From Lost Dreams to Dream Life: My Story of Recovery

When I was a little girl, I dreamt of helping others in some regard. As I went through school for something I had little interest in, and my addiction took hold of my life, I felt I was incapable of helping anyone, let alone myself. So I gave up.

I believed I was unoriginal. I believed I lacked creativity. I believed no one could learn anything from me. I believed I couldn’t make a difference.

I stopped dreaming of what my life could amount to and accepted the fact that I would just be on autopilot to fight for getting my next fix while hoping everything else would just fall into place. Friends and family members would look at me in confusion, wondering how I didn’t see my potential. My family had modeled positive morals and believed in me. I didn’t know how to apply any of that to myself. I didn’t feel worthy of it. I felt different. I felt I didn’t belong.

I received suggestions to go to meetings. I attended detoxes and support groups but didn’t believe I was the problem – the substances I was abusing were. I used them to fill an emptiness inside of me that I created for myself. Until one day, a person in recovery saw my pain and how lost I was and offered guidance in working on the real problem, which was myself.

I didn’t know how I got to the empty place I was in, but I also didn’t see a way out. That person didn’t give up on me. She treated me with kindness, shared her experiences that let me know I wasn’t alone in my feelings. She showed me how she crawled out from a similar hole. Eventually, I figured I had nothing else to lose and started taking suggestions and asking for help from those who seemed to care. I learned I was capable of anything I wanted to set my mind to, if I allowed myself to break free from the limits I had imposed on myself.

I quickly learned that moving to another country wasn’t my solution. I learned that getting a big city job with little fulfillment wasn’t my solution. I came to realize that accepting myself for all that I am, deep down, was my solution.

I went to long-term treatment, where I found that the negative dialogue I had with myself was holding me back. I started to notice if I was a bit kinder to myself, I could open the door for healing to take place. I began to see the things I told myself I was unworthy of were, in fact, of much worth to me – I just needed to apply myself. I accepted the fact that life, no matter what, is hard, and recognized I was making it a lot harder by resisting it and burying my feelings with substances.

Eventually, I started trying new things – things I told myself I did not like. I started sharing my experience with others and received relatable feedback. I started to accept that I only convinced myself I was different from “everyone else” because I created that narrative for myself. I started to see that being open and honest with myself could also help others. When I practiced positive self-talk, the change began to happen.

I came to believe that I was capable of creating the life I had dreamed of as a little girl. I realized I was my problem, standing in my own way, and the only way to get out of it was to put in the work. The work that life requires. Today, I have a solution to get through the hard challenges life presents. I also have a solution in my life to appreciate and accept the good things that come my way. I see that recovery isn’t just about cutting out substances, but about going to any length to achieve whatever I set my mind to. I am able to show myself compassion, and through that, I can give compassion to others. I realized the lavish geographical relocation and high-profile job wasn’t what I needed; I needed fulfillment in doing what I was passionate about. I saw I was able to help others and make a difference in other people’s lives.

So, I went back to the place where it all started for me, at Mountainside, and asked how I could be a part of the solution for those who feel the way I felt just a few years ago. Today, I am capable. Today, I can make a difference. Today, I can share my truth and be proud of the person I am. Today, I can help others because I didn’t give up on myself. Today, I show up – for myself and others.

I am a peer.

I am an advocate.

I am a friend.

I am a cheerleader.

I am a resource broker.

I am a truth teller.

I am a recovery coach.

I have been there. I SEE YOU and I HEAR YOU! WE are not alone in this journey.

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