As part of my routine since getting clean almost four years ago, I take a few minutes every morning to read a daily meditation from a book called Just For Today. And just for today, the goal is to focus on whatever was in the reading. It’s funny because more often than not, but especially when I need it, the reading seems to be about whatever it is that’s going on in my life at that very moment. July 19th’s meditation (here’s a link if you want to check it out in its entirety: http://www.jftna.org/pages/7-19.htm) is about fulfilling dreams. That day, I was reflecting on this passage in particular and had to sit back in awe. It said, “Some of our members share that when they compare the ambitions they had when they first got clean with what they have actually achieved in recovery, they are astounded. In recovery, we often find more dreams come true than we could ever have imagined.”
Four years ago, my life was a complete wreck. I was caught up in the endless cycle of sticking a needle in my arm against my will. Have you ever experienced something like that? Done something completely against your own will? Knowing there will be consequences and knowing you don’t want to, but absolutely not being able not to do it anyway? That’s what my own personal hell looked like. When I think about what my dreams consisted of when I couldn’t stop using? Even though I didn’t think it was possible, all I dreamed about was a day in which I could be free from active addiction.
When I finally got clean and the fog in my brain started to clear a little bit, I gained a little bit of hope. Hope, not only that I could stay clean, but that I could actually build a life that was worth living. At this point, I was on felony probation, living in transitional housing and volunteering at the treatment center across the street. And although I never really had any true work experience, my Bachelor’s degree is in Accountancy. Fraud, receiving stolen property and aggravated drug possession charges don’t go well with trying to find a job in the financial field as people that exhibit that sort of behavior tend to be frowned upon. Yet, I still had the nerve to think that I was better than. After all, I have a degree, don’t these people know who I am? And they’re going to make me work in a kitchen of the place that saved my life as payment for living in transitional housing? How dare they? And although that lack of humility led me to chase job lead after job lead, I was consistently turned down because…well, have you read the snippet about my rap sheet?
So, I kept going to that kitchen every day with the cook Tina. Tina was a bear to work with and she liked things her way and that was that. But Tina gave her heart and soul to the girls in the treatment center. We all gained weight while there because she fed us well. And in my days in the kitchen, learning to work with others, beginning to work steps, I started to see that maybe God had a plan for me. Maybe I was exactly where I was supposed to be and I was not going to be offered a job until it was the right one for me. And that was that. I stopped fretting, and I started trusting. Trusting that things would work out the way they’re supposed to. As long as I do the next right thing, the next right thing will continue to present itself and my life will get better without my permission. This is still true today. And with perseverance, I continued to apply for jobs because just because I’m living in God’s will, doesn’t mean that I can stop putting in the footwork.
So eventually, I’m offered a job! And the woman was so excited she said, “Oh, but I forgot it’s contingent on a background check and a drug screen.” And right then, I made peace with the fact that I would not get the job due to my background check. Normally, I would throw in the towel and say fuck it. But, in order for anything to change, you have to do something different. So, I went in anyway and I signed the paperwork giving them permission to run a check and I walked outside, sat in my car, and had a moment of clarity. Much like the time I turned myself in to my probation officer (read the pinned post if you don’t know what I’m talking about), I thought to myself, “Maybe I should just try being honest.” And I walked back inside, asked to speak with the woman that offered me the job, and proceeded to tell her all about what was going to show up on my background check and essentially that I’m a drug addict, albeit with about 9 months clean. She said something about just waiting to see how it comes back, and I don’t think she really believed that someone like me could have done something like that. So, the next morning, she calls me and says, “Well, it came back a lot worse than we thought.” She read through everything and it all sounded so terrible. And really, it was. I had stolen a very large amount of money from my parents and was found nodded out in a parking lot.
A few hours later, the same woman calls me back and says, “I talked it over with the president and CFO and we have decided to give you a chance. We think you would be a great asset to our team and we hope you’ll prove us right.” The thing about trust is that the more you act in trust of others, the more trustworthy a person you become and are thus perceived as. I stopped living my life thinking everyone and everything was out to get me and to personally take me down. When my attitude changed, I stopped being the victim. It allowed me to take personal responsibility for my own actions and in turn, created an air of “it is what it is” and no matter what happens, everything is already okay. Dreams do come true and miracles do happen. I started at the bottom of the company as the cash deposit girl. They trusted me with $50-60,000 in cash every day. It was a car dealership so any cash that came in, I had to reconcile with receipts and make the deposit to take to the bank. After a few months, I was promoted to general accountant and had access to the safe, a key to the office, and access to the bank account with literally millions of dollars in it. A few months after that, my probation officer decided that I was also trustworthy and was going to let me off probation two years early. It was scary – not having that safety net of calling in every day with the potential to be drug tested. But, I had built my foundation in Narcotics Anonymous so solid, that NA became my safety net. And after getting off probation, I was able to apply for my record to be expunged. My boss (the woman that hired me), the CFO and the President/owner of the company all wrote letters attesting to my character to the judge. And I got to stand in front of the same judge that told me if I ever stepped foot back in his courtroom, I would do every last day of my 36 months on the shelf in prison, and listen as he expunged my record. I’m no longer a felon. Dreams do come true, and miracles do happen.
As a result of patience, consistency, perseverance, steadfastness, and a lot of hard work my career has been more than I ever thought I could or would achieve. I now work as a Financial Analyst at a $7 billion dollar company. I was able to get my first apartment, buy my first car, decide I want to spread my wings, move to Florida and actually get to know the one person that truly matters: me. I was able to decide, hey, maybe home really is where I belong so I bought my first home. And, of all those things…those aren’t the dreams that came true that even matter in the end. Sure, all of those things are great and wonderful and thank God I was given all of those opportunities to build a life that’s successful. It’s the dreams that I didn’t know that I even had, that mean the most to me.
Long before I started using, I was super ambitious, career oriented and Miss Independent. I really don’t remember a time where I imagined myself as a mom or with a family of my own, because even then I was self-centered. I wasn’t the girl that grew up daydreaming about her wedding day and fantasizing about what my life would look like as a wife and mom, that just wasn’t me. Yet, here I am, planning a wedding. I can’t say I’m marrying the man of my dreams because I truly believed that man only existed in movies. I didn’t allow myself to believe in real life love. People would tell me, I’ll change my mind when I meet the right guy and I would get so offended. Until I met Jeffrey. And they were right. I just knew. It was like all that jaded-ness started to fade away and his face became the only one I see when I close my eyes. That’s not to say that we are a fairy tale love story. We make a decision every single day to choose each other. I choose him for his kind heart, his everlasting patience, understanding and compassion. I choose him because he is an amazing puppy daddy and will be an even better human daddy. He chooses me because I “make a mean peanut butter and jelly and wipe the dogs feel really well when they come inside.” God created the most perfect imperfect human, allowed him to cross my path and join my journey. Every mistake, every heart ache, every bad decision, every triumph, every failure – it all leads to this exact moment, for my past builds my present.
So, I say all this, to say this. My Unsolicited Advice is dream big. Even bigger. With a little faith and a lot of hard work, literally anything is possible. Go get it.