Holding onto Hope

Holding onto Hope

By In Addiction Recovery, Tools for Recovery
Posted November 7, 2017

Die an Alcoholic at 22 Years Old

I remember as if it were just yesterday the conversation I had with myself alone in my apartment, that at 22 years old I would die an alcoholic. That was just the way it was and I had accepted it. Never could I have imagined then that I would be well on my way to my 27th birthday living in Port St. Lucie, Florida. My name is Joanna Coleman. I am a mother to a beautiful 6 year old son, I am a sister, I am a daughter, I am a friend to many, and I am someone’s coworker. Among those things I am also an alcoholic, an addict, and a codependent.

The Ridicule that Fueled My Addiction

I come from a very unconventional background. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Both of my parents were Pentecostal pastors. I spent most of my childhood in a very controlled and strict environment. I had very limited exposure to the “outside world”. It wasn’t until my parents divorced, which is highly frowned upon by the church, that I experienced public school at the age of 9. Immediately, I knew that I was different. I didn’t wear blue jean pants like my fellow female classmates. I wasn’t allowed to own let alone watch the latest cartoons on television. I didn’t know who NSYNC or Britney Spears were, making me an easy target for my classmates. That was the start of me feeling like I didn’t belong and felt less than those around me. Little did I know that feeling would follow me well into my adulthood.

Even Being Arrested Didn’t Deter Me

Shortly after that, I was moved to Louisville, Kentucky where I would spend the next 16 years trying to fill that void of inferiority. Reaching out for attention for anyone who would give it, I began getting into trouble. I began drinking at the age of 12 to “fit in” with my older sister and her friends. I remember with that first drink great things came along with it. A good time, confidence, and the feeling that I was finally a part of a group. The confidence I felt, I never knew was inside of me, but, people listened when I spoke. I was included and I had arrived. In the years following my drinking, using became my priority. During those years I found a career, a husband, and started a family. It was when all of those things began to fall apart that I reached the peak of my addiction. I lost all of those things, including the will to live until I was arrested and involuntarily separated from alcohol and drugs for 10 months in 2016.

The Gift of Desperation

Immediately after being released, I went right back to what I knew best and rekindled the relationship with alcohol and drugs I had prior to my arrest. My life once again became completely unmanageable, ending with me in West Palm Beach, Florida to detox and the gift of desperation to get my life together.

Jo in her sobriety with a supporter

Life After a Relapse

When I first arrived at the Shores Treatment and Recovery, I was angry and bitter. Slowly I learned to accept the love they were so willing to give me. To be completely honest, if I would have gone to any other treatment center here in Florida, I may not be here able to share this with whomever is reading. Now, although I arrived at the Shores on January 11th, 2017 my sobriety date is August 18th, 2017. My recovery has been far from perfect, I have made many mistakes in sobriety which eventually led to a relapse in July. Without the love and support from everyone at the Shores, my peers, my sponsor, and this amazing life changing program I may have never come back. I have a better understanding of this program, my Higher Power, and what it takes to stay sober more so than I did in the six months of sobriety I had prior to my relapse. I am a prime example that if you pick and choose what you take from this program, depend on self-reliance, and refuse to take suggestions chances are very, very high that sobriety will be temporary. There are no words that could express how lucky I am to still be alive nor any words that could describe my appreciation for the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Shores Treatment and Recovery.

Today I look forward to what the future of sobriety has to offer those of us that are on this journey together.

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