Saturday, April 8, 2017

Laura's Story

I am a student, aunt, and an unconditional friend.

My name is Laura, and I am in recovery. I have been a student at Western Technical College since the summer of 2015, and am on the path to receiving a degree in Human Services. Due to the high need, my goal is to become a substance abuse counselor and run a women’s sober living house in La Crosse. Without one, they will go back to the streets and are less likely to follow through with recovery. I’d like to run a sober house where women can stay as long as they need. I would love to be a support to other women struggling with their recovery. I’ve been there and understand what they are going through.

The beginning of my recovery was difficult. I didn’t like being alone. I didn’t like being outside, so I wouldn’t go for walks. I listened to music to keep my mind occupied and kept my hands busy. I was in outpatient treatment, involved with Driftless Recovery and went to two meetings per day. The biggest challenge for maintaining my sobriety was not having a support system. This is why I am so passionate about my women’s sober living home. If I could help even one person, I would be ecstatic. Support is crucial to recovery.

I have so many supports in my life that I’m not certain I can count them all! First, I have my probation officer. I am fortunate to have a supportive probation officer who is amazing and always strives to make me a better person. Next, my counselor has been tremendous support. She has helped to build the foundation for my recovery. Tonya Van Tol, Project Proven Coordinator at Western Technical College, has also been very helpful, supportive and instrumental in my education. My grandmother and nephew are very important to me and keep me motivated. My grandmother suffers from dementia, but hasn’t forgotten my recovery and never forgets to ask me how I’m doing. My love for my nephew keeps me going and reminds me what is at stake. There was a time when I couldn’t interact with him, and it broke my heart. I cherish the time we spend together. My parents are also there for me, and I know I can count on those at twelve step meetings to have my back.

If I could give any advice to my younger self it would be, “don’t try so hard. You don’t have to be friends with everyone who accepts you. You can choose your friends. Care about your education. Be yourself - not who others want you to be.” I have come so far from the girl I used to be.

Today, the most important parts of my recovery are still my support systems and the places I can go that are healthy for me. Twelve-step meetings are a staple to my recovery and provide a guideline to how I live my life. I go to Coulee Council on Addictions each week, often just to sit and do homework. I hang out with friends at Jules to have “me time” while playing a round of cribbage. I have learned to be content with myself. I still listen to music to keep my mind occupied, but I also meditate and enjoy going for walks.

My past is not who I am today. It has made me a better, stronger person. I use it as a reminder, but it is not who I am. Finding that person has truly been a fun experience.