My name is Emily and I have been sober since November 16, 2010. I attended an inpatient rehabilitation facility for 35 days before moving into the 11th Step House, a sober living home for women. I was 18 years old and had been addicted to drugs and alcohol since I was 13 but the mental illness of alcoholism directed my behaviors long before that. I suffered from low self-esteem and lacked the tools for achieving success in work, relationships, self-care, and happiness. I was going to die or spend my life in jails and institutions if I didn’t get sober and stay sober. In the six months that I lived at the 11th step house, I learned invaluable lessons that have helped me navigate through my trials and tribulations and that allow me to genuinely enjoy the beautiful life that I live today.

I was encouraged to become a member of a 12th step program. I have remained an active participant in Alcoholics Anonymous since that time. I have a sponsor, I work with sponsees of my own, I do service work for the program, and I attend meetings. I learned how to be honest through my late-night conversations with Linda and Mercy, the directors of the 11th Step House. I had the opportunity to face my own demons in a safe and supportive environment. I was allowed the room to grow, to figure out who I really am, and what I want in life. I was held accountable for my actions and encouraged to follow my dreams. I was able to work through conflict with other women in the house and develop skills for beginning and maintaining relationships. I learned how to be okay even when I am wrong or when things don’t work out how I think they should. Humility became a constant principle in my life, which is necessary to stay sober. I learned how to give back and how to do my share of a job, affecting my conscious ability to contribute to society. Most importantly, I developed a relationship with God. While the 11th Step House is a Christian home, I am not a Christian. Linda and Mercy allowed me the time and space to explore my spirituality and develop a God of my own understanding.

Today, I am happy. I am grateful. I am sober. I have beautiful relationships with my family. I have built deep and lasting friendships with people in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have experience as a hardworking and honest employee. I went back to college and am now a Registered Nurse. I have traveled to over twenty countries. I found that I am passionate about politics and social justice. I have a plan for the future that is coupled with flexibility. I have found a way of life that works for me but I am not perfect. I continue to work on myself and I continue to change. I allow myself to be a human being. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t spent those six months at 11th Step House but I know that it is a crucial element of my story and I am forever grateful.