The Return of Hope09 Oct 2015, Posted by Refocus in
The last two weeks of rain have been literally the WORST!
For a semi-ADD creative who lives for long sunny walks in 90 degree weather with camera in hand, two weeks of being stuck indoors, dealing with creative block, feeling like a failure at my job, and constantly freezing… it’s pretty debilitating.
Then the sun gloriously returned… and that’s when I met Ashley. She’s a graduate from the Dove’s Nest, a treatment center for women struggling with addiction.
And she’s the exact opposite of what you’d imagine when you think of a recovering alcoholic. She’s dressed in an outfit I envy, she has this life-giving laughter (that you just have to hear to understand), and “she has no secrets.” And I’m so thankful she shared a bit of her life with me because it certainly brought life back to me.
Ashley: “I don’t have that dramatic of a story… which is why it could happen to anyone.”
She grew up in a small town, was a cheerleader and ballroom dancer, but she never felt like she truly fit in. After college she worked for beer and alcohol companies so much of her job revolved around drinking.
Ashley: “While my amount of drinking may have been a red flag for most normal people, I was great at my job and my career kept advancing. I was just living the life and alcohol had done nothing but help me.”
But life changes… she had a very long-term relationship end, a stressful job environment… and I won’t divulge all her hardships, yet, I remember sitting there in the interview thinking of how I was so depressed at my absolutely fantastic job over some cold weather and writers block. And I wondered about my own weakness.
The disease of alcohol took hold of Ashley and led her to a breaking point. One day she was at work, nauseous, about to have a seizure because she needed a drink so badly… she was hiding in a supply closet and remembered a talk show where a woman was addicted to hand sanitizer, which is 70% ethyl alcohol. So she saw a gallon bottle of hand sanitizer and… yeah, after that day she knew she needed help.
She said her story wasn’t dramatic, but it hit me hard… not because it was so sad, but because of the new amazing woman she’s become. She’s sober. She volunteers at the Salvation Army. She’s radiates compassion. She tends the beautiful rose garden at the Dove’s Nest.
Ashley: “It’s a feeling of relief because when people come to a treatment center it was time for them to either get treatment or die. But I do know first hand that coming through that, you’re never the same. When you learn how much God loves you and you learn how good it feels to have a relationship with Him and to be of service to other people, it can make you feel just as good, if not better, than your drug of choice did. You just have to try.”
Hope returned to Ashley’s life and it changed her… even with rainy, cold days.
So no matter what the weather I’ll remember Ashley and be reminded of my source of real hope.
Enjoy the sunshine,