The Broken Road

Natalie Johnston
Tell us about your (or your loved one's) recovery journey. What has been the most rewarding part?

I'm Natalie and I'm a recovering addict. I never imagined that I'd be where I am in life, at the age of 42. Starting over. In every aspect of my life. My dreams have changed over the years, for sure. And that's okay. I'm grateful for where I'm at today, in this moment.
I'm 18 months sober, by the grace of my Higher Power and NA. I was arrested last year for the fourth time in three years and facing a prison sentence. My DOC was prescription pain pills, using meth when I ran out to alleviate the sickness and pain. This was my life for eight years. Before the pills it was alcohol, mainly. I was in active addiction for 22 years. I spent seven months in three different county jails, losing my beloved grandparents in the process. They were the only family I had left and they passed within three days of one another. To say I was devastated is an understatement. This was the turning point for me. Not the time I had already spent locked up. I knew that my life had changed drastically when I lost them and it was time. Time for a change. I started advocating for the possibility of treatment and not prison. After another three months and two more counties, I was released to drug court. I started classes, went to NA meetings, and had to attend drug court every two weeks. This program has saved my life. Without it, I wouldn't be here, writing this.
It hasn't been an easy road. I've worked my butt off in my recovery. I experienced another loss this past April. My fiance' passed away. Committed suicide. My sponsor, my NA home group, my counselors and my best friend, were my support. I didn't have to do it alone. I didn't suffer alone. I didn't relapse, surprisingly. I just dig deeper into my recovery, and made sure I was never alone and asked for more classes.
I have my own home now. A car. I pay my bills on time. Life isn't perfect but I wouldn't trade it for anything. For the first time in way too long, I can say that I'm proud of myself. And I know my grandparents are, too. I'm finally using my college education, looking forward to starting my career again in Human Resources and Accounting. I'm living the somewhat "normal" life I've always wanted to live. I graduate my program in six months. I feel good these days. I want to let everyone know that it IS possible to recover, to not wake up "pill sick", hurting and crying. Please don't lose everything and everyone before you reach out. I had to hit rock bottom before I saw the light and now I can't get that time back, can't get my family back. It haunts me every day. Ask for help. Reach out. We DO recover.

Do you have a message for the Shatterproof community?

Reach out for help. Please. Don't be embarrassed. YOU'RE NOT ALONE!