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.