Awwwwww, this is definitely one of my favourite pictures of my daughter Maya because its captures her joy, anticipation and zest for this particular day! It's kind of how I feel waking up today, but definitely not how I was feeling four years ago.
February 27, 2013 was the day my best friend in the whole world died. I held both my mother's hands and sang "How Great is Our God" praying again and again for a miracle until I came to the place where the only miracle I needed was loving her enough to let her go. At her bedside I told her she had raised me right and there was no need to worry, I had Jesus now and I would be just fine, but it broke my heart to say goodbye and I honestly didn't know how I would survive without her and for a little while, I didn't.
When my mother was still alive, I would wake and sit up in a panic crying, "I love you, Mom. I love you, Mom. I love you, Mom" into the dark of the night and worried endlessly about how I would stay clean and sober when the one person in my life that had always been there for me, left me too. So, it was really of no surprise that I picked up when my mother passed away as I had been justifying, rationalizing and planning it in my head for years and since I couldn't have just one, I continued to drink and smoke after her death, two things I had worked VERY hard to quit, and I knew I was at a serious crossroads in my life without my mother here to save me - would I sink to the bottom or swim to the top? It takes a lot more effort to swim, but I did. I started to swim for my life because I knew if I didn't, I would surely drown.
I don't want to embellish my story, but I can honestly say that I am a person that can use substances OR have a good life, not both. Instead of chasing ways and means to continue with addiction, I started to chase things that made me want to be clean, sober and ALIVE, things I had always dreamed of, but never knew how to make a reality. I began to volunteer at Vancouver Co-op Radio and by June 2013 I was pitching a show to the Program Coordinator about addiction and recovery issues, who said that if I could find two more people to do the show and then it was a YES! I saw Giuseppe Ganci and Darren Galer on a local tv show on Youtube and immediately phoned The Last Door Recovery Society for Men and asked them if they wanted to do a radio show with me. They said, "sure, let's give it a try" bringing with them more ideas, diversity, expertise and influence to my little show idea that I could have ever accomplished on my own and in August 2013, Talk Recovery Vancouver was officially born and it was AWESOME!
For me, once I aligned my work with recovery, everything else clicked into place. Very quickly, I was a Co-Founder of The Single Mothers Alliance of BC, a non-profit organization created by single mothers for single mothers in BC, I accepted a buyout from my employer of 20 years, Canada Safeway Ltd and went to Vancouver College of Counsellor Training to be a Professional Addictions Counsellor. Next thing I knew, I had a new job at Westminster House Recovery Society for Women, new friends and even a new boyfriend! Not that life did not still have its challenges, but overall I felt like a pretty lucky girl enjoying every minute of my second chance attending events like Recovery Day Vancouver, Last Door 30 year Gala, Family Fun Day, Sports Day, Keystone and enjoying exercises like yoga, bike-riding and even running my first Sun Run. I would have never done any of these things if I continued to smoke and drink. I can say with absolute certainty that my entire family benefits from my recovery and I know I am a better mother, sister and friend because I am a happier person and having a life I enjoy living .
Today I will celebrate with friends, family and community my four years of complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol while we encourage and inspire each other to keep doing the same, one day at a time. I came into recovery twelve years ago, so there has been a lot of lessons and recovery capital earned, but I can honestly say that today I am grateful for the experience of every bit of it because it gave me gratitude for simple things like peace, love and purpose in my life. I will always miss my mother and wish she was still here, but I know today that I am making her proud of who I am as a person and how I am as a mother to my children. All I have to do now is keep doing what I have been doing the last four years, being honest, open and willing to follow my Higher Power into the dreams he has for me and everything will be just fine.
I didn't just quit drinking, I started living and for that I am grateful to God, my family and my 12 step program and community.
All my Relations - Frances Stone, Ms. Recovery Writes
Frances Stone is the Author of A Reflection of Love ~ A Different Kind of Love Story, a Recovery Counsellor and a Radio Co-Host of Talk Recovery Vancouver, a show about addiction and recovery issues, located in the DTES of Vancouver, BC. In her spare time, she does laundry and mothers three clever, curious and challenging little humans.