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Moving in Recovery, by Julie M.

Moving in Recovery, by Julie M.

“The Earth has music for those who care to listen”-Shakespeare

I had always wanted to move. It was deep in my soul to get out of the sour town I had most of my bad memories from. I truly just never thought it would be possible for me to chase any sort of dreams. My family never traveled when I was younger. Any amount of crossing state lines was to visit an aging relative during summer vacation where I was jam-packed in the car with the family dogs and taken off to some place in the country to spend alone and entertain myself as usual.

The first time I ever touched Florida sand was in recovery as an adult. I cried seeing the ocean. It was stunning. I never knew anything to be so beautiful, vast, powerful, and serene. I felt the deep melody of the ocean within my soul. I never wanted to leave. Unfortunately, my life was not stable enough at the time to allow a move. It took four more years before I would be able to chase that dream. I would post pictures all over my walls at work of ocean water and beach wood. My desk was covered in shells. I would drive yearly to the beach for several days and promise myself that next year was the year. Each time I left I cried.

I was in school for my master’s degree and recovery came first. I could not up and leave the commitments I had in the community and to myself, even if my soul longed to be elsewhere. Depression often hit as I struggled with seasonal issues. School was challenging with the close of my university due to administration issues, having to re-enroll near the end of my degree at another school, and then getting hit in the middle of internship with COVID. I thought “I will never graduate. I will always be in Tennessee.” Those in recovery helped me the most during those times when the pain of external events halted or stalled my dreams.

I decided if I could complete a four-year long degree, I could perhaps complete another dream, moving to the beach. At first it seemed insane. The amount of work that truly goes into packing up a life you have created and moving it across the country is not as simple as the movies make it out to be. Closing down my apartment, turning off the water, getting electric switched, finding a new place, applying for jobs, getting a new ID, car insurance, packing up a lot of belongings, cleaning the old apartment, changing addresses, and crying with loved ones; all while questioning if this was the right decision. Fear encompassed everything, but in the midst, there was faith. I knew deep down there was more out there for me than telling people 40 years from now “I never chased my dreams, but I always wished I did.”

I was terrified I would relapse. To be honest, I am always terrified I will relapse. My addiction robbed me of everything it once glitteringly promised. I lost my sanity and my dignity. I truly cannot stand the thoughts that encompass the glamourization of drugs or alcohol today. The darkest depths of hell are known to those who have solemnly walked this very path. I never want to go back out. I did not want to be another statistic I had heard of when moving across state lines. The day after I moved into my apartment I went to a meeting. Within a week I had gone to a meeting every day and some days 2 in a row. I was determined to not be a statistic. I immediately grabbed the women’s list my very first meeting and called the first woman listed for the ‘corrections committee.’ Jails and prisons have always been a love for carrying the message for me. This was when my Higher Power showed up because we stayed on the phone for over an hour. She has now become my temporary sponsor. At each meeting where there were women, I was getting phone numbers and giving mine out to newer women. I would text, call, check-in, check-up, and make sure I was becoming ‘involved.’ I call at least two to three women daily including the women from my recovery network back in Tennessee. I am still accountable to them despite not living in the state.

Slowly, the panic attacks and utter fear of relapse became less severe after moving and I found meetings that I really connected with. I began chairing meetings within my first two weeks. Within a month of moving I had gathered roughly ten to twelve personal numbers of women I could truly relate to, a temporary sponsor, chaired several meetings, shared my story at a speaker event, signed up for the corrections committee, and began temporary sponsoring a woman. To this day, I have not gone back out or almost attempted.

Moving in recovery has been one of the hardest, yet most rewarding experiences I have had. I love where I am living, the beach is within five minutes. I see grey herons daily, which are a spiritual thing for me, the meetings and recovery community are unbelievable here, and I am blown away by my job. I truly feel my Higher Power led me here. Recovery continues to allow me to create a life I no longer want to run away from. But faith without works would be dead. It took action and it continues to take daily action.

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