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A Lifetime of Wanting More

By Brandi Parnell

Mohammed Ali said, "I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'"

Being a champion – in and out of the ring - requires an incredible amount of effort. Over the course of my life, I have known fighters and those who have suffered; I've kept company with people who have inspired me to want more and those I've tried to distance. I've been knocked down and got back up again.

I'm a writer, which basically means I study human behaviour. I catalogue characters in daily life and craft tales that connect our commonalities. I live twice. Once in real time and once on replay, in the stories I recant, and in the words I script.

Proudly, I was born and raised in Winnipeg; specifically the community of St. James where I continue to live raise my two incredible boys. Being a parent comes with challenges, but thankfully, motherhood has gifted me the ability to express my emotions without shame. I have always known it's okay to cry, to share openly how I'm feeling, to confess my insecurities. I've never struggled to be keep it to myself, suck it up or be macho; and thankfully, I've never been told to, "Man up."

Still, many times, I've wanted to quit. And, although I don't suffer from addiction, I've been around it all of my life. It has crept into the corners of my childhood home; it's lurked on the playground. It's sat down at my dinner table and across from me in the boardroom. Addiction has surfaced in part-time jobs I've held and disguised itself as perfection.

I'm guilty of, and know people, who have been addicted to the past, addicted to achievement and addicted to new, shiny things. I've seen it in bars, on freeways and in the news. It's crossed finish lines and is formed into white lines.

Addiction is another promotion, a bulimic binge, an insatiable urge deep within. It's a longing to be loved, a desire to be acknowledged and the quest for more 'likes.' It's the stress of every day life, the feeling of overwhelm, the inability to say no. 75 percent of addicts and alcoholics hold jobs, are educated and have families who they love them dearly. In fact, many of them look just like you or I.

I lost a dear soul in my life, many years ago, who was one of the most charming, generous and loving humans I've known. He grew up in our city as well – right here in the neighborhood of St James in fact. He had a smile that set your soul on fire and a compassionate heart second-to-none. He was the first person to wrap you in his arms when you were feeling blue and the last one to leave a party. He consoled many a friend, had a laugh that could be heard for miles around and died, at 29, from an overdose.

I never once knew he was anything but awesome. Mostly because addiction doesn't begin at the end. It is a slow and steady drip of lack that eventually leads to dire helplessness wrapped in a cloak of 'Fine'.

We all want to be loved and accepted. No matter where you're from or how much money you make. Regardless of what you've accomplished or the path you've chosen to take. We all want to be loved.

We all want to feel as though our hearts and hands are held by another. We all want our children to be safe, our families to be well, and our words to be heard. We want a clean conscience and a few bucks in the bank, but more than anything else, we want to know we matter regardless of our struggles or where we've been.

If you would like to donate this holiday season to the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre to help men and families that desperately need this service please visit…

All proceeds go towards the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre.

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