February 2023

My name is Lauren, and I am an alcoholic.
My sobriety date is December 30th, 2016. I was raised on Long Island, NY in a stable two-parent household along with my brother in the suburbs. From an early age I had everything I needed, and I was always encouraged to play sports and excel in school, but as far back as I can remember I always felt like something was missing. I remember being a little girl standing apart from the crowd and feeling like an outsider.
I remember feeling like everyone else had something that I lacked, even as a kid. I was shy and awkward, and throughout elementary school and high school I got bullied a bit and had a hard time making friends. I fell in with the “weird kids” and started smoking pot before and after school and drinking on the weekends. Around this same time, I started struggling with my mental health, in the form of anxiety and depression. My last few years of high school were tainted by binge drinking, self-harm, eating disorders, and trips to the psych ward. I was also diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in senior year, which gave me a broader introduction to pain meds.
After high school I went to a communications school in Boston to study creative writing, my main passion at the time. While at college in Boston I continued to binge drink to cope with my social anxiety, while actively seeking out harder substances. I was able to expand my horizons quite a bit, and eventually lost focus on my studies due to excessive partying and dropped out of school. This began a cycle of gaining and then losing employment and housing due to my substance use (although I blamed it on my health), followed by a series of toxic relationships once I gave up on my own financial independence. I found myself in emotionally or physically abusive situations more than once, but if I had a roof over my head and enough chemicals to keep me numb, I wasn’t bothered. Soon after this I discovered heroin, and every other feeling became secondary to that high I was constantly chasing. 
Here I hit my bottom. I was a ghost, living alone in a roach and rat-infested building in Brooklyn, only leaving my room to buy cigarettes or check myself into the ER to drug seek for opiates when I was sick. The only thing between me and homelessness was a sleazy landlord. I was invited to family Christmas, but as I was no longer trusted I was searched before the drive to Grandma’s, and my dad found some pills I’d forgotten about. Christmas that year essentially turned into an intervention. I was offered one final opportunity to save myself, and I agreed to go to detox and residential treatment in NY. Once my 14 days were up, I was presented with the idea to get on a plane and come down to Florida to stay at Fellowship Recovery Community Organization’s Recovery Residence. I was terrified. I knew nothing about Florida, and I didn’t know a single person down there. Then it occurred to me that might be a good thing- nothing I was doing up north had been working for me, and I needed a change.

Fellowship took me from a life of chaos and isolation and taught me structure, accountability, and connection. The girls in those apartments took me to my first 12 step meetings in Florida, and I was amazed at how rich and diverse the recovery world is down here. I was learning how to have fun sober, but once I took substances out of the equation I was still left with the biggest problem, which was myself. I couldn’t get out of my own way. It took hitting an emotional bottom in sobriety to truly start the recovery process for me- I was ashamed of my behavior, I could no longer blame the drugs, and I needed to change.

I sought out a sponsor who was willing to take me through the 12 steps, and I stopped listening to myself for once and took direction. I took my step work seriously and filled notebooks with detailed charts and bullet points. I spent my whole life as a stubborn atheist, but for the first time I allowed myself to be open-minded to the concept of a higher power of my own understanding. Gradually, like sunlight creeping in at dawn, I became a calmer and more spiritual person. Through working my steps, I was able to see the part I had to played in my past, which made me more able to recognize it moving forward. I was able to target and work on my defects and rebuild those broken bridges in my family and friend relationships.

I have been given the opportunity to take other women through the steps, and to see them anew through their eyes.

Today I am proud to say I am a kinder and more grateful person. I can be present as a daughter and a sister, and I am very close with my family today.

I get to work with others who are struggling with mental health and substance use issues, and I’m even a valued employee! I’ve built a pretty great life with my husband of 2 years, who is also in recovery, and I’m a mother to our amazing one year old son.

The 12 steps helped me to create a life I never imagined was possible for myself, and Fellowship RCO started me on that journey. Fellowship showed me love at a moment in my life when I most needed it, and taught me that I was worth fighting for. The biggest suggestion I can give is to listen to the suggestions, accept the love, and get out of your own way!