Our Intensive Family Support Program is a client centered, trauma informed home visiting program for families. In this program, we are pleased to see a variety of families reunited together. We strongly believe that each family is special, unique and full of strengths. Today, Victoria shares her recovery and healing journey with our strong support.
This is shared in Victoria’s words with her full permission. We thank Victoria for her courage and bravery as she shares her important and powerful story.
I am 31 years old and have been struggling with alcoholism since I was 14 years old, following a traumatic childhood, abandonment, abuse, and addiction that plagued my biological family. I do not remember many stable periods in my life, either I’d run from my issues, go on a drinking binge and lose everything, including my relationships, jobs, homes, etc. I was afraid to dig deep into what was causing me to continue to use alcohol to cope, and it was beginning to turn into life and death.
When my daughter was apprehended this time, it followed one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, which comes from a woman who had endured multiple physical and sexual assaults, homelessness, domestic violence, and said a lot.
I had worked hard to be “stable,” which at the time was me hiding my addiction from my fiancé, trying to be something that I had prayed for over the years. That was a functional, stable, good mother and was part of a good family (his). I was welcomed into his family with open arms, loved. When I destroyed it by drinking the night of his bachelor party, two weeks before our big, fairytale wedding, it was the last thing I could take. This time I had not just hurt one person. I had hurt the man I loved, his entire family and friends, and mostly: My daughter. I fell into darkness, I drank with my daughter in my care, and when she was gone, I felt like my life was over. I lost my will to live. I drank myself to the point of extreme, with several emergency trips and paramedics and police at my house regularly. In the end, I was drinking 60oz of vodka, not caring if I woke up, praying for God to take me, to end my suffering.
I started working with the Family Reunification Program with my support worker Darlene in 2019, following my daughter being apprehended due to my alcohol addiction and my inability to provide a safe home for her.
Through that pain, the relapses that kept occurring at the beginning and middle of my and Darlene’s contract, she would check on me. She would text me, and if I wouldn’t answer, she’d come to my home and make sure I was still alive. She knew the signs of me relapsing. Through our long conversations, my venting, and sharing my story with her, she listened and started to know me very well, including when I was not doing well. She commented one day as she came into my house. It was a mess, and she knew something was wrong, as she knew who I was, my triggers, and how my instability would show through the smallest thing, even dishes in the sink.
She became my person. I could call her anytime and vent. I could tell her I relapsed without judgement. I began to share all my darkest thoughts with her. She encouraged me, even when I couldn’t stay sober. She went to the hospital when I went through DT’s. I remember vividly crying, shaking so badly I couldn’t hold a cup, terrified I would die from withdrawals. She stayed with me, and just her presence that day gave me some relief. She’d tell me, “Your daughter needs you,” and more than that, she told me I deserved to be sober, and she told me that until I believed it.
I have been sober for over six months, and even as I write that, I feel myself getting emotional. I can usually only go for three months and then relapse, which has been a pattern my whole life. My daughter will be home in a few weeks, permanently.
And after the last year and a half, I have grown as a person, a mother, and a recovering addict. I still struggle with regulating my emotions and thinking before acting, but nothing leads me to the bottle. In the last six months, I moved out of the city into a smaller town, left my job, was physically and emotionally abused by a partner, and faced the risk of homelessness. But I did not even contemplate going off on a binge. I have come to terms with a lot of my past, my pain, and I still have a big journey ahead. But I can do it sober, and I will be there for my daughter. I will stop the cycle with her. I will be able to attend her school events, help her with homework, get her ready for her first boy-girl dance, and see her grow into a strong, resilient, loving young woman. I could not have done this without the care and support from my support worker and my multidisciplinary team, which addressed my mental, emotional, and physical health. Maybe I could have years down the road, but I did not have years left in me to continue with my drinking. If I hadn’t stopped, I might not be here now, writing about our achievements and struggles.
I am graduating from the University Of Regina Faculty Of Social Work this spring and have gotten a practicum placement injustice. I plan to eventually move back home to Ontario, where I grew up, to help my hometown as a social worker. To give back to my roots and not be afraid to go home anymore, as I will be going home whole, stable, and with my daughter, who will get the chance to grow up with our extended family there, something I never had until my later years.
This time I won’t be running away, as I no longer have to run.
Marcus Aurelius said: “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” I changed the way I thought from broken and helpless to capable and strong, with my support system motivating me and encouraging me. I took my power back from being powerless over my addiction in the sense that I do not even give my addiction the chance to take over me again by not taking the first drink, and I owe my life to this. And the support I received from agencies such as Catholic Family Services Regina was a major part of my recovery and healing journey. My support worker’s advocacy for me and my child when I was struggling to find strength helped us get here. I will always be grateful for this agency and my recovery. I am happy to say these days I cry a lot, not sad tears, but tears of gratitude, hope, and relief that a large part of my suffering and my daughter’s suffering is over.
Beautifully written by Victoria with permission to be shared by Nancy Masuda, Support Services Manager