I know I am an addict and alcoholic, but I truly believe that deep down, under all the damage and layers of trauma, there is still a core part of me that is not broken, that is whole and willing to do the work necessary to become the person G-d intended me to be.
I was born in Topeka, Kansas to a single mom and an older sister who assumed the role of my other parent. At age 3, my mother packed up what few items we owned and moved us to Simi Valley, California. Although my mother and sister showered me with love, they were constantly fighting. A typical day in my household was like the game of tug-o-war. Money was scarce and financial uncertainty fueled my mother’s rage and depression.
At a young age, my mother instilled in me the idea that my value lies in my looks and my body. Despite having that mentality hanging over me and struggling with ADHD, I did surprisingly well in school. Unable to change my mother’s depressive episodes, I found that my grades were something I was able to control. My involvement in extra- curricular activities allowed me to gain access to further education in dance, theater and video production that my mother’s pocketbook wouldn’t ordinarily allow. Before this, even if the activity was free, we couldn’t afford the gas to get there—if, by chance, the car was working. School was a place for me to escape into a world full of possibilities.
At age 13, my father came into my life. I flew back to Kansas to visit him and found myself transported to a seemingly storybook household. My father had remarried to a woman who had two daughters, lived in a home bigger than my entire condo complex, and had an abundance of the newest everything. The biggest shock was that their refrigerator and cupboards actually contained food. I watched my father be a father to these two strangers. Why wasn’t I worthy of that? What was wrong with me? Immediately after returning to California, I started smoking weed and drinking to numb the feelings of rejection, worthlessness, and abandonment.
When I was 16, a friend introduced me to meth and from the very first hit of the pipe, I was completely hooked. The effects of the drug felt like magic. It slowed down my thoughts and allowed me to focus for the first time in my life. Looking back, I realize that was the day that changed the course of my entire life. I quickly went from pursuing my hopes and dreams to being cemented in a vicious cycle of drug use, crime, arrests, jails, and seeking validation through men and selling my body.
I struggled with my addictions for 23 years. I tried just about everything to get sober, but never had success. I tried A.A., abstinence, sober living, medications, outpatient treatment, and drug replacement. I tried switching friends, cities, homes, boyfriends, jobs, cars, and even dealers. My failed attempts cost me more than just jobs, family, and friendships; in the end I found myself without self respect and integrity. My life had lost all value.
In 2021, the death of my father hit me extremely hard. I struggled with my addiction’s reluctance to let go of its bite. The guilt and shame consumed my every waking thought. Instead of turning to family and friends for support, I turned to a new friend, Heroin. Less than a year later, I ended up falling into a coma for a week thanks to a combination of untreated pneumonia and a drug overdose. I came out of the coma feeling completely defeated and waving my white flag of surrender. I knew I needed help and could not do it alone.
Arriving at Beit T’Shuvah on April 4th, 2022, I found my safe harbor. Over the last 108 days, I have been able to regain connection with others, immerse myself in the BTS community, and allow myself to be loved in the ways I was unable to love myself. I’m proud to share that I have 5 months clean and sober; a personal milestone. Today, my recovery means struggling out loud, being of service, and remaining vigilantly honest. It means allowing G-d to do for me what I could not do for myself. I have to remind myself that true surrender, faith, and trust takes practice. It’s okay to be afraid sometimes and not have all the answers.
Being at Beit T’Shuvah has taught me that within my core wounds lies my core gifts. I’ve lived most of my life feeling unlovable, unseen, and unable to occupy my own body without having to put on a mask. Today I have been given the gift of being able to show up in my life as a daughter, a sister and a friend. For the first time in life, I know that my value lies in my soul.
I am seen.
I am safe.
I am loved.
I am not alone.