Get Help Now

(207) 679-5005

Bravery in a Small Town

Issue 25

Nicole’s story

This story was shared by a woman who took part in a moving community conversation in November about addiction and recovery that followed a screening of the film As We Are at the Kezar Falls Theater in the Maine town of Porter; population 1,600.

Most of the 100-plus people in the audience were from her hometown, and knew her well. Many knew her story, and had observed the devastation of her active addiction.

This was her first time speaking up publicly about her addiction and her recovery journey.

Her bravery provided an opening for other members in her town to share their stories, and the response proved again that one’s own visible recovery can heal communities.

Hello, my name is Nicole. I am a grateful recovering addict.

I really struggled with the decision to speak today, and I’m not great at public speaking, so please, bear with me.

It’s easy for me to speak at an anonymous meeting, where I’m surrounded by others who have an idea as to what I’ve been dealing with.

But, it’s a totally different situation to speak to the community I’ve spent most of my life in, and to shine a light on the darkest part of my past.

It’s very easy to judge addiction. To say it would never happen to you. I once thought the same thing.

However, addiction does not discriminate, and I was swallowed up by it before I even realized what was happening.

Many in my community know my story, the loss of my mother, father, and a number of close friends. My decline into addiction that my two children and younger brother had front-row seats to. And eventually, the custody loss of my kids.

I hit rock bottom in 2017, after my kids were taken from me.

All I wanted to do was curl up and die. I had done so much damage to my life and my family’s lives that I saw no future for myself. I saw absolutely no possibility of my life ever being OK again. The silence in my home without them was deafening, and the pain in my heart was torture.

I had known from around a week into using drugs that I wanted to stop.

I went to bed every night promising myself that tomorrow morning I would not use. The morning would roll around, and I would be required to function. But not using would make me sick, and I couldn’t be sick and function at the same time.

So the using would continue.

After my kids were removed, I sat in silence at my house and finally, I made a decision. The decision that I was going to get my kids back, and give them the lives they deserved. I knew what not having a mother is like, and I couldn’t do that to them.

I hadn’t been the mother my kids deserved for many years. I wanted to stop more than I had ever wanted to before. I was ready.

I reached out for help, started being honest, and started holding myself accountable for the wreckage of my past. I started attending anonymous program meetings six to seven days a week and did step work.

I learned what caused my addiction and how to prevent myself from using moving forward.

I was blessed to have the resources to provide me transportation to get help. I did counseling, classes, DBT {dialectical behavior} and CBT (cognitive behavioral} therapy and anything else I could find to figure out how to get myself back to the woman my kids deserved.

If someone told me in 2017 that I would be where I am today, I would have laughed in their face.

Now, I have custody of both my kids.

They are thriving, and I have wonderful relationships with both of them. I own a vehicle, and a mobile home. I run my own business where I am valued by everyone I work for and have a great reputation.

I have made amends for most of the damage I’ve caused. I am living a life that I could have never dreamed for while in active addiction.

It’s easy to judge an addict, and forget that they’re human and that they do have a story. It’s easy to judge an addict and say that they chose addiction, but I promise you most of us want nothing more than to stop. Especially in communities like ours, it’s easy to judge, and not consider the massive lack of local recovery options. I never could have gotten clean alone. But not many addicts have the ability to travel an hour each way, just to get the help they need.

Getting clean is not as simple as not using anymore. It’s an entire lifestyle and mindset change. I had to teach myself to be honest. I had to stay away from friends who I loved that were still in active addiction.

I finally had to learn to cope after numbing all my feelings for years. I had to grieve everyone I had lost all at once, and remember how to be the person they were proud of. I was blessed to have judgment-free support, unconditional love, and a grandmother who never gave up on me no matter the nonsense I pulled.

I did not wake up one day and decide it would be a great plan to develop an addiction and run my life into the ground. I just needed the pain to stop. I needed just a night without nightmares. I needed to just feel OK.

Addiction has definitely hit the valley hard in recent years, and this is, and always has been, a community that comes together in a crisis.

I’m not asking you to enable or co-sign an addict’s bad behavior.

I’m asking for compassion for people who never wanted their lives to become so unmanageable.

Like me, many addicts don’t see a possible future. They don’t see the possibility of their lives improving. They don’t feel redeemable, or like it’s possible to be forgiven for their past. I’m here to tell them, and all of you, that it IS possible.

It’s not easy at all, to say the least. It’s the absolute hardest thing I’ve had to do, and it’s a constant commitment that I have to make every single day. But, it is possible.

Judgment is what keeps addicts sick. Telling them and treating them like they are worthless just confirms what they already think about themselves. It doesn’t matter if you feel like addiction is a disease or a choice.

Either way, an addict is fighting a losing battle every moment of every day.

The compassion one person shows an addict, could be the compassion it takes to remind them that they are human and causes them to reach out for help.

I challenge you to lead with that compassion. To be the person handing someone suffering a glass of water. I am not proud of my past. But, I’m very proud of where I am today, and how hard I have fought to overcome the darkest days of my life and give my kids their mom back.

So, lead with kindness. Lend a hand.

And maybe, show compassion towards someone you never have before.

Related Articles


Join the movement to make recovery stories, resources and programs visible!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sponsored Content

Quick Links