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Holidays in Recovery

Holidays bring mixed emotions to everyone whether you’re in recovery or not. The holidays could be a happy family gathering, a family feud, a lonely day, or another day at the job for those who work holidays.

When I was in active addiction, holidays were a day of disaster. I would be filled with so many negative emotions, all while putting on a mask that everything was just fine. Guilt would overwhelm me when I would be strolling in late, empty-handed, dressed terribly, and with the attitude of wanting to get the holiday celebration over with.

The morning of the holiday, I would be scrambling around trying to make sure I could get enough drugs so that I wouldn’t be in withdrawal and could be able to somewhat function during my family gathering. So many lies would come flying out of my mouth when I would see my family. I would try to convince everyone that I had a job, a functional healthy relationship, a beautiful apartment, and most importantly; that I’m happy. I didn’t want anyone to know what was really going on behind closed doors. I most certainly wasn’t ready to receive any type of help, so why let everyone down by saying the truth of what my life was like? And why humiliate myself more than I already was? While a cousin of mine would be bragging about her new home, beautiful marriage, and pregnancy, I was sitting there thinking, “yeah my life update is that the most exciting thing about my day is when I get a deal on my heroin purchase. Or that I spend my day scraping for money for dope so that I can simply get up, eat, and shower. Or that it’s considered a successful day when I don’t break my needle or maybe get a little nod session.”

Although I thought I had my family fooled that my life was going great, they knew that it was all a lie. They may have not known the extent of how bad my addiction was, but they knew that almost every word out of my mouth was a lie and that I was far from fine. It was devastating for me deep inside. Deep inside the real Ally was still there, but every time she tried to come alive, Addict Ally suppressed her even more. Ally wanted to scream for help. Ally wanted to say the truth of what her life was really like. When family members would offer help, Ally wanted to accept it. However, Addict Ally was always louder. She would shut Ally up quickly and answer for her. Addict Ally loves saying no to help. She loves lying and she loves making Ally feel terrible for the pain she’s causing her family, all to keep Addict Ally alive and thriving.

That’s how my holidays for the past couple years have been spent in a nutshell.

This year was different. For every single holiday.

I spent the holidays not only in sobriety, but in recovery. I was present, both physically and mentally, with my family. I was able to enjoy the time with my family and I didn’t want the celebration to end. My family met a whole new me!

I also spent the holidays working at the sober house that I work for. I had the opportunity to show the women there that holidays can be celebrated and enjoyed SOBER! I really enjoyed the time spent with them and I’m so glad that they enjoyed their holiday as well.

I ended 2016 with so much gratitude. 2016 was an amazing year for me. I’ve had terrible years for the past 6-7 years, so I’m grateful to have finally had a good one. There were SO many times that life tried to knock me down this year, but each time I was tried, I reached my hand out to the Lord and He grabbed it. He lifted me up and showered me with His grace, love, and comfort. He directed and guided my every step and allowed me to rely on faith alone when my vision was completely blurred. By relying on faith and staying obedient to Him, He blessed me beyond my wildest dreams.

I’m so excited to see what God has planned for 2017 and I’m even more excited for the upcoming testimonies this new year will bring.

The Fog

Life can be organized one minute, then complete chaos the next. As I walk down the path of life, there are so many different options of roads to follow. Some are dead ends, some are steep, some are downhill, some are twisting and turning, and some are smooth and straight. Sometimes I can get a glimpse of these roads, but other times I’m surrounded by fog. All I can see is my own feet and where I am standing at that moment. So how am I supposed to choose which road to follow? Is it faith? How do I gain the courage to pick a road and follow it? How do I eliminate any fear and anxiety?

Being in recovery, when fog completely covers your vision, it’s both helpful and fearful. All I have is today and this moment. However, it’s not always easy to concentrate on that one moment, especially when you live in fear of what will happen after you take a step down whichever road you choose. The Monkey will try to scare me and put thoughts in my mind of relapse so I can have my emotions numbed. As tempting at that can sound sometimes, I must remember, that even when there’s fog and I can’t see where the road I’m on will lead to, I know where the road of relapse leads and it’s very dangerous and life-threatening.

I sit and wonder how I will navigate through the maze of this fog. That’s when I align myself with my Higher Power. He is with me always. He’s allowing this fog and blindness from it, so that I can turn my guidance towards Him instead of my fear and my ego. When I do this, a wave of peace consumes me. Sometimes I’m still unsteady and shaking with each step I take, but when I keep my faith in His guidance, I can relax and have confidence in the road I’m going down. I solely rely on faith.

The fog that The Monkey uses as a cloud of fear, ends up being a protective blanket that forces me to live and focus on the current moment. As much as I anticipate the road and destination ahead of me, I must remind myself that all I have is today. If I focus too much on what lies ahead, I’ll miss the present moment that I’m in. Also, looking ahead can cause unrealistic scenarios and fears that can keep me stuck in the present, which turns into the past, keeping me stuck in the past. I’m also lacking faith and confidence when I entertain those scenarios and fears. I’ll miss the lessons that need to be learned and victories of those times if I look ahead and try to solve or avoid them before even happening.

Fog may consume my walk in life, but it’s there for a reason. I have to keep my focus on my feet and outstretch my hand to grasp the hand that will lead me when I am afraid to take my next step or don’t know which road to follow. As long as I ignore the fear that The Monkey throws at me, I’ll avoid the road of relapse and destruction.


The Bracelet had caught attention from many different people and they all wanted one. I was giving many away to recovering addicts and people whose loved ones were affected by this disease of addiction. A lot of people that had requested a bracelet were mothers of children who had passed away due to an overdose. I had ran out of bracelets, but kept a few in the drawer of my dresser in case I had lost mine or came across someone who really needed one. One mother reached out to me requesting a bracelet.

“Hi Ally. I saw that you had those ‘Stop Heroin Now’ bracelets and, well, I was wondering if you had any left. My son died two weeks ago from an overdose of heroin. It would really mean a lot to me if you could send me one, thanks,” said the mother. I hear this too often unfortunately, but for some reason this one woman had touched my heart in a way it never had been. Just two weeks ago her precious child was taken by his monkey. My heart broke with her.

I knew I had to dig up a bracelet somewhere for this mother. I knew there had to be one hiding somewhere in my room or in my belongings. So I went to my dresser drawer where I remembered I had thrown some in it. As I’m searching through my drawer, something landed into the palm of my hand; an empty glassine bag of heroin.

When I was released from detox, and before my release, my mother and I had cleaned out my room entirely of anything that could be triggering for me. I was proud of myself for handing her paraphernalia that was hiding in areas she didn’t know. So for this bag to have fallen out of a page of a book in my drawer, was unexpected.

My hands began to tremble and my heart pounded and felt as if it dropped to my stomach. Although I had been thriving in recovery, out of habit or maybe instinctively, I grabbed the bag and held it up to the light to see if it had any heroin in it. By doing that action within seconds after it had landed on my hand, I felt guilt and a sense of weakness. I felt like The Monkey grabbed a hold of my hand by lifting it up to check whether the bag was empty or not. I noticed that the bag was mainly empty, but had heroin residue in the corners of the bag.

“You know you could scrape that and get a nice little high right now right? C’mon, do it, no one will even know! You’ll feel great!” said The Monkey. He had been anticipating this type of temptation and was loving every second of it. He couldn’t wait for me to slip and was going to do anything in his power to make it happen.

“No! No, no, no,” I said aloud to The Monkey.

I looked at this empty glassine bag. I saw the black uppercase letters stamped on the bag saying, “FACE DOWN”. Heroin dealers use stamps to label their product as a marketing technique. Let’s remember something about dealers; it’s a business to them. They have competition as any legal company does. The better the label and company name equals better product, and better product equals more consumers. It’s all about making money and having the best product. So this label, “FACE DOWN”, is supposed to be a way for dealers to attract their customers by having hopes that the name of it will speak for itself; a user will be so intoxicated that they will literally have their face, down.

“FACE DOWN” was one of the strongest batches that I had ever came across in my years of heroin use. As I held the empty bag of “FACE DOWN” in my hand, I pictured the first time I had used that specific batch of heroin. It was the first time that I had ever been close to overdosing. I hadn’t overdosed, but a friend of mine did on that same batch. She was revived, but it was still frightening to me.

“Ah yes, FACE DOWN! Remember how good that stuff is? Now you really know that even just a little scraping of that bag will DEFINITLEY give you nice buzz! You won’t die, trust me,” said The Monkey. Remember, every monkey is a liar and will use lies to convince you that it’s the truth.

“Please, God, get me out of this, help me to see the escape that You promise to have when facing temptation!” I pleaded to God.

He came to my rescue immediately.

I looked at the name “FACE DOWN” and although for a moment I remembered the strength of the heroin and reality of the name, I suddenly remembered how many times I was “face down” in prayer and how many times God came to my rescue with comfort while being in that position during prayer and also crying, consumed with sorrow. I remembered all of the times that heroin made me put my face down with the overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame, and pain.

And then I remembered this mother that I was searching for a bracelet for. I pictured her hanging her face down as she sobbed with tears from the loss of her child. Here I was searching for a bracelet that clearly stated on it “Stop Heroin Now” and what did I discover? Heroin. I remembered the significance of this bracelet and all of the people who died because of heroin. I thought about how that mother could have been my mother.

I didn’t scrape that bag. I didn’t use that day. I still haven’t used. I chuckled at The Monkey and said, “Nice try, but not this time.”

I immediately flushed that bag down the toilet. I fell to my knees afterwards and thanked God for answering my prayer and showing me the escape when temptation came upon me.

When I flushed that bag down the toilet, I watched it as it swirled through the water in the bowl. The letters of the bag were “face down”, as it disappeared down the toilet.

National Overdose Awareness Day

National Overdose Awareness Day

August 31 was National Overdose Awareness Day. I was requested to speak at the Stamford Government Center and tell my story in recovery. Although I was there to shed some light and awareness of recovery and appreciated the opportunity to speak, my heart ached because I thought of how many people were remembering their loved one today.

As I sat in a row of chairs alongside Connecticut Politicians, including the Governor, I clenched The Bracelet and a newly added bracelet to my wrist; a thin, hot pink colored rubber bracelet in memory of a young woman who passed away because of an overdose. Her name is Danyell and she was a beautiful, sweet, compassionate woman. Her monkey unfortunately helped end her precious life, and he now continues to haunt her family and loved ones. I have gotten to know her mother, Joanne. My heart aches for Joanne and many other mothers that I have met, who have also lost their child to this awful disease. As my time to speak was approaching, I felt my nerves come on. I looked down at the bracelets that I was clenching and all I could picture was Danyell’s beautiful face and Joanne’s tears.

“Don’t worry guys, I’ll be your voice today,” I thought to myself, as I pictured all of the people that have lost their lives from an overdose.

I took a deep breath and approached the podium. I had a speech typed out, ready to be recited. As I stood in front of the microphone and observed the crowd, I picked up the vibe of the room immediately. I could feel many people were disconnected, almost bored and tired of hearing about the opioid epidemic. The politicians who spoke before me did well, however, one powerful politician used a word when he was describing people in active addiction, that makes my body cringe; Junkie. Well, the crowd and I had one thing in common; we were tired. I, however, am tired of hearing people with power fuel stigma. I am tired of seeing society ignore some of the valuable knowledge of addiction. I am mostly tired of seeing mothers bury their children and society finding a way to still blame them. I wanted to captivate their attention. I was tired of recovery seem “boring” and “impossible”. So, I decided to change the vibe completely.

I normally introduce myself with my name, age, town I live in, and that I am a person in recovery from a heroin addiction, in a monotone voice. This time had to be different.

“I’M A PERSON IN RECOVERY FROM A HEROIN ADDICTION!!!!” I enthusiastically announced. The crowd clapped! I then continued my sentence by explaining how I normally would start off a speech and how this time I wanted to shed light on this sad day. I also wanted to break one of the stigmas of addiction by showing how wonderful and happy recovery can be. After all, how can one show that this is a joyous thing without any enthusiasm in their voice?

Every time I got caught up on my words, I looked down at my wrist with Danyell’s pink bracelet, and suddenly words would flow from my mouth. I gave recommendations on how to respectfully and properly handle this epidemic. Some key highlights of my speech were lines such as; “Let’s be a part of the solution by supporting the people in recovery, finding out what works for them and getting on their level! Someone got on my level and asked, what can I do to help you in your recovery today? Had it not been for that person, I would not be standing here today.” I talked about how important it is to have bed availability, Recovery High School’s, and Alternative Peer Support Groups.

I also wanted to highlight in my speech how important it is to break the stigma of addiction. After this politician used the word “junkie” in his speech, I wanted to say how using those words and not learning the respectful language is fueling the problem, not the solution.

“For someone to take the courage to say, ‘I’m sick, I need help, I messed up, help me’…should not be rejected and humiliated when they walk into treatment center, hospital, and police station.” I stated, as I looked directly into police officers eyes.

“Calling someone a ‘junkie’ is putting you in the category of the problem. I am not a ‘junkie’; I am my mother’s daughter.” I said, as I turned my head toward the politician who stated that name. I wanted people to understand that I am a human, a daughter, a sister. Addiction can happen to anyone.

At the conclusion of the press conference, people approached me. Mother’s hugged me and reporters asked for more comments. I was deeply appreciative of the hugs, praise, and encouragement, however, my heart still ached. I hated what this day represented. I couldn’t stop thinking of the people who are hosting candlelight vigils. I couldn’t stop picturing the mothers that I have met that have lost their children. The people in recovery and the families that continue to fight for their loved ones are my true inspiration and we share a bond not many can fully grasp or have compassion for.

To the ones that are remembering their loved one’s passing yesterday, I will continue to be a voice for you. My heart ached with you yesterday and every day. I will continue to be a voice for the addicts still suffering and for the ones who no longer have a voice.
Rest in peace to the people I know personally and the ones I’ve never met. I’m so sorry that this terrible disease took your precious life, and I wish you all were here standing with me. I hold you near and dear to my heart every single day.

And to the addict still suffering … I’m here for you. I understand you. I will listen to you. And I will help you, love you, and support you.

On My Knees

“I need some time alone right now.” I said to my roommate. I shut the door, walked to the middle of the room, and felt my knees buckle as I allowed my body to collapse to the ground. The floor was cold as well as the room. My body was weak from enduring days of heroin withdrawal and months of using. Tears flowed from my eyes and dripped to the floor. Sweat covered my forehead, neck, and chest. I felt my heart pounding, ears ringing, and it was difficult to breathe. There I was, on my knees, on the floor of a detox facility, feeling alone and defeated. I admitted myself into a detox treatment facility after a relapse that lasted about four months. I was back at Square One in recovery which frustrated every cell of my body. The Monkey was screaming in my ear, “Get up and leave! You can check yourself out; you have that free will, remember? Why don’t we leave together and we can go get some dope and this pain will be all gone?” As convincing as that monkey sounded and despite the little bit of truth he was saying, I knew I needed healing much deeper than what The Monkey could give me. I stretched my neck back as far as it could go, closed my eyes and pleaded aloud, “God… help me.”

“I know I don’t deserve your mercy right now, Lord.” I continued, barely able to gather enough breath and strength to speak. “I know I did wrong. I know I really turned my back on you. I went astray. I’m so sorry, I’m so, so sorry! Please forgive me! Please come into my heart and take this pain away! Bring me back to you, please! I know I said this before, but I’m here again. I don’t want to live like this! If You have a plan for me, please give me strength. I’m weary and I know You give rest. I need rest! Please, Lord, please!” More tears began to flow as an overwhelming feeling of shame, pain, guilt, anger, and confusion took over my body and mind. I remained on my knees and used every last bit of energy I had left to shut out any distractions, so that I could have complete silence. I wanted to hear His still, small voice. I put my faith to the test to see if God had even heard me or cared. I interlocked my fingers together and placed them on my lap. I bowed my head and focused on breathing in hopes it would encourage His presence.

“Shhhhhhh.” Came a sound of a voice, a thought maybe. The voice was my own, but it came from my mind that I did not put there. It was the same comforting noise a mother uses, as she rocks her newborn baby as it cries. I lifted my head up, glanced around the room and saw no one. Could it be God? Was it really Him?

“It’s ok my child, I am here. I have always been here. I have been waiting for you. You are going to be ok, just trust me, I have you now, do not fear,” said the voice again. It was Him! This was a voice that was a familiar stranger in a way. I had recognized it, but haven’t heard it in a long time.

Immediately after hearing God’s voice, I felt an out-of-body experience. I felt all my fears, worries, guilt, shame, unworthiness, dirtiness, sadness, and anger leave my body. A sense of warmth covered me as if I was relaxing in a bubble bath. God immediately showed how real He is to me that moment. Unknowingly at the time, several similar moments were in my near future.

Three years before this moment, I found myself at my knees as well. I was carefully scooping up heroin from my apartment floor that I had spilt. My hands were shaking, I was deep into withdrawal, and this was all the dope I had; wasted. As I franticly tried to recover any bit of the spilled dope, fear conquered me because I knew that it was impossible to collect enough to relieve the withdrawal symptoms, and I had no way of purchasing more. I had sold a stolen item that took me more than twelve hours to successfully steal and sell in order to buy that heroin. Those past twelve hours were brutal, but once I finally purchased the heroin that I desperately sought after, I felt at ease. That ease was quickly destroyed the microsecond it took to knock over all of my dope. There I was, Square One all over again of the search for heroin or the money to buy it. I stopped scooping the dope and realized how pathetic and desperate I must have looked being on my knees searching for it. I felt disgusting and worthless. I even had the audacity to ask God to help me rescue the spilled dope. His voice was far gone and The Monkey’s was loud in my ear suggesting ways to scheme money.

I’ll never forget how different those two moments of being on my knees were. I wanted God to answer and speak to me both times, but He didn’t. He answered only when I had sincerity, truth, and a desire to follow His lead and do the right thing.

I’ll never forget the moment I found myself on my knees again, ninety days after I was released from the detox facility. I was awake late at night with a craving for heroin that overpowered me. The Monkey was screaming in my ears and dancing in my face. I felt alone and afraid. I didn’t want to give into this craving. I remember sitting on my bed, room dark with only the light of the street lamp casting shadows on the furniture. I was weeping and began to fold and tuck my legs under my arms. I cradled my legs as I rocked back and forth saying aloud repeatedly, “Shut up, shut up, shut up! Don’t do it, Ally. Don’t give in, Ally. I don’t want to get high! I don’t want to get high!”

The Monkey’s voice was overpowering mine; I didn’t know what to do. The only way to shut him up was to get high. I felt as if he was a dragon breathing fire down my back and burning me. I became so afraid which gave me the idea that if I get off my bed and onto the floor, The Monkey will leave me alone. So I quickly slid off the bed and hit my carpet. Unlike on the detox facility’s floor, this time I got on my knees and touched my forehead to the ground. I once again interlocked my fingers and rested my arms above my head.

“God please, please make this craving go away. I am so afraid and all I can hear is The Monkey. He won’t leave me alone, please help! Please, Lord, I don’t want to use! Help me! Help me! Make it stop!” I prayed.

I stayed in the curled position with my forehead to the carpet and tried to breathe a normal pace. My face was hot from sobbing. As I began to breathe deeply and slowly, The Monkey was mute. My craving ended. God came and rescued me once again.

I find myself at my knees, and sometimes my forehead, often. I ignore the condition of the ground and I fall to it fast with thanksgiving that God will hear me. It’s at my knees that I find healing, comfort, and love. Life knocks you down no matter how “good” you are. Sometimes life makes your feet trip, but you catch yourself. Other times life makes you stumble, but you get back up. However there are times where life knocks you completely down. It is when I was down on my knees, The Monkey laughing at me, that I realized that I was in a perfect position to pray. I willingly and unwillingly find myself on the floor, but when I use the floor to humbly connect with God, He reaches His hand down at me. I no longer see myself as desperate when I am on my knees. I grab ahold of His precious hand and am quickly brought back up to my feet, stronger than before I fell. When you see someone fall, reach your hand out to them, because a lot of times the only way to get back up is if someone helps you stand. It also doesn’t do any harm to get down on your knees as well and pray for and with them. And when you are alone with no person to see, reach out to God because His hand is outstretched waiting for you to grab ahold. I promise that His tight grip will lift you up and allow you to continue walking.

Staying focused

Se it’s hard staying focused when life is happening. Keeping priorites with work is so important but can be hard when a lot of stuff is going on in your personal life. What’s interesting for me though, is working helps distract from the madness that goes on when I leave the building. But sometimes it is easy to lose sight of that when you’re in it, I know that I do.

What do you do to stay focused on yourk work or school stuff when life feels like too much?