It’s always difficult to decide where to start your story before recovery…
I grew up in a loving family, divorced parents who were 18 & 19 when they brought me into the world, and 14 months later, my brother. Two kids raising kids. My mother grew up quickly, working two jobs and attending college full time. My father couldn’t quite understand his responsibilities as a father that quick.
I had a lot of anxiety growing up, wanting to have the “normal” family that all of my friends seemed to have. I couldn’t accept what I had. I was a happy child though — outgoing, empathetic, and strong-minded — surrounded by nothing but love on both sides. I grew into my teenage years, eventually hanging out with and dating those who were not good for me. I had my first drink at age 12, when I was in 7th grade. I smoked weed for the first time at 14. I would lie to my parents about where I was staying and what I was doing. At the time, what seemed like pure adolescent experimenting soon became the beginning of self-destruction. Unhealthy relationships, lies, and anxiety introduced opiates. I couldn’t turn back.
In high school, I received good grades, was a varsity cheerleader, a part-time worker, and a volunteer little loop cheerleading coach. All these activities weren’t enough to keep me from using. My grades and achievements in high school provided me with an invitation to attend exceptional colleges and Universities. I decided to pursue the comfortable route — nothing but alcohol, drugs, and friends.
Fast forward four years and I was a lying, stealing, selfish FELON. That’s right, a felon. Arrested and put in jail, I didn’t know where to turn. My family was done with me because at that point I had been in rehab three times already. However, my mother was not ready to bury me or to watch me rot in hell. She saw potential in me that I had lost for those four or five years. Desperate and hopeless, she heard an advertisement for drug and alcohol rehabilitation in Jacksonville, FL. I was bailed out of jail, picked up on Thanksgiving Day with a suitcase of clothes I hadn’t worn in years, no money, no phone, and a plane ticket to Florida. I wanted to die. I wanted to cry but I had nothing left inside me to do so.
I arrived at Lakeview Health around 1:00 AM — already detoxed from my two weeks in jail, miserable, and entitled. But there was something about this place that made me feel safe and just a little hopeful.
During my residential treatment at Lakeview Health, there were three strong-minded therapists, loving techs, and peers that soon became family. I found myself opening up and taking what I could from the program. After 42 days at Lakeview Health, I moved into an all-female sober living house in West Palm Beach and developed friendships that I will never take for granted. I worked on my steps and got through them (the first time) while living at the halfway house. And although I did have a boyfriend before I hit my one year anniversary and worked full time, I always put my God, AA, and myself first.
I moved out of the halfway house after 14 months and moved in with my boyfriend. Then I found out I was pregnant! I was terrified but excited all at once. Fast forward to 9 months later and a little boy who changed my entire life, is born. We made a decision (a hard one at that) to move back to our home state of New York because we wanted our families to be involved in our son’s life. After moving back I was blessed to find a job that gave me a chance and has since been offered a career with them! Today I’m a mother and full-time employee with four years in recovery. Now when things get difficult I pick up the phone or go for a drive instead of picking up a substance. Blessed with four years sober I’m grateful for the life I get to live now, and for being given the chance to begin the journey to recovery that Thanksgiving.
No matter who you are or what your past is, don’t give up. Give this life a chance and give yourself a chance. I would never have thought that I could have made it this far. You will be surprised at what you are capable of if you give yourself this chance and give the gift of sobriety to yourself and your family.
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