40 Years. February 24, 1982 was the last day I consumed a drink or a drug, and words cannot adequately express my gratitude for my life in recovery.
My journey has been filled with every experience imaginable. I’ve grown from a fragile, broken young adult into a woman who is confident, resilient, and able to live life to its fullest. My journey has not been easy at times, because life can be harsh in the best of circumstances. But life can also be beautiful, magnificent, and filled with love.
Early in my recovery, as I realized the love and support around me, I slowly became more and more grateful for those who guided me and helped me to see the truth of my Substance Abuse Disorder (SUD). I have been blessed beyond measure to reclaim my life from the deadly, destructive path I was on. My recovery has allowed me to embrace and become what Carl Jung referred to as the Wounded Healer. Through my own pain and struggles, I gained the ability to face my own pain and transform it into healing. Through support, education, and the best mentors I could ask for, I have been able to dedicate my life to help individuals and families on their paths to healing.
My life is full. I have everything I was promised as I entered the rooms of recovery. I have traveled the world and had the honor of helping families from different cultures. I have a husband whose love is exciting, supportive, unconditional, and who keeps me laughing and smiling. I have wonderful step-children whom I love as my own and with whom I have truly authentic relationships. My friends and team who I work with are the truest of friends. We can love, accept, and support each other through our triumphs and our darkest moments. My recovery also allowed me to heal, repair, and accept my fractured family relationships. My love and passions are fulfilled. I am surrounded by my dogs, cats, horses, and chickens, and our home is my personal sanctuary. My journey was difficult at times but incredibly worthwhile and fulfilling.
Some ask me what was the pivotal moment that allowed me to embrace recovery. Many factors were at play, but mostly the loss of myself. My addiction came during my teen and young adult years, so my consequences were not the loss of jobs or material things. For me, the more painful loss was that of self. My morals, values, and feelings of shame consumed me and made me anxious about my behaviors while using, all the while I could not control myself and my use. I was young, angry, lost, and lacked self-esteem, largely because I came from a chaotic family system that played a role in many of my own actions.
My moment of grace came when I finally found a therapist who just seemed to intuit what I needed. I was studying psychology (as an attempt to right myself) and had diagnosed myself with practically every disorder. Well, except for Substance Use Disorder because I lived in denial and surely did not want to stop using substances as crutches. Later, I found out that my psychologist, Dr. Tom Butcher, was also in recovery. He knew the perfect seeds to plant that would allow my recovery to flourish, such as asking me if I could cut back and to make an effort to put my life back together. Things got worse before they got better, but thanks to him, I finally accepted the treatment I needed to start putting my life back together.
I have never been more thankful for a life of recovery. Once I got a clearer mind, I knew that I wanted to become a therapist. I wanted to help others who had been through what I had been through. I worked hard, earned a master’s degree before enrolling in a doctorate program, and trained in many therapeutic modalities.
I’m honored to have worked so hard and to have helped so many people who, like I once did, desperately needed help. My career has been rewarding and divinely inspired. I am merely a guide to allow others to see paths to a new life. Like me, everyone has the ability to do the work if they choose.
If I had to pass on only one piece of advice to all of you now, it would be to always remain open and curious. Never stop learning, and be brave enough to go the distance – take that training, go back to school, explore new interests that take you out of your comfort zone, and find things that are meaningful and challenging to you. Growth is difficult, but once you know what you want to do, take the steps to get there – one day and one step at a time. And for those of you in Recovery, always remember don’t give up no matter what. It will get better.
With Abundant Love and Gratitude