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Road to Redemption

Ex-Flyers D-man Chris Therien’s Long Journey, and ‘Learning to Love Yourself’

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Chris Therien, Philadelphia Flyers

In “Road to Redemption,” Chris Therien and author Wayne Fish detail the former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman’s career, his battle with alcoholism, and his new path to help others recover from alcohol or drug abuse. This fourth and final excerpt is from Chapter 31.

The Road to Redeeming Myself

The biggest and certainly most meaningful decision I’ve ever made in my life was to part ways with alcohol. I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say this was a matter of life and death. If I hadn’t driven off a highway somewhere, I probably would have died of liver disease before the end of middle age.

It wasn’t really a relationship, it was more like a nasty, angry couple who just couldn’t get along. The only way to get better was to remove it from my life. Since I’ve done that it’s made a gigantic difference in the way I’ve been perceived and the way I’ve perceived myself. More importantly, it’s changed how the people in my world perceive me. That includes former Philadelphia Flyers teammates. Before, when I’d go to a golf tournament or an alumni game, I’d be approached by many who know my story, because I was a funny guy, a guy who liked to party. I was someone who kept the mood light but at the same time was serious about drinking.

Now, the guys see me sober and, I hope, see someone who was a good guy. Unlike some people, I learned that the best route for me would be without alcohol. Now I get up every morning and pray to God that he will give me an opportunity to not drink. And fortunately for the past 11 years that’s been the case. Even as a lot of time has passed, I can never forget who I once was. I know I can never go back again. There’s no doubt in my mind: if I had one drink, I would be a full-bore drunk in seven days. All the trust I had built over the last 11 years would be tossed by the wayside.

‘I hated myself’

The biggest part of recovery is learning to love yourself again. Yeah, I hated myself, even in the good times. A lot of people are out there suffering from things like mental illness, from anxiety, depression.

I don’t think it’s enough for an individual to get through all the clutter that you have during the course of a day. Ask for help. Ask for love. It’s one thing to want to be loved and be cared for. It’s another thing to be able to care and be loved at the same time. When you’ve been broken down over time and built up one way, it’s best to shed that skin like a snake and be happy with the one you’re in.

God has given me the strength to share my story, to put myself front and center, so perhaps I can make someone else’s life an easier journey.

Life’s a long journey, not a sprint. What I want people to know at the end of the day is, it’s okay to ask for help, never be afraid to ask for help, trust in the people who believe in you, and never lose confidence in your ability to persevere.

Road to Redemption,” published by Triumph Books, is available at local book stores or on Amazon.

Excerpt 1: Chris Therien: ‘I was an Alcoholic’

Excerpt 2: Ex-Flyer Chris Therien Says Eric Lindros Let Down Team

Excerpt 3: Chris Therien: His Sister’s Death, His Drinking, His Cries for Help

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