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Submitted by: Amy Cooper
I think part of my strength comes from a promise that I made on the day that I was thinking about ending my life. Now, I have (the Bible quote) Jeremiah 29:11 tattooed on my back: “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and give you a future.” Of course, this did not include taking my life so I promised to spend the rest of my life telling people what He, God, did for me. So, here I am today.
I now work in a treatment center in Florida and before this I worked for eight and a half years at a church counseling center where I was able to share my story. That is a pretty amazing thing that God did for me.
“Hurting people hurt people” is a term that really resonates with me. In my addiction, I just hurt other people. To turn that around, God has put me in a place where I get to love people and I get to teach people what I’ve learned.
I get to see people transform from people who acted the way I did before to the person that I am today. I really enjoy that journey and I enjoy getting to see the change and transformation.
While I was in my addiction, I put on so many masks for so many people because I tried to be who they wanted me to be. I was tough when I needed to be tough, I was loving when I need to be loving. My grandfather was a Baptist pastor so I had to sing in church and be that person for him. I wasn’t a bad person; I was just a people pleaser.
I know that there’s always people that have been through more than me. My first childhood memory was of being molested by an uncle—being raped was my first memory. My father was in the military and I had daddy issues. I tried to get men to love me anyway that I could and didn’t care and I would do whatever to keep them.
My drugs of choice were alcohol and marijuana. You know, everywhere you go that alcohol is present. Although God has relieved me of the obsession, it’s still there; it’s still everywhere. I will get a patient in for detox and can smell the alcohol and it’s weirdest thing– sometimes it just shoots back all these memories in my mind. That’s when I have to take a step back and pause (like they teach you in the rooms) and remind myself that those substances were all just distractions that cost me my life and that that is not somewhere I want to go.
My belief is that we have an enemy, whether it be the disease or whatever you believe it may be. There is an enemy out to destroy us and I have to remind myself that my enemy (addiction) is always there. This is a constant battle with the constant fight every day for the rest of my life.
It doesn’t matter what you struggle with, there will be a fight. Don’t forget that the beauty of all this is that there is a solution!
I have a 18-year-old daughter who just shared with me the other day that I’ve shown her over the past twelve years that it’s ok to be single. She hasn’t felt the need to have a boyfriend because I’ve shown her that her identity doesn’t have to be wrapped up in a boy. I am proud of that accomplishment because men were also part my addiction. My daughter doesn’t live with that constant struggle and she is okay because she knows she doesn’t have to do that. Further, just knowing she doesn’t have to drink to try to cover the pain like I did is a huge accomplishment for me.
I would say that the most important thing that I was ever taught was about my faith and about who God really is. I think that’s why I feel so strongly about the 12 Steps — because when I first came here, I wanted a faith-based program. I heard a lot of things about the 12 Steps as a program for recovery and had some reservations, but I prayed about it. I then felt the peace from God. I believe that if you don’t get the God part of this program you won’t get any of it… that’s the most important part. The twelve steps, that’s the most important thing anyone’s ever shared. The God of my understanding has no judgment. Learning about the God of my understanding makes me want to be a better person and makes me want to then give and serve like they do.
This is a WE program. The most important thing to me to learn was that I wasn’t alone. I spent years in my addiction…I thought that is was all about me and I thought I was the only one going through this and no one else would understand.
I eventually learned to not give up because I’m worth the fight and this life that I have today was worth everything that I went through because it’s just a dream life. I’ve seen over the last twelve years that there’s never anything that you can’t get through that God won’t send someone to help you. I’m a resident manager now, so I get to be the front line and I get to be with those in need a lot. Five days a week, 8-10 hours a day, I get to be with them, and I get to show them the hope that God gave me. So much good comes out tragedy. God turns the ashes into beauty. I love that!