Alumni Association Member
I grew up in a troubled and unsettling family. I learned to live life in a way that looked good on the outside, but was broken on the inside. The beginning of my story is probably my early childhood. I feel like it doesn’t explain why I became an addict or alcoholic, as many of my siblings do not have this issue; although, they do struggle with a few of their own.
I came to Canada when I was 3 years old, with my mother, step-father, and 5 siblings who all had different mothers. I was the only one with a different father. We lived a fairly ‘normal’ life at first, and then we moved to the Mississauga area where things took a turn. We suddenly appeared to be wealthy, though I wasn’t sure how then, and my parents had some pretty wild parties. During these parties, my older sister and I were dressed up and were the drink servers. My step-father initially showed me off to his friends as ‘the smart one’, but as I grew and developed suddenly I was ‘the attractive one’. Some inappropriate behaviour came my way. This continued for several years; we moved to a fancy house on the lake and this was where I discovered substances would help me through some of the weird times that had begun to come up. I read about things that were a natural high and thought “okay, I will try that”. I found my mom’s valium in her bathroom, and my parents had a huge liquor cupboard…the party was on!
What really started my entry into the world of uncontrolled drinking, and using anything available, was when my step-father got busted for embezzlement and we lost everything. My step-father sent my mother, my younger brother and sister, and me to Mallorca, Spain because apparently he had an apartment there. There was no legal drinking age and you could buy many kinds of drugs through the pharmacies; the party continued. I didn’t know what a normal life was. I started travelling around the USA where trying everything that everyone else was trying seemed like the thing to do.
It became apparent that I was different than my friends and I was sent to a treatment centre in the 1980’s where I was taught controlled use. It kind of ‘worked’ for about 10 years. Upon my return to Canada, I got a job in a book store which was perfect for me because of my love of books. I am a voracious reader; books became an important part of my life early on because I used them to learn and to escape bad situations. I got married, started a family, and eventually began to work my way up in the publishing industry selling books! My job was a great source of joy, but it was also a great sources of stress in my life. There was immense pressure, all of the time. I didn’t stop drinking or using drugs but I had it under control…until I didn’t.
Things started to fall apart and work sent me to several rehabs. The third time I attended the same program they said I couldn’t finish unless I signed up for long term treatment. I did what I was told because my employer mandated that I finish treatment. I called and signed up for Stonehenge and was told to call every 2 weeks to confirm that I still wanted to attend. I look back now and wonder why I even called Stonehenge. I had no desire to attend long term treatment and I didn’t think I needed it.
It turns out that I did need it. I went to Stonehenge in 2010 and it was a life-altering experience. I learned so much about not just getting sober but living sober and staying sober. I was made aware of some of the actions I repeatedly practised and was called out on them every time. I had to change.
I won’t say it worked the first time but the tools had been installed in my brain, so that when I relapsed about a year later I made the decision that I needed to go back and I went through the Re-enhancement Program at Stonehenge. I was truly grateful to be able to come back and re-learn the strategies that I needed. I connected with many people that I am still friends with today.
When I look at the people I met through Stonehenge Therapeutic Community, I am able to see that these are the friends and connections that have meant so much to my sobriety. I am an active member of the Alumni Association which allows me to give back to a place that saved many of our lives. I often have moments throughout my day when I have a memory related to something I learned at Stonehenge and that is pretty amazing!