Addiction is something I do not glamorize, it didn’t bring about any type of social glory, and in fact it was the opposite. At the end of my last run I was homeless, broken, and incarcerated. The last shred of my dignity was taken away with the fact that I would no longer be allowed to wear my own underwear, and instead would bear the brunt of the black and white striped pattern of the inmate jumpsuit. My gray converse sneakers were tattered, worn so thin from running. The soles were falling out and the tank top I had been arrested in was thoroughly stained. The pervasive grit tangled within the fiber of my being was now intruding on the fabric of my clothing.
Before my inevitable arrest I spent time seeking shelter anywhere I could. A reckless tour of abandoned buildings, sleeping in fields where I would listen to the mice scurrying past my head, to sleeping in my car with the interior saturated in vomit, blood and cold sweat from the withdrawal. I lost all concept of time; I was fading in and out of consciousness. My heart was in a constant state of stress, the muscle growing weary by the day, gridlocked in combat against clogging arteries. I was 19, and did not think I would make it to see age 20.
My name is Thérèse McHale and I am a young person, age 23, and I am in long term recovery. As of today I have 3 years, 9 months and 4 days without a drink or a drug, and one day at a time I work to create my own surroundings and live a life that is beyond my wildest dreams. I am no longer isolated from others and have a spiritual connection with a higher power. I do not mind disclosing the lonely depths of despair in which I have crawled out of. I want it known that it can be done. I am no longer only defined by my addiction and all those negative connotations that go along with it. I have a voice and the courage to use it. I no longer internalize the stigma that is so prevalent within society, and through my actions each day I work to counteract it.
It has taken time to build a life that I can be proud of. I used drugs and alcohol to escape my reality on a daily basis. In recovery I have shaped my life into something beautiful, better than I could have imagined. I have been given so many opportunities that I am truly grateful for, and I am so many things today I never thought I would be. I am a college student, I am an intern, I am a volunteer, I am an employee, I am a recovery advocate, I am helpful, I am free, I am whole, I am a spiritual warrior.