Hey recovery family, I’m Manny Mendez CEO of Foreel, but prior to that, I was a hopeless addict, destined to live a life of jails, institutions or even death. So how does somebody comeback from a hopeless state of mind to execute everything he’s set his mind to? Well, I can start by saying that I admitted complete defeat to my ways of thinking and that was a hard pill to swallow. I also asked for help and became open minded. Often the addict asks for help but on his or her own terms. That wasn’t going to work! Next, I reflected on all the money and energy I had wasted living a life that was slowly killing me. My conclusion was that if I put that same amount of energy into understanding the recovery process, then I might be able to start changing and eventually learn how to reach my goals.
My goals didn’t start out big. They were simple enough in the beginning. Staying clean just for that day was a difficult task at times. Before I knew it, weeks and months started to pass. I was living clean! Then came the clarity, hope arrived, and art was becoming a real-life hobby, not just something I did inside of an institution. I started to feel serenity, a term I was not familiar with before but was starting to like a lot! I stopped finding excuses. Maybe I didn’t have a car or a lot of nice things, but I remembered how none of that ever stopped me from getting high. I wasn’t going to let it stop me now. 60 days clean turned into 90, then 6 months, and I filmed my first documentary. Fear visited me and disappointment was with him. They said, “are you crazy.” I thought: maybe I am! Here I am sleeping on my mom’s couch and wanting to produce a film with no finances and no experience. Needless to say, the odds were against me, and for the first time in my life, I listened to a voice in my spirit that said, “son, I’ve got plans for you.” Now I was really losing my marbles, but I took on the challenge anyway. I borrowed friends’ cars, my pastor gave me gas money, and every day I was told no while people laughed at my idea. I still found ways to fund my project. I could’ve given up, but I didn’t. Suddenly, a break came in the form of moral support from friends. It was enough to push me and execute the vision. WE finished the film and released it! And I told myself this is what reaching a goal feels like. It felt good and I needed more. I’ve used the same template ever since and I’ve completed 6 films to date. I also founded my very own film festival. The recovery principles I learned were not just helping me live a drug-free life, they were also helping me learn about myself. It gave me an advantage over situations because I didn’t give up easily and normal folks just couldn’t understand that. From that first film to now, I’ve learned that nothing is impossible for an addict willing to listen, take suggestions, and remain open-minded! WE are the most creative and caring people alive, once we get clean. I’ve had the opportunity to do many things that still baffle me. I’ve traveled the country with my recovery brothers and recently purchased a home. I hope anybody either struggling with addiction or just living a meaningless life can get something out of my story.