January 2024

I’m an addict named Jerome. My clean date is October 22, 2018.

Over the last five years, my life has changed drastically. Prior to coming to Fellowship, I had a decade-long relationship that I never thought I would be able to let go of. That relationship brought me to a point in my life where I begged a God of my understanding daily, to end the pain and suffering. I felt the only way out of this relationship was to die and I was content with that.

That relationship destroyed me both mentally and physically. It offered me nothing but isolation, depression, helplessness, suicidal thoughts, unmendable relationships with friends and family, lack of self-confidence, and self-esteem. It destroyed my soul.

Wherever I went, it came with me. If not physically, it was there mentally. I obsessed over it from the time I opened my eyes in the morning until I closed my eyes at night. It even began haunting my dreams. This relationship started out fun and exciting. It helped me be someone who was the “life” of the party. The quiet and shy person I normally was, became unreserved.

This relationship was not with a person, but with a substance, and its name was alcohol. I loved it dearly. It came before anything and everything. Nothing else mattered. It was a temporary bandage for all the negative emotions I needed to suppress and numb. It worked for a while until it stopped working.

Growing up I had two siblings, a twin brother (Jason), and a half-sister (Cheryl Lynn) from my mother’s previous marriage. Both of my siblings suffered from mental illness. My sister struggled the most mentally and ended her short life in the Fall of 2000. She was 25 years old. Her death is something I still struggle with today.

My parents raised us all to be independent. We all knew that our parents loved us dearly but that was never shown through affection. Their way of showing love was providing for us. We never went without a roof over our heads, full bellies, or clothes on our backs. 

My childhood was, for the most part, normal. I was a typical “Jersey Boy.” I hung out with friends, enjoyed playing sports, roller skating, bowling, and going to the shore. My senior year in high school I knew I wanted to leave New Jersey. I felt as if I didn’t fit in anymore. I went to a recruiting station just before graduating and eventually enlisted in the United States Army. My plan was to stay in for a few years, get some schooling, and be discharged but God had other plans for me and I retired after 20 years of honorable service. I deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq. Returning home from combat, I began having flashbacks and nightmares.

I knew I needed help but had too much pride to ask for it. Once I retired, I finally began to work on my PTSD and disease of addiction. I made the decision that treatment would be the best opportunity for me to get well and work on those issues that have plagued me for so many years. With the help of an amazing therapist, I was able to gain coping and grounding skills that have assisted me tremendously in my recovery. My self-esteem and confidence have returned due to practicing honesty and integrity.

Prior to leaving treatment it was recommended that I commit to a Recovery Residence for accountability and support. I was apprehensive at first but decided to take the suggestion. Coming into the Fellowship Recovery Community Organization program I was scared, nervous, and anxious but after some time, I realized that the Fellowship RCO staff and participants are just a huge family, and I was proud to be here.

After 1 year of clean time, I became so inspired to help others within The Fellowship Recovery Community Organization and was hired as a part time house manager and worked my way into The Director of Respite Operations position. On December 23, 2023, I was elected to a Board of Directors for a nonprofit that assists Military Veterans and First Responders who are in recovery or seeking recovery, I became a Florida Certified Peer Specialist with Family, Adult and Veteran endorsements.

My life today is amazing. I’m a proud member of Narcotic’s Anonymous, I do service, I have a homegroup, attend meetings regularly, have a sponsor, a service commitment and I don’t use no matter what. These simple suggestions were given to me on my very first day at Fellowship RCO’s Recovery Residence, and I still practice them today. I’m active in my recovery and put that before everything.

I’m in a relationship with a woman who is in recovery herself. This relationship is the most fulfilling, amazing, loving, and caring relationship that I have ever been in, and she is truly my best friend.

I feel accomplished with all that I have gained. Not the material items, but the peace and serenity that I have searched for my entire life.

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