My name is Laura, and I restarted my recovery journey on November 21, 2016. I have been clean and sober for nearly 4 years- which is still mind boggling to me when I think about it.
What have you accomplished that you’re most proud of during this time?
I don’t think I could narrow down this vast list of proud accomplishments.
- I successfully completed a 4-year ComCor sentence in just under 2 years. I have been off paper for the first time since 2010 as of September 2017.
- I found and maintained steady employment, and though my jobs have changed over the years- this has been a huge deal to me. While I was using, I would bounce from job to job with large periods of unemployment between those positions. I became State certified as a Peer Recovery Coach and now employed full time with Springs Recovery Connections, where I have been discovering all sorts of new talents I never knew I had. I’m currently in the process of getting certified in HR as well. I’m so unbelievably excited to see what my future holds.
- I have been finding restoration and forgiveness with my family and now have a wonderful and encouraging relationship with the people I hurt the most during my decades of drug addiction. To include my son. My mother tells me that she trusts me, now, and this is the first time in roughly 20 years that she’s said that.
- I have since been able to move on and after 3 ½ years, I was able to move out of sober living. I finally have my own place that is comfortable and safe, and I am finally able to rely solely on myself to pay the bills. This is the first time in my entire life that I can say that. I am at peace with the life that I am building for myself, and I’m excited to see what will come next.
- Last year I began the arduous process of working on my credit. That has been quite the struggle, but in one year I managed to bring my credit score up over 150 points. This has helped me to actually see my dream of owning my own home as a goal- not just a wishful thought.
Prior to recovery, what was a low point for you?
I’ve had countless “low points” during active addiction. One certainly tops the list, though.
Late 2016: I had been homeless for a couple of years. Again. I’ve been homeless for long stretches over the course of my life. At times I had the ability to sleep in my vehicle. This was not one of those times. It was winter. Mid November. I was sleeping in a cluster of trees in a tent that was located off of a bike trail behind Comcor. I was looking at my very first drug charges. I had been lucky for nearly 20 years in avoiding getting caught, but my luck had run out and I was looking at prison time. Also, since I had violated my probation when I caught these new charges- Prison was a very strong possibility.
I went to sleep in a tent that was saturated with water (from all the snow that it was covered in), enveloped by bedding that reeked of mold (from being constantly wet) and I was freezing. I woke up at like 3am unable to move, my body was so cold. I couldn’t catch my breath because I was so cold. When I unzipped my tent and saw even more snow had fallen, I just stood there, staring at nothing. My phone was dead. My shoes and all my clothes were wet and freezing. My stomach was empty. Every night I would pray that I wouldn’t wake up the next day. That was kind of my breaking point. I just burst into tears. And, I silently made myself a promise. If I could pull myself out of this death trap one more time, I would never return to this hopeless existence. Never…ever…again.
What are you doing today to be of service and give back to your community?
I have done many Oxford House presentations at Comcor for their current inmates, and at Cedar Springs Inpatient. The Cedar Springs program is a short one- and people who are going through their program generally fear what’s going to happen when they are released. Many are unaware that there are options for people who are terrified of not having the support and encouragement of living in a sober HOME. Watching the hope shine on so many faces has been such a blessing.
In addition to being a leader in the Oxford Houses community for a number of years, I also began volunteering and eventually working at Springs Recovery Connection. I love being able to meet others at their own low points, and give them hope that we do recover. The journey isn’t an easy one.. but it’s absolutely possible as long as a person continues to put one foot in front of the other.
I love helping others find their own paths to recovery. We all have to find our own way- but just being able to celebrate the little and huge successes of the people that I encounter, as well as offer encouragement to people who may be struggling or have hit some sort of seemingly insurmountable hurdle, has aided me in my own recovery. I felt useless for such a long time. All those terrible things I believed about myself had turned into core beliefs, and I’m still chipping away at my own self-doubts. Being able to offer love and support to others has only helped me in my own life.
I also love engaging with friends and family members of people who are suffering from active addiction. Being able to offer hope is an amazing experience, and my life is forever changed. I love being a Recovery Warrior.
I started a “goals” list exactly one year ago, and it’s been such an amazing experience getting to literally check off each thing as I’ve accomplished it. I seek to share my experience, strength and hope, but even more than that… I love to watch others discover what works best for them and see that light in their eyes go from dim to blazing again.