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  • Ashleigh’s Story: Finding and Accepting Spirituality

    By Ashleigh H., Renascent Alumni

    To whoever is reading this, I hope this finds you well. My name is Ashleigh and I am an addict. I have a home group in Cocaine Anonymous. I have a sponsor who also has a sponsor. I have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body by going through the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, line by line and working the 12 Steps as outlined in that book. I’m also an alumni of Renascent’s Graham Munro Treatment Center. My sober date is November 1, 2020.

    When I noticed an email asking for volunteers to write about their experience with finding their Higher Power I jumped at the opportunity. I wasn’t one of the people who came in here with faith or religion. I came here with questions, I was skeptical, I didn’t know what to believe and the word “God” scared me. It scared me so much actually that I stayed out on the street, eating out of the garbage, sleeping in the cold, hustling and stealing, not showing up for my children, and staying stuck in toxic relationships. I did not want to surrender to the fact I have to believe in a God to get well. I tried every other way on my own to quit using. I tried moving, I tried switching the drugs I used, I tried self help books, I tried detox, I tried medications, I tried self care, I tried everything but coming into the 12-step program.

    Eventually, my back was against the wall. Nothing I did was working, I was sinking deeper and deeper. After my last overdose (and there were a few) I came across a podcast that wasn’t supposed to be released yet. The podcast ended up being of my father, talking about how he recovered. For the first time in my life I had some hope. I could feel this glimmer of excitement rush through me and I had to reach out. I started popping onto Zoom meetings here and there, and then something happened. This is what I call now, “God shots.”

    I planned to go to visit my father a few hours away, but I knew in my heart if my partner at the time wanted to go back to where we were, I would have followed. The day we were leaving, was a Friday around 10 a.m. and the train was leaving at 12 p.m. The person we were staying with had enough of our behaviour – our stealing and lying – and he told us when we left, to never come back. I felt that rush again. That excitement. I call that excitement today, hope.

    The journey since that day has been miraculous. I showed up at my Dads house that weekend. When he opened the door and started sharing with me how he recovered, I was in disbelief. He kept referring to this Power greater than himself. I looked around, I could feel it. I could see it. Whatever he was doing was working. It was evident that he had this Power in his life. Seeing this, it was enough for me to make my beginning to believe in something.

    My Dad says to me that day, “Ashleigh, the Sun is situated so far from the Earth and we don’t burn to death in the summer; we don’t freeze to death in the winter. I don’t know who did that, but it wasn’t me; therefore, there is a Power greater than me”. And something clicked.

     I didn’t need to be religious. I didn’t need to believe in any specific God or thing. I just needed the willingness to be open. I just needed to be willing to believe there is some form of Power out there in the Universe. With this willingness, I got a sponsor and I threw myself into the work. I started to see this Power in people, I heard it at meetings, I could feel it in meditation. I started to seek.

    As I look back at all the events that have taken place to get me to where I am today, I can wholeheartedly say, this Power has been working in my life for such a long time. This Power has always been there. I just wasn’t seeking. The moment I set prejudice aside and really surrendered my thoughts and ideas and just remained open, I felt this Power flow in.

    Everyone is so different. Everyone’s connection to their Power is so unique. For me, God is everything – the Universe, the vibration of love, the sun rise, the leaves changing, Mother Earth, Jesus, Buddha, all of it.

    I was told I have a choice here, I can choose my own conception of God. How incredible is that? I can choose. Everyday I still have to wake up and choose. I was faced with two options right, 1. Give this program my all and find a Power that resonates with me, which I can choose and connect with. 2. Go back out and keep living the way I’ve been living. I was dying. If I went back out, I would have died and I wanted to live. Today I get to live!!

    I have a beautiful, simple, incredible life that I can show up for. I have my son sleeping in the next room, a healthy relationship with a beautiful woman and I have all my family back in my life. I am a student. I am employable. I have a home – a beautiful home. I never thought I’d make it off the street. I was hopeless, I was that low bottom junkie sleeping on the street.

     If you feel a spark of hope, a rush of excitement, follow it. Find this Power, seek it out and connect to it. I never thought my life would be the way it is today and I’m so grateful. All that is required is a willingness to believe in a Power greater than yourself.

    About the Authors

    Alumni
    Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.