NICOLE | Make connections

“Make connections… so when you need help, it won’t take so long to ask for it.”

Icame from what some call a “broken home.” My parents couldn’t teach me much about marriage and what I did learn didn’t help me much in my own relationship.

Not surprising, I was the only parent I knew how to be too. Mostly, I faked my way through.

My trouble started soon after my daughter was born. I suffered a major medical crisis after the delivery which required me to take pain medication.

At first the pills were really for the pain but then they became about something else entirely.

Right now, Nicole works in our kitchen while she finishes school.

Throughout my life, I’d never learned that having feelings was okay, or in fact, normal. I’d been so full of self-loathing for so long that the pain medication seemed to be an answer.

Instead of talking to someone about how unprepared I felt for marriage, parenting, illness, etc., I medicated.

I wish we could teach young people that they don’t need to be perfect to be loved and valued as they are. It’s okay to make mistakes and ask for help.

Eventually my husband did the only thing he knew how to do; something I now realize was right, though I fought him tooth and nail at the time.

He left me and sued for sole custody of our daughter.

All along my family thought they were standing by me when they protected me from the consequences of my addiction. I hurt them over and over and they stood by.

But I learned that if you’re trying to help someone in addiction, make sure you understand that there’s a fine line between enabling a loved one and supporting them. It’s important to know the difference. My family helped me hide from my problems.

The denial broke on the beach one evening. I decided to give up but since I didn’t want to die, I asked God what to do. My answer: surrender.

The next step for me was to start over at the only place I could: The Salvation Army. For me, my chances of recovery improved the moment I stopped hiding.

My number one piece of advice is to make connections with God and with people. That way, when you need help, it won’t take so long to ask for it.

Nicole enjoys cooking for others in recovery because she knows she’s helping them get healthy and stay that way.

Right now I’m serving as a cook in The Salvation Army’s kitchen and studying to be a substance abuse counselor — on a scholarship. I’m about to graduate and hope that one day I can help people avoid the pain I experienced. Especially my daughter.

Even with all of that, I don’t have many regrets. I’m thankful I went through what I did. I have life skills and peace of mind that I didn’t have before.

People do recover. I think I proved it.

>>>> <<<<

If you know someone who’s struggling with a powerful addiction who needs help kicking it, visit our online location finder to search for the closest Salvation Army drug and alcohol recovery program.

Thank you for reading Nicole’s story.