Growing up, life was NEVER easy for me… Throughout my youth and adolescence, I struggled a lot with depression, anxiety, and chronic insomnia, along with several learning disabilities that affected my speech and reading levels. I had a very poor connection to the man whom I thought was my father, but I eventually learned that our lack of connection was due to him not being my real father. My mother and my older brother also struggled with deep depression and substance abuse, causing my life to be put in danger many times, even at a very young age.
Not being able to feel safe or wanted by those who were responsible for taking care of me was devastating to me. It killed any small amount of appreciation that I had for the gift of “Life,” because that made my life terrible. As I grew up, my older brother was in and out of hospitals for mental health issues and my parents had split up, leaving me feeling even more alone than I had before. By the time I entered middle school, I had already moved so many times that I gave up on trying to make friends because I knew that I would eventually move again and lose them.
When I entered high school, my new stepfather whom I had started getting close to, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer, causing me to shut down 100% socially. I had been drinking for some time already to self-medicate, and watching my stepfather slowly die day by day made me want to numb myself even more. I never really saw my brothers and sisters or any of my original family after my parents split, and now my new family was beginning to fall apart too. Most of my days were spent drinking and reading until he finally passed away, which is when my mom decided to leave me for good as well at the age of 15 leaving me homeless to fend for myself…
After years of being homeless and years of heavy drug addiction, I had successfully destroyed EVERY meaningful relationship that I had once had. I generally hung out with other addicts, which in turn made my drug usage much worse. I soon reached the lowest point in my addiction, where I overdosed on Fentanyl. I had always avoided Opiates out of a healthy respect for the damage I had seen them cause to people I loved over the years. Some Fentanyl had made its way into a batch of Cocaine that a good friend of mine had received, and we ALL overdosed from it. I left right after we got into that bag of Cocaine, and I only made it a couple of blocks before falling out behind the wheel of my car. Thankfully, someone came to my assistance and was able to revive me with a few shots of Narcan. The other group of people that had done that Cocaine with me were ALL dead in the house the next morning. Somehow, I was the only one who survived that batch and the guilt still keeps me up at night…
I had quit using hard drugs immediately after the Fentanyl overdose but continued drinking. With the help of someone who overcame alcohol addiction with AA, I was able to quit drinking for a good amount of time. After a rough breakup, my sobriety went out the window. My alcohol relapse was short-lived, but I did a fair amount of damage to my body during my last drinking bender. After I woke up from my last month-long blackout, I knew I needed help from God to heal my damaged mind and soul.
The biggest challenge that I have faced in my recovery, was accepting the fact that God has had a plan for me all along. It was hard to imagine that all of the pain, depression, & guilt I faced throughout my life was the groundwork for a higher purpose. Now knowing that I don’t have to understand why God does what he does, has helped me be at peace.
Being at Grace Centers of Hope has made a monumental impact on my morale, and I am beginning to enjoy life again. It feels as if I am starting to actually LIVE now, not just simply going through the motions of life. By God’s grace, life is getting better and better for me. My mother is now back in my life and supports me in any way that she can. Time is no longer flying by because I can live in the here and now. It allows me to enjoy each moment that passes, which I was never able to do before.
If I could give a piece of advice to someone who is still struggling, it would be to change your environment and change your mindset first. Let God do all of the heavy lifting, and listen with the intent to understand rather than with the intent to reply. If Grace Centers has shown me anything, it’s that it is NEVER too late to turn your life around…. You need only to WANT to change, and God will do the rest!