Interview With Sulaiman

Sulaiman marked one year at Purify Your Gaze with happy tears. Zeyad Ramadan noticed the hope and optimism in his voice. We catch up with him here.

1. What is your favourite quote in recovery?
Progress = Happiness by Tony Robbins.

2. What book most impacted your recovery journey and why?
The book which has had the most profound impact on me is Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. I found that this book gave detailed instructions on self-development. When I was reading this book it gave me hope in my recovery.

Throughout the whole book it emphasizes how great I can be. The focus of the book is being a great human, challenging yourself and being the best that you can.

This book gave me the motivation in breaking through my ‘learned helplessness’ and how to identify the path for becoming the person I want to be. This has, so far, resulted in me becoming so much more productive compared to before sobriety. It has so far helped me maintain the path of active sobriety.

3. Describe a critical moment when you reached out to your buddy that was a game changer in your recovery?
Having an accountability buddy is absolutely invaluable and I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having one in your life. These are the people who we can remove our masks in front of and be our true selves.

A critical moment for me was when I once was on the verge of relapsing. At the time, I had been triggered by something and I was building myself up for a relapse. The time when I was the most vulnerable is when I went into isolation and I stopped all contact with my buddy as I was too ashamed to talk when I was constantly relapsing.

I remember my accountability buddy once phoning me out of the blue during my build up to a relapse. All of a sudden, I came back to reality when he was ringing me and I picked up his phone straight away.

That was quite surreal for me as I was at the most vulnerable stage and Allah provided me with a way out of relapsing at that moment. I remember that call with my buddy was absolutely amazing.

4. What self-care item makes a world of a difference for you?
The best self-care item for me is to physically exercise. This is something which I have deprived myself off in the last few years.

When I go to the park, see the ducks in the lake, breathe the fresh air in the morning and I feel that I have dug deep in conditioning myself, then, I am ready to take on the day.

5. What was your most challenging coaching call and why?
One of the most challenging coaching call for me was my first call I had with Zeyad.

The challenge that I had was the fact that I had no faith in myself of recovering. This call changed my life. I’ve never ever been asked thought provoking questions.

Zeyad asked me such simple questions, but, they required deep thought. “Describe your ideal day?” and “What are your needs?” I couldn’t answer these questions; I was just in stun silence.

Then Zeyad said “what are your cat’s needs?” I gave him an instant reply.

What was so funny is that I knew my cat’s needs, but, I didn’t understand my own needs. How stupid is that? I’ve never ever had hard questions about my life come to me in that way (apart from in job interviews)

When I got off that call, it really stretched me and it got me thinking and that’s when the path of recovery began.

6. Share a BIG aha moment you got from another member’s coaching call?
I can’t emphasize the amount of benefit there is in listening to other people’s calls. You will learn so much from other people’s calls that you can implement it in your own life. There will be things that others are going through which are also relevant to you.

I remember Zeyad giving a quote to a brother on his hot seat “You are either growing in life or you are dying.”

That quote by Zeyad was absolutely amazing. I used to always think that there is ‘middle position’ where we are not dying or progressing. That is absolutely false! We are either in the progress boat or the sinking boat.

I learned from this that we need to feed our souls every day to live a fulfilling life and grow as human beings and that is what will allow us to maintain true sobriety!

7. You shared that you have had the opportunity of meeting fellow brothers in recovery. How did this happen, and what was it like when you first met?
My first accountability buddy who I was in regular contact with initiated a meeting. Also, from the calls I used to pay special attention to brother Mohammed’s calls. I asked Zeyad to get me connected with him as I thought to myself, I can perhaps build a little group of Purify Your Gaze members.

Then, I spoke to brother Mohammed and made a mini group between the 3 of us. We decided to meet up and Mohammed also bought another brother along with him, who recently opened up to Mohammed about his addiction.

After the congregational salah at the masjid, we all saw each other for the first time. This felt quite weird at first and I was slightly nervous, but at the same time I was excited as we had a common problem and we wanted to help each other overcome it.

We went to a restaurant together and had a good ice-breaker. No doubt we were apprehensive sitting in a public place to discuss our issues. Once we sat down in the restaurant, the noise of various conversations throughout the restaurant didn’t mean we had to whisper to each other. This was a fantastic meeting as we knew each other’s secret which has never even been shared with anyone openly.

By this point I had 5 weeks’ worth of sobriety and I knew this because I was using the Self-Care Tracker in the Breaking Free Program.

All of us were at different stages in our recovery, but the best thing is that we could share our learning experiences.

The brother who came with Mohammed had the most impact on me. This brother was the most silent among us, but, when he spoke his words hit me. This brother was married and he also had children, he was the same age as me. He was a living example of someone who was married and had an addiction.

It really struck my heart that I needed to keep on the path of recovery as I don’t want to be a husband who is an ‘ACTIVE ADDICT’ and hiding a secret from my wife.

We haven’t met as a group again and this is something that I plan to do again as it would help me keep connected.

When we do speak to have a catch up, we can easily have a 2 hour conversation and I wouldn’t even know that I have spent that long on the phone.

The long conversations are absolutely worth it, as I always have a fruitful discussion throughout the call and it motivates me by learning and sharing beneficial advice.
This article was featured in the first edition of the Inside The Recovery Community Newsletter.

About the author

Zeyad Ramadan

Zeyad Ramadan is the founder of Purify Your Gaze. Through his leadership, Purify Your Gaze has served as the personal recovery guide for thousands of Muslims coming from over 35 different countries around the world in the various stages of their healing journey and has provided support to its members through its addiction recovery tools, its workshops, and personal 1-1 coaching. Zeyad has successfully lead workshops and delivered talks dealing with sexual intimacy, addiction recovery, embracing true gender roles, and spirituality. He currently lives with his wife and four kids in Orange County, California. Connect with Zeyad on Facebook and Twitter.