April 22, 2011, was the day I came into Westminster House. It is also my clean date. Relapse is not part of my story, nor does it have to be anyone else’s.
39 years old and I had lost my son, my purpose in life, my dignity, my spirit, my soul and truthfully anything that mattered to me. I pushed it all away till I was right where drugs wanted me; alone, broke, with no spirit and beaten to my knees.
Recovery was nothing I knew of and to be honest when I first came into Westie house; it was nothing I wanted to be part of. I can confidently say that treatment was what kept me in place till I could make a decision for myself that wasn’t self-destructive. Westminster House offered me more than I knew what to do with including accountability, friendships with women, healthy eating practices and even something so simple to many; A bedtime that today I am so grateful for. The obsession with drugs was a powerful force that was not going to happen overnight. Every time I wanted to get clean my guilt and shame was too powerful, and I would pick up again. I truly thought for many years I was alone in my behaviors and actions when in active addiction and it was at Westminster House that I began to hear women share their stories I could relate to, their stories were mine… it was then I thought just maybe, this was the place for me.
Since leaving Westminster house in 2011, my life changed drastically. I am a healthy mother to an amazing 11-year-old boy. I am a solid member to my family, a partner to a man in recovery with two teenagers, a friend, a business owner and I show up every day to whatever the World throws in front of me.
Originally, I thought I was coming into treatment to alleviate my obsession with drugs and alcohol. That happened quickly within the first few months of my recovery and also by applying a daily program I learned that was available to the outside World during my stay for when I got out to follow. And follow it I do! I still do meetings (sometimes up to 6 a week), service, the steps, step groups and Sponsor/Sponsee relationship.
Since then, I have learned recovery is SO much more that can be applied in ALL areas of my life. Recovery is a balance that needs to be applied in all areas of my life. I apply my recovery skills to be a decent mom, to my health and wellness, my mental health and state of being, my eating habits, sleep patterns and self-care, to my career and to my personal relationships. Recovery is a lifestyle.
Being a graphic designer most of my career I realized I wanted to do more in life once I cleaned up. I am very fortunate to be in a field of business where I work for myself freelancing so I made a choice to include recovery and wellness in my new mission and have learned since starting Addictive Designs a few years ago that in order to keep what I have and to remain passionate – I must give it away. My company Addictive Designs was not going to be something I wanted to keep all for myself; I since have recently opened a nonprofit division that gives back to new moms in recovery called Arch Angels Society. A large percentage of each sale of my clothing goes into this to provide hope to others where hope is needed. I also feel incredibly passionate about being a voice in recovery. I am super supportive of people who choose anonymity, but I feel some of us have to come forward publicly to break the stigma on who is an addict and am grateful to be one of those people.
Is life perfect? No. Is it easy? No. BUT.. today I have learned the ropes on how to reach out and ask for help when it isn’t and more so be ok with whatever comes my way.
A few months ago, I lost the man in my life who put me into Westminster House, my dad. It has been challenging feeling all the feelings of grief and loss along with the struggles and outcome for my family since he passed. It has been extremely challenging balancing my life, my business, my family, my home and my relationships. SUCH a hard hit for my whole family that got their foundations rattled when we lost our mentor. My dad never gave up on me and had such belief in me to be the strong woman he always knew I could be. Never once did I feel the desire to pick up dope to make the pain all go away. I made a commitment to my dad in early recovery in an amend never to use again or to reach out well before I got there… but more importantly a few months ago, just before my dad passed away, he knew I was going to be ok because we talked about it in the hospital for hours on end and he told me he was proud of the woman I had become, and the women I am still working on becoming today. He told me he was no longer afraid of me never being the woman I deserve to be in life and felt confident of me is a work in progress, on my own.
Am I there yet? Nope – but I sure as hell keep fighting the good fight to get there. Making everyday purpose-filled and worthy of the life I deserve and that my son Rocco deserves also.
Thank you to all of those who got me to 7 years and who believed in me when I did not.