Before the Dream Centre my life was chaotic. I was homeless, addicted, and barely holding on. It didn’t start out that way, though. I had a good upbringing and was a normal kid. My life was quite typical until I was diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition at only 18 years old.
I developed the rare condition called encephalitis, which is inflammation in my brain liner. This put me in the hospital for over three months. I was on an IV morphine drip and very quickly became reliant on it.
The prescription drugs they continued to give me after I was released from the hospital consisted of high doses of morphine. Before I knew it, my addiction was out of control. I was convincing myself I had pain when I didn’t. I was using more than I needed to because my body was becoming immune to it. The next thing I knew I was buying it on the street when I ran out.
As time went on, I turned from opioids to cocaine to try and get the same release and escape. It is quite the expensive habit, though, so quickly I saw everything go downhill. I lost my home, lost my possessions, and I lost my children. It basically takes a toll on every aspect of your life.
At that time, I was with my partner who was also an addict. We were living anywhere you could live –sleeping outside in the summer and couch surfing in the winter. I remember staying in a broken-down camper that was left in somebody’s back lane. Of course, there was no heat and no food. We were just trying to survive, and I often wondered if we would even make it to morning because it got so cold.
Being homeless takes so much from you mentally, emotionally, and physically. You are freezing and finding anything you can to cover yourself up with. Then you start thinking, ‘how did I get here? How did this happen to me?’ I have an education, I’m not a stupid person, I know better than this, but yet here we are. I was unbathed and had big black circles under my eyes. I was exhausted and my body frail. Every piece of me hurt. My hair was stringy and disgusting. I was completely unkept. When I saw my reflection in a window, it would bring me to tears because I was so appalled at myself and what I had become.
The turning point was a day I will remember for my whole life. I had been with my partner for 12 years at that point. We were so involved in addiction and with that came abuse. I didn’t recognize my partner anymore because it was out of control and everything was completely upside down.
He finally passed out, and I remember thinking, ‘if I don’t leave now, I’m going to die.’ I stood up with the raggedy clothes I had on my back, tip toed over him, and walked to the first door I could find. I begged for some change so I could make a call, and I phoned a friend of mine who is a counsellor. I told her my situation, and from that moment on I never looked back.
I arrived at the Dream Centre September 11 of 2019. Stepping into the home was a feeling of hope and acceptance. I felt like I had found my place and was where I needed to be.
It was the whole package. First, the Recovery program isn’t in the type of ramshackle place I was used to staying in or breaking into. It is a home. You are welcomed by two beautiful women who run the program and they accept you instantly. They made a nice, sit down meal for us the first night I was there. I hadn’t enjoyed something like that since who knows when. I was nervous when I first heard about it, but once we sat down and prayed, I felt connected and a part of something beautiful. I was in a place of people who cared and understood. I felt welcome and at home.
After completing the Women’s Recovery program, I moved into the women’s apartment building for more independent living.
It really is the perfect ending to the story. Having my own safe place with a roof over my head, well it is life altering. Knowing you can find the stability you crave. Knowing you are going to have a warm place when it is cold like this. It just changes your whole life. You go from having nothing to having purpose and a meaning.
Before the Dream Centre, I had resided to the fact that I was going to be on the street and be and addict for the rest of my life. I had no thought that anything could have happened like this. Now I have my life back. I have my family back in my life, a roof over my head, and I am two years sober.
We do recover, we really do.