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Recovery Stories

    1. Phyllis’ Story – A Letter from a Grieving Mother

      Dear Michael,

      It’s been almost three years since you left us and my heart continues to ache from missing you. I still can’t catch my breath when I think about you and can’t get used to the idea that you aren’t here. I see you in the butterflies and in the cardinals, and it’s comforting to know you’re watching over me. I’ll never forget your kindness and wonderful sense of humor. The way you used your many gifts to lift others who were struggling. People still come up to me to say they are sober because of your support.

      My saving grace, and what keeps me going each day, is the work I now do with families to support their children struggling with addiction. I do this with great joy because I know it honors you. I’m blessed to carry out your legacy by helping fathers and mothers who are going through the experience of having a son or daughter in recovery.

      I wish I had been more of a mother to you, Michael. You had to grow up too quickly because I was in such bad shape for most of your childhood. When I should have been caring for you, you were carrying me up the steps to Healing Transitions. You were my rock. I’m grateful for the time we spent together in recovery and that you were alive to know I completed my journey. I hope it gave you peace.

      I know you were resentful of God because you couldn’t understand how he could let me suffer. It upset me that you couldn’t see that He was not the source of my pain. And although the day you passed away was one of unbearable pain, I was consoled to learn that you were praying. The imprint of your knees on the pillow and your open Big Book were signs that your faith was present.

      Out of your death came so many blessings. While we lost an amazing man, Thanksgiving was a fitting time for you to pass away. I will always be reminded, on this day, of everything that you gave to others with your huge heart. Every day is a gift. My life is amazing and I will continue to live it carrying out your memory.


       

    2. Tracy’s Story – A Story of Healing and Transitions

      I was 34 years old when I entered the doors of Healing Transitions. I was broken and desperate for a dramatic and much needed change in my life. My childhood dreams of becoming a nurse like my mother and grandmother had vanished due to my addiction. I was incapable of being a mother to my two boys, and I was unemployable. I don’t remember saying to myself as a teenager that I wanted to be an addict when I grew up, but yet there I stood in the detox lobby of Healing Transitions, defeated and ready to make a change.

      Where it all began

      I started using and drinking at the age of 16. I thought it was a normal thing to do because most kids my age did the same thing. My first experience with any consequences due to my use of alcohol and drugs was when I was 19—I found myself pregnant in a homeless shelter, running from an abusive relationship. I was able to find housing, obtain employment and regain some sort of stability after a year of living in that homeless shelter.

      My circumstances began to look a lot better, but I still continued to drink and use drugs, not realizing that my use contributed to my inability to sustain a better quality of life for myself. In the course of five years, I found myself in the same position: homeless and desperate. I began to understand that my use of drugs and alcohol played a major role in my life. It became more important than my family, my job and my own personal well-being. The staff at the homeless shelter assisted me in placing me in a recovery program out of town because I was adamant that familiar places and people contributed to my failure. A geographical relocation was what I needed to be successful. I was wrong, and after nine months participating in my second recovery program, I relapsed.

      An unforeseen difficult journey

      It would be 10 more years before desperation and brokenness brought me to my knees. During that time I became incarcerated multiple times for various violations that I’m sometimes too ashamed to speak about. I hopped from couch to couch, living with various strangers that all seemed to want to see me be successful, but again, drugs and alcohol was my master. I became that girl that you sometimes see on the street, walking with no purpose and no direction. My family was done with me and became the main caregiver of my two children. I’d burned bridges with people who had my best interest at heart, and I’d severed ties with friends and family members who confronted me about the way I was living.

      One day I woke up and found myself in court for child support. I had a court-appointed lawyer who said my situation did not look good, and I’d more than likely have to serve some time in jail. Being incarcerated didn’t frighten me, but the thought of getting released after I served my time terrified me. I had no clue of how to restart my life. I knew if I was released, I’d die from my addiction if I returned to the life I was living. At the time, I was residing in a roach-infested abandoned rooming house with no electricity, no running water and no hope for the future. The feeling of impeding death consumed me. Something broke within me, and I surrendered and asked for help from the presiding judge. She suggested Healing Transitions and made a deal with me to serve 30 days in jail and the rest of my sentence at Healing Transitions. I was ready, and I was willing.

      Recovery in sight

      Healing Transitions afforded me an opportunity to find true recovery without having to worry about any of my outside responsibilities. I was in a safe place surrounded by women who cared about me without wanting anything from me except to recover and be successful. I was introduced to the recovery community and mutual aid meetings. I listened to stories of individuals who were just like me which helped me to know that I was not alone.

      My faith in myself increased. I could have a purpose in life and be a good mom. There were walking miracles around me every day. If they could do it, then so could I. A woman once told me, “I was in a unique position to be of service to another woman just like me.” I didn’t believe her, as I’d never had anything to offer anyone. But today I know that not to be true. My life overflows with purpose and meaning.

      I completed the program at Healing Transitions in July of 2013. I transitioned to independent housing at Job’s Journey and obtained employment flipping burritos. I worked hard because I was grateful that I’d survived. I vowed never to return to the life of hopelessness I once lived. In April of 2014, a position opened up at Healing Transitions as the Planning Room Supervisor. I knew that this position required me to be a role model for many ladies that passed through the program there. Full of fear, I prayed. I then applied and was hired in May of 2014. Today, I have no regrets for the life I lived before finding recovery because it’s my story, and I’m able to help other women who are just like me.


       

    3. Emily’s Story — Finding a Community and Healing a Family

      For the last 5 months before I made t to Healing Transitions I disconnected from my family and my first child, Brody. At the time he was 4 years old. I was couch surfing and in a very abusive relationship for part of those five months and then I ended up sleeping under bridges or in my car. I was drinking and using drugs every single day. I would get notes from my parents that they would leave on the windshield of my car asking for me to reach out to them to let them know if I was alive or not. For those last 5 months I was completely checked out of my life and was a zombie. I was depressed and later on through my recovery I have found that it was a spiritual depression with no direction or purpose in my life.

      I started on the road to Healing Transitions when the man I was in an abusive relationship with went to jail and I had the opportunity to escape that relationship. I ran for my life and my parents allowed me to move back home. I moved back in with them, but I was still in a pattern where I would disappear for days and then come back home. So, one night my mom took me aside to talk to me about getting help and this night in particular her words really sank in. I finally felt like I was done with struggling and I didn’t have to do this anymore. From that moment forward I surrendered and was willing to do whatever was asked of me to get help.

      On June 2nd, 2014 I started the program at Healing Transitions. The first year I spent at Healing Transitions was the best year of my life out of 28 years. The time I spent in the program finally gave me the time I needed to heal. It also gave my family time to heal. The program set me up for success in recovery by connecting me with a community of women that will never leave and will always be there for me. I have the opportunity today to give back to that community by coming back to Healing Transitions and helping other ladies that are in the same place that I used to be. I used to be the new girl in the shelter struggling and the women who came through the program before me showed me what it looks like to be a woman. They taught me to hold my head high, be respectful and walk with integrity. I saw these women who came before me finish the program and have freedom and not remain sick. They were able to stay sober through so many trials. Even when they missed their children and wanted to be with them.

      When I was coming through the program one of the most powerful things that happened was the reconnection with my family. The Child and Family Resource Specialist at Healing Transitions, Ms. Ann Hoo, helped my family to be at peace with me coming through the program and helped them to understand the process. She is a true advocate. She wasn’t just in my corner but she advocated for my family and knew what was best for all for us to heal together. Also, having the opportunity to have my child come and stay for weekends and visit with me during Christmas time was one of the moments I am most thankful for. I was not with him the previous year on Christmas and it was such a wonderful feeling to be able to be present and spend that time with him. When I came into the program I was concerned about missing opportunities to spend time with my son and my mom told me that I am giving up a year to be in the program but I am gaining the rest of my life with him and I won’t miss anything ever again — and I haven’t. I am able to be there for every moment with my family and my son.

      After finishing the program things are wonderful today. I have a great relationship with my parents now. They never gave up on me through all my struggles. I didn’t have a good relationship with them in the past because I was never present during the times we would spend together and now I can be there for them. They took care of my first son, Brody, for 6 years and when I had a year of sobriety I gave them custody of Brody with the understanding that once I showed them that I would not return to my old behaviors I would have the opportunity to regain custody. At the time it was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do but I trusted my parents and knew that it was the right step. I now have shared custody of Brody with my parents and have a wonderful relationship with him. I am able to be a mom and be there for him and we grow every day together. The relationship with Brody has been one of the most difficult to rebuild but it has been the most rewarding and I think that was one of the proudest moments for my mom — knowing that I was able to take care of her grandson again and be a mother.

      I also got married to the love of my life who is also in recovery. He started a business called Recovery Landscape that I now work for by managing the office. Through this business we are able to provide job opportunities to those is recovery. It’s not about cutting grass, landscaping or making ends meet as much as it is about giving opportunities and helping those in recovery. We have hired around 15–20 men that have been through the program at Healing Transitions. We believe in giving chances to those who would have difficulty finding a job and giving them second chances if they take an opportunity with us and fall down again. There were so many jobs that gave me a chance when I was finding recovery and we are so glad that we can give that opportunity to others today.

      Everything is not always easy, but things are so much better today. My family is growing! I have a newborn son, Wyatt, and I have a loving and supportive community of women that are there for me when times are tough.

      Healing Transitions gave me my life back.


       


    4. My F3 Experience at Healing Transitions

      F3 is a fitness group that meets at Healing Transitions every Friday. Many of the members of this group have volunteered their time and talents to Healing Transitions and we are so thankful for all that they do.

      The day after I was released from the hospital because of seizures from alcohol withdrawal, I was invited to work out with a group of men on a sweltering 95 degree, North Carolina afternoon at Healing Transitions. Though I had always been an active person I barely made it through that first “Arena” workout out as alcoholism and the lifestyle that accompanied it had taken a drastic toll on my body. Circling up at the end of workout, that was filled with pain and self-doubt but also encouragement and enthusiasm, we formed the Circle of Trust (COT), which symbolized an endless brotherhood through fellowship. The men began calling off their worldly names followed by their F3 nom de guerre — I was knighted “Frydaddy” and told the only requirement for memberships was to believe in something larger than myself. F3 stands for Faith, Fellowship and Fitness: its mission is to plant, grow and serve small workout groups for the invigoration of male community leadership.

      I was instantly drawn to the camaraderie, leadership, and confidence of the men who participated in the Arena. Surprisingly reconnecting with an old friend from college who was at the workout, I reluctantly explained my situation and though I felt downtrodden about my current circumstances I sensed no judgement from him or anyone that day. The men treated me with the utmost respect and offered nothing but encouragement and the understanding that we all battle with our own personal demons. This normalcy of workouts followed me throughout my time at Healing Transitions and served as a positive connection to the outside world while I lived in an institution.

      As I progressed through the HT program I slowly began to see a complete change in my outlook upon life. Through investing in Healing Transitions I became a brand new person; a person I liked to see in the mirror.

      Over the next few months, I became much more involved with F3 going to workouts every Friday afternoon and Saturday morning; I even starting to lead, ”Q”, workouts at the HT and another local F3 workout, the Ambassador. This newfound investment allowed me to confidently encourage other Healing Transitions participants to get involved with the fellowship. The physically demanding F3 workouts helped my anxiety, blood pressure, and restlessness leaving me clear-minded and feeling better after each one. For years, I had just existed, facing life with an “I don’t care” attitude but F3 and the program at Healing Transitions changed that — these programs gave me purpose. I participated in the 9/11 Stair Climb at Carter Finley stadium and a GoRuck leadership experience with a group of F3 men: these interactions afforded me the opportunity to bond with my new brotherhood.

      I learned values from F3 COT’s like believing in something bigger than myself, contributing to the group, helping and welcoming newcomers, showing up and keeping commitments, positive communication, and racial inclusion: all these principles coincided with those I learned in recovery. Sharing in the Circle of Trust and the accountability of regularly being present while showing interests in the lives of others aligned perfectly with the spiritual principles that the program had instilled in me.

      As I progressed through the program, I began biking to workouts during the weekdays of my three month Planning Room commitment. What had started as a workout, had blossomed into a bond with like-minded men that became the best part of my day. Today I start most days with an F3 workout, “post”, around Raleigh which grants me friendships with countless great men within my community. I now have the privilege of returning to the workouts where I started and encourage men in the same situation I was in that there is hope, showing them the same respect and encouragement I was offered.

      I speak openly about my former difficulties in hopes that someone else can relate and find a similar path to the freedom I have found. I ask for help from my F3 brothers regularly and offer help to help others. Self -Reliance is my most prevalent character defect but I now have a fellowship of men to help me through difficult times. Today, I do whatever F3 asks of me and contribute where I can. I cannot imagine my experience at Healing Transitions without F3 and all they have, and still do for me, on a daily basis — the guidance of F3 and the program have taken me from a fearful, lost, child to a man that embraces life’s challenges and uses past experiences help others.

      Here is The Arena’s Founding Quote:

      “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

       


    5. Beginning Again: Myron’s Story

      My name is Myron Richard, my sobriety date is April 14, 2010, and I am a proud alumnus of Healing Transitions, formerly The Healing Place of Wake County. I came to Healing Transitions from Little Rock, AR. I was referred to Healing Transitions by the Kelly Foundation, whose curriculum Recovery Dynamics is used by the program at Healing Transitions. By the power of God, Healing Transitions, and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I have been sober for over 7 years. Prior to my sobriety date, my life was filled with depression, broken relationships, failed attempts at employment and education, no joy, and no purpose. The dreams that I once had for a successful life had all died, and I no longer had the desire to live.

      If you have ever experienced the pains of alcoholism or addiction, there is really no need for me to elaborate on the details of what those dark days, or what those pitiful moments of hopelessness and despair feel like and look like. By the time I reached bottom, I was 29 years old shut up in an apartment that I felt I had become a prisoner of, empty bottles everywhere, and the only thought that I had was that maybe I would fall asleep and not wake up. I was malnourished, emaciated, and no longer able to digest food. I could not digest alcohol anymore but I could not stop drinking. Death seemed to be the only solution to my problem.

      In a desperate attempt to overcome, I picked up the phone and called a trusted friend in recovery. I confessed to him that I needed immediate help, that I did not think that I was going to make it, and that I was willing to do anything he told me. Years of denial and fighting the obvious fact that my life was out of control had come to an end… It was suggested to me that I needed long- term help, that 28 days was not sufficient for my situation. It was suggested that I needed to leave town, and fight for my life with all that I had.

      I have come to realize that even the smallest bit of faith can yield unbelievable results. You see, it took faith to pick up that phone and surrender. It took even more faith to leave everything and everyone that I knew and take a 22 hour bus ride to a place that I had never been, and no substantial certainty of what would become of my life. I stayed at Healing Transitions a total of 16 months and I completed the program July 31, 2011.

      After completion of the program, I moved to Job’s Journey Apartments, and resided there for 4 years. While at Job’s Journey, I was able to practice the responsibilities of living sober and independent while in a protective environment. I became deeper involved in the AA program that I was introduced to at Healing Transitions. I was also able to work and return to college, to pursue dreams that had died as a result of my drinking.

      I am eternally grateful for the decision I made to make that phone call 7 years ago. From the way that things have turned out, I feel that the decision for me to make that phone call was made by a Power greater than myself. Since completing the program at Healing Transitions, I am progressively becoming a productive member of society. After 10 years of failing attempts at education, I received an Associate’s degree in 2013, a Bachelor’s degree in 2015, and I am currently in law school pursuing a Juris Doctor. I have been employed full-time in the field of criminal justice for over 4 years. I have also lived on my own for over 2 years. The relationships that my drinking had destroyed have been renewed, new relationships are being created, and today I find purpose in the dilemma that plagued nearly 1/3 of my life.

      It is my hope that the life I live brings encouragement and hope to someone who feels that all hope is gone. Living sober has made room for a life that I never thought possible. Never in a million years did I think that I would ever be in a position to encourage someone that life can get better. I had many failed attempts at recovery before I surrendered, and I am living proof that no matter how many times you have failed…you can begin again.