Spotlight

Jenna Da

 

Some might have called it a “high bottom.” I had a roof over my head, a car, a long-term boyfriend, even a job. But I was spiritually dead.

He had tried to get me sober countless times. He’d flush pills down the toilet, dump alcohol down the sink. Nothing worked. It wasn’t until I knew deep down that I needed to get sober that I sought help.

And seeking help didn’t come naturally to me. In my family, you don’t ask for help. You get things done on your own; asking for help is a weakness.

I moved to America from China, where my extended family had raised me, when I was five years old. It was hard to be in a foreign place, speaking a foreign language, with parents I had just met. I coped with the anxiety by drawing. I could escape into my art. In high school, my creative pursuits didn’t fit what my parents, both physicists, had in mind for me. They wanted me to do math or science (as most Asian parents do!). Unsurprisingly, I always felt like the black sheep of my family.

No matter how hard my parents urged me away from my artistic inclinations, my mom finally relented and let me enroll in art classes, where I excelled. After high school, I went to art school in Minneapolis and graduated early, after three years.

College graduation usually marks a high point in one’s life. For me, it was one of the lowest. I had a lot of untreated issues: anxiety, depression, and of course, alcoholism. I packed up everything and moved to LA, a city where I knew no one – a place where I could be completely anonymous.

If I thought my life was dark in Minnesota, it was pitch black in LA. I wasn’t even drawing anymore. Things kept getting worse until I finally got help.

After going to a three-week program at ARC in Culver City, I took a job at Creative Matters, where my spiritual and emotional development really took off. Coming here allowed me to work in a sober community and gave me an environment where I was able to learn about myself. I was taught to show up no matter what, regardless of my feelings. It also allowed me to work on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in a safe and understanding place.

I hadn’t drawn for about 6 years after I graduated – I was creatively dead. Today, I’m inspired. It took getting sober and having a spiritual experience.

I just finished the 12 steps for the first time – it’s a very appropriate conclusion to my time here. I’m starting a new chapter of my life. I may not have everything solved, but I’m hopeful.

We have been fortunate to have Jenny at Creative Matters and wish her the best in her future pursuits.