My name is Windia Rodriguez, and I am a recovering addict. I have been on this recovery journey since October 9, 2011.
I was born and raised in Boston in a two-parent household and benefited from a great educational system, but despite these positive influences I still was affected by this disease of addiction. I remember the first time I used a mind-altering drug, and I felt like I found the solution to all my problems. I felt on top of the world. Eventually, the occasional drug use would lead to a full blown active addiction.
Although I had three beautiful, healthy children, I still was actively using. I wasn’t able to see how I was affecting their lives, let alone my own. I was still able to keep a roof over their heads, food in the fridge and clothes on their back, but I mistakenly believed this was all it took to be a good mother. When in reality I neglected them in many other ways.
My biggest fear was having my family and friends discover that I was an addict. I had always tried to maintain a false image, as if I had everything together. However, inside I was struggling with immense anxiety, depression and fear. I wasn’t able to see a way out. I had given up on myself. Eventually, the image I worked so hard to maintain revealed itself to be a lie. I did receive a lot of support from those that hoped for my recovery, but I also experienced judgment from others. Those that judged weren’t understanding of this disease. I heard things like “why don’t you just stop?” “What’s wrong with you?” “No one else in the family does that stuff.” I eventually grew tired of hearing this and I finally decided to do something about it. I started what I called “spiteful recovery.”
I attended IOP (intensive outpatient) groups for the first 3 months and something clicked. I was not a hopeless addict! I began to truly take in what I was learning in these groups. I discovered the power of calling another recovering addict in the middle of the night instead of a drug dealer. As I continued to gain clarity, I realized that I didn’t have to remain an addict and the possibilities on the road of recovery were endless. After the IOP groups ended, I began to attend a women’s recovery group and a fellowship of recovering addicts that were just like me. We all came from different backgrounds and many of us used different substances, but we all shared the same pain around active addiction. The more I attended these recovery meetings, the stronger I became in my resolve to stay clean and sober.
After staying clean for 6 months, I became close to a woman that was able to guide me along in my recovery. I still rely on this woman for weekly spiritual meetups. For the first time in my life I began to truly trust another individual with my thoughts, feelings and emotions. This woman is my lifeline when I feel like I’m drowning. I didn’t know it was possible to be close to someone and trust them enough to accept their help.
During this point, I was able to find healthy coping skills in place of the drugs and alcohol, which was a possibility I never knew existed. I had believed everyone used some sort of substance in order to relax, and now I was one of “those” people that didn’t use any substance to deal with life’s hardships. One positive tool that I found helpful to my recovery journey was meditation. I am by no means an expert on meditation, but I know that it has been a gift to my recovery. When I experience feelings and emotions that are overwhelming, I meditate and bring myself back to a calmer state.
I was most proud of my one year sober anniversary because I had succeeded in being drug-free for such a long period of time. The support that I received was amazing. I also realized during my first year of sobriety that I wanted to help other addicts recover. I applied for a job at a recovery support center which was not in the field that I was accustomed to working in, but I took a chance because recovery had given me the faith that my creator would always work things out for me.
I have been working for STEPRox Recovery Support Center in Boston for over two years, and it has been where I have grown the most. I work with people in recovery who have introduced me to their own unique paths to sobriety, and now I feel I have gained a very full toolbox. I work with those who have substantial recovery time, and I also work with people who are just starting their recovery. Many of the members of our support center come in and seek help from me, but they are also helping me in ways they don’t realize. The best part of my job is the feeling of giving back to my community and watching others blossom while I do just the same.
Oftentimes, I will have to deal with heavy issues that are present at the center and also in my own personal life. I have had to experience addicts passing away, personal financial issues and the death of my wonderful grandfather, but I have made it through without abusing drugs. These days, I am still amazed at what my life has become and I know this is only the beginning. My children look up to me, my parents trust me, and people actually rely on me. I am no longer fearful of the future or ashamed of my past. I truly live in the present moment. Recovery is so wonderful that I want to shout it from the tallest building in Boston! I AM NOT ANONYMOUS! I AM PROUD TO BE A WOMAN IN RECOVERY!