Leia – Faces of Fortitude – 2018

Sharing my journey helped me in many ways! I had people reach out to me and ask for help getting into treatment, asking for advice, and it really made me feel like my struggle was for a reason. Helping others feel like they aren’t alone has been a huge part in my own recovery. It also helped me feel more confident in telling my story. I was prepared for some backlash, as people can be pretty awful to addicts online. But I was so surprised when all I received was support and love. That made me feel like I was worthy of still being here on this Earth, despite my addiction and the things it caused me to do. It was a huge motivator to me to continue to fight. I encourage others to tell their stories, and not be silent out of fear. You never know who is struggling, and who need to hear what you have to say. I have never regretted sharing honestly and openly about my addiction and suicidal thoughts, and every single person who has told me that my story has helped them has made it all worth it.

Leia, her husband Joe of 10 years and their 3 kids, Ivan, Lavender and Felix 🖤

For more of an update as to how I am doing now, I have been struggling with infertility for a while now. We have been trying to have a last baby for over a year, and it was very challenging to conceive our two youngest as well. I’ve been on daily injections and have had many tests, ultrasounds, blood work, you name it. Going through this has definitely made it more challenging to navigate and manage my mental health at times. I often wonder if my infertility stems from my drug use, and I have struggled with feeling like it is my fault.

But in the last 5 years, I’ve really grown in my faith. My faith has helped me learn to forgive myself for my addiction, and the pain it caused those around me. I’m currently working through forgiving myself for the damage I’ve potentially done to my body. It’s all a process, for sure. But walking through this trial with infertility, my faith has really taught me to let go. To trust that what is meant to be, will be. This has been a huge part of my life for the last few years, and I’m working on not allowing infertility and feeling betrayed by my body to control my life.

I also lost my dad April of 2021. He was a severe alcoholic and had cirrhosis of the liver so badly that he essentially had dementia. It was incredibly hard for me to be around him, especially in the last few years before his passing. It hurt me tremendously to see my father in that state. I wanted to remember him how he was when I was a child. Healthy, and full of life. I remember getting the call from my brother that Dad was in the hospital and was dying. I didn’t make it to see him one last time, and that’s something I’ve really been working through. Forgiveness has been a huge theme in my life over these last few years, which is funny, because it’s something I’ve always struggled with. Especially learning to forgive myself, and those who hurt me as a child. But as I’ve started that process of learning to forgive, I’ve felt such a lightness. It really is true when they say forgiveness is more for yourself, and not for the person who hurt you.

Day to day, I am a stay at home mom and spend a lot of time with my two toddlers, who bring so much joy into our lives. They’re just full of wonder, love, curiosity, and joy. Honestly, we have learned just as much from them as they have from us, as their parents. All 3 of my kids are huge motivators for me to continue in my journey of becoming as healthy as I can. To continue to work on my mental and physical health, and not become complacent. Just as it was 5 years ago, my husband is my main cheerleader and is always supportive of me. I am blessed with having him as an equal partner in all we do. From an outsiders point of view, our life may seem “boring” or largely uneventful. But boy, am I so grateful for that! Our life is consistent, comfortable, and most of all, healthy.

I spend most of my days taking care of our chickens on our little homestead, playing with my children, reading, and lately I’ve been really trying to focus on physical self care. As a mom, it is so easy to let yourself go and focus on your family fully. But as I get older, I’m finding importance in making time for myself too. We spend as much time together as a family as possible, and have a lot of goofy fun together, which has honestly been so healing for me. From going from my husband and I struggling in every way back when I was deep in my addiction, and being emotionally unavailable when my oldest was very young, to the life we have now, it’s a staggering difference. This is why I am so grateful for the monotony of our daily life. There is so much beauty to be found in security. As a family unit, we are so strong, and our relationships with each other come above all else. It’s crazy to me to look back at who I once was. An incredibly insecure, hurt, traumatized individual who would do ANYTHING to numb the shame and pain I felt.

And now, I’m a woman who is learning to take the good with the bad, to feel everything with gratitude, and someone who is confident in myself. I’ve let go of caring about what others think of me, which consumed me for quite a while after I gained sobriety. I didn’t want to be seen as a “junkie”, as less than for my struggle, or like I chose the path of addiction. Today, I am defined as so so much more. My worth comes from my Creator, and not others perceptions of me. I am a warrior in my own eyes, I have a huge heart, and these are things that I know confidently. Things no one can take away from me. I’m really happy to provide these little updates about my life over these last 5 years. Of course there are areas that I still struggle in, but my life is full of so much goodness. And I think often about how grateful I am to be here to see it today. Despite the struggles I still face, whether it be infertility, depression, forgiveness… I am just so thankful to experience it all. Depression and suicidal ideation will never win.