I just existed
I am no stranger to treatment centers and I’m no stranger to Grace House. I am 51 years old registered nurse, divorced and the mother of 3 wonderful kids. I like to read, garden and decorate. I volunteered at my kid’s schools and took them on vacation to the beach and the mountains. I had a good life. The problem, I was an addict/alcoholic. The problem was me. I truly believe I was born an addict/alcoholic. I’ve felt out of place my entire life, even as a small child. I had lots of friends and a decent family life—I just never felt like I belonged. I started drinking at the age of 16. Drugs followed soon after.
This started the life I was to know for the next 35 years. I’ve been addicted to many different things-drugs, food, relationships and alcohol. No risk was too great. I thought of no one but myself. I was arrested 4 times. My nursing license was suspended in 2006. The last 3 arrest were for DUIs over a span of 14 months. I entered my first residential treatment center in 2010. I spent 95 days there but I wasn’t ready. I didn’t change. In the following year I spiraled out of control, I lost my marriage, kids, parents, sisters, home, car, dogs… everything. I was in legal trouble and financial ruin. I had no self-respect, self-esteem or spiritual connection. I just existed.
I entered Grace House for the first time in 2012. I don’t know what it feels like to be dying but, I believe that is what was happening to me. I was miserable and full of self-pity. But with the support from the counselors and other staff, and my commitment to Grace House program, my life turned around. I gained confidence and self-esteem. I enjoy helping others. I became a role model and a leader. I gained a spiritual connection and knew peace and happiness for the first time in my life. I had a job. I had my kids and family back. I felt like I belonged. I completed the program in May 2013. I left with the tools and knowledge to be successful in sobriety, but I chose not to use them. I let old relationships and habits back in and I relapsed quickly.
The consequences came just as quickly and they were more severe. I sunk into a very lonely, dark, blackness. I admitted myself back into Grace House September 20, 2013, I was broken. I was terrified-not of dying but of existing in the “black”. I feared I would never again experience the place of happiness from the year before. I remembered how good it felt. My children and family were angry, hurt and disappointed. Once again I followed the suggestions of the G.H. program and I slowly emerged from the “black”. I was honest with my counselor, participated in group and became active with my sponsor in A.A., mostly I prayed. Slowly my confidence and self-esteem came back, replacing the shame and guilt. My relationship with my kids and family improved. I have been here almost 5 months and my journey has not been without struggles. I relapsed at about my 4th month, but by the grace of god and the support and understanding of the staff and my peers at Delchaise, I was allowed to stay.
For that and so much more, I will be forever grateful. Today, I am here at Grace House, and I’m sober. That peace and happiness is returning, just a bit slower than I’d like. I live day by day and I know it’s not going to be easy. I’m fighting for my life. I’m going to do whatever it takes. I’m being given all that is necessary to live a sober, productive life. I just need to do the work. I have confidence that I will use all the gifts that have been given to me by Grace House, my counselor, the staff, my peers, my sponsor, the AA Program, and—most important—God. I will be successful in recovery and life. I‘ll have all the peace and happiness I deserve. Karen H.