I remember being full of fear the day I left a ninety-day inpatient residential treatment center in Dayton, Ohio. I was sober and I had to learn how to live life without using drugs and alcohol. I was heading to recovery housing in Price Hill on the west side of Cincinnati. Thoughts of leaving the locked facility were racing through my mind. I was terrified to go back out into the world again. What do sober people do? Was I going to be liked? Was I going to make it through the doors into the unknown?
I had nowhere else to go. There were no family members that would take me in. There were no friends that would talk to me. I was convinced that I couldn’t provide for myself.
I had burned so many bridges. I had two options. One option was to go back out into the streets. Or I could move into a recovery house with a dozen other women.
Going back out to the streets meant sleeping in “bandos”, a slang term for abandoned houses. Dangerous dwellings with no running water, electricity for warmth. No way to shower or cook food. In the streets I found myself eating out of garbage cans and stealing from a gas station for my next meal.
I had to choose which fear would lead me to recovery. The fear of going back to what my life was before treatment. Or the fear of moving into a house full of women that do not know me, my trauma or how I felt. I needed to choose the fear of the unknown.
When I arrived at New Foundations Recovery Housing, the house leader of my new home was standing in the driveway, waiting for me. I was greeted with a smile and a hug. Not the typical look of disgust that I was used to. For the first time in a very long time, I felt acknowledged. I felt welcomed. The Women who lived in this home surrounded me with comfort and love. Immediately offering me support and guidance to help me navigate this journey.
I had to learn how to be a different person. I had to learn all new ways of living day to day life in recovery. My housemates taught me how to get up in the morning, they taught me how to develop a routine. The ladies introduced me to recovery and the 12 step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. They gave me rides to and from the support meetings. They drove me to what seemed like an endless number of court dates and appointments to rebuild my life.
One Step at a Time
I was literally living life one day at a time. Some days living one second at a time. The women I lived with were the shoulders I cried on when my shame and self-hate told me I was worthless. They listened to my struggles and hardships, and they lifted me up from many dark places that overthinking could take me to. As well as instilling love and self-worth inside my heart. We weren’t so different. I was not unique. These women were just like me. I found a sisterhood and a family at New Foundations Recovery Housing.
Live and Learn
After just a short time, I become employable and a licensed driver. When I could start visiting my kids again, they stood by my side. I had to learn how to be a mother again, how to be a friend, a good daughter and a good person. I had to learn how to not be selfish and, I became grateful life.
Within 14 months of working hard in my recovery. I saved every penny I could, and I was ready to move out and be on my own again. Something I hadn’t had in over 6 years. My sisters at New Foundations, stayed by my side and continued to help, support and guide me in my growth. I lived with no furniture or a car for the first two months of living on my own. Not once did I feel like I was going without anything.
I Had to Change
I changed who I was inside and out. I found stability in recovery. I stayed motivated and worked a full -time job to be able to provide for myself. In no time I went from only having visitations with my kids, to having full custody again. When I became a full-time mother again, I needed help with rides to meetings and the grocery. I finally had enough money to buy a car.
The relationships that I built were who helped me get to more stability. There was no way that I would take all of this progress for granted. I continued my recovery no matter what. Life just kept getting better.
Today, I am certified Peer Recovery Support Outreach Worker. I spend my days going back out to the streets to the places I used to sleep. I work with homeless people with the disease of addiction to get off the streets and into treatment. My goal is to help them successfully transition from homelessness to long term successful recovery. I never forget the long, cold nights and the pain from hunger and loneliness. I never forget the feeling of waking up just to chase that demon all day, every day. A non-stop Groundhog’s Day way of life.
It has been over 3 years since I stepped out of New Foundations into my own apartment. I am thankful every day for the foundation that they provided for me. The roof over my head, the warm bed to lay my head and the hot showers. But most of all for introducing recovery into my life and showing me how to live again. I will never forget the friendships made and the lessons learned for the rest of my life. I am who I am today because I was able to heal, grow and live.