My Journey with Finding Purpose and Recovery

I believe we are all looking for our purpose in our lives.. How each of us find that purpose varies. In order to reach our purpose, often we have to fall and get back up. My journey has included living through personal recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues, and domestic violence.

As I write this piece, I am a 39-year-old single mother of six children. Life has knocked me around a bit, as I am dual-diagnosed with substance abuse and bipolar disorder. I am also a survivor of domestic violence. We all have our burdens in our life, and these are just a few of mine.

I was adopted. Growing up, I had no knowledge of my biological family. I was told that I was surrendered to child protective services by my mentally ill mother. As a child, I struggled with self-esteem. I always felt I didn’t belong. I can recall my first drink somewhere around 1993 in a neighborhood park with a group of older guys. Alcohol was never very palatable, but under the illusion of the drink I felt confident.

That summer was filled with drinking and boys. It was at this time I had behavioral issues and was placed on medication. Drinking was fun in the beginning…but it soon began to take its grip. I became pregnant with my first child at 19. My life began to develop a pattern fueled with alcohol binges, men, and pregnancies.

Although I had the responsibilities of a mother, I still felt like that immature girl from the summer of ’93 who looked to alcohol and men to soothe the pain of not knowing herself or purpose. I was running rampant, and on top of alcoholism I wasn’t taking care of my mental health. Drinking became my sole purpose. I just didn’t know how to change.

The next few years, my children were in and out of foster care. One of the times they were in CPS, I met “him.” He treated me like I was special. He bought me things and took me places. I had never been I was in love. We got married, and somehow I got my children back.

The next several years were lived out as an alcoholic housewife. My whole identity revolved around my husband, who had become controlling. I wasn’t allowed to work or maintain my friendships. We began to fight. The fights were aggravated by my drinking, and my mental health continued to deteriorate. Someone secretly reported my family to CPS. My children were removed due to substance abuse, mental health issues, and domestic violence.

My husband went to jail for abuse, and I found myself homeless. I had hit rock bottom once again. Oh, I wanted to change. I was afraid I didn’t know how to function without alcohol. I knew I was powerless over alcohol. I needed help.

I went to treatment. Early sobriety was scary, and I missed my liquid courage. I was spiritually, mentally, and physically broken. I managed to put one foot in front of the other. I began to see a therapist, got back on my meds, and graduated from treatments. As I stayed sober, my self-esteem began to increase. I began to exercise and take care of myself. I liked my reflection in the mirror. My mental health began to stabilize. I had come to grips with the reality of my past.

I had a lengthy history with CPS, and this time I might not get my children back…a thought that filled me with grief. I know what it was like to grow up in foster care. I was undergoing a spiritual transformation, and I knew my children deserved better. I wanted better for them and myself.

I was beginning to see and feel the miracle of sobriety. I wanted to help others like myself. I enrolled in school to become a drug and alcohol counselor. Sobriety became a way of life. I found my purpose in helping others. I don’t need validation from anyone, and I don’t need alcohol as a crutch.

I know I must take care of my mental health. Don’t get me wrong, there have been challenges along the way, but that’s part of life. I eventually got my children back, and one day at a time I collected several years of sobriety. I hope this writing inspires someone on their journey to recovery.

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About the Author | Crystal Daulton

Crystal Daulton attended the Los Angeles Training Institute of Drug and Alcohol Counseling and is a registered drug and alcohol technician. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Crystal is an aspiring writer who resides in Lancaster, California, with her six children.

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1 comment to "My Journey with Finding Purpose and Recovery"

  • Kathy Williams

    This is my newly discovered niece. Daughter of my sister Linda Im proud to say. She has overcome many obstacles and she is moving forward positively with purpose! It takes courage to tell your story. I believe those of us that are faced with challenges are made stronger with the help of The Most High. We may have to go through a storm but that storm eventually helps others become victorious! Victory is yours Crystal Gilliam – you are loved by your newly found blood family.