To Love Her is To Help Her

Hello my name is Brittany and I am here today because of the miracle of recovery. As many of us know, addiction does not discriminate. I grew up right here in Orange County to a loving family. My parents have been married for over 40 years. I’m a middle child with an older brother and younger sister. I earned academic scholarships to San Diego State and played competitive soccer for over 11 years.

From a very young age I always wanted to be the best. I was a perfectionist and it showed in my academics and sports. In high school, drugs and alcohol did not have a place in my life. But when I went away for college things changed for me.

The pressure of perfectionism and fear of not being enough was overwhelming. I started self-medicating my depression with alcohol. Partying with friends turned into me drinking alone in my dorm, isolating myself. Thankfully my family noticed my behavior change and helped me find treatment. I went for 30 days and stayed sober for 4 years. But I didn’t work a program, and a co-occuring eating disorder took hold as yet another way to self-medicate.

After college, I went to 7 different treatment centers in Orange County. My time at New Directions for Women was the most impactful. My treatment there was completely individualized to help me recover from both my eating disorder and alcoholism. I truly felt safe there.

I stayed sober for years, until the age of 27, when I found myself doing heroin for the first time. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before, and it turned on an obsession. I could not stop. Over the next year and a half, I used Every Single Day. I became homeless on Newport Boulevard, and overdosed 8 times.

I was so malnourished and so sick at one point. I took a pregnancy test which turned out positive. As sad as this is, I started crying – not because I was pregnant but because I knew this meant I had to stop using.

I was 28 and no longer had insurance through my parents. My Mom and Dad were working their own program through Al-Anon and had boundaries. They would no longer enable me. Alone and unsure of what to do, I reached out to a woman I knew from my time at New Directions for Women, Emili B. It turned out she was working there as the alumnae coordinator.

New Directions for Women gave me a substantial scholarship so that I could medically detox there. It was a complicated situation since I was three months pregnant with my son and addicted to heroin. The next few weeks were the hardest as I made the biggest decision of my life, whether or not to keep my baby. I was terrified. I had a husband who was lost in his own addiction and in jail. My parents thought an abortion would be the best choice because I couldn’t even take care of myself, much less a child.

Shannon, Victoria, and other staff at New Directions for Women wrapped their arms around me and gave me the strength to make my own decision. They said, it’s OK to do what YOU think is best. I’ll never forget that. Being in that supportive space gave me the greatest blessing, my son Jackson. Sharifa got me set up with a high risk OB-GYN, the staff made sure I got to my doctors’ appointments, and they taught me how to balance pregnancy and recovery.

To this day, I am still friends with the women who helped reconnect me with New Directions, with the pregnant women who went through detox with me, and the staff that empowered me. At New Directions I learned how to work a program and be of service.

I remember how the alumnae would come in to share their experience, strength and hope, and I’d think “I want to be like her. I want to have what she has.” Now I serve as the Alumnae Coordinator and have the privilege of growing the sober sisterhood. I’m able to help other women that are struggling and lift them up.

Every time I see my son, I think about how he saved me from the brink of death. Every single one of you helped to give him life. Without my partial scholarship I know Jackson would not be here and I don’t know if I would be. Where else could I have gone, three months pregnant after using heroin every day for over a year? By helping to scholarship my care at New Directions for Women, you helped save two people.

We just celebrated Jackson’s second birthday, cookie monster themed and all. I am a loving sober mom to my beautiful baby. I am a woman who knows her worth and who works every day to help other women do the same. New Directions for Women was my stepping stone into this wonderful life. Today, you can give others that same opportunity.

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