Tagged in: housing

Edward’s Story

November 2014

On the night before Thanksgiving, arguably the biggest bar night of the year, I took my last drink. For the next several days I would lay on my couch going through all the symptoms that a cold turkey quit has to offer. The plan was to simply get myself together enough to get on a plane, train or anything and get back to Delaware.

The odds were stacked. I had less than twenty dollars to my name, no car, no contacts left to reach out to for any help, and my cell phone was a week away from termination. Even though I was living on the west coast of Florida I was in hell. One-step away from homelessness.

By the grace of God I sold everything of value in the span of a day and secured enough money to purchase a Grey Hound bus ticket from Tampa to Wilmington. I would then take a transfer bus to Kirkwood Detox and hopefully then back to Gateway. The program I had walked out of several years before when I was convinced I had alcohol beat. I took a drink less than two days after leaving that time.

Thin at best, I look back at this course as one of pure genius for it is exactly how it happened. I waited in the lobby of Kirkwood Detox for countless hours. I stayed there hoping for a spot back at Gateway for many days and then was a guest of Gateway for four months. I listened, took suggestion and followed the advice of counsel. It was my counselor that suggested Friendship House.

Friendship House was this form of “Halfway House” in the city. You had to be interviewed and if you were accepted, you would wait for an opening. It was described by my counselor as a strict, no nonsense place to get your toe back in the world. I knew that if I were truly in it for my recovery I would have to go there. My recovery was taking me to Wilmington.

It was a cold, rainy day straight out of a movie when I showed up at the doors of 8th and Madison. Things would start out rough and I would doubt my decision to come to the city and Friendship House many times. A funny thing happens in recovery when you work it. You just might not see it at first.

Looking back, the blessings and achievements I had while at Friendship House were the greatest in my recovery. They were the building blocks of my sober life. I could take the time to assimilate myself back into the world as a member of society. While there, I renewed my license, credit and more importantly my self-esteem. I found my sponsor while living there who to this day is like a father. I found a job that turned into a career, which started with the simple fact that the bus ran from Friendship House to that business’s front door. I took the bus for a year while saving for a vehicle.

Upon my Graduation from Friendship House, I took their suggestion and moved into an Oxford House. It is now arguably the strongest in the city. When there is an opening, Friendship House is first on our list to see if there are any worthy candidates.

When I chaired my two-year anniversary in AA, the room was full of men with countless sobriety. I spoke about how for me, the difference between the first year of sobriety and the second year had one distinct difference. The first year is when I got myself back and the second is when I got my stuff back. Friendship House & my Guardian Angels over there played a major role in my first year.

– Edward Jarrell (Resident)

From A Graduate’s Daughter

Trudi From HeatherThis is for my mother, Trudi Houser, who lost her battle with addiction January 16, 2006. For years since then, Mother’s Day was a hard day for me, but this year I am showing my appreciation to my mom for the person she shaped me into. Mother’s day was a hard day for her, too.  She would always get upset around this day and often spent it apologizing to me. So I guess, even before her passing, this day hasn’t been one without emotion.
There are not enough words to describe the person my mother was. I truly believe with the highs and lows of addiction and recovery, you learn every bit of who that person is. I began looking within myself and realizing who I am, too. I realized addiction affects the entire family. Our separation caused us both great pain, but we accepted the fact that her being unable to raise me was not to be looked at negatively. The moment this acceptance happened, our entire relationship changed. My mom no longer spent her time with me apologizing, trying to make up for the wrongs, or comparing my relationship to her versus the one I had with my grandmother, who had been raising me. Her acceptance allowed her to focus on the present and the future. She revisited the past only to educate me on what led her to addiction. This allowed us to refocus our attention and strength on goals we could achieve, and not obsess over the past or fantasize about what the present could have been.
My mom once told me to “make all of this worth something” which I did for myself. I followed my personal dream of becoming a Registered Nurse, now working as a pediatric nurse. In my journey, I took the opportunity to also educate myself about addiction. I had to understand addiction from the medical and scientific perspective, in addition to have witnessed addiction and recovery for nearly my entire life.  I have read many studies on addiction and have learned that compared to other areas of healthcare, addiction is a gray area that needs further research.
Over the years since her passing, I’ve revisited her letters, learned about my mom through family and friends, and remembered her life lessons and the impact that her life and death had on me. I have learned that sharing experiences with others lessons the pain, it shows courage to share the powerful hold experiences have over us, and it teaches you and others much about similarities in life.  The common theme throughout her addiction was carrying the baggage of negativity, the same one that led her to addiction. She was looking for relief from the negatives, and thought she had found it in drugs. But as she used, her problems only grew and weighed her down further.
My mom once found herself at Friendship House, eager for a new opportunity at life. I am forever grateful that programs like this exist, to help those in need and provide support while starting a new beginning. It was inspirational to me to visit recently and speak with the women there. In only a few minutes of meeting with them, I remembered how beautiful recovery is, and how much strength it took them to get to where they were at that moment.Trudy_EH
It is time for me to pass this along to others. My story doesn’t end the way it should have for my mom, but if it can teach another addict a lesson, it can mean something for her. She dreamed of being able to speak to others about addiction, and I vow to fulfill that for her by what she taught me directly and indirectly about addiction and sharing our story with others one day.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mom’s, may you find peace in your day & appreciate the woman you are, as well as honoring the other strong women in your life.
– Heather Houser Bahel (A Resident’s Daughter)