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We Do Recover

September is National Recovery Month. I had to pause and consider my responsibility to share my own journey through the gates of hell and back.  Over the years, I have lost countless friends to overdoses, accidents, and suicides.   It’s heartbreaking. Have you ever taken a snapshot and told your friends, “The picture just doesn’t do it justice, it doesn’t convey what I saw”?  That’s what addiction is like.  We can talk of loneliness, despair, depression, and desperation, but there really aren’t words.  It’s like someone stuffing you in a cold dark barrel and you can’t escape.  You want to but you can’t.  People tell you there’s a way out but you can’t find it.  You try to find a way.  You bang on the lid to no avail.   You cry.  You pray.  You beg.  People get mad at you for staying in the barrel and then you’re scared.   You can’t breathe in the barrel.  You know you will die there. 

I took my first drink when I was 12 years old.  Boones Farm apple wine.  1973.  It changed my life.  It fixed me.  You see, I was in that barrel before that day.  From the age of 8, I had been sexually abused by someone my family trusted.  In fact, I wasn’t even sure it was wrong until years after getting sober.  But it felt wrong.  I felt wrong.   The world felt wrong. Alcohol and drugs were my solution and they worked.   When drinking, shooting narcotics, and living on the streets, I didn’t want to hurt my family.  I wanted the pain to go away and I didn’t want to feel anything.  But then a terrible thing happened.  It quit working and the pain was there no matter how much I drank or used.  There was no way out. 

The night before my last drink was like most others.  A trip to the emergency room for stitches, a black out, isolated, terrified, and spiritually bankrupt left me waving the white flag of surrender.  That’s when the miracle happened and a journey beyond my wildest dreams began. 

First, I made a decision to follow suggestions.  They had to be clear-cut.  It didn’t make sense for someone to tell me how much I was hurting others or that I was ruining my life.  I wasn’t stupid.  I knew that.  Tell me how to change and then hold my hand. And they did.  That was over 40 years ago and I know if I can recover - anyone can. 

I was given a whole new life.  The old one isn’t even recognizable anymore.  Recovery Month is not only about education and awareness, it’s about celebrating the life we can live in recovery.  Here is someone who was banned by the principal from her high school graduation, married at the age of 16, living in a tent by the railroad tracks at 20 years old, and destined to push a shopping cart and beg for money. 

When I grabbed the hands of those offering help, I held on for dear life and followed suggestions.  Thank God they didn’t say I had to do it gracefully because I didn’t.  Since then, I graduated college and law school, became a Certified Addiction Counselor, raised a family in a stable and loving home, traveled the world, made friends that are now family, held grand babies, rescued animals, hiked mountains, made money, lost money, held my mother in my arms as she passed, and a million other wonderful things.  In other words, I joined the human race.  I have lived - not endured. 

One of the best things I’ve done is find a small circle of trusting and loving friends and mentors.  There are so many opinions on the “right” way to recover. It can be overwhelming. The “right” way for me was any way other than my way.  I listen to those close to me and I still follow their suggestions. 

If someone reading this needs help - it is out there.   Reach out to a local support group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, your church, a professional, or a friend.  And please don’t give up. My dad used to always say “as long as there is breath, there is hope.” I  believe that because I lived it.


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Sep 07, 2022

Love this. Wonderful description of addiction- —and recovery. Thanks for sharing your journey!


Sep 06, 2022

Yes, Carol Lind, you are living proof that where there's breath, there's hope. And where there's a will, there's a way!

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