What I’m most proud of is how supportive my family has been during this process. I really wouldn’t be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for their love and support.

The disease of addiction affects so many different people in so many different ways. Some that are still caught in the grip of this crippling and fatal destruction that addiction causes, may never know that recovery exists.  We who do are truly blessed to have been given an opportunity at a second chance at life. My name is Heather and I am in early recovery. Since embracing recovery, my life has been nothing less than amazing.

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to the disease of addiction that can cause a lot of addicts to make it feel like recovery is not possible or worth it. One of the misconceptions is that using drugs is a choice and we should just be able to stop and live a “normal” life. My life wasn’t “normal” before I picked up drugs and it wasn’t due to my family life or how I was brought up. Everyone has struggles all throughout their lives and not everyone runs to a substance or behavior to cope with it. The disease of addiction is a mental illness, which was why prior to using drugs, I felt like an outsider and my thoughts I never wanted to speak out loud because I thought I was completely insane for the way I thought and how hard I felt my emotions, it’s like everything is maximized.

I’ve been called heartless, a disgrace to humanity, a disappointment throughout my life, and some of it I started to believe. I am here to share that I am anything but heartless. I feel sad when someone acts heartless and I get excited for others happiness. I love helping people and today I am grateful for the twists and turns my life has taken because I can relate to many different individuals and have empathy with their struggles. A disgrace to humanity I might have been when I was actively using, but today I’m a hard worker, my employer knows about my past and trusts me because I’ve proven my past doesn’t define me.

When I was actively using, my biggest fears were death and not living up to my potential. Yes, I had dreams and aspirations before I used, during, and now that I’ve set the drugs aside I can finally embrace my life. I feel like a lot of people believe that addicts just wake up one day and say, “yeah, becoming a drug addict sounds like a brilliant idea.” That’s certainly not how it goes, it progresses and before you’re even aware your life is being over taken. Death wasn’t my goal when I started using it was not feeling the feelings I didn’t want to feel, not realizing it was going to take away every feeling and I’d basically be a zombie. Today, I’m grateful for every feeling. I’m so blessed to just wake up every morning because death could have been my outcome.

I feel great empathy for the addicts that die from this disease and I sometimes question why I am so lucky? I also, get survivors guilt over the friends I have lost. I’ve come to accept that I can’t question or try to figure out why I’m still here. The only thing I can do is embrace life and live it to the best of my ability. Not just with success, but with showing love, compassion, and understanding to everyone in the world because we’re all struggling with one thing or another.

Recovery has given me so many blessings.

My destiny when I was using was death. Now, my destiny is to go to school, get a degree, and help others who struggle. I’m starting to have stability in my life in all areas as the recovery process goes on day by day. My goal is to be responsible enough to be fully self-supporting so, one day I can contribute to a healthy relationship and be able to have a family. So, far everything that I’ve expected my life to be like after putting down the substances has not happened. It has been better than I expected, so my destiny I put some thought into, but I’ve learned that as long as I keep doing the next right thing miracles happen.

What I’m most proud of is how supportive my family has been during this process. I really wouldn’t be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for their love and support. I’m proud that I’m finally becoming the person I thought I’d never become, but I believed I deserved to be. Recovery has given me self-worth and self-respect. I might not love myself everyday but, I realize showing myself respect on the days I feel low deepens the love I have for myself. I’m proud that today I can be an aunt and a positive role model. My nephews are my world and I’m so grateful that I stayed away when I was actively using, so their image of me isn’t tainted by seeing me under the influence.

I feel honored to be asked to join this project. I believe so much in life after using. Recovery has given me so many blessings. The opportunity to be asked to share my experience with others isn’t something to be taken with a grain of salt. I choose to be inspired, so I can be an inspiration to others. I really hope my story touches another’s heart either to know they’re worth recovery or for the non-addict who just wants to understand more about the disease of addiction.