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Grace: An Unmerited Gift from God

I started using opiates at an early age when oxycontin hit the streets hard in Boston. At that time no one in my family knew anything about drugs, addiction, or trauma. It just wasn’t something they had experienced. My addiction was confusing and terrifying for them. Shannon, the sweet girl who excelled in school, who was a cheerleader and the class president. The little girl who was kind and loving and generous to everyone and always had a smile on her face. This girl was a heroin addict.

My family did not know how to help me and I did not know how to help myself. I did not know why I so desperately needed to numb myself in order to exist in this world. I did not understand the pain and disconnection at the root of my addiction. Years of homelessness, prison, treatment centers, and countless overdoses followed. For years I sold my body, mind, and soul for a few quick hours of relief from the deep subconscious pain within. Throughout the years of active addiction, I never had any idea that I was desperately escaping my inner world. I did not even realize I was in pain. The only awareness I had was an instinctual desire for more heroin, no withdrawals, and avoiding consequences. Those 3 things had become my sole objectives in life…my master. I lived in the gutters of hell and had forgotten that any other existence was possible. I had accepted my fate.

My loved ones desperately wanted to help me, but they were lost and didn’t know where to turn. My Mom’s mission became saving my life…what other choice did she have? How could she just stand by and watch her child destroy herself? Despite her most loving efforts she could not “save” me from myself and we both continued to get sick together. What neither of us understood was that I had to confront my own demons in order to heal.

My mom found Joanne Peterson and Learn to Cope at this time. LTC was new and consisted of a small group of desperate and terrified parents searching for a solution, some resources, and just a sliver of hope inside a nightmare they never dreamed they would be living. My mother learned how to take care of herself first and provide treatment and resources to me without enabling my addiction. She learned to allow me to find my own path. And, she learned how to access support for herself when the path I chose was pain over healing. I think one of the most important and difficult lessons we learn in life is how to stop saving people from their pain. When we allow people their pain, we allow the pain to do its job. Pain forces change and change leads to transformation. It is so difficult not to steal this opportunity from our loved ones because we cannot stand to watch them suffer. Learn to Cope gave my mother an opportunity to recover from my addiction and in turn allowed me the gift of transformation and new life.

If it was not for LTC my mother and I would not have the relationship we do today. My mom learned to detach with love and to take steps necessary to help me while letting go of the outcome. She learned how to step out of the obsessive illusion of control. When we learn this, we bring our awareness back to ourselves. This is where we find peace, solutions, and our own personal healing.

A key aspect of the healing journey of recovery is the ability to be vulnerable. To be open with others and share our feelings, emotions, pain, fears, doubts, and insecurities without judgment. This intimate connection with others, this sense of I am not alone and I do not need to hide in shame any longer. This is healing. This is Learn to Cope.

I have now been clean for over 7 years and I have been on an otherworldly journey of soul healing that causes me to pinch myself in disbelief at times! I have done a deep dive into that subconscious pain and disconnection I spoke of earlier. I have learned how to regulate my system, meet my own needs, heal

and release my trauma, and connect with the deepest pieces of myself. I travel the world exploring different cultures, ways of life, spiritual traditions, and healing modalities. I live in Thailand on a tropical island in a literal paradise surrounded by loving and likeminded friends who are on a similar path. My work is in addiction and trauma recovery with a focus on somatic release and spiritual reconnection. I fiercely believe there are many pathways to freedom…we are not one size fits all beings, no one is a lost cause, and we all have the ability to come back to our true selves, a place of peace. Grace: an unmerited gift from God.