I have the privilege of serving on staff with an amazing nonprofit ministry called The Next Door. I have been with this fantastic organization for 2.5 years and love how we give second chances to women who need it most. The disease of addiction is new to me...it's not something I relate to personally or have dealt with in my immediate family. But, the staff and clients I've had the chance to connect with feel like family and I've been inspired by their individual experiences in the field of recovery.
In the last month, The Next Door has lost three former clients to this disease. In my role in Event Planning and Fundraising for TND, I do not have a lot of client contact, but I knew each of these clients very well and with the news of each woman passing away, a piece of my heart passed too. One of the clients named Brooke, joined TND's staff this year and I considered her a friend. When she came to our facility from jail a few years ago, she was asked to train for this 6K race. Brooke had never been a runner before, but thought it would help her recovery. You'll see her story below...grab a tissue!
Live Girl Running, by Brooke A.
February 12, 2016
When the idea of turning yourself in to do eight months in jail brings you a sense of peace and comfort, it’s a pretty good indication that your life has taken a wrong turn. I had it all at one point. A decent job, a beautiful home, two amazing and loving sons, financial security, and to my demise, an absolutely uncontrollable addiction that would eventually assist in persuading me to hand over every one of these blessings on a silver platter. To say that I struggled with addiction would be an understatement. Sure, there were a number of years that I played tug-of-war with my ‘dis-ease’, but during the last two or three years of my use, I completely relinquished to it all power.
When one decides to succumb to the enslavement of addiction, the façade of a colorful cookie-cutter life begins to blanch, and the muted grays take the form of (in my case) sterile rooms in hospitals, jagged stones used as pillows on the sidewalk, a dense weight of guilt and shame that presses down like an unwavering mountain, spiritual anorexia, and an absolute obsession with never waking up again. Hope died a slow death within, and I mourned it as I would a child. It’s so bizarre to me that a four letter word, representing something that isn’t even tangible, can make or break us…but it can. And does. I lost my hope long before I darkened the doors of the county jail, trading in my dirty clothes for a set of stripes I would wear for the following eight months of my deteriorated life.
It took some time of loitering in my misery for the murky film to clear in my head. Once it did, I began to become more open-minded to the idea of change. Even still, letting go was a gradual process for me. I was reminded of something that someone once said to me– that I only had to change one thing, and that was EVERYTHING. It seemed like an impossibly tall order at the time, but though I had virtually nothing…what I did have was time. I used it to get to know my Creator and to be still and listen (for once). When I began to pray for somewhere I could go to heal upon the close of my time in incarceration, it became clear to me that The Next Door was to be my next door. That decision was paramount for me, and was the turning point in my recovery.
I learned much more than I could recount in words during my six months at The Next Door, but what stands out most in my mind is learning to live a life of balance. “Balance” was most certainly not a word with which I was familiar; my scales were consistently weighed down on one side…it was all AND nothing. Throughout my journey, I realized that life is a balance of holding on and of letting go, of learning and of forgetting. The more I engaged in self-reflection, the better I understood my primal need for balance. It became a necessity for my recovery.
The symbol for Alcoholics Anonymous is a triangle inside of a circle. The three sides of the equilateral triangle represents unity, recovery and service– to a three part disease…physical, mental and spiritual; while the circle represents wholeness or oneness. It dawned on me that while I had put much work into my mental and spiritual wellness, I had never in my life given much attention to the physical aspect. I remember seeing a colorful flyer tacked to a board in my hallway at The Next Door, encouraging some of the women to train for the Heroes in Recovery 6k. At first, I was admittedly reluctant, but in keeping with the idea of changing EVERYTHING, I decided to make the commitment. For me, running ended up adding the one aspect I didn’t even know was missing from my life. It served as the absent link to my equilateral triangle. I went from never running a day in my life to running the 6k, and then on to continuing running as a vital part of my recovery. Running, to me, has become a time of a meditation and reflection and a time that is spent between myself and God; it is a special and personal time for which I would take nothing.
My life today is a life of happiness, joy and freedom. Through the gifts of recovery and symmetry in my life, I have been able to work a job that I love, obtain a place to call my own, play a healthy role in the lives of my children and work with other women like myself. Though it is a life-long journey and I have a long way to go, I am far from where I used to be. The shackles that once bruised my wrists and ankles have become to me, a symbol of freedom; freedom from myself. I no longer think of myself as a dead man walking, but a live girl running.
For the 2017 Heroes in Recovery race, I will be walking for my friend Brooke. I'll complete these 4 miles in her memory and in memory of the other two clients whose lives ended too early because they could not shake their addiction. Will you make a donation to The Next Door, through this race which gives women hope that they can overcome their addiction? When women walk through this "next door" to their recovery, we are honest with them and tell them that the disease of addiction is BIG, but our God is BIGGER!
Thanks for your support,
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