By: Jerome D., Transformations Alumnus

Over the last few years, my life has changed drastically. Prior to this, I had a decade-long relationship that I never thought I would be able to let go of. That relationship brought me to a point in my life where I begged a God of my understanding daily, to end the pain and suffering.

The relationship destroyed me both mentally and physically. It offered me nothing but isolation, depression, helplessness, suicidal thoughts, unmendable relationships with friends and family, lack of self-confidence, and self-esteem.

Wherever I went, it came with me. If not physically, it was there mentally. I obsessed over it from the time I opened my eyes in the morning until I closed my eyes at night. It even began haunting my dreams. This relationship started out fun and exciting. It helped me be someone who was the “life” of the party. The quiet and shy person I normally was, became unreserved.

This relationship was not with a person, but with a substance, and its name was Alcohol. I loved it dearly. It came before anything and everything. Nothing else mattered. It was a temporary bandage for all the negative emotions I needed to suppress and numb. It worked for a while until it stopped working.

Growing up I had two siblings, a twin brother and a half-sister from my mother’s previous marriage. My parents raised us all to be independent. We all knew our parents loved us dearly but that was never shown through affection. Their way of showing love was providing for us. We never went without a roof over our heads, full bellies, or clothes on our backs.

My childhood was, for the most part, normal. I was a typical “Jersey Boy” I hung out with friends, enjoyed sports, roller skating, bowling, and going to the shore. My senior year in high school I knew I wanted to leave New Jersey. I felt as if I didn’t fit in anymore. I went to a recruiting station just before graduating and eventually enlisted in the United States Army. My plan was to stay in for a few years, get some schooling, and be discharged but, God had another plan for me and, I retired after 20 years of honorable service. I deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq. Returning home from combat, I began having flashbacks and nightmares.

I knew I needed help but, had too much pride to ask for it. Once I retired, I finally began to work on my PTSD and my disease of addiction. I was able to gain coping and grounding skills that have assisted me tremendously in my recovery. My self-esteem and confidence have returned due to practicing honesty and integrity. I’m able to work with men and women who are just beginning this journey of recovery as I did over three years ago.

My life today is amazing. I’m active in my recovery and put that before everything. I feel accomplished with all that I have gained. Not the material items, but the peace and serenity that I have searched for my entire life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please reach out!

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