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I was sitting in a laundromat parking lot, with a quarter tank of gas and 9 dollars. Everything was ending. My life was upside down, again, in the worst way. For the first time in my life, I faced true homelessness.
If I could have made myself disappear, shrank to the size of non-being in that moment, I would have done it. I just wanted to stop hurting. To stop running. To stop wondering if I was going to have a place to sleep that night or if my partner of three years was going to lock me out of the apartment we shared. 
This is the end of the story. I need to start at the beginning.
I lost my husband Jack, in 2010, to leukemia. There are no words to tell you about the deep blue hell of grief and loss that comes with watching the person you love most in the world get sick, suffer, and die. Everything I could try and write about that pain would probably sound cliché. Until you’ve experienced it, you don’t really know what kind of power that pain has. I lost my “person.” I lost myself, who I was when I was with him, which was an infinitely better person than who I was alone. 
About a year after Jack died, people started expecting me to “be better”. To go out, socialize, to be normal again. I started going to a little pub that had live music on Fridays and Saturdays after work. I was a CNA for 20 years. To ease my social awkwardness, I had a couple of drinks. I found that it eased the pain for a little while, so I drank more. After a few months, I was binge drinking 3 to 4 nights a week and making the 45-minute drive home, across the mountains, blackout drunk. I got a DUI, did the required first-time offender’s program and the counseling the court required of me, thinking it was a one time slip. I kept drinking, and I kept driving.
I moved to Florida four years after Jack’s death, thinking the sunshine and a fresh start somewhere new would do me good. I had the support of my best friend from college; a friendship that has sustained me for 20 plus years. Melanie convinced me that with her nearby I would have a family. I packed my car and my cat. I left behind a 4 bedroom home and everything in it and drove a thousand miles into the unknown.
I met a man and we dated and eventually moved in together. I was still binge drinking, and my partner was a functional alcoholic.
Somewhere in my flawed, grief-ravaged brain, I imagined we had bonded over the shared pain of our childhood abandonment and abuse. I saw beyond the dysfunction, into someone who had a heart and good intentions. I saw someone who understood what it meant to hurt the way I had. He had children from a previous relationship and I desperately wanted to be a mother and create the family life I had always wanted. Neither of us had healed from our previous losses and we were not healthy together.
I did everything I could to try and make it work,  sacrificing my own deeply held beliefs, my self-esteem and dangerously, and my self-agency. Even when the relationship turned abusive, I remained. Being on the end of abuse was familiar and my fear of abandonment so strong that I refused to leave. I was also worried about the fate of the children involved if I left.
Love is not enough to sustain a relationship when both partners operate in alcoholism. In the end, my partner became emotionally and financially involved with someone else, and the time came that he forced me to leave for good. No amount of tears or begging or fighting would make him let me stay.
After he left for work that morning, I locked the bedroom door and I swallowed approximately 25 Klonopin ( a benzodiazepine tranquilizer) and 15 muscle relaxers. I had been hysterically crying and hyperventilating for hours to the point of vomiting, so I took several anti-nausea pills to try and keep the meds I had swallowed in my system. God was with me and I vomited everything up. I lay there for a few hours. I tried calling my partner but got no reply. Too embarrassed to call my best friend, I waited for the dizziness and heavy-limbed feeling to lift enough to drive and took myself to the nearest mental health hospital and checked myself in.
I spent two weeks in treatment and was “stabilized”. Like most troubled people, I began to feel better in the structured environment of the hospital with counseling and medication. There was still drama with my now-ex partner, who did come to see me. On the one visit, he let me know that he and the woman he had been involved with were now a couple, and I was devastated. In my still twisted head, I wanted to go “home” to him and to the familiar environment.
I had been referred to Learn to Fish Recovery Center for Women and Children by the social worker in the hospital’s discharge planning department and was making plans to have my belongings moved out of my former home and into storage.
One of my fellow patients was kind, handsome and protective of me. Hospital romances are strictly forbidden, but we passed notes and spent long evenings sharing our histories and our hurts.
He said he “had a nice two bedroom apartment and why would I not consider moving in there, instead of going into a recovery home?” I could pay nominal rent, do the housekeeping and he would respect my need to heal and not enter into a relationship.  
It was during these last few days at the hospital that hurricane Irma passed through our area. Phone service and electricity were out all over town, and I could not reach the intake person at Learn to Fish. I used it as an excuse to leave with J*** when I was discharged from the hospital. It only took a week to become clear, in my bi-polar fog, that I had made a grave mistake. He was a raging, angry alcoholic. He was jealous, manipulative and violent.
I was still speaking to my ex and he was asking me to come home. I let him rescue me.
Less than 48 hours later I was sitting in the laundromat parking lot, lost, broke, destroyed emotionally, exhausted and homeless. My ex had changed his mind, and locked me out of the apartment, in favor of the new woman, who I later found out was pregnant.
 I called the outreach coordinator at Learn to Fish Recovery Center and prayed she still had a bed.
God was with me, as he had been, all along. 
20 months later; I have started on the long road to wellness. I’m sober. I’m mentally stable and on the correct medications. I have had and continue group and individual counseling. I am part of the 12 step fellowship. I graduated the Learn to Fish program and was invited to stay on as a graduate and to work for the house as the social media coordinator. I spread the message of recovery to others and let our community know about the work being done at the Learn to Fish Recovery Center. I am also house manager at our newly open transitional living center, the next phase for our program graduates.
I facilitate groups at the center in loss & grief, personal insight, dating & marriage, and Women for Sobriety. With the support of the staff and volunteers at Learn to Fish, I have found a family, a home, and I am learning the tools I need to move forward in my recovery. I know now that none of the pain that I have walked through has been wasted. I have found my calling. I want to continue my education, become a certified drug and alcohol abuse counselor and pour into other women who arrive at Learn to Fish the love, support and the many gifts I have been given. I have been redeemed.

Recovery is Always Possible- Laci’s Story


I was born on August 31st, 1990 at Greenville Memorial Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina. I am about 60% Cherokee Indian, & the rest is Irish. I am the only child between my Mom (Nannette AKA Nan) and Dad (Roger), But I do have an older Brother (Eric) & older sister (Elisha) with the same Mom as me, and they do share the same Father. My parents got married shortly after I was born and stayed together until the summer before my 4th birthday when my mom took my siblings & I in the middle of the night from the house we all lived in with my Dad to move down here to Bradenton, Florida with her new Boyfriend, Chris. Up until this point my dad & I were inseparable, so he was devastated & him & his side of my family looked for me and hired Private Investigators to look for me but I did not see them until I was 9 years old, Which I’m not sure if this was because I was found by or if my mom just finally decided to contact them, by this time I had already been calling and looking at Chris as my Dad and didn’t feel a connection with any of these people. So, therefore, the relationship with my real Dad has never really been existent.
My childhood was filled with all various kinds of abuse, mostly mental & emotional. My Mom & step-dad never showed any kind of love, my brother was physically abusive & I witnessed a lot of drug use and legal issues with both of my siblings starting at about 8 years old. My step-dad started sexually abusing me at age 9, but I didn’t tell anyone about it until years later. Shortly after the abuse started I started playing softball and chose to put my frustrations into but it eventually stopped working for me and I started drinking and smoking weed at about age 12. I got arrested for the first time in 7th Grade at Sugg Middle School for being drunk and bringing alcohol on school property. After that, I just chose to mainly smoke weed and made sure I kept everything off school property. My Mom from the very start has always said she was never meant to be a Mom and was the first one to describe herself as a “bad Mom”, So anything we wanted to do that meant being away from the house, she was all for. So, from the time I really started drinking and smoking weed I would stay at whoever’s friends house I was able to for whatever amount of time I could. During this time, it was mostly my two friends Jasmine & Gina. I preferred Jasmine’s house because her Dad was an addict and we could get away with anything we wanted to.
At 14 my siblings were both already out of the house and my Mom left my step-father, they soon divorced (this would end up being my Moms 4th divorce), and my Mom and I got an apartment with just me and her. I loved this time because I got one on one time with my Mom I had never experienced, and she became someone I would describe as a best friend. But, this was extremely short-lived, she ended up getting a new boyfriend very quickly and this new boyfriend didn’t like me at all and she was completely on his side for everything, even when he would get drunk and hit me. So, where I had gotten used to and loved having one on one time with my Mom for a few months, it was all pulled out from under me and I went back to being gone from the house, mostly with Jasmine, and therefore back to using and drinking as much as possible. At this point, I was 15 years old and had moved on from just drinking and smoking weed to experimenting with mostly Cocaine and Xanax.
When I turned 16 I got a job right away at Royal Palm 20 movie theaters, So I could get away from the house because I hated my Moms boyfriend and hated seeing the person she had become while with him, Also I wanted to have my own money to buy more drugs & whatever else I wanted, and start saving for a car. This job this where I met my first real boyfriend, Jay, and my best friend, Deann. Jays older brother, Donald was addicted to opiates at the time and one-night asked Jay & I to babysit for him, he did not have any money to pay us with but had Lortabs instead. Having already experimented with almost everything else, I never even thought twice about it, we gladly accepted. From the first moment I felt the high of the pills, I felt a like a void was filled within me, and even told Jay that if Doctors gave everyone in the world a prescription for these pills that the world would be a better, happier place. Soon after this time, Donald’s addiction had progressed from Lortabs to Roxys and therefore so did Jay and I’s addiction. Not long after we started the Roxy’s Donald told us that he wouldn’t pay us in the Roxy’s anymore because we weren’t snorting them and were wasting them, So Jay and I started snorting them. This lasted for about 4 months off and on until Jay and I were fighting so much unless we were high, I lost my job at the movie theater and the guilt from using as much as I was (I felt I knew better from having seen my brother and sister go through Heroin and other addictions in my early teens) that I ended up leaving Jay. By this time my Mom was single once again and we had our own apartment again, I was always at Jay’s, Deann’s, Jasmine’s or Gina’s house, but since my mom was now single again she was constantly calling me telling me to come home to her because she missed me and wanted to see me. I was done with Jay and the guilt had become so great that I finally decided to quit the hard stuff (stick to just weed) and go back home.
Everything was good for a few months, I got a job at K-Mart, ended up saving enough to buy my first vehicle (a Jeep Grand Cherokee) and my mom and I were best friends again. Then my mom got a new boyfriend, and everything went downhill again. She stopped caring when I would come home, and even when I was home she was never there. While working at K-Mart I met a boy named DJ and even though up to this point I was always a very independent and not boy crazy person who prided myself on being the “I don’t need a man, I don’t want kids, but if I ever decide I WANT these things it will be on MY terms and no one else’s” I did love Jay and have loved other men along the way, I have never been in love with anyone the way I was with DJ. He has always been different to me. From the first time I saw him I knew I felt different about him but still being the “not relationship” type girl, I invited him to a party, just as a friend, at my mom & I’s apartment, because at this point she had pretty much already moved in with her new boyfriend and was home maybe once a week and Deann & I had pretty much just made the apartment ours; Throwing parties every night, growing weed on the back porch, house filled with any and every drug you could want or ask for. At that party, DJ did start talking to each other but we weren’t dating, it was more of a friend with benefits, just another guy I was close with that came to mine and Deann’s parties, but I knew in my heart I felt different about him. After about a month of DJ & I (Deann was always there too) spending all day every day together, DJ and I did start dating. Right about this time, things started falling apart very quickly. Even though my Mom was only home about one night a week at most, she was starting to catch on to all of the parties and craziness happening at the apartment, I was kicked out of High School for missing too many days and DJ’s Mom wouldn’t let him hang out with us anymore because he was never coming home and missing school, which led to actual fist fights between Deann, Me & His mom a few times while trying to sneak him out of his house.
It finally all fell out from under me right before my 17th Birthday, my mom had decided that she wanted to move into her new boyfriend’s house, that I couldn’t come and was told that the rent for the apartment was paid for through November and I had to figure it out on my own after then, this was in August. At the same time, DJ’s Mom had decided that she wasn’t going to let him stay in the area anymore and moved him away from me, I never even knew exactly what happened to him or got to say goodbye, he was just gone. I felt incredibly abandoned by everyone around me. Deann and I stayed in the apartment until November, doing the same thing we had already done, but now I was alone, scared and heartbroken so I had developed a serious drinking, cocaine and Xanax habit. But I would do anything that anyone brought to one of our parties and put in front of me. We maintained the illusion in our minds that we would just start paying the rent when it ran out (which was never going to happen) but I was told at the end of October by my Mother that not only was the rent running out in November but the apartment building we lived in was being sold and made into Condos so I would not be able to stay either way, and she would be taking my Jeep from me. November came, and I had nowhere to go, I couch surfed, staying mostly with Deann until right before Christmas when we took a bunch of Xanax and robbed cars 2 nights in a row, the second night we were caught, I was taken down by a police K9, Deann was sent straight to JDC and I was sent to the hospital to get stitches. My mom showed up and I cried to her to take me back in and that I would straighten up my life, what she didn’t know was that I had just also been told I was pregnant, by DJ, who I hadn’t talked to in a few months and had no idea where he was or how to get ahold of him. The hospital and JDC told her they could either release me and I would be under her responsibility or I could go back to JDC. She, for some reason, agreed and let me come home with her, against her boyfriend’s will. That very same night I tried to sneak on the computer to find SOME WAY to find DJ and tell him I was pregnant by him but was caught on the computer by her boyfriend and asked to leave, I was back on the streets. This was a violation of my release and was picked back up within a few days and had to serve 21 days in JDC. Because I was 17 years old and not a ward of the state, my mother had no choice but to pick me up when they released me, I was so happy, I thought for sure she knows that I have changed during this time, I’ll tell her I’m pregnant and we can start all over again. But, this was not the case, she picked me up from JDC and dropped me right off at the bus station to go live with my Grandmother in Cherokee, NC. I was heartbroken and furious, I never even told her I was pregnant.
I only stayed in Cherokee for a few months but during this time I gave birth to and gave up for adoption a 7lb 6oz baby boy I named Daniel James (I wanted another DJ) I did not put a father on the birth certificate and told the adoptive family I did not know who the father was, and the adoption is a closed one, so I do not know where my son is. I stayed up in Cherokee partying with all the Indians afterward for a month or so, which ended up to this day still being my favorite place I lived, it’s just not a place to many people get the opportunity to experience unless you’re a full blood Cherokee and have lived on the reservation your whole life. One night one of the Indians I was hanging out with tried to rape me, with this incident and the adoption and just missing my friends, mostly Deann, I figured out a way back down here to Bradenton. When I got home I couch surfed again, this time it was mostly with Deann because she didn’t really live at home anymore either. One day after being up on cocaine for a few days and suddenly not having any, I came down hard and got really depressed. It was a couple of months before my 18th birthday and I decided I wanted to try one more time, while my mom was still legally obligated to take care of me, to go back home to my mom. So, I called the cops and told them that I was underage and my mom wouldn’t take care of me and asked them to take me back home, when we got there she told them that she wanted nothing to do with me and to take me to a shelter, from the shelter I was accepted into a program called Transitional Living Program in Sarasota. I did amazing in this program, I started NA for the first time, got my GED, started school for a Legal Admin Assistant, got my jeep back from my Mom and was working for Bath & Body Works. The beginning of the end for me around this time was I started dating a guy, David, I hung out with when I was 16 (he was 24 when I was 16) and hanging out with Jasmine again, I didn’t start doing hard drugs, but they were around me and I ended up relapsing on alcohol. I still maintained everything, even when David called me and told me that he and Jasmine were in love with each other and were married 2 weeks later. But the breaking point for me was when everyone at TLP was sat down and told they had lost funding for the program and we all had 30 days to figure out somewhere to go. Within that 30 days I was living with an old using friend, Trisha, using Roxy’s and Xanax every day, had lost my job, stopped going to school and got arrested twice, once for a battery, and the second time I had my first felony at 18 years old, I was arrested for petit theft and Possession of a Controlled Substance. While out on bond for these charges I caught a Dealing in Stolen property and defrauding a pawnbroker back here in Manatee County. So, between the 2 counties, I was in jail for 6 months and had 18 months’ probation out of Manatee. I ended up violating for a dirty drug test a few times, mostly for opiates and going to Bridges of America in Polk County at 19 years old. This is a DOC ran rehab that holds up to 72 women at one time, it is a 6-8 Month program.
After about 3 months you can start working and this I ended up getting a job at a Wendy’s in Lakeland, which is where I met my soon to be boyfriend (another David) of 6 years. There was a male work release center nearby he had just gotten out of for having just completed a 3 year sentence for trafficking, but he was doing good at the time, was clean, had his own place and said if I wanted to stay in the area and move in with him when I got out, I could, and I accepted. I got out of the bridge, moved in with him and we officially started dating all on the same day, January 3rd, 2011. We stayed clean for about 2 months before we decided to get high on what was both of our drugs of choice, Roxy’s. This was the beginning of the worst and longest relapse of my life, once I and he started together, we never stopped, and it obviously only got progressively worse. We stayed in Lakeland until about November of 2011 when I lost my job at Wendy’s and he was originally from Tampa, so we moved back there where he had a job offer with a Towing Company, and in with his mom. After about 2-3 years of moving all around, changing jobs and getting high on still just Roxy’s, we couldn’t find them one day, but someone said they could get D’s, but you had to shoot them. David was completely against this, having lost his father to a Heroin overdose when he was 17 and never had shot up, but I had shot up a few times in the past and it always stayed in the back of my mind, so I constantly wondered why D’s had to be shot and wanted to try it and finally when David was at work one night I ended up alone with a friend that shot up, had new rigs, and we had D’s. I asked her to hit me and she did. I was hooked. It didn’t take long for David to catch on to something, I was suddenly getting higher on same amounts that normally didn’t do much, I had marks randomly on my arms and I was wanting to hang out with people that he knew shot up. But he had told me that if he ever caught me shooting up he would leave me, so I kept denying it, even when I knew it was obvious. Finally, one day he looked at me and said, “Where are your rigs, I want to try it.” I thought this was a set up, I thought he was trying to catch me off guard and get me to admit to it, plus I didn’t want to be the reason he started shooting up, but when I was finally convinced he really did want to try it and wasn’t just trying to catch me in something, I told myself I shouldn’t feel bad about shooting him up for his first time because I needed help for my first couple times and wouldn’t have wanted someone to tell me, no, so I did it for him and from that point on we only did D’s and we only shot them up. This lasted for about a year until one of our D connections mentioned to us that she was just selling her D’s and buying Heroin with her money because it was cheaper, better, and lasted longer. We were already shooting anyway so why not save money and get a better high, so we tried it. Just like everything else up to this point, we were hooked. But the difference this time was behind closed doors we were complete junkies, David was able to still maintain his towing job, somehow, which was enough for us to pay for our crappy, bed-bug infested motel every week (the Royal Palm Inn in New Port Richey which is right outside of Tampa). But I was completely unable to hold down a job, so I stayed home and sold crack out of our hotel room, which is how we maintained our day to day habit. But then we started shooting crack as well, and what I haven’t mentioned about David is that he has been completely head over hills in love with me since day one, never tells me, no, does what I say, and I know would never, ever leave me. But I was never in love with him the way he was me, he was the best friend I’ve ever had in my life. But I made a promise to myself long ago that I would never let myself fall again, and I could never let myself be in love with him, no matter how much I loved him. But he was an amazing, hard-working man, who laid his life and freedom on the line multiple times to keep me happy. He even was the first person in the world I told my biggest secret to, which was the sexual abuse that happened when I was a child, up to this point I hadn’t told a soul. I told David when I was 21 years old, after being with him for about a year. At about 22-23 I finally told my Mom, Which is the exact moment I found out that not only had it been happening to my Sister, but starting at about age 12 her and him had been having a “relationship” and not only did she find out about it (like literally walk in on them) but that all she did about it was send him to a 2 week “rehab” and then let him come right back. This is one of the biggest, hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with in my life, because 1) if she wouldn’t have let him come back he would have never been able to do those things to me and 2) I felt like if she knew he had done these things to my sister, then why wouldn’t you at least mention it to or ask the other little girl in the house if it was happening to her as well. But, anyway, David and I, back in Tampa at this point, had progressed in our addiction so far by this point that we were robbing houses, pawning stolen items, and selling drugs daily, even with David being on probation. During this time on October 29th, 2016 Jasmine died of an overdose and she was the closest person to me I ever lost so it just pushed me further into addiction and gave me another reason to use.
On January 12th, 2017, after being watched and followed for a few weeks, David and I were pulled over and arrested. I was arrested for Dealing and Stolen Property and Defrauding a Pawn Broker for the 2nd time in my life and David was arrested for 2 counts of the same and a few burglaries. David was given 2 years in prison, he is set to get out somewhere around September of this year. I received 90 days in the Hillsborough County Falkenburg Rd Jail. This is where I met my ex-girlfriend Dalys, I got out of jail before she did (and started using the night I got out), she had about a month and a half longer to go after I got out, but I stayed in contact with her the whole time and she came to live with me when she got out. She made her money before jail by working back page (prostituting), I was already using this whole time and she started using the night she got out as well so I had her “show me” what working back page was all about, and literally the second day she was out we each had ad’s on back page and had one together, I hated what I was doing but I loved the amount of money and drugs it brought and how easy it was. Dalys and I had a very crazy relationship though, we would get high together (especially on meth, which I had just started using when I got out of jail, so it was a new high to me still) and fight almost every night. We were trespassed from 5 hotels in 8 days because of our yelling, fighting, drug use, or otherwise just being annoying and drawing attention our way at every hotel. At the end of the 8 days Days got arrested for stealing from a mutual friend of ours and by this point, I was addicted to the easy money and drugs that backpage brought so I didn’t stop working backpage on my own. I just worked backpage and got high all day every day, doing about $150-$200 of heroin and about $50-$100 worth of Meth every day. I could work back page and bring my drug dealers to my house, so I very rarely even walked out of my room, I was extremely isolated.
I lived this way until September 2017 when DJ got in contact with me again and I had him come to my house to see me, the plan was for a couple of days but neither of us wanted him to leave, so he stayed. I was able to hide my prostitution from him for about 2 days until he started questioning why I was leaving the room to go to the back room and coming back with money. I did tell him the truth expecting him to leave right away, but he told me he would stay on 2 conditions, I didn’t sleep with the guys anymore (we had to set them up and rob them, and we would go get help within the next 2 weeks). I agreed but never planned to get help, I didn’t want to be clean but I didn’t want to lose DJ again, and in October he finally told me either we both went to detox or he would leave me and go by himself, so we called his Mom to come to get us and I went into Centerstone detox for 5 days, and he went into First step for 4. We stayed out for about a week together, using again and robbing johns until Centerstone called us both on the same day and said they had beds for us. So, on October 15th, 2017 we went into Centerstone’s 28-day program. Where I found out I was pregnant by him again. After about 3 weeks I was kicked out of Centerstone for having tobacco product’s and DJ left the program voluntarily with me. We talked to a friend of mine in Utah and had plans to move there to live with her but couldn’t leave for 3 days, so we stayed in the Michiana on 14th Street and smoked crack the entire time. On the 3rd day we both got on a bus for Utah, and the whole 3-day ride there we promised each other we were really done and never wanted to use again because I was still pregnant and wanted to do things right. We got to my friend’s in Utah, both got jobs and stayed clean for a few weeks, but the end of November/beginning of December I found out I had a miscarriage and we both relapsed, but this time was different, even though DJ was using with me again this time, I could tell he really didn’t want to be doing it and talked to me about quitting every time we would get high. But I felt a lot of guilt and grief over losing the baby that I didn’t know how to talk to him about that I was completely off to the races, just as I was before going to rehab, using heroin daily, meth and crack almost daily. DJ would do the heroin with me but rarely touched the meth and crack.
In December I got 3 abscesses, cellulitis on my hand, and a staph and strep infection in my blood and was hospitalized for over a week on IV antibiotics and had to have surgery on 2 of my abscesses, I used the whole time I was in the hospital, even with these infections, shooting up into my IV multiple times a day. I even used before going under anesthesia and told them I was in more pain than I was when I woke up from surgery, so I would get fentanyl. They sent me home on a PICC line and I used the whole time shooting up into my PICC line, getting it infected and ending up back in the hospital with a blood infection. I used the whole time in the hospital again. When I got out of the hospital DJ had had enough of my insanity and told me if I didn’t stop using he would leave me, but I was too far in and didn’t believe him, so I left him and went to my dealer’s house. I got a call from my roommate later that night saying that DJ has just gotten a bus ticket back home to New York paid for by his ex and he would be leaving in 2 days and living with his ex when he got there, and that he had told her and my mom everything that had happened, he wanted nothing to do with me and I was being kicked out of the house as well. I couldn’t figure out a way home, because of everything in my past and everyone finding out the things I had done. So, I ended up living with my dealer, all day every day, mostly just to numb the heartbreak of losing DJ because of my choices, and drugs. After 2 weeks I finally got a plane ticket home, thinking I would be living with Gina when I got here. When I got to her house I was told that was not the case and starting prostituting and using as much as possible for about 2-3 days, finally on Valentine’s day I had enough and tried to kill myself by taking about 150 pills and slitting my wrists, I didn’t wake up for 36 hours and my pulse wouldn’t go above about 45, I almost died. When I woke up, I have no idea why or what it was but the desire to use was completely gone, I was sent to a baker act facility in Tampa, calling every program I could, but I knew about LTF from Paige and a few other friends. I talked to Heather and got accepted and called her every day until they finally released me on February 23rd and came here that day.
Since being in the program I have gained so much, but most importantly I have gained my self-worth back, I know now that I’m not the things I’ve done and AM more than just a junkie. I have a sponsor, a home group, I do service commitments and work the steps. I am working a job that I love, and they love me, I have a relationship with my mom again who I can tell is proud of me, which means more to me than I could ever put into words. I have goals today, I want to be the woman that goes out on the streets and walks up to these girls and hands them a bag of necessities with my number and tells them to call me when they’re ready to go to detox or a meeting. I want to share my story with these girls, so they know they’re not alone and no matter how far down the rabbit hole they may have gone they can always make it back out, recovery is always possible. Today, I’m not being so hard on myself and just doing the next right thing, One day at a time.

A day of worship, A day of thanks, A day of rest

We started church early this morning. 10 sleepy headed women loaded up the affectionately named “druggie buggy” our long, gray, industrial looking van, and headed out.
I have to admit; I am not a morning person. Meaning, mostly don’t, don’t breathe in my direction until noon. This morning, and in the past several days, I have been waking up several times during the night and also very early due to a nasty side effect of a new medication. So, since God woke me up at 7 a.m., I figured, I might as well get ready for church. I hadn’t planned on going today. I have been a grumpy Gus all week. I really didn’t want to socialize. I thought today would be a perfect opportunity for youtube services.
God had other plans.  There was a comfy blue sofa to sit on, instead of a hard pew.  The Praise band was lively and tuneful. There were strawberries & pineapple to eat, with fresh juice to drink. But, most of all, people welcomed the Learn to Fish Recovery Center ladies with bright faces and smiles and open arms. The service was lovely. The pastor was FEMALE! (Still exhilarating to me, a girl who has grown up in the rural and very conservative south).
This grumpy, crusty, recovering night person worshiped with a church FAMILY. The family of Christ. And was thankful. For the musicality. For the comfy sofa. For breakfast. For the “Girl Preacher”. Most importantly, a change of heart and attitude, a thankfulness in Christ and in others, and a day to rest in the love and family of the Learn to Fish ladies and the family of Jesus.
May you all have a blessed Sunday.

Swimming Upstream

 March 2017
Hi! Welcome to Learn to Fish recovery center.
It’s Saturday afternoon. It’s St. Patrick’s Day. Most of the girls are in the living room watching videos on YouTube. Gospel music, hairdo tutorials, some rock and roll, some cooking stuff. Some are reading or doing step work. Some are napping. I’m sitting here, hunting and pecking at the keys on this computer, wondering if the thoughts in the head of a 45-year-old recovering woman widow, alcoholic, addict, abuse survivor of everything life can send somebody might interest you.
I’m the “war correspondent” from Learn to Fish Recovery Center. My name is Jen. I came here six months ago. In the middle of a hurricane. Because I had nowhere else to go. I had hit my rock bottom, again. Two weeks prior, my boyfriend of 3 years had ended our relationship (it had been coming to that) told me to pack my stuff, and go. I had a quarter of a tank of gas and $9. I couldn’t handle those circumstances. I waited until he left for work. I swallowed 50 benzodiazepines, 30 muscle relaxers and added some anti-nausea meds, in hopes of keeping them all down, and lay there in hopes of not waking up. I didn’t so much want to die, as just not want to continue to live. Fifteen minutes later, I vomited them all up. I slept for an hour and a half, called the hospital, and checked my self in.
Three weeks later, a young woman named Heather met me in the parking lot of Learn to Fish Recovery Center (LTFRC). She helped me carry in my 10 outfits and 1 pair of shoes. My shower gel and my sharpie markers, my glue stick, and scissors. Hey! Some chicks have priorities. I’m told I’m the only girl known to bring office supplies to rehab. A group of 12 ladies took me in and made me their friend, and later, their sister and their leader and speaker.