RECOVERY STORY OF THE MONTH
Sobriety Date: November 20, 2020
Hello, my name is Erica, and I’m an alcoholic. I am also an alum and resident at the Jean Marie House with 14 months of sobriety. I’m still flighty and easily distracted, so I will work diligently at keeping this short and on topic, lol.
I grew up in Cleveland on 89th between Cedar & Quincy Ave. My grandmother had that home from the time I turned two till I was 26. My grandmother also played a huge role in raising me and my brothers and sister, along with my mother. My mother was a single mom to five kids, and we moved a lot between Cleveland and Gary, Indiana. Granny’s house provided us with some sense of comfort and stability. I don’t want to take away the fact that my mother was a good provider and nurturer. I had a normal childhood, we had everything we needed, and we were raised with structure and discipline. My mother suffers from the same disease, but her choices do not define mine, past or present.
Growing up I can remember being extremely advanced for my age. I also remember never wanting to live where I lived. I was always daydreaming, making up crazy scenarios in my head because I was never really satisfied with my own reality. Ultimately, this led to a lot of lying, manipulation, and stealing. Something always had to be happening in my head…good or bad. I believe this is where I started to become addicted to the feeling of chaos and “not getting caught”. One thing that really sticks out from my childhood is that when I was in about the 4th grade, I got placed into advanced classes to finish off my elementary school years. The friends that I had completely cut me off (y’all know kids are mean) lol. They said that I thought I was better than them, and they wanted nothing to do with me. This experience kick-started a long road of being fearful of being “better than,” so I stuck around individuals that influenced me into not reaching my full potential.
Something always had to be happening in my head…good or bad. I believe this is where I started to become addicted to the feeling of chaos and “not getting caught”.
To keep it short, my adult years were fun, memorable, chaotic, promiscuous, flighty, and unstable. With no regard for my own well-being or how my disease was progressing, I went from partying on the weekends to Stella Maris detox in 2019. That year was my first introduction to treatment and AA. From detox I went to the Walton House and took everything about me with me. I used, and I was caught. I got a second chance to stay, but continued to use, then was asked to leave. And that’s how the following year went for me…using in treatment.
When I walked into Jean Marie House in September of 2019, it was scary, dark, and very undesirable… to me. I tried to process the thoughts of having to overcome cultural barriers, living with so many women, and doing the right thing. In my mind, it was too much so I did what I was most comfortable with and “acted as if”. So, I pretty much spent the next year in treatment and in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous lying and acting. I was using, manipulating drug tests, and taking advantage of women that wanted nothing but to see me do well. I gained friendships, support, praises, completion certificates, and sobriety chips that I did not deserve. But the more I didn’t get caught, the more fuel it added to my self-destruction. I started to become comfortable with the feeling of paranoia and worry. So, of course, it came time to pay rent, and it was not in my budget, so I had to suspend my services at JMH. Lol
I was using, manipulating drug tests, and taking advantage of women that wanted nothing but to see me do well. I gained friendships, support, praises, completion certificates, and sobriety chips that I did not deserve.
I went home for two weeks, then spent a week in detox. I walked back through the doors of Jean Marie House feeling 100% worse than when I came in 2019. I was sick, ashamed, embarrassed, and scared to death to think that I had to be honest about what I had done prior to my exit. My initial thought was to just roll with it and NOT be honest. But something in me knew that I had to be honest if I ever wanted to stop living in complete fear and chaos. I spent my halfway stay admitting my dishonesty and actions to my friends (that were still there and still here to this day), my sponsor, the Director of Jean Marie House and the sober women that did nothing but love me from the day I walked in those doors.
After studying 6 types of dishonesty provided by my sponsor and doing an honest 5th step, I felt empty, depleted, lost, sad, and full of fear. Letting go of so many secrets and transgressions made me feel like I knew nothing about myself because I thought all those things made me who I WAS. Once those things were cleared from my spirit, I came to a clear road where I could kick up some more BS to keep this mind distracted or take a better route. I chose a new life, a new approach, a new beginning.
I came to a clear road where I could kick up some more BS to keep this mind distracted or take a better route. I chose a new life, a new approach, a new beginning.
Today I try to keep a new beginner’s mind. I constantly learn, grow, and seek. I knew things started to shift when I woke up and “I” wasn’t the first thing on my mind. Today I know that my biggest responsibility is to help others, and when I get, I give. When I learn, I teach. Just like the women did for me. I know that today my lessons are not my luggage, so living in self-pity is not an option for me. I’ve learned that I’m stronger than my circumstances, and that each day my breath shows up for me is an opportunity and gift to change my thinking and behaviors. I’ve chosen a path that guides me each day. Today I know that my thoughts lead to my emotions, and my emotions lead to my actions. My thoughts are my problem, so I actively try to stay in the space between my thoughts. Today I am becoming more mindful of words and actions, and how they affect others. I do group at Jean Marie House, I go to meetings, and talk to my sponsor regularly. I always try to meet my commitments and help wherever needed. I LEAD WHEN I’M ASKED! I nurture relationships and stay connected, because I cannot do this alone!