SOOOOOOOOO BIG NEWS HERE.
insert billy Madison singing “back to school back to school to prove to dad that I’m not a fool….”
I’ve been being a little whiney brat about feeling stuck in certain aspects of my life so I decided to take action and I have officially applied for grad school for my MS in Addictions Counseling. The school asks that you write a letter on your own behalf explaining why you want to be a part of their program. Now if there aren’t many things in life I am sure of but two that I have always known are that I was meant to be a mother and I was meant to be a therapist and advocate for those struggling with addiction, so here ya go folks this is why I’m going to grad school.
There is a story from my childhood I am often reminded of when I think of the ever growing heroin epidemic, a story by Hans Christian Anderson called The Snow Queen, which epitomizes both the nature of addiction and the addict himself.
The story begins with an evil troll and his magic mirror which has the power to distort anything in its reflection – turning even the most beautiful landscape into an ugly desolate place. The troll wishes to bring the mirror to heaven in order to make fools of the angels and God, however on his way up, the mirror falls from his grips and shatters into a million pieces which eventually make their way to the ground below. A few of these pieces manage to penetrate a young boy, Kai’s, heart and eye, turning the usually sweet and loving child, into someone cold and almost unrecognizable to his friend Gerda.
Some time later the boy is out sledding and encounters the Snow Queen whom he runs away with. One kiss from the Queen numbs his heart; a second makes him forget his friends and family and a third promises to kill him.
While Kai has long since forgotten his former life, his friend Gerda desperately searches for him, encountering many obstacles and people along the way. Eventually she locates Kai, and in wrapping her arms around him embracing him with love, she is able to melt his heart of ice, returning him to his former self. As the story goes, they live happily ever after.
I am quite certain the author never intended for this literature to personify addiction that it was meant to exemplify the battle between good and evil, however the battle against addiction is just that. It is a war we as a nation are fighting daily, one which steals our children in the dark of the night forcing us to bury them before their time, one which does not discriminate, one that only takes. A battle I personally know all too well.
It was around the winter of sixth grade when I realized I wanted to be a therapist, hoping desperately to save my cousin Jeffrey from his heroin addiction. Jeffrey was six years my senior. As a child I looked to him in awe – with his ever changing hair color, and carefree ways, he was to me, the epitome of cool. To put it simply, I idolized him.
There is a picture of Jeffrey at six years old holding me as an infant – it sits on my nightstand, his face bears a mischievous smile as he looks to me- this is how I choose to remember him, my sweet blonde haired boy. Like Kai, Jeffrey changed drastically; it seemed to happen slowly and then suddenly all at once, he was no longer the sweet boy in the picture; instead he was tattooed and rough around the edges, his arms full of tracks. I struggled watching his transformation – there were moments, even with the drugs pulsing through his veins where glimpses of his former self, sweet and carefree would show, but without a fix he was easily agitated and cruel. I knew him no longer.
At 18, almost naively, I followed in his footsteps. Ironically the one person I wanted all my life to save, I used with and watched die. For the longest time after his death, I used to punish myself; I carried a weight with me believing his death was my fault, that I had not done enough to save him. For years I spiraled; what was once recreational was now an innate need, my only means of survival.
I remember the first time I shot up, the rush, the warmth my body was slowly cloaked in. Imagine walking in the freezing cold for hours and then stepping inside a warm store front – the instant relief as the heat kisses your cheeks – that is what heroin was like for me, until the heat could no longer sustain me, until it took more and more to stay warm.
I chased that feeling for far too long and lost nearly everything because of it.
When I say I lost nearly everything, I did. Numerous overdoses and nine inpatient stays later, I still continued to dig my own grave. There was a point near the end of my using when I was no longer using to get high, I was using to die, and I came terribly close to it.
I remember being tossed from the car, the “oh shit” moment where time seemed to stand still, the fear as I realized I did not want to die, and then the adrenaline pulsing through my veins once I hit the blacktop.
This was not the last day I used, it took a few more weeks, my friends refusing to speak to me, and my father driving 16 hours to bring me back home from Florida, in what some thought was a futile attempt to rehabilitate me. My pelvic bone was broken, as was my foot; I could not easily ambulate, which was for my father, a blessing.
In the years prior, a few broken bones would not have prevented me from using, but this time it was different, I felt empty inside, I couldn’t look in a mirror, I hated what I had become. The drugs had distorted my view of life for so long that I sat on my dad’s basement couch for weeks unsure of what to do next. I no longer had any fight left in me; all I knew was I was tired of hurting everyone I loved.
My healing began once I sought therapy, I also found solace in writing, to me I was writing out both my pain and my demons. It took a year to feel okay again, but I was able to find some peace within myself. I later began working in the Crisis Center *******as a clinician, aiding those in crisis find treatment for their mental health or addiction issues. I can honestly say I have found no greater joy than this.
The reason I am applying to grad school is to fulfill my dream from childhood; though I can no longer save my cousin Jeffrey, I can only hope to help others save themselves. I have experienced firsthand the way addiction affects oneself and the family. I have also seen how there can be a lack of compassion and empathy for this population, and often times, a lack of resources for those without private insurance. My long term goal once I have received my M.S. in counseling is to be a Licensed Professional Counselor and to eventually open my own practice specializing in addictions. My practice would accept anyone struggling with addiction, whether they have insurance or not, as I continually advocate for these people in both my personal and professional life. My goal is to simply help others, and through compassion and understanding guide them toward a better way of life.
I hope you will consider me for this program.
Thank you for your time.
So that’s it friends, now we sit and we wait! Wish me luck 💙☀️