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Growing up, I’d always felt different. I never felt that I was “a part of,” no matter how hard I tried. I tried doing team sports, playing the guitar, dressing in clothes that I thought other people would like on me rather than what I felt comfortable in… I had all these masks that I would put on just to try and fit in but none of them ever worked. I was so driven by fear in every single aspect of my life and it was crippling. I lived in this cage in my mind for so long until relief came in the form of my first drink at around 14 years old. That drink turned into multiple drinks that night, and I had found what I’d been searching for my whole life: absolute freedom. I could finally breathe out. For the first time in my life, I felt that I could socialize, be funny, dance, and be someone that people actually liked. The fear of being myself had vanished, and I knew that I had found a solution.

When I went off to college, my life really started to spiral out of control. I had found my tribe there, a group of people who drank like I did, and I was off to the races. I had arrived. I was partying every single night, rarely attending class, and if I did attend class I was either high or drunk going into it. I was also in a really abusive relationship at this time. Friends and family would always ask me “Why are you still with him?” and the answer was simple: he provided me drugs and alcohol. That was my motivation for staying in that relationship for as long as I did. I knew that regardless of what happened to me, I had those two things to get me through it. Then I got kicked out of school as a direct result of my drinking and drugging, and I was still in denial. I genuinely didn’t think I had a problem.

It didn’t take long for me to become a slave to my addiction, especially once heroin came into the picture. I lived to use and used to live. I could not function for even a moment being sober. I was no longer using for a sense of freedom, but for complete and total oblivion. I didn’t care who I hurt or what I had to do in order to get the next one because I no longer had a choice in the matter. Nothing was out of the question. My family, friends, and co-workers started to notice. It didn’t matter how many times they begged and pleaded with me to stop. I couldn’t. Not on my own will power. The first time I went to rehab, I had no real desire to get sober. From there I went to an Oxford house, and for a short time the only thing I wasn’t doing was using.

I wasn’t working any kind of program, working with a sponsor, or really going to meetings, and I couldn’t figure out why I was more miserable than when I was using. I couldn’t understand why my life got worse without the drugs and alcohol, and it was not long before I picked up again. I was right back in this hell I had created for myself and I just didn’t know what to do. The drugs and alcohol were no longer working. I didn’t want to live anymore but I was also too afraid to kill myself. I would beg and plead to a God I didn’t believe in at the time to just kill me, beg that I would overdose and not wake up, and would be filled with anger and sadness when I came to in the morning. When the Oxford house found out I was using again, they kicked me out. For whatever reason, this felt different.

It was not the worst of the consequences I had suffered throughout my addiction, but all of a sudden it mattered. The sense of hopelessness that came over me at that point is indescribable. I was given two options: I could go to the hospital or figure something else out. Something profound came over me that I couldn’t recognize at the time and told them to take me to the hospital. I was beaten and broken in body, mind and spirit and I was officially out of ideas. I no longer had a plan. I didn’t see it at the time, but today I believe that getting kicked out of there is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.

I remember meeting Patrick M. at the hospital. He had said to me “You’re very lucky to be alive” and I had never, ever felt lucky to be alive before. From that point on, I started taking suggestions. I was finally willing to go to any lengths to get sober. Through family and some friends in the program, I went through detox and rehab again and ended up at Limen Recovery + Wellness. There, they taught me how to function as a human being again. I learned that I have a disease that talks to me in my own voice, that tells me I don’t have a disease. I learned to sit with myself and be available.

I learned that the substances weren’t the problem, but that I was the problem, and they were just a really temporary solution. I truly believe that without Limen and the program, I wouldn’t be alive today. They gave my family their daughter back, their granddaughter back, their niece back, their cousin back, and I am surrounded by people who lift me up on a daily basis. I have deep and meaningful connections with those around me today. I finally feel “a part of,” and I no longer need a drink or a drug to feel that way. I am actually able to sleep peacefully at night without my mind racing a thousand miles a minute, and wake up grateful to be alive. It’s not always easy, but because of Limen Recovery + Wellness and the program, I have the tools I need to get through the rough patches. The amount of gratitude I have for this place is immeasurable and I will never be able to fully put it into words.

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