My name is A.J. and I am Silver Chipper #10 at Healing Transitions. I completed the program in 2007, and if it wasn’t for Healing Transitions, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I was in a very dark spot, and the program gave me a way to find healing and recovery.
I am the oldest of seven children. When I was a child, my mother was an alcoholic. So that was never one of my demons. I knew what would happen if I started drinking. Early on, I wanted to move out, get my own place, and make my own way. Both of my grandmothers were nurses, so I graduated from high school, got my own apartment, and went into nursing too.
My addiction began after my marriage started to fall apart. Everything I thought I knew about my husband was a lie, and I began to self-medicate. I had always had a place of my own since I was 18 years old, but for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a home. I was too proud to say that I was homeless, but I was living at my sister’s house or my parents’ house. But I was really homeless.
Things were really difficult back then. I couldn’t figure out why Social Services was always showing up at my door, but I was struggling. My husband couldn’t keep a regular job. I always had a job. And by then, I had four children to raise.
I grew up in New York, so I decided to go back to my family. I knew they’d always take care of me, but sometimes, though I didn’t realize it at the time, they were enabling my addiction too. My oldest daughter stayed in North Carolina to finish her last year of high school. My next daughter was already living in New York, so I took my youngest two children, packed the car, and drove back home to my parents’ house.
That summer, I thought my son would enjoy sleepaway camp, so while he was there for two weeks, I drove back to North Carolina with my baby to help my daughter find a dress for prom. One day, a man rode past me on a bicycle, and I realized it was my bike. I went to my storage unit and discovered that someone had broken in and stolen everything except the clothes on the floor of the unit. I was devastated. My marriage had fallen apart. My children were struggling. That night, I went and got high. I hadn’t been high for a long time. The next morning, Social Services called me.
My in-laws had contacted them and told them I was using drugs and living in my car with my baby. They took away my daughter that day and told me I needed to choose an addiction treatment program immediately. They showed me a pamphlet, and I saw the words “The Healing Place of Wake County.” I had a sister in Raleigh, so I decided to go there.
I wish you could’ve seen me the day I walked into Healing Transitions. I was smug, entitled and selfish, and I rolled in there with my Louis Vuitton purse like the Queen of Sheba. There were about 20 other women in the program when I was there, and I remember crying at one of my first meetings. I missed my children. I wanted to be healthy for them. And Miss Ann, the family reunification specialist, told me that she was willing to help me if I was willing to help myself. I did everything exactly like they told me, and I completed the program in 2007.
At Healing Transitions, I learned how to respond to things differently. That’s been the greatest thing for me. I make better decisions. I take responsibility for my actions. Healing Transitions allowed me to focus on me so I could take the time to identify my behaviors (and why I behaved that way) so I never have to repeat it. Because I was given this opportunity to learn about my diseases, I am in recovery today. I love Healing Transitions. It has been my stepping stone to a new life.
Today, my life is completely different. I’m proud of myself. I’m a leader and a manager at my job. I raised four wonderful children and have two precious grandchildren. I mentor and encourage other people who are pursuing their own recovery. I still talk to many of my sisters who came through the program with me.
Last Christmas, I was visiting my daughter at her job, and a young lady walked up to me. I couldn’t see her face very well because she was wearing a facemask, but she looked at me and said, “Oh my gosh! It’s Miss A.J.! You helped me get my children back!” It was such a beautiful moment. I had been working at Healing Transitions shortly after I completed the program, and I’d helped her pursue her recovery and reunite with her children. That’s what it’s all about.