Brooks Behavioral Health Services
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All I Wanted Was a Pair of Fila

I remember in the late 80's, early 90's Jordans were a big deal. If you had a pair, you were somebody anywhere you went if you grew up in the Yo MTV Raps era. Really only people with a lot of money or drug dealers could afford them. $120 dollars for a pair of shoes was unheard of at that time.

I knew my parents wouldn't spend that amount money for a pair of Jordans but Fila had just came out with a lower price point. Troops and British Knights had faded out and Fila had just came out with a white and blue pair of shoes for $59.99. I ask for a pair and my father said “yes”. I was excited beyond words. My dad came in after work the next day with a bag from Kmart. He pulled out a box with a pair of Falcons in it. I didn't know what to say. I just stared into the box and my dad said "they look like Fila which they did because of the design on the side but they were red FALCONS. Fila didn't make a red shoe at that time but I knew I had to wear them.

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The next day, I put them on with a pair of jeans to cover up the Falcon name on the back. I walked into school not knowing what to expect and people started looking at my shoes. "Red Fila", they said, "I've never seen Red Fila". I was killing it to my surprise, shoes that no one else had, I was on top of the world in my eyes. I got away with it for two or three weeks but I got too comfortable. One day, I got on a bus for a school trip and I put my feet on top of the seat and fell asleep.

I was awakened to uncontrollable laughter. My friend, Sweet, says to all my other friends, "Falcons, Falcons, Brooks doesn't have Filas, those are Falcons." I went from on top of the world to place that I refused to be ever again. I swore to myself that no one would ever make fun of my shoes. So, I started mowing grass in my neighborhood with my father and I saved up to buy those Filas and I got them. I felt like I was in the "nice shoe group of kids". I couldn't stop because I loved the feeling.

I mowed enough grass to finally buy a pair of Jordan III, it was a moment I didn't think would ever come true. Moving grass ended during an argument with my father but I couldn't stop desiring new shoes.

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Shoes weren't just shoes to me, they meant something more, it was connected to my pride and self-esteem. So, what did I become in high school, a candy dealer. It started off with a few pieces of candy here and there until my mom was taking me to the store every night. This was a school of at least 4500 students. A back pack full of candy would be gone by the end of the day. I was late for every class because I had a line in the bathroom of customers. Teachers were making personal request for the next day. Whatever you wanted I had it. I was grossing $75-80/day because I didn’t eat any of my own candy, Thank God for braces. At 15 years old, I had every pair of shoes I wanted, some before they were released to the public.

I was selling a product that was bad for teeth and for student's health. Did I think of how I was affecting the students' body by selling candy, never entered my mind? I watched kids use their weekly lunch money for candy. It was crazy. All I knew was they were going to buy it from someone, why not from me.

The Addiction to selling anything is deeper than most people can ever realize. It is tied to self-esteem and self-worth. Most drug dealers never can see this reality. They think it is due to just making money. It can be for the money but it is a false sense of security. Yes, consumers eating candy can cause an addiction that is unhealthy but dealing the product has some of the same symptoms. We can fight addiction from the backend and work on the addiction of selling drugs, it will not solve the problem but we can put a big dent in the solution. I'm not trying to make light of a serious topic like selling drugs in the community but if someone doesn't get treatment for dealing, the fight against substance abuse is even that much harder.

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All I ever wanted was a pair of Fila at the age of 12 thinking it would help me fit in or be cool in the eyes of my friends but it led me to selling illegal candy on a campus which was banned any sells outside the cafeteria. I wasn't trying to break the rules but I was. In my mind it was justified, I was just trying to make myself feel better inside.

It's all treatable if you know what to treat.

David Brooks