Paying it Forward: Arlene’s Story

ArleneMy doctor prescribed Vicodin to me following major surgery. Neither of us knew those pills would consume my every waking moment. Years before, I was diagnosed with major depression disorder, and Vicodin gave me a euphoric energy that overcame my melancholy. Nothing could compare to that high – not even my successful 17-year career as an executive recruiter. But my family was very important to me, so I weaned myself off the drug. I was on the Board of Trustees for the Council of Alcohol and Drugs when I relapsed. My mother had recently passed away, and I wanted to numb the pain of losing her. It was shameful admitting my addiction to my peers. By then, I had reached a devastating low and had to sell my car to pay rent. My children stopped speaking to me. Within a very short time, I lost everything.

I completed another chemical dependency treatment program, but upon release I was depressed and suicidal. My sister told me about a placed called The Women’s Home. I was hesitant about committing to an 18-month plan, but I decided to give it a try.

I entered The Women’s Home broken and lonely; I kept my hair pulled in a pony tail and wore a sad expression to match. The admissions coordinator kindly welcomed me in, and shortly afterward, everyone was treating me like family. Since then, the entire staff has made me feel like I will never feel alone again.

The Women’s Home can provide us with the resources we need, but we must trust the process and work for our success. We may not see the immediate benefits of doing chores or working at the Cottage Thrift Shop, but as the process starts to unfold, it all comes together. Trusting the process is what we call the “lather, rinse, repeat” approach in therapy, which means if you do the same routine each day and have faith, you will see the results, and the results will be good. And for me, they have been phenomenal!

I really love my life today. I have less money than I have ever had before, but I am happy. The networking skills I gained through vocational training helped me discover a new position working as an assistant to an addiction specialist at The Park at Memorial Hermann. I look forward to calling Jane Cizik’s Garden Place my new home when I graduate. My children and I are back in touch and my daughter is expecting her first baby girl. My goal is to use the skills I have gained and become a recovery coach one day. This dream to “pay it forward “ would not have happened if not for The Women’s Home. Everyone — from the counselors, to the support staff, to my fellow sisters — have inspired me to believe no matter the storm, I can endure. I will prevail. I am not alone.