My name is Michelle and I am 30 years old. My drugs of choice are opiates, benzo’s, and soma’s. My life in active addiction was completely unmanageable. I have a 7 year old daughter who depends on me, and I was not the mother I should have been. Now I live at Grace House and have been clean and sober for 4 months. Grace House has shown me the tools that I can use to continue living a clean and sober life. My new way of living is like a breath of fresh air. I also can now be the mother that my daughter deserves. Thank you Grace House!
I entered Bridge House as a total wreck and as a person with no direction in life. I had hit an all-time low, and the only thing that mattered to me was where and how I was going to get my next fix. I hurt everyone that loved me and isolated the ones I loved the most.
It has been a very hard process to get to where I am at today in my program, but, with the tools and core values I have learned here at Bridge House, I can live a happy and prosperous life clean and sober and have a lot of fun while doing so. My new life that I have today is a direct result of working the 12 steps of AA and turning my will over to God. I know if I practice these principles and take it one day at a time doing the next right thing I will continue to be happy and grow in all aspects of my life.
I still have all my problems and real life issues today, but now I can face them head on and deal with life on life’s terms and take care of them properly. Today I know without a shadow of a doubt there is a better way of living. With the help of God and Bridge House, I am truly happy, joyous, and free.
In possession of a persistent resilience for survival, despite the loss of all will to live, is where I had found myself after an eleven year relapse proceeded by nine years of youthful sobriety. I long had felt Alcoholics Anonymous was no longer of any help to me though I still attended meetings, sporadically, in search of relief from my seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. Too often I followed such visits to the rooms of AA with a stop at the bar, hoping to just have a couple to take the edge off the hangover that plagued my working hours, only to find myself in that dreaded cycle of not being able to stop after once feeling the effect of the first drink. I hated myself and my life—the only relief I found was in the form of alcohol and drugs. I even referred to my drinking and using as a vacation from myself.
These vacations usually came with increasingly devastating consequences. My drinking was a lot like playing Russian roulette in that once started, I had no idea what might happen. I didn’t always blackout but when I did, I had no control over my behavior. I was a true Jekyll and Hyde variety alcoholic. Fights with groups of dive bar frequenters and, in the end, even taking on multiple police officers at once seemed to be a likely finish to an evening with the morning spent in jail or the hospital.
One such evening ended with a high speed chase 50 miles south of my intended destination. I vaguely remember being pulled over initially for driving without headlights at about 3 AM. Knowing that my defense of, “I’m sober now”, for an impending felony obstruction of an officer case would not go over well with a DUI arrest along side of it, I decided, in my drunken state, that to drive away really fast was a perfectly logical solution. Once both the windshield and rearview were filled with streams of blue lights, rather than face the possibility of going to jail for more than a few days, I floored it and steered into a brick wall hoping I could be done with this hell for good. Instead, I survived the wreck and the bone breaking beating that followed and was then brought to jail anyway despite my best efforts.
Realizing the probability that it was not my miserable life that I would end, but more likely the valued life of an innocent that happened to be somewhere within 500 miles of where I took the next first drink, I knew that I could never drink again. I also knew that I would not, under my own power, be able to live without ever drinking.
After a few days in lockup, I was asked by my family, if a space was available, to go to Bridge House. My answer was “Yes! I don’t know what else I CAN do, but I don’t think I’ll be leaving jail anytime soon.” Oddly enough I was released on my own recognizance later that day, and I headed to New Orleans to be admitted into Bridge House even though I was certain there was no hope for me there either.
I could not have been more wrong. It was not, by any means, an easy road for me to travel, but Bridge House gave me an opportunity to reconstruct a life worth living by providing me with counseling, challenging work and, most of all, a safe place to work on getting better with the help of the entire community that is Bridge House.
Presently I am continuing my college education, and I have been working as a lead veterinary technician for several years. I now wake up every morning eternally grateful to be alive and to have been given the ability to experience a life full of purpose and wonder—a life I never knew I could have. A life I would never have had if it had not been for Bridge House.
I came into the program emotionally drained, bitter, and angry. I dreaded any day ahead of me. I felt alone, helpless, and I was compassionless. My soul was in torment, my heart was broken, my mind was torn and tattered, and I was overflowing with shattered dreams of a brighter future for my child. I lived in darkness.
Through this journey of my new life in recovery, I’ve encountered many ups and downs, many trials, errors and lessons learned, and even more challenges of strength and courage. To my own surprise, I’m learning that with the strength I thought I lacked, I can do this. I can live a clean, sober, and healthy life for my family, for my child, but most importantly, for myself.
So as I continue into this journey, I take it “One Day at a Time” as the program has taught me. Now, rather than dreading my days, I embrace each one with every bit of gratitude within me. There is a better path, and Grace House helped me to find it.
Alcoholism took almost everything from me. It took my wife, my business, my house, my car and virtually all my belongings. It even took my self-esteem, my health, my drive, my motivation, and my morals. I barely got away with my life. Every single relationship I ever had I destroyed. I could not keep a job. Before I slept under a bridge, I found Bridge House.
This caring and educated environment is just what I needed. By instituting a daily routine of strict discipline, Bridge House is slowly helping me renew my drive. Work therapy is assisting me with daily accomplishments, thus reviving my self-esteem and motivation to succeed. Classes, group therapy, and 12 step programs help me understand alcoholism.
The next phase of the program will help me get back into the work force as a reliable employee. Using these tools I am learning how to live again. Bridge House is teaching me that I can have my life back without alcohol. It’s not too late.
It was December 25, 2006, Meridian, MS; I hesitantly accepted a dinner invitation to my parents’ house. I lived less than 5 miles from my parents but rarely spoke much less visited them. I was an extreme alcoholic that had been sneaking into their house for years stealing alcohol and any loose change I can find; and they knew it! They once even had me committed to the state mental institute in 2006 which I managed to avoid thanks to a backed up state system and some strategic manipulation on my part. However, it was that Christmas night that my father brought up Bridge House for the second time. This time, for the first time in my life, I had no excuse or rationalization to fight my father’s argument–If I continue on my present path will my life be any different in a year, so what then is the harm in spending that year at Bridge House? I decided he was right and the time was right. I was completely dead on the inside, and I realized it that Christmas night.
I arrived at Ms. Green’s office, completely exhausted, on January 7, 2007 and transitioned on January 10, 2008. I cannot truly express all that Bridge House did for me in that year. My parents were astonished and my stepmother (of 20 years) was truly meeting me for the first time. One of the greatest attributes Bridge House gave me, though, turned out to be an inability to enjoy drinking. I relapsed that same year in 2008 shortly after Gustav. If it was not for all that Bridge House had instilled in me, I would have died in my relapse, literally. I returned to Bridge House for a three month “tune-up”, if you will, and used the opportunity to make healthy decisions and changes in my life to hopefully avoid similar pitfalls. Bridge House has now saved my life twice. It has saved my family twice. For the first time in my life I have a genuine relationship with my parents and established a relationship with my brother that has never existed. I truly believe it is the work of my higher power that brought me back to Bridge House for a third time–this time as a member of the staff. I now have been given the opportunity to work and give back to the very organization that saved my life.
“I can’t do this alone.” These five words comprise the realization that set into motion a transition that changed my life. Years of struggle, pain, and angst had whittled my resolve down to a low the likes of which I had not known possible. Before this, I fought a good fight. In doing so I caused myself years of pain. I fought everyone: professionals, who suggested I receive help for my obvious addiction, family members who loved me when I was unable to love myself, employers who had to make business decisions that resulted in a series of terminations, the list goes on.
The fight backed me into a corner that looked like this: Winter in Baton Rouge, LA. Within a small rental cottage it is cold and dark as there has been no electricity running through the walls for months. Numerous failed attempts to quit taking pills have taken the fight out of me. I sit wrapped in dirty blankets gazing in the direction of a window, but not looking out. At this point I hadn’t really looked at anything for some time. No one stops by to visit. I have successfully isolated myself to the point of abandon. In the middle of the night I plan to go behind the neighbor’s house to use the hose for a cold shower. I detest the idea. What am I to do? I haven’t paid the water bill and the water is shut off.
Then I gaze beside me. On the floor sit a handful of pills that will get me through the night. I am okay. Somehow, in my warped perspective, life is good. I have to be presentable enough to show up in the morning for my latest job, a waiter position in a local restaurant. Therein, I scrape up enough money to buy the necessary pills I need to survive, nothing more.
Sleep must have overtaken me because I am suddenly awakened by repeated thuds coming from my front door. As I answer, I am greeted by blinding rays of sunlight form the morning sun, as well as two constables. They have come to serve me eviction papers. I haven’t paid my rent in two months, for the second time. I have a week to vacate the premises.
At thirty two years of age, homeless, now living in a 1973 Volkswagen beetle was not part of my life’s plan. Yet, there I was, still fighting; now self was the only advisory. I was cornered and tired. I did not want life to be like this, and hated being terrified all the time. I was so tired of trying to get off these dammed pills on my own terms. Finally, surrender: “I can’t do this alone.”
Strength via surrender seems counter intuitive. However that is exactly how it works. Stop fighting and work with others in order to reach a common goal: sobriety. Yet unable to understand this concept, I called Bridge House. I had acquired the telephone number by reaching out to my parents. It was my first ever call for help. They had known someone who had gone through the program and was doing well. Thus, I surrendered to the care and protection that Bridge House provides.
During my year of treatment I worked with peers, made friends, and received counseling. I began to work a program, the same program I work today. I began to set goals for my personal and spiritual advancement. The key here was that I was not alone. During the year my thinking began to change. For the first time in years I felt hope.
Though cliché, quitting drugs and alcohol is not the hardest part; maintaining sobriety is. Had I not been in Bridge House, I feel that I would not have been able to achieve this. Life goes on after sobriety is acquired, as well as all the pitfalls that come with it. The program provided by Bridge House established a blueprint for daily personal maintenance that I continue to practice today. I still strive to improve.
Having just reached five years sober, my life is quite different from the aforementioned day. I have true friends. My family is an enormous part of my life again. I reach out to others. I have worked the same job for over two years now, and have even gone back to college. I will graduate with a degree in geology this coming May. However this is small compared to the fact that I did not have to take pills to make it through the day. I know joy. It has been quite a journey; one that I did not take alone. I know gratitude. That is exactly what I feel regarding Bridge House, for proving to me that I never had to be alone again.
I entered Bridge House looking for a way to stop. Stop using drugs, I initially thought. In reality, my drug use was only a symptom of my deeper problem: Myself. Selfish. Lost. Fearful. At the age of 26, I was still wandering through life with absolutely no direction, other than the next high that would distract me from my seemingly unsolvable and ever-expanding problems. I just couldn’t deal with life as it was. I was a vampire, leeching the life out of all those in my life who were foolish enough to love me. Bridge House isn’t just teaching me how to stop using drugs; it’s reconnecting me with God and helping me find a new happiness helping other people instead of hurting them. I’ve only been in the program for 2 months now, but I’ve already attained a peace of mind I never before thought possible. I now have hope of realizing my potential and being comfortable in my own skin, rather than comfortably numb.
John Michael W.
I’m a divorced mother of one and my addiction with alcohol began at the age of 16. It slowly progressed to other drugs and eventually my life started to spin out of control. For a while, I was a functioning alcoholic/addict, but it was only a matter of time before it all would catch up with me. I was lying and cheating and doing things I’d never do sober, just to get high. Then at 36, living alone with my 4 year old daughter, my addiction took control. I lost my job and realized I really needed help before I lost my daughter, my home, my car, and my life.
Grace House was recommended to me by a good friend and also my therapist. Since arriving here, I have learned so much about my disease of addiction and also about myself. My self-esteem and self-confidence has continued to rise more and more each day. Without the help and care of Grace House and staff, I know my life would have continued to spin out of control. Thanks to Grace House I will be able to get a new job, get help with obtaining housing for myself and my daughter, and, most of all, have a clean, sober, and healthy life. For that, I will always be grateful.
I have to say that before I came to Grace House my life was a complete mess. At the age of 21 I have managed to total two cars while under the influence, obtain 3 DWI’s, drop out of college, lose my apartment, and ultimately lose respect from my family and friends. The sad thing is that up until the day I walked through the front door of Grace House, I was still in denial that I had a problem. I tried a few times to get into a 28 day program in my home state of North Carolina just to satisfy everyone around me. I believe my higher power prevented that from happening for a reason. After a few failed attempts of getting into treatment in North Carolina, my aunt suggested I move to New Orleans and attend treatment at Grace House. I was against it, but I finally gave in because my options had run out. The day I stepped into Grace House I was not a happy camper. Being able to relate to each and everyone in treatment made me realize that I was no different than any of the other women.
Underneath my pride and denial, I realized that I honestly needed this program and that for me, a 28 day program would have kept me sober …..only for those 28 days. I highly doubt it would have given me the strength to have a lifelong sobriety. Not only has this program showed me how much an alcoholic and addict I really am, it has given me the tools to live a happy, sober, and productive life and for that, I am truly grateful.