“Oh say, can you see? By the dawn’s early light…”

From where I write about how fortunate I am to have not only received Second Chances, but with them the opportunity to extend Second Chances to others

In the pre-dawn light of my Ashburnham, Massachusetts front porch, the sun Rises & Reveals…

Through the trees, becoming visible, an American flag

The scene inspires me to express my extreme gratitude to the women and men who serve our country!

It inspires me to express my gratitude to Muslim-Americans: For their efforts to educate, and make our shared society a place of freedom, liberty, and opportunities for our children

Many service members enlisted because of September 11th

And although we of course know Muslims are not our enemies, enemies of our U.S. service members, were/are sometimes Muslim

I never served our military…was too busy selfishly sucking down meth…yet I had one close friend who was Muslim

Omar was my friend, roommate, and fellow student at the International Muay Thai Academy in Bangkok, Thailand…where the above picture was taken, in November or December 2000

The outcome of our U.S. presidential election was still uncertain, and I hung in the balance of full-time meth addiction, and freedom from said

Omar was a nice guy! Friendly, quick to laugh and to treat others well…definitely a person you want as a fellow ex-patriate

He was from France…interested in Muay Thai, Ralph Lauren, and Craig David

Omar, I apologize: For not being a better friend!

Years after the last time we saw each other, in the lobby of Bangkok’s Karnmanee Palace Hotel, where on Thanksgiving the dining room buffet served heaping plates of Pad Thai and sticky rice

I fell prey to meth psychosis…heard disembodied voices, felt the presence of government surveillance in the forms of military aircraft shadowing me, “knew” a vast gaslighting campaign swirled around me

My poor choices leading to my meth addiction resulted in my psychosis convincing me: others believed you had been Satam al Suqami, the 9/11 hijacker

And although at times I fell prey to highly unlikely beliefs myself…

Rest assured: Despite the many mistakes I made, I took great, passionate care not to blend suspicions into statements of facts…not to lie, or claim any proof I didn’t have

Eventually I decided to believe: if you were anything other than whom you claimed, you were actually a counterterrorism operative…a heroic Muslim person, working under cover as al Suqami…how ridiculous is that?

Odds of course are: you were just a guy from France who liked Muay Thai and the rest…my fantasy about having helped a counter-terrorism operative, are likely my way of coping with the fact I selfishly sucked down meth, instead of helping actual victims/intended victims of terrorism

To the women and men who serve(-d) our military, I apologize:

For those times I held the expectation the DOD would come to me, in active recruitment efforts of me as top-secret counter-terrorism operative…my fantasy was likely my way of coping, as per the above

To everyone…to Muslims everywhere…I apologize:

For my poor decisions leading to meth addiction, which led to my letting fear influence my decisions…thus I failed to put forth the story my friendship with Omar, in the most positive way possible

Many times I afforded my worlds of fantasy, greater importance than others’ realities

Fantasy! As a kid, I’d wander home from Ashburnham’s public library, lugging stacks of books almost too tall to see over…devour them like hotcakes drenched in buttery syrup

To the bullied youth I was, afraid to stand up for himself on the playground, fantasy was much more attractive than reality

Omar, had I never made the poor choice to use drugs, perhaps I would not have become anything other than the person I am today

Who is grateful for your friendship, as having come during a time in my life when I had an opportunity to give myself a Second Chance

You gave me reason to believe in myself, you inspired me to imagine a life beyond the comfortable career in biotechnology, the easy seeming-freedom of San Francisco’s foggy dawns

The choice was hard, like the Bangkok concrete you & I ran along, mornings before the day’s Muay Thai training began, with the smog hanging over intersections like a boxer’s glove over sweating fingers

The choice was hard…I didn’t have the strength to make it

Yet this is a blog about Second Chances…thus, Good News! Today I’ve found the strength, to make better choices

Thus I serve our sisters and brothers convicted of crimes, sentenced to prison/jail terms…yet are turning their lives around, thanks to Second Chances

I serve law enforcement, recognizing good work performed by women and men behind badges, when that work helps turn lives like mine around…

By assisting law enforcement better serve communities affected by incarceration and addiction, I hope I’m by extension serving our military…their defense of Second Chances

My extreme gratitude to people who are/were incarcerated, and to people in law enforcement, who helped me, is gratitude unflagging

Thanks to them, I’m learning to be fully forthcoming about our friendship from those Bangkok days, in service to our service members, and Muslims everywhere…all people everywhere

I’ve learned: not to let fear decide for me, when I can just as easily choose courage

Thus do I hope, in some small way, to make up for the above

To my wonderful readers: Thank you for your dedication to this blog, and to Second Chances…each time I write posts such as these, I gain a little more confidence, become a bit better at being able to give others their Second Chances too!

During these trying times, what is the dawn’s early light revealing to you?

Resources For You

If you know or are a person who is struggling, check out my free PDF: Ten Helpful Questions to Ask When Someone You Love is Recovering From Addiction

Simply go to my website, and hit the “Download PDF Now” button in the lower right. When you enter your email, you’ll be signed up for my weekly newsletter, Ed’s Second Chances. Feel free to unsubscribe if you don’t want it.

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