By: Jessica L., Transformations Alumna
Hi! I’m so grateful to be able to share the success I’ve had maintaining my sobriety. May 29, 2020, I celebrated five years of clean time! As Charles Dickens would say, these past five years have been “the best of times and the worst of times.”
The first year of my recovery was super tough. I was going through the stressors of a divorce. Learning how to cope with stress without a substance to numb the pain made it all the more magnified. Not to mention the fact that people in my life were constantly reminding me of my past as well. I felt defeated, ashamed, judged, condemned, etc… But I remember sitting at a piano and singing “I’m healed because I have chosen to feel.” I had to wake every day and intentionally surrender all that was within my entire existence to my higher power and learn to trust. This may sound cliché, “Let go and let God.” It sounds easy and truly it is. However, for me, it takes daily practice and discipline to make it a life truth.
I started abusing substances in junior high. Binge drinking, smoking marijuana, taking psychedelics, narcotics, diet pills, and of course smoking cigarettes. On both sides of my family were addicts, codependent tendencies, depression, and anxiety. It was in my DNA. My worst habit, unbeknownst to me until the last five years, was hiding my feelings and allowing the lies of fear to plague my life. My disease went somewhat dormant while having children. I was dealing with a lot of physical pain issues (fibromyalgia, arthritic, and auto-immune) and in between my pregnancies had sought relief from physical pain. My disease escalated in my late twenties and early thirties between having kids and dealing with postpartum depression. I found myself in the revolving door of getting monthly medications to help ease the pain. I wasn’t abusing the prescriptions, but I was definitely in their grips for fear of having to be in pain. Then end result was living like a zombie. I couldn’t get out of bed unless I had my medicine. It was awful. My marriage was falling to pieces. Laundry piled high. I couldn’t keep up anymore.
Family life continued to get worse, some other tragic events happened, and I was in a full-blown state of depression. I wanted to end my life. I was in a very dark place. I even found myself visiting my grandmother’s grave when I was using and had begun to write suicide good-bye letters. Then something came over me and I stood up out of my drunken stupor and self-pity and decided that I was going to live. Except, I didn’t begin living until a year later when I surrendered my life completely and I chose to go into detox. It was my third time in detox and recovery. The difference this time was that I wanted it desperately. I had spent a year running from the truth and using whatever substance I could to numb the emotional and physical pain.
Fast forward, I have learned countless lessons and grown exponentially over the course of five years. I have been blessed with three children. Recently, I had a conversation with my 15-year-old. They had expressed to me some feelings regarding my past substance abuse. Things they had been holding onto over the years. What I heard them say was difficult to listen to and it cut into my heart. Initially, I thought, “Even after all these years, we are still healing from past hurts? Why does this have to linger so long? Why God?” I cried a lot, prayed, and reached out to some people I trust. In talking through my emotions and feelings, I soon realized that my child’s confession to me was the first step they had to take towards their healing. Thank You, God! It may have hurt but healing will be the result and there are steps of restoration taking place. I have no control over my child’s healing, but I do have the power to trust my higher power to help me and my child through the healing process. I choose to trust my higher power and trust the process. I choose to let go and let God.
Through daily surrender, working the steps, and trusting my higher power I have seen restoration take place within my family and relationships healed. Healing takes time and “time takes time.” You can’t rush it or sway someone into the recovery process. As we are all unique and wonderfully made, there is no “perfect” path in recovery. We seek “progress, not perfection.” Trust your higher power and trust the process.
“A picture is worth a thousand words.” -unknown
Transformation starts within us. I wanted to share these pictures of myself from active addiction, beginning of recovery, and present. You can see the change that’s taken place outwardly, and I promise you that the outward change is a manifestation of what has taken place inside of me. “It works if you work it.” In April 2019 I graduated and received my bachelor’s degree in Clinical Counseling Psychology and am now working towards my license in becoming a music therapist. School full-time, work full-time, second part-time job, and children to raise as well. I promise that if you trust your higher power and trust the process, any dream you set out to pursue, your higher power will not fail you. Trust your higher power and trust the process.