CLM MONTHLY COLUMN
|Posted on February 25, 2016 at 10:30 PM|
MISSION POSSIBLE: Bliss House Lost and Found: Dignity and Respect
By Carol Dawson, Center for Lay Ministries/Bliss House Volunteer Communications Director
Her daughter lost everything – her home – her children – her relationships – her dignity – her self-respect – her ability to love - and she nearly lost her life…to drugs and alcohol. Listening to this mother speak of her daughter’s journey into true despair engulfed me in sadness.
We were at the 12th annual Valentine Bliss to raise funds to support the Bliss House (BH) mission of guiding and transitioning women from addictions into recovery. This was a celebration of the women who have successfully completed the program and a celebration of hope for the women who are currently in the BH program, but the grim realities this mother spoke of were heartrending and difficult to hear.
Not all BH residents are successful, but those who take the program seriously, come through with a renewed spirit and will to live. During the many months the residents are in the BH, the residents learn everything from how to change a car tire to how to maintain their finances properly. They learn about their addictions – why they are addicted and what they can do to kick drugs/alcohol in the butt - forever. They learn the 12 step process of recovery and how to apply them to their daily lives. They learn about their own spirituality and how to control their problems with means other than controlled substances or alcohol.
At the conclusion of the mother’s talk, she spoke of her daughter’s transition out of the darkness – off drugs and alcohol and back into life with the help and guidance of the BH program. She then introduced her daughter, Brittany, and their embrace immediately transported me back to why we were at Valentine Bliss and why this was indeed a celebration.
Brittany, a beautiful and petite young woman, was clearly nervous speaking in front of 200 people about her life’s journey. She introduced herself, thanked her mother, and then hesitated for a moment. Brittany looked out into the crowd and seemed a bit in awe of her surroundings. She looked radiant as she smiled, gained her composure and said, “I never thought I would be standing before a group like this, talking about my life before sobriety.” Brittany didn’t candy-coat her life addicted to drugs and alcohol; she described the hopelessness in detail.
This graceful young woman articulated how drugs and alcohol took everything away from her; robbing her of all she cared about in life. She explained, “I had nothing to live for since I had lost it all, even my children. I was in jail and I had no dignity or respect for myself or for others. Then Julie Schwerer, the Bliss House Director, showed up at the jail. She told me about the Bliss House program and all I could think of at that time was to do whatever I needed to do in order to get out of jail…so I lied to Julie. I told her what I thought she needed to hear and within 30 days I was out of jail and in the house, with no intent to truly go through the program.”
Brittany hesitated - the details of that time in her life were obviously not easy to disclose publicly. Brittany disclosed, “While I initially thought all of the residents were being fake with their cheerfulness, I soon realized I no longer understood or even recognized real happiness.”
Brittany shifted from high heeled foot to foot, and had to stop to regain her composure a few times before she spoke again, but in the audience there was no throat clearing or chair shifting during those brief moments; actually you could have heard a pin drop. Brittany concluded, “I began working the AA steps and following the program requirements. The structure and responsibilities were what I needed to find my happiness. Everything else followed and today I am drug and alcohol free and I have my children, my family, and my life back.”
The entire room cheered and gave a standing ovation, a distinct indication to Brittany that respect is something anyone can earn back into their lives. Brittany discovered the bliss in her life and with that she found the dignity and respect she lost to addiction.
If this story has touched your heart, please consider supporting this unique and worthwhile organization. You can go to the website: www.center4layministries.com/bliss-programs, or go by the Center for Lay Ministries to ask how you can help programs like the Bliss House to continue. Call 812-282-0063 (Center) or 812-280-7533 (Bliss House).