Ryan's Story

I was born on July 8th, 1975, in North Vancouver, Canada. I was the first of two children my parents brought into the world. I was brought up with core values and honesty and, for the most part, loved unconditionally. From the first time I can remember, I had a passion for anything that brought out my creative faculties. I loved to draw and paint and was very artistic. But what dominated my childhood was sports. I played almost every sport; however, hockey is what I loved and excelled at the most. My passion for sports was always the team aspect of being in a unified unit with the same goal for excellence, as I had a fierce competitive nature from the start. I was told and knew deep down that I was a born leader. I had a lot of energy as a child, which was a benefit and a detriment at times, as I sustained many injuries in high-impact sports. My father, who was a National high jump champion, saw my gifts and pushed me very hard. Little did he know that he pushed too hard to the point where the pressure became overwhelming and hard to live up to. I excelled in academics, schooling came easy, and I always was first in my class in all subjects. That was until I was 9 when I sustained my first concussion, falling close to 10 feet out of a tree and hitting the back of my head on a rock. I spent three days in the hospital, and after that, I began to lose interest in school, not sports. Like my mother, I was very emotional, and after that head injury, it seemed like my emotions were harder to control, especially with the pressure put on me by both parents. In short, my parents didn’t like when I made mistakes, and I paid the price by constantly feeling like I messed up. I was an overachiever, and people in school and sports began getting very jealous. I had a hard time coping with that. Once brimming with self-confidence, I started to question if I was good enough, thus affecting my self-esteem along the way. I loved to laugh and would go out of my way to make people feel good about themselves. In many cases that worked against me as older kids would pick on me because of my kindness. I left home at age 16 to pursue my dream of being a professional hockey player and left all my friends.

Talent-wise, I was ready but emotionally, not ready to be playing with young men who were mostly 2 to 4 years older than me. I was abused sexually twice in hockey, and the verbal abuse and initiations became too much to handle. Hockey has a culture, and drinking, sex, and drugs were commonplace behind the scenes of the glamor on the outside. I wasn’t educated about sex or substances before leaving home, but once I was in the 1st of 22 homes from when I was 16 to 23, I started to abuse alcohol to fit in. I lost my values and adopted an identity that was not the innocent young man that left home at 16. I had a very turbulent ride to professional hockey. I suffered significant injuries that left me, as what they call injury prone, so I was traded to many teams. I ended up moving into lots of different homes because of “bad behavior” in some cases, or because I was very uncomfortable and asked to move. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, especially my parents, community, and myself. By the time I was 20, my dream turned into a nightmare. I started resenting my parents because I felt they let me down. I should never have left home until I was fully developed, perhaps at 18. I was shocked that they allowed me and ignored that I was bounced around from city to city and lived in many homes.

That set the stage for rebellion! At 20, I started shipping Marijuana across the USA. It was a primary industry in my province, and I had all the “connections” southbound where I could become very wealthy at a young age. I was one of the early prisoners of that industry making millions of dollars a year for not just myself but countless others. I was masterminding an underground smuggling ring with planes, helicopters, trucks with compartments, the list goes on, and it became a perilous business as it got big incredibly fast. I had a daughter in the USA when I was 23 years old. Hockey wasn’t paying the bills, so I promised her mother that I would only keep doing what I was doing for one more year, be a good father, quit hockey and be set to do whatever we wanted with our lives. My luck ran out in the year 2000 after one of my associates stole $400,000 of product from me, and that scared me as I didn’t know who pulled the “inside job.”After having threats on my life, I found myself trying to make money back by taking a shipment across the border, which landed me in a federal prison. I was sentenced to two years in maximum security and didn’t see the light of day in that harsh place until my release in 2002. I was unknowingly traumatized by hockey life, organized crime, and prison. I felt so lost when I got out because I was given a lifetime ban from the USA, where my daughter lives, that I went right back and kept doing what I knew how to do best at the time, smuggling drugs across the border. It just got bigger and bigger, and I was traveling the world fueled by a false sense of ego and the disease of wanting more. Fear owned me, but I didn’t show it! Money gave me the outlet to have whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I was a multi-millionaire 4X over by the time I was thirty. I disrespected money, my inner self, and my body with many sexual partners; but it was about to catch up to me sooner or later. I was never a violent man, but the people I surrounded myself with were, many of them, stone-cold killers. I thought I was untouchable because I made them all rich, and they needed me for my skills in the illegal game.

Then came the day when somebody extorted me for 2 million dollars, threats on my life, and things just kept getting worse. I was so scared I fled the country to Mexico, thinking I was next! I was done, I quit the business, but the price I paid was losing all of the properties and millions in cash. At that point, I was knocked into sobriety and quit drinking and drugs, and decided to make a severe positive life transformation as I was just lucky to be alive. I knew all I’d been through could help others in the world if I focused my energy on being the man I knew I could be. A man of integrity and humble sincerity. In short, I wanted to make a difference not only in my life but in the lives of others. I didn’t even know what that looked like at 32 being done with the underground world. All I knew was that the mind was a powerful mechanism that could perform whatever I imagined. So, step by step, I started to “fix” myself.

As I progressed into the unknown, I found myself reading and educating myself on the power of positive thoughts and dedicated my life to being of service. I did my best at the time to bury the past and begin life anew. I was always fascinated with speaking to groups, large or small, and inspiring them in the best way I knew how. Learning from adversity, I started traveling to help kids and spread my light on the world; shortly, things began to unravel in the best way. I was now meeting like-minded people who didn’t want to use me for money but what I could give with my heart. Asia became a home away from home, and I still feel like that today. A ride across Cambodia for child trafficking awareness caught the eyes of the USA Department of homeland security, and I was granted a humanitarian pardon. The impossible became possible, and I was able to see my daughter again. I was a free man! With all the trials and tribulations in my life, I’ve learned that giving up isn’t in my makeup, no matter how much inner pain I’ve endured. I’ve dedicated my life to helping people in the arena that is mental health. With the onslaught of Covid 19, the pandemic has caused our generation’s most prominent mental health crisis. It has taken a lot of my friends, many to suicide. I’ve learned what real healing means during this challenging but beautiful time. All my demons came back, and I had never been so emotional yet resilient during these uncertain times of change. My traumas have come rushing around like a strong river, and some days it’s hard to get out of bed without sleep. What keeps me going is a belief that I’m here to be an example of good and a global changemaker for inspiration. I could go on and on, but as a person who needs to heal the wounds of emotional trauma, I know these words will be understood.

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