We have been given a second chance at life and are ready to give you all we’ve got and help other people.

My name is Hillary Belk and I am a grateful woman in long-term recovery. For me this means I have not drank or used drugs since July 10, 2008. It took a lot of experience to get me to where I am at today. I want to take the time to share with you my recovery journey.

I can begin by saying I come from an Irish Catholic family where drinking is tradition and incorporated into every function we had. It was a channel to carry on in laughter and cheer. We would listen to music, sing, dance, and dine. We had so much fun growing up with a huge family. I love it to this day. So needless to say when I began showing signs of dependency I was very reluctant to accept this truth.

My behavior in the summer of 2000 was bad enough for my parents to put me into an intensive outpatient treatment. I tried to get sober at the age of 18 years old. It was a short-lived experience. I had a great 29 days sober. It was that next day that I had to drink at my best friend’s birthday party.  

Shortly after, I went back to drinking and I woke up in the ICU after a near death experience. I had black and blue marks up my arms. I felt like I had literally died. I got home and put on running shoes and hit the tracks and ran for hours. I did not know what to do. Now, I just explained to you that this stuff had me nearly gone forever, yet, something within felt like it would be okay to pick it back up? This does not make sense, but yes addiction is very deceptive. It can trick you into thinking it does not consume you when the proof is written in the occurrences.

I tried to get sober again at age 25 years old. On the 29th day it was my buddies 30th birthday in 2007. The patterns picked back up fairly quickly. All of this ran through my brain instead of the hard facts. I would miss out if I did not drink anymore. I also got this feeling like my life would be over because most “fun” things I did in my life consisted of having alcohol/drugs there. It was the deciding factor for most of my participation in anything. I didn’t want to lose my friends. Thinking about family time and traditions without alcohol was tough. Fear kept me from making the best choice for me!

In the summer of 2008, my fate had brought me to a gift of desperation. It was in that window of willingness I chose to change my life. I no longer wanted to feel a void. I wanted to learn to love myself and not my addiction. I had a moment of clarity flood my brain overriding all the fear. The fight within me needed to see the truth! The reality was this stuff made me unhappy. It had caused my family to worry about me for years. Making them sick too. The bad had definitely outweighed the good. I didn’t look good and I was unhealthy. I was not able to be in any healthy intimate relationships. It is poison and it was making me more sick.

I attended another intensive outpatient program and successfully did it sober. It was the best experience for me. I will never forget how wonderful I felt going to group and sharing the truth about myself. I wanted change so I did not hold back.

I have been able to do a lot in recovery. I stay sober through the 12-step model. I support all pathways to recovery. I have been very fortunate to meet people in recovery from all types of addictions. I chose to get involved nationally through my recovery. When I speak out about it I always focus my attention on the solution and not on the problem.

I took all that power toward using that next drink or drug and I redirected every bit of the energy at the solution.

I obtained both my two year and four year degree. I was able to help create the first Collegiate Recovery Community in North Carolina while being the first graduate from the program. I got to rappel down the side of the W hotel in Hollywood California, by raising money for recovery. I have been able to help so many people by using the misfortunate things that have happened to me to give them strength and courage in their capabilities. I have received awards and have been recognized through my involvement.

I am now a Lead Advocate for Heroes in Recovery, which focuses on breaking the stigma of addiction and turning the recovery story into a heroic journey. I along with my dear friend Chelsea Schmidt am a chapter lead for Young People in Recovery-Charlotte, NC. We focus on advocacy, job opportunities, housing, and education for those in and seeking recovery. We also welcome all supporters of recovery to join us. My passion is in helping people and I have been very grateful to be part of the Hope Homes staff for the past half year. I am a live in, Life Skills Counselor for Sober Living at the Charlotte’s Women’s community.

I can’t put into words the feelings I have about the transition that has happened in my life. I took all that power toward using that next drink or drug and I redirected every bit of the energy at the solution. I have developed such a cool pathway for a spiritual life. I came up with my own idea of divine love and for me that is God. I support anyone’s spirituality as well. I love being able to live my passion; I will always help people that do not believe help is available for them. I will also continue to share anything I have learned through my life experience in the hopes of it reaching the ears of someone that needs to know they are not alone.

My goal is to smash the misconceptions associated with making the decision to stop using alcohol and drugs. It has given me the life I used to talk about during my using days, but way better than I ever imagined it. I see miracles happen to all the people around me and in my life as well. It is a shift in perception. It is vital to see it as an opportunity to get different results than the same old let downs.

Having people give me a chance has been the most powerful thing. Along my journey, since others believed in me, I found confidence in myself. We have been given a second chance at life and are ready to give you all we've got and help other people. It would only make sense to aide us into positions where we can excel.  

My family, friends, and like-minded individuals give me the ultimate support. God is with me every step of the way. I love being a mentor, counselor, sponsor, and a woman in recovery. I am grateful to be in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction! It is my biggest asset. It allows me to go above and beyond to make up for all the time I was irresponsible and just thinking about myself. Once I gave it a shot, I have been awe-struck ever since. Asking for help and not being ashamed of my innermost truth has allowed me to find freedom.