Genevieve’s Story: She was me, and I was her

This Renascent alumni has chosen to use the alias Genevieve.

“I was a high-functioning alcoholic,” Genevieve says. “By outward appearances, everything about my life looked great: I had a high-profile job, a wonderful husband and a wide circle of friends. I appeared to be entirely successful.

But inside, I was miserable. I knew I couldn’t not drink.”

On her fortieth birthday Genevieve found herself drinking in a basement apartment, listening to a cocaine dealer recount the events that had landed him in prison.

“Suddenly, things became very clear,” she recalls. “I wondered how on earth I had ended up here; I felt disgusted with my own life. In that moment, I really hated myself.”

When an acquaintance suggested she seek help, however, Genevieve was reluctant. Concerns about what others would think, taking time off work and the financial impact of not working gave her pause.  Still, Genevieve began seeing a psychotherapist – and a month later, decided to call Renascent.

“I arrived with a huge chip on my shoulder,” she admits. “I had so many excuses as to why I ‘needed’ alcohol: I worked hard, I had great demands on my time, I was successful. To be honest, in many ways I felt I was better than everyone else. I didn’t see what I could possibly have in common with ‘those people.’”

Genevieve’s assumptions were challenged, however, when she met a woman at Renascent who was struggling with addiction in the aftermath of staggering personal tragedies.

“When we met, she really was a wreck,” Genevieve says. “She had been living on the street and she had clearly hit rock bottom. At first, I really thought I was in some way superior to her. But as I learned more about her life, I started to see beyond the outward stuff.

One night, it hit me with complete clarity that we were the same person. Different paths had brought us here, and mine had been softer – but we were the same. I was her and she was me. I suddenly felt engulfed in light, and in a peace I had never experienced before. It was a gift, the spiritual awakening I was given in that moment.”

Determined to change, Genevieve threw herself into recovery.  She particularly enjoyed listening to the guest speakers at Renascent and found herself struck by their definition of happiness. “They would tell us their lives were amazing, but they didn’t talk at all about the things I thought were great,” she says.  “They weren’t wealthy or famous, but rather they were living truly rich lives with good jobs, repaired relationships, loving families. 

I came to appreciate how amazing life is when you are fully experiencing it, once the toxic structures from years of addiction fall away.”

Today, Genevieve has found the same contentment.  Her relationships are stronger than ever, she’s again experiencing professional success, and she’s made new friends both within and outside of the recovery community.

“I think that often, people in active addiction have this sense that others don’t really understand them,” she muses.  “You can be in such a dark place that it’s easy to convince yourself of that. But really, it’s the addiction that prevents you from understanding what you’re missing. 

Once you get a taste of how beautiful life can be, it ruins the darkness for you.”

About the Authors

Renascent Staff
The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery – with compassion, respect, empathy and understanding. Our staff includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.