Recovery leads to self-discovery

Growing up in South Bend, Kristin enjoyed being a teenager in a college town. She had an outgoing personality and enjoyed being around people. In high school, she hung out with her friends on the weekends and drank. When she headed off to college she had plans to study psychology. However, “I learned how to party, and as a result I didn’t graduate,” Kristin said. Instead of earning her degree, she got pregnant, dropped out, got married and got a job in a restaurant.

Unhappy and unfulfilled, Kristin’s drinking increased. The marriage didn’t last and the couple divorced. She was committed to taking care of her daughter and bought a house that was a fixer-upper. Between her job and taking care of her child, Kristin soon realized she didn’t have enough energy to also work on the house. A friend suggested she try meth to give her more energy.

“I was a superstar at work and had unlimited amounts of energy to complete projects,” Kristin said. “I felt like I was in control.”  But of course she wasn’t. She needed drugs and alcohol to get through the day. As her addiction progressed, her life spiralled downward. She lost her job and her house and began to lose herself. “I had always been a social person, but I became a hermit,” Kristin said.

Kristin was living a double life. She thought she was successfully hiding her addictions until one day when an argument with her brother led to her being arrested. When her mother came to visit her in jail, she asked, “Are you drinking again?” Those four words were the wake-up call that led Kristin on her journey of renewal and recovery. She knew it was time to change her circumstances, starting with being honest with herself and her family. “I needed help. I was tired of living with the pain of everyday life,” Kristin said. “This time I was ready to be sober for good.” […story continued below video] 

During a snow storm in December of 2013, Kristin entered La Verna Lodge for Women. A program of United Way supported Fairbanks, La Verna Lodge is a gender-specific program with two residential facilities for men and women who are struggling with addiction and have complex recovery issues requiring extended treatment. Both facilities offer a safe, serene environment where a caring staff and therapeutic programming provides residents the tools needed to achieve lifelong recovery.  At La Verna Lodge, Kristin received individual attention and was able to focus on her recovery. “La Verna Lodge was exactly what I needed,” she said. ”It gave me my hope back and the realization that I had a purpose.”

As part of her recovery, Kristin began to attend local 12-step meetings and people in the community influenced her to relocate there after she left La Verna Lodge. Kristin still enjoys getting together with friends, but now after nearly two years sober, they enjoy dinner and attending meetings together.

Today, Kristin is a manager at a local restaurant and is finally living a life of stability. She also volunteers at La Verna Lodge weekly. She feels this is the most meaningful part of her recovery because she enjoys sponsoring women in the program. “Being able to give back and share my story keeps me connected and on track,” she said. “I hope I am able to help those women live outside that room as they progress in their own recovery.”

In addition to regaining hope and finding her purpose, Kristin said the most amazing aspect of her recovery was discovering her self-esteem. “For the first time in my life, I could look in the mirror and like what I saw,” Kristin said. “My vision was changed and I am now comfortable in my own skin.”

Note: United Way brings together compassionate people committed to improving lives in our community. We help Central Indiana residents achieve and maintain self-sufficiency by directing resources toward four key areas of community impact – Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs. Fairbanks is one of over 90 United Way funded agencies working to address one or more of these priorities. Since 2001, UWCI has invested over $8.5 million in support of Fairbanks’ efforts to serve men, women, adolescents and their families who struggle with addiction. Their current Community Fund allocation is $281,664.