If you’re looking for a poster-child for Beit T’Shuvah, look no further—we’ve got Bridie C. I don’t dub her as such because she appears “perfect” or does everything “right.” Much like Abraham, who wrestled with G-d, Bridie struggles upward. And it is in this, in the willingness and bravery to struggle, where we find a living, breathing, example of Beit T’Shuvah’s mission.
Born and raised in Santa Monica, Bridie is one of four children. The only girl. Her, her twin, Charlie, and her two other brothers are first generation Americans. Their parents kept them close to their roots—connected to a little westside, British community. “My parents’ friends, and their kids were like family,” Bridie reminisces. “And drinking (alcohol) was just a part of our culture… But I was the only one who couldn’t really handle it.”
She remembers her first drink, almost exactly 20 years ago: Christmas, when she was 14. lot has happened since then…
“I think I knew I was alcoholic pretty early on,” Bridie recalls. “In high school, when my friends and I would drink, I’d wake up and keep wanting to drink. And they’d be trying to go to school, but I just wanted to keep drinking.” This is a sentiment I think many of us as alcoholics and addicts can relate to: not wanting to stop when everyone else did—or could. Like many of us, the inability to stop when everyone else found sufficient reason to, began to shape (and destroy) Bridie’s life.
“It was kind of like a roller-coaster, and I could see myself going down.” Bridie says in retrospect. Drinking began to have a clear and detrimental effect on her physical health. She had alcoholic seizures when she didn’t drink. “My whole body relied on alcohol,” she reports. Her spirit wanted something different for her, and was willing to fight for it.
She first came to Beit T’Shuvah in 2012. I remember her from then. Simultaneously strong and soft, she struck me as a woman with a lot of depth. I found her to be stable, personable, and compassionate. A little shy. She hasn’t lost any of that, but, like me, after being sober for nearly five years after leaving Beit T’shuvah, she still had some work to do with her demons. She had to get desperate again…
“I feel like in life sometimes you can envision your future and the possibilities of where you might be in two years, or five years; I remember thinking ‘I am definitely sick’ because I couldn’t imagine life without alcohol. And when I thought about my future, I couldn’t see anything, like at all. That made me fear I was going to die. And I was okay with that.”
Somehow still able to manage a few select pieces of her life, she graduated with an Associates degree in Science. In addition, she went to culinary school and worked in a kitchen for a while. Then she worked in hospitality. She even became a flight attendant, which she enjoyed and felt she’d worked hard for. Despite her best efforts to control, manage and manipulate her way around it, she couldn’t stop drinking. Needless to say, when she got caught drinking on the job, she was fired.
“Eventually, I Lost my housing, lost my partner, lost my job; all the stereotypical things that happen when you hit rock-bottom,” Bridie admits. “After that happened, I felt like the jig was up.” In the wake of the end of a long-term relationship she had, Bridie’s parents, always supportive according to Bridie, gently suggested returning to Beit T’Shuvah. Humbled and heartbroken, she obliged, and returned as a resident in 2022.
Although she only intended for this to be a short stay, a way of “cleaning up” and getting her family off her back, Bridie quickly felt inspired upon arrival. “I forgot how great it feels to be surrounded by a community like this; how good things get when I’m sober, and how much better I feel about myself.”
With growth in mind, Bridie has continued to challenge herself in a myriad of ways since she’s been at Beit T’Shuvah. “I’ve started doing things I wouldn’t normally do; before, it seemed easier to just…not.” She started surfing again, something she learned to do the last time she was in the house. “This time, I’ve been more consistent with it. It keeps me accountable. And I’ve improved a lot, which feels good.” Like many surfers, she describes being in the water as a spiritual experience. It’s a time she can be both pensive and connected. It brings her to a state of gratitude, she says.
Despite her often demure disposition, Bridie decided to stretch out of her comfort zone in another way when she joined Beit T’Shuvah’s traveling musical, Freedom Song. “(Being a part of the play) is like a community within a community,” Bridie says about the show. “And I think the thing I’m trying to do differently this time is to stay connected.” Like her experience with her extended-British-family when she was younger, Bridie finds the value once again in being surrounded by support.
She also now has a chance to offer support; currently interning as a program facilitator at Beit T’Shuvah. “I feel really helpful,” Bridie states with a sweet smile. She started school today, actually, to get her KDAC, so she can become a certified drug and alcohol counselor. “It’s exciting to have found something I’m actually passionate about. I thought work was just…a job. I never thought that I’d work in a field that made me feel good.”
Staying busy and productive, Bridie moves towards autonomy and success, both personally and professionally. She has become someone the people around her can rely on, but most importantly, she’s gaining self-esteem by keeping the commitments she makes to herself. er progress is palpable.
When Bridie thought about her future, it used to be hazy or even non-existent. Today, she has goals—and a plan. She sees herself as self-sufficient and as someone who is contributing to the world around her; both leaning on and helping those who cross her path. Ultimately, she’d like to become a therapist. Blessed and renewed with purpose, it’s looking like Bridie has found her calling. Like I said: Beit T’Shuvah poster child! Am I right?