We the people are what radiates change in this world. We do this by sharing our stories, and saying this is who I am today, and I am just like you.

My name is Tara Moseley and I am a person in long term Recovery. What that means to me is I have not used alcohol or any mood/mind altering substances since April 25th 2011.

Growing up, it was not my dream to end up homeless, alone, and hopeless. I had dreams, ambitions, and goals. I wanted to go to college and become an attorney.  I wanted to defend those who could not defend themselves. Which is exactly what I needed in the end. Alcohol was always present in my childhood. It was normal for my parents to have a few beers and play baseball or at some other sporting event. I did not see any consequences from this. I saw conviviality and companionship among friends and family.  I remember being a child and going to a small town city school and always being nervous and anxious. I was always on edge, very shy and timid. I didn’t have a lot of friends and felt like a social outcast. The day came at an early age that I discovered alcohol and it numbed all those fears and emotions. At the ripe age of 8 years old I took my first drink of alcohol. I remember the immediate tranquilizer that was injected into my soul. This was my solution, I thought. This would enable me to be the person that I had dreamed about. I was carefree and comfortable in my skin. I felt whole.

I could not see the damage I was causing to my family or myself. It was like I was wearing blinders and all I could see was the end result, the ease and comfort. Needless to say I was a troubled teen, ditching classes to go to a party or some other social gathering. I wanted to be accepted by my peers and I thought that alcohol was the tool to do it. Some how I made it into high school and I wanted to be better. I made good grades, participated in school activities, and was a peer tutor. However, the moment that the bell rang for the school day to be over, it was like I transformed into this other person. I began selling drugs and loving the attention it brought me. I felt powerful and worshipped in some fairytale land. I even had several different groups of friends just so my indiscretions were not discovered. I had completely disregarded the emotional and mental turmoil I was creating by putting up this façade to hide my identity. I had created this monster and wore these masks like a badge of honor. I didn’t realize the more I wore the masks the more I was losing myself. Some how I was able to successfully complete high school and graduate with honors and in the top percentile in my class with a 3.9 GPA. I had an academic scholarship that would pay for my tuition to any college. My idea was to go to a community college because it would be easy and I could hide.

I made it through two weeks of classes and just stopped going. My thinking at the time was I was making more money out in the street then in some classroom. So I left, and dealing with my poor decisions later did not even concern me. From that point on, it was an endless rabbit hole of shame, guilt, fear, pain, and loneliness. I lost friends because of drug addictions that tore in their lives just as it had done mine, and it took their life. People didn’t want me to come around because I would steal from them.  I couldn’t keep a job because I was not capable to show up everyday. No matter how much I tried, I could not get it together. My family didn’t trust me. I was alone, just me and my drugs. I ended up homeless and using heroin to ease the pain.  Soon, those drugs were no longer an acceptable means of curbing the appetite I had. I needed more. My addiction progressed from a mild pain medication to heroin in 8 months. Using was a necessity. The physical dependence was unbearable. Death was welcomed with open arms. I was like a slave under a powerful spell. I had complete disregard for my life. It was as if I would could accumulate chance after chance of  “close calls”. The last hospital stay I was not so lucky. I prayed for death, living was just to hard, and that is what happened. March 21st, 2011, I died in an ER floor, no one knew who I was or how I had arrived there. I guess it just wasn’t my time then. Although I stayed in the hospital for a while hooked up to tubes and strapped down to a table like an animal. I was ashamed.

It was like someone had removed the blinders and I saw the pain in my face and the darkness in my eyes. I was hollow.

When leaving the hospital I thought about my life and where it was leading and the road looked so bleak and empty. This was only more ammunition that fueled my using. I was depressed, scared, and could not understand how my life ended up this way. I had lost everything in life worthwhile. People were afraid to come around in fear of me. There was no taking it or leaving it alone. I just used. My solution, had become my biggest problem, and it was a threat not only to me but anyone who was around me. I can remember looking in the mirror and asking myself, “How did I get here?” Those words today still shake my soul, because that was the first day that I questioned my lifestyle. Prior to that moment, this was normal. To me, it was the everyday grind. This day there was something different. It was like for the first time in a very long time I could see who was looking back, and the image I saw was not who I had seen for so many years prior. It was like someone had removed the blinders and I saw the pain in my face and the darkness in my eyes. I was hollow.

I went to treatment because I had no other alternatives. There is a facility here that is a homeless shelter, with a treatment program. The best part, it was free. I was down on luck and had no money. The experience that I had there, was life-altering. It was as if for the first time, I was stepping out of the dark into the light. I found people that were just like me, once hopeless and driven by fear, were now strong and happy. I saw smiling faces when entering and wondered if I was in the right place.

After the entrance, there was a lot of work to be done. I went through a journey of self-discovery. Who is Tara and what does she like, not like, and what are her personality traits that had been pushed down deep in the pit of her stomach? There was so much freedom that came with knowing there were no wrong or right answers when it came to who I was. People encouraged me and told me that I could do anything I wanted or dreamed of.  So naturally I set my sights on going back to college. I was 23 years old when I had ended up in that homeless shelter. Never had I dreamed that I would make it back to that place, but I have.

I am now working on my Associate in Arts at a community college. I have a 3.3 GPA. It took a lot of work to get to that point, I started out with a 0.0 because of my carelessness in the past. My dream has altered some. I am currently studying Political Science. I still have plans of attending law school, but my interest has changed to advocacy, and government. What better way to help people then from the inside out.

There was so much freedom that came with knowing there were no wrong or right answers when it came to who I was.

I was managing a sober living house for women and I watched how their past continued to haunt them. It was irrelevant how much they had changed and grown into the people that they had become. Everyone saw that piece of paper…his or her so-called background check. I watched people struggle obtaining decent employment, and barely making ends meet. That was if they let them continue to stay employed.

I ran across the same issue when I was applying for a new job. The employer pulled out a piece of paper from my background check and asked me if I would like to tell him what happened. Keep in mind that I have 2 DUI’s, possession, and public intoxication’s (the list could go on). I looked him in the eye and said, “I am a person in recovery and that is who I was. I made a lot of mistakes in my past, but this is what I am doing now.”  I proceeded to tell him about college, and my life over the past almost 4 years. He did offer me the job and I accepted, which I am still amazed by. He told me because I was honest with him that he was willing to give me a chance.

One of the many fears I had when entering into recovery was that I would not have fun anymore. I could only identify “fun” with having alcohol present. What I have experienced in recovery is genuine fun. I have been skydiving, gone to dances, participated in marathons, and even was a competitor in an obstacle course. I joined a service committee for young people. They showed me how to have healthy fun, and that it was ok to make a fool out of myself and to be comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to show others what I had learned and experienced. This was how I was introduced to Young People in Recovery (YPR).

I am in college and that, in itself, is scary. However, the environment that comes with the college lifestyle can be intimidating. There are not a lot of resources in my community for young people in recovery and I asked YPR for assistance. I have been involved with them for only a few months, but I have been introduced to a colorful world because of them. I was amazed to find out about Recovery High Schools and Collegiate Recovery Programs. I embarked on a new generation of Recovery and I am introducing these resources in my community along with some other awesome chapter members (shout out YPR-Louisville, KY!). They have become my family and I have a bond with them that cannot be compared.

One gift that recovery has given me is it has allowed me to help people. I have helped over 100 people enroll into college. Just by showing them how I did it. I was able to help someone achieve their dream, or at least make a start. Today, I have a peace of mind that is unfathomable. I live by basic human principles that I stand on proudly, to be honest, caring, compassionate, and loving to others. Today I can look in the mirror and be proud of who is looking back.  I am employable, responsible, and accountable. People trust me, and value my opinion. I am respected, not because of fear or because I have a drug they want, but because of my character. One of my hopes is that one day, we will not be labeled as some sort of drain on society. But see addiction for what it is, a disorder. I know it is written in medical books, but do people really internalize it? Recovery has given me a voice, it has given all of us a voice. It is up to us if we choose to use it. Universities have only scratched the surface on substance-use disorders. If you don’t remember anything about what was written here please remember this, the change starts with us as a society. Ultimately, WE the people are what radiates change in this world. We do this by sharing our stories, and saying this is who I am today, and I am just like you.