Family means everything to me. Not sure where I would be without mine. When I was first released from prison and early in my recovery, it was my children that I lived for. They say recovery is for you--you’ve got to want it for yourself, but until I could find it for myself it was for them. I also know that family is not defined by blood and I have a huge family now that is defined by love.
How Family Has Impacted My Recovery
The impact of my family on my recovery was such that it made it possible. I wanted to be a mom, to be a better person, and I especially wanted to give my children a life that I only dreamed about. Now my life wasn’t bad growing up, but I knew that I wanted to be a different kind of mom to my kids. I wanted to be present for my kids.
Family was so important to me that I began to reach out to the family members that had been estranged during my addiction. I created family events just to try to get people engaged in being a family again. I remember as a child my mom’s siblings always got together on the weekends, had cookouts and did Sunday dinners. The adults playing cards and all of us kids running around. I wanted to give my children that type of experience because it meant so much to me.
In the beginning my church became the family for me, but eventually my recovery was sustainable, and I began to reach out to people in my biological family! People I knew I had hurt, people who had judged me and people I knew that loved and cared about me, but just didn’t know how to be a part of my life. I made it easier for them to connect by creating family events, making sure that I invited everybody. It wasn’t easy getting back into my family and repair relationships but because they meant a lot to me I worked really hard at them.
Today what I know is that people get to decide how, who, and what they’re able to forgive. Once I realized that the forgiveness that I was looking for from my family had to come first from myself, I focused more on me. As I started working on me, it was life-changing. Things began to fall in place, family members got to be a part of my life that hadn’t been, and my children really loved and respected me.
My Recovery Pathways
In the early beginning of my recovery I used Narcotics Anonymous but once I went back to school and got my degree and began working at our local mental health agency as a drug and alcohol counselor, I relied more on my church family. Madison was very small and the Recovery world was even smaller and if I wanted to have my clients autonomy in meetings, I gave them up.
My church family then became my recovery world and really helped me and my children the most. Becoming involved in my community was also very empowering in my early recovery. As I reflect, I can see how and where things began to come together. There were many heartbreaks and times where things weren’t going well, but I held firm to my recovery!
How I Give Back to be Family for Others
Today I give back by being family to others.I’m a therapist and a very strong community leader and advocate. I’ll try to help everywhere I can and then when I can’t I try to assist by identifying who or what can. I have had a few sponsees early in recovery, but today I have mentees who are also out there as recovery coaches and doing wellness clinics and all kinds of things in our community, especially since Covid-19 has hit. Sometimes I just sit back and watch them and say wow this must be what it felt like as those who poured into me way back and watched my life change and transform as a result of recovery and as a result of their support.
I have also written my first book titled Redeemed Through Recovery: A Powerful Story of Resilience, Reconciliation and Restoration. It is a powerful story of my journey to FORGIVENESS!
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