Like many who struggle with substance use, Angela’s path to recovery was not linear.
“I spent a lot of time in and out of recovery. I had a lot of denial. I was looking at other people and using their drinking habits as my yardstick,” Angela shares openly. “I thought I was just a soccer mom who drank too much.”
Angela suspects that her addiction was rooted in trauma. The daughter of a Royal Canadian Navy officer, Angela was devastated after her father died when she was just nine years old.
“I felt that I took my mother’s pain and made it my own. When everyone else was leaving home and moving on with their life, I didn’t leave my mother. She was my best friend,” said Angela, who supported and cared for her mother until her passing. After her mother’s death, Angela began to isolate from those closest to her and drink.
“I had large feelings. I didn’t have any insight into what I was feeling. I wasn’t self-aware,” she said.
Years later – in 2008 – Angela had her first stint at addiction treatment. She’d attend treatment four more times, with her most recent stays being at Renascent in 2015 and 2018.
“My world was all about my kids and chaos. I loved the chaos and crazy,” she said. “When I returned to Renascent after my first stay, not one counsellor judged me for coming back. They treated me like I was a whole new person with different experiences. They welcomed me with open arms. Not once did they make me feel like I was insignificant.”
When the COVID-19 Pandemic began, Angel used the periods of isolation as opportunities to return to the roots of her recovery. She joined online recovery meetings as a way of connecting with others who shared her experiences.
She revisited her time at Renascent and built upon the foundation that was laid there. When illness hit in 2021, it was this foundation that she leaned on to prevent her from returning to addiction.
“I collapsed one day. Later, I was admitted to hospital for two months. I had an ileostomy due to an abscess in my intestinal tract caused by an autoimmune disorder,” shared Angela. In an even more unfortunate turn of events, after being discharged from the hospital, Angela developed severe cataracts and temporarily lost her vision. (see photo above)
With the help of friends and a nurse, Angela’s life became more settled. She learned to care for herself and was able to undergo cataract surgery.
Today, Angela’s life is different. She has weathered the storm of her health challenges and has remained in recovery.
“Everything brings me joy now. I am grateful just to have a day of life. I am grateful to know where I am, to be safe, to have food in my fridge, and to know I can touch someone’s life. I take it as it comes.”
Angela adds, “My family and I have reconnected. My siblings and I are on a little chat group and it’s all about the positive energy we send to each other. I’m working full-time too. I wasn’t aware when I lived in addiction. I am fully self-aware now. I learned to forgive. Every day, I do something related to my own self-care. My deepest relationship right now is really with myself.”