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I grew up in a Roman Catholic household. My mom was a nurse, my father worked for Firestone.
My home was dysfunctional. I learned from an early age to defend myself and my mother.
I played hockey when I was young, and represented Canada at an international tournament. But I always felt like I didn’t fit in. I became a chameleon, hiding my emotions. Some people call it becoming a ‘people pleaser’.
My parents got a divorce. I was introduced to a new stepfather, and we moved to Oakville. All through high school, I kept on feeling like an outsider looking in.
I went to Algonquin College to study Law and Security because I thought I would like to become a police officer. I didn’t finish. I started wanting something more out of life. I started working in a nightclub, doing security.
I was presented with the opportunity of selling cocaine. I went with that as long as I could, which was not very long. That’s when I first started using – when I was 23. That got overwhelming really fast. I burned all my bridges in Ontario, and I went to British Columbia.
I had a clothing store that I owned with a buddy. We used some of the proceeds to buy marijuana and take it to the United States. I made a lot of money, lived a fast life. The law in the States caught up with me and I spent four years in a federal prison.
When I was discharged, I was sober, and I went back to my parents. I worked as a factory manager. But when the job got overwhelming, I gravitated to using cocaine again.
My mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. I wasn’t able to be with her properly in her last days, which is something I regret to this day.
I tried treatment without success. I spiralled downward. I was going from woman to woman, whoever would let me stay with them. In my last relationship, my partner told me “You’re better than this.”
So in March 2017, I came to the DARE Program. Going through pretreatment really helped. This time going into treatment, I was so much further ahead. I came back from treatment in July.
I’ve got my self-respect back, I’ve got clothes, I’ve got food. I am loving the sense of home and family and fellowship in the DARE Program. The fellowship we have among ourselves – that is us growing – it helps, it really does.
Right now, I’m taking a course on dealing safely with trauma. I’m doing that while I’m here because Good Shepherd is the place to get all the things you need. My mistake last time was coming out of rehab and jumping back in, thinking I was okay. And then, of course, the first sign of trauma, bam, I was back using.
I don’t know where I’d be if it were not for this place. In recovery, you need a home base or family most. The DARE Program feels like I’m in a family where I can thrive and be a better person. Being part of something – it’s so major in recovery. If you don’t feel part of something, you’re not going to heal.