Hi. I’m 32 and have lived in Maine all my life. I’m in recovery, and I’m proud of that.
I had a wonderful childhood – my parents were generous and very loving. They took us to church every weekend, and my siblings and I certainly were well fed – growing up in an Italian family, Sunday sauce was as vital as oxygen.
But as I grew into my teenage years, I became an anxious kid and fretted a lot over seemingly simple things. But I received more than enough love and support at home to deal with these issues.
There’s no thorough way to explain how or why I became addicted to narcotics. I believe it can happen to anybody. The only variable with addiction, in my opinion, is its severity. Being mentally and physically dependent on opiates for five years made for an awful and complicated way to live. Opiates like heroin and oxycodone are almost like those toxic relationships that you simply can’t turn your back on. A dubious but magnetic attraction exists that makes you feel that leaving him, her or drugs would be catastrophic.
Without a doubt, the most prominent catalyst for my sobriety was my family. It took a few days of detoxing and meetings before I realized fully that they’d never left my side – and never would.
My cousin, also in recovery, took me under her wing and was the sole reason I made it to some of Greater Portland’s best 12-step meetings. I’ll never forget that. Thankfully – only by the true grace of God – I have never once looked back in five years. I live every single day one day at a time. As trite as that may sound, I wholeheartedly live by those words.
I still regularly deal with the guilt of hurting my loved ones, and that can turn into dark bouts of depression. Sometimes I even experience cravings. Thankfully, they’ve gotten much easier to deal with, and now usually manifest as fleeting thoughts as opposed to unyielding fixations. Knowing how easily those thoughts can become fixations, I choose to keep very busy, with fulfilling work, writing, playing music, watching true crime shows and old sitcoms, and kicking back with family and friends.
Last year, I decided to become certified as a peer recovery coach. I’ve always considered myself a good listener, and fortunately, so have my friends! My counselor at the time encouraged me to go for it, and I did. Deep down, I always felt I had a big black addiction mark on the history of my life. So I had an urge to extract positive energy and inspiration from that dangerous, ominous and very selfish time in my life.
Fast-forward a year, and I’m loving working as a peer recovery coach. At the end of every single workday, I acknowledge how grateful I am to be in this role. At the risk of sounding prosaic, it feels like life has come full circle. I went from being a very ill and lost soul to now having opportunities to help people who are looking for sobriety.