Name: Samantha Andrea
There is Strength in Hope
When I was 9-years old, I found myself caged in my bedroom. There were 2 baby gates leveled one on top of the other in my doorway, which kept me from being able to exit my room. I came to understand at this point that I was trouble, an inconvenient reflection to my mother of what innocence still looked like. When I was 9, I believed I was a burden and that I had to be flawed in ways that I just couldn’t make up for. Why else would I be locked in this room? I ate from a paper plate and I peed in a yellow bowl. I dumped it out the window so that I wouldn’t be shamed for having natural bowel movements. I felt like a dog that nobody wanted. It wasn’t until I grew older that I began to realize the power of addiction. It robs a man of his decency. It kills a man’s hope in himself and in humanity. Addiction robbed me of my childhood. It stole my mother from me. She was the most beautiful person I knew. And yet, in her addiction, that woman I knew was dead. I cannot explain where hope instilled in me, but I can explain to you how resilience, hope, and compassion have allowed me to witness and partake in the healing and recovery of not only my family, but many individuals within my community.
I spent my youth doing a lot of drugs, being kicked out of foster homes and schools, travailing in jails and institutions. I was even brought low enough to believe I ought to kill myself. I was moved across the state of Illinois until recovery became real in my own life. Many times, I failed myself as I picked up the bottle again, as I beat my own head against the wall. I set my hope in God and came to believe that so long as I was still in the land of the living, all things were possible for me. My recovery was built on hope and getting back up again, no matter how hard the fall. I cannot go without crediting the few people in my life who saw beyond my flaws and loved me through my trauma. There were a few who did not give up on me.
With the strength I received from my support I was able to successfully banish addiction from my life. I was able to overcome the trauma in my life. I was even able to love on my mother from a distance until that hope became real for her as well. Today, my family has been restored to me. I was blessed to be able to watch my mother conquer addiction after addiction and today, she is sober, and I have a mother again.
In 2019 I was given an opportunity to interview for a job working with adults who suffer the disease of addiction. I was scared to apply because I felt completely unqualified. I had no schooling to prepare me, and I had no prior work experience in the field. In my interview all I could reiterate was that I had passion and hope. My interview didn’t seem to go well. They wanted people with experience, and I did not receive a call back. Yet the CEO had heard of my interview and he stated, “I don’t care if she has no experience, we need that passion. Hire her today.” So, 1 month after interviewing I was called for a job offer working with inpatient adults who suffer the disease of addiction.
This job gave me a platform to explore my passion and to develop a skillset. I was able to obtain my CADC and refine my knowledge and build professional rapport. What I found was that these are real people, just like me, just like my mother. People full of shame and self-hatred for the things they did while in active addiction. My main message to them became, “you matter”, “you are worth it”, “get back up”, and “you are never alone, never again”.
This message began to resonate with clients. My life was able to reflect that these words could become true in their lives. I began to see people heal physically and emotionally. People who had entered these rooms over and over began to believe in themselves. I started to see people who fought past their fear and were able to recover their self-respect, their families, their jobs. When someone would stumble, they would come back to treatment to pick themselves back up. After a year and a half of working in this manner I began to have new clients enter the rooms stating that they had heard of me and they requested our facility intentionally to work with me. This amazed me because I am nobody! Just someone who is willing to believe and keep hope and spread compassion to the best of my ability.
I worked in this position for 2 years and I continue to sponsor many people in Illinois and now Kentucky. Through my work experience I came to understand how our system is flawed. As a society, we expected people to receive 30 days of intensive treatment and suddenly be able to soar. I realized people need more time. They need consistent people walking alongside them until they are strong enough to walk on their own.
This is what I wish to do by furthering my education. I cannot do this alone. I need to educate myself more in the field. I need to build my knowledge of the resources that exist and how I can possibly tie them together to strengthen the recovery community. My education is essential for this. It is my hope that I may achieve my goals of completing my education so that I may open a recovery home that is at least a year long. It will incorporate family and community support so that we may see recovery that lasts in the lives of those who have suffered.