, work hard and enjoy the process. Hard work= success.... He really got the wheels turning, and honestly lit a fire under my ass. This was the start of me beginning to turn the corner. I found something I wanted to work towards, I found something I was passionate about..... and it was ME working towards a BETTER ME!
I would also be lying to say that my new relationship didn't have anything to do with it either. I met the most amazing, supportive, loving girl who is day in day out making me see value in myself, and making me realize how amazing I can be. She sees so much in me that honestly while writing this still can't fully see in myself. But if she sees it it gotta be there right? haha.... Being in love has opened my mind and heart in ways I didn't know, and no matter what happens in that relationship, I know that i'm a better man now because of that. Because of her.
I have now been sober for 10 days (longer off the hard stuff, but 10 from booze) (July 17th).... and I AM FUCKING PROUD.... I am proud of the path I am on, and I am excited for this new journey. I shifted my focus from "I need to have amazing things so people will think im successful" OR "I need to achieve this to show everyone how amazing I am" to " I want to be happy. I want to make decisions that make me the best version of myself, so in turn I can give the best version of myself to the world". I stopped giving a fuck about what others think, and realized that I don't need a label.... If I can get to a place where I'm the best version of myself.... introducing myself as solely "Jon " will be more than enough.
I guess what i'm trying to say here is don't ever feel like you are not enough.... everyone in this world has something to offer, and if everyone focused on becoming their best selves, mannnn the world would be an amazing place. A place full of love, positivity, and just damn good vibes. Believe in yourself, love yourself and trust the process. Work hard to achieve your dreams, but know sometimes shit happens, and always be prepared for plan B. Everything is going to be ok. That being said, NO ONE can get you to the point you want to get to besides yourself. YOU have to believe in YOU. I Believe in You.