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As a little boy, I had one dream. It was simple. I just wanted to be happy.

I woke up this morning to find myself in a comfortable bed with warm blankets and soft pillows. I was in a small-sized apartment, on a beautiful tree-lined street in an awesome city. I pay the rent with money from a job that I love doing. I teach my students about tennis, and I learn about life in return. As I emerge from my bed I find that I have a closet full of clothes to wear and a hot shower waiting to wake me up. I have plenty of food in the kitchen, and I have a simple coffee maker to brew my morning ritual. I also have a phone that greets me with morning messages from friends and family. Never have I felt so loved in my entire life. I then took notice of my couch, my television, dishes, a microwave and a fridge. I looked and realized I have every imaginable necessity I could ever need to live comfortably, and enough unnecessary luxuries to realize I am bathed in good fortune. As I drove to work, I had the grateful clarity to notice the most spectacular sunrise emerging in the east. The sky was a blaze of color and seemed otherworldly. I then became aware of my body and marveled at my hands, my feet, my arms and legs, my heart pumping and my grateful thoughts. I realized how lucky I am that all of the parts are in working order.

It wasn’t long ago that I didn’t have most of these things. It wasn’t long ago that I had no appreciation for anyone or anything in my life. It wasn’t long ago that I was drowning in loneliness, self-hatred, anger, sadness and resentment. I was immersed in a world of drugs and drinking, used to fill the massive void in my heart, a self-loathing hole of depression that was made infinitely worse by my solution—drugs. Drugs made me hate myself more than I ever had before, and they nourished the belief that I was worthless. I became very isolated, and my behavior was erratic, unhealthy, and humiliating. I lost relationships, clients and was ultimately arrested.

My name is Daniel, and today I am sober. I am a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. I attend meetings that have taught me the 12 steps to a better life. The support I receive has given me a road map to help fulfill the dream of that little boy. A life of love, light, serenity and happiness.

Daniel teaches tennis in Torrance, lives in WeHo and is currently on the LifeGuard committee ( helping to organize this year’s trip for sober people and the friends that support them. 

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  1. Joseph Fierro posted on 03/01/2014 10:25 AM
    You are such a light. The genuine words of your experience fill my heart with hope and inspire me to push forward on my journey through sobriety. Thank you for sharing such an intimate piece of your life Daniel Mattera.
  2. Chrisie Hammond posted on 03/01/2014 11:23 AM
    Daniel Mattera, your words are so inspiring. Thank you for taking the time to share your personal experiences with us. Your courage alone is inspirational. Most people want to hide their imperfections and you have chosen to share all yours with the world in hopes to help others believe that they too can change their negative self-talk to a more positive self-talk, which in turn, will lead to a happier more productive life.
  3. Joe Scott posted on 03/01/2014 11:30 AM
    Nothing but love for you Daniel Mattera!! I am honored to call you my friend!!
  4. Melissa Villanueva posted on 03/01/2014 01:15 PM
    I love to hear stories about honesty, hope & gratitude. You Inspire more than you know Daniel Mattera!!
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