"Suffering from the disease of addiction and embarking on a journey of recovery allowed me to be reborn." - Cassidy

I’m a daughter. I’m a daughter who has put her mother through hell and has worked hard to rebuild that relationship. I’m a daughter who calls her mom every night, whether it is just to say hi or for cooking advice (I’m definitely not the best cook). I’m a daughter who never misses a holiday, even when I live 1,500 miles away from my mom.

I’m an aunt. I’m an aunt to two beautiful nieces who she once wasn’t allowed to see or speak to. I’m “aunt Cassidy” who these girls get to Facetime while they eat their dinner. I’m an aunt who sends the girls the toys they have been asking for, no matter the price. 

I’m a friend. I’m that friend who leaves her phone on loud when she goes to bed at night, just in case someone needs to talk. I’m a friend who reaches out to people I haven’t heard from in months just to check in. I’m a friend who does her best to love her friends just where they are at. 

I’m a dog-mom. I’m a dog-mom who adopted a dog that was heartworm positive with a history of biting because she saw a dog that was just as broken as she once was. I’m a dog-mom who turned an unhealthy, behavioral risk dog into the most loving animal you will ever meet. 

And, I’m a writer. I write for both mental clarity and for my job. I write for JourneyPure, an addiction treatment provider, to help spread addiction resources and reduce the stigma that surrounds addiction. I have a career today, which is something that I never thought would happen.

In retrospect, addiction is the very thing that made me more than addiction. Had I not experienced the depression, isolation, and pain that I did in my addiction, I wouldn’t be a daughter, aunt, friend, dog-mom, or a writer. 

Coming from a place that was so dark and gloomy gave me the ability to appreciate life. This doesn’t just mean for me being alive, this means appreciation for the flowers in my front yard, the rowdy neighbors next-door, the palm trees I see out my window, the birds chirping in the morning, and the smell of the ocean out my bedroom window. 

Suffering from the disease of addiction and embarking on a journey of recovery allowed me to be reborn. It allowed me to become all of the things I am today. It taught me the importance of hard work, which has paid off to give me a job that I adore. It taught me the importance of loving others long and hard. 

I am more than addiction simply because I work hard each and every day to overcome addiction. Sure, I have flaws and I have the brain of an addict, but without it, I wouldn’t have the happiness and fulfillment I have in my life today. 

I want others to understand that we who suffer from the disease are not bad people. We are sick people. I want others to recognize that they drank the same drink I drank and smoked the same pot I smoked, but they could stop. On the contrary, my brain demands more and more. I can’t take just one. I can’t control it. I can’t moderate it. What I can do is treat my addiction on a daily basis and help others in order to stay sober and grow in recovery. 

Sobriety has given me so many passions. But if I have to choose one thing that I am passionate about that brings me fulfillment, it would be working with other addicts in sobriety. 

When I first got sober, I wasn’t really sure if I wanted this. I honestly thought I would be miserable for the rest of my life. Depression had a stronghold on me, but I knew that getting high would only make it worse. By the grace of God, a woman approached me at a twelve-step meeting one day and offered to sponsor me. At the time I had no idea what this meant, but today I am certain that it helped save my life.

She introduced me to nearly 40 women that were strong women in recovery and told me to call one person each day. It was awkward at first - I didn’t know what to say and these people didn’t know who I was. However, this helped me build strong relationships with people who loved me before I could love myself. They gave me guidance and helped me navigate this new world I was living in without the use of mood or mind-altering substances. They showed me what tough love is and what recovery really looks like. 

This inspired me to keep giving back myself. I aim to show newcomers the same compassion and understanding that these women showed me. The rewards that come from doing this are bountiful. The first girl I took under my wing always had a nervous demeanor - biting her nails, pulling her hair, and walking with her head down. However, after watching her follow in my footsteps, I watched her become a woman of grace. She became a woman who was confident and went on to help others. For me, there is nothing more rewarding than carrying the message of recovery and watching others find joy. 

I want others to raise awareness that addiction is a disease by nature, and given that it is a disease, recovery is possible. 

Check out Cassidy's work from 100 Days in Appalachia and The Daily Yonder https://www.100daysinappalachia.com/…/the-star-student-wit…/