Opinion: A new way to live

Opinion: A new way to live

Editor’s Note: The Empire is publishing a weekly column from members of Juneau’s recovery community, in coordination with Great Bear Recovery Collective, to highlight September as National Recovery Month.

I prefer to keep the addiction and recovery aspects of my life private, however, in respect to September being Recovery Month I would like to speak a little bit about how I saved my own life.

I am a born and raised Alaskan, originally hailing from Southeast lands. I was taken from an unfit mother after being exposed to many horrors a child should never have to withstand. I met my mom and dad (the amazing parents who raised me) when I was 3 ½ and they fought to keep me as their daughter for five years. There are no other people who have fought so hard for me, and without them I would have been lost.

Relapse is not a part of everyone’s story, but it is a part of mine. One thing I was told a long time ago was that we can lose our clean date, but we never lose our recovery. A combination of depression, ADHD and other factors fueled my using at a young age, which landed me in treatment out of state at age 15. It was there that I began my journey into recovery. At 16, I came home and my mom started homeschooling me — without her I wouldn’t have received a diploma. Then when I was 17, I was prescribed a rather generous regimen of pain medications for chronic pain and in a short amount of time I was living a lifestyle of active addiction, which led me to jail.

[My journey from high school dropout to thriving in long-term recovery]

Jails, institutions and death, oh my! That’s the prognosis for every addict I have ever met. At this point I’ve experienced two out of the three, including a large helping of sketchy situations, close calls and a few hospitalizations. My point of surrender was a moment in my life six years ago where I found myself closing my eyes in vigorous prayer as I truly wasn’t sure if I was going to live or die, truthfully knowing I was powerless over my own life. I remember that feeling in my heart, and I continue to hold onto it because “But for the Grace of God, there go I.” I put myself in treatment shortly after that moment of clarity, once again resuming my journey into recovery. While in treatment I found my higher power and my understanding of her will continue to change and grow for the rest of my life – I choose to live a spiritual, not religious, life. I began to learn how to find my own new way to live. In admitting my own powerlessness, I discovered just how powerful I am. I chose to be an active part in saving my own life.

I was 30 days clean when I became pregnant with my firstborn. It had always been my heart’s desire to be a mother, and though I didn’t at first feel I was deserving of such a beautiful, amazing blessing, I quickly showed myself I was. The first time I held my son, I knew I had never felt any truer love. My child has never known the horrors of a lifestyle in active addiction, and he has an energetic and engaged mom who he knows loves him more than anything. My son is now 4, and hundreds of times a day I get to hear, “I love you, and I need you — we are best friends!”

The importance of family and respect is paramount in my teachings to my son, so giving him the opportunity to be raised near his grandparents, great-grandparents, aunties and uncles in such a cultural hotspot as Juneau I knew in my heart would be good for us. I fought in court to be allowed to do so, and he and I have flourished in this community.

My new way to live may not be the same as anyone else’s, and that’s OK. My way includes showing up for myself, being a mom, loving my family, honoring my elders, being of service, respecting myself and others, providing for my family, outdoor meditation, taking care of my body, mind, heart and spirit, learning and growing. We all have our own way, and I hope every addict suffering finds their way.

Aatlein Gunalchéesh!

Jes Kinville authored this opinion piece. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.

More in Opinion

Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

A sign outside the Mendenhall Mall directs voters to an early, in-person polling location. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: The facts about our presidential choices

Americans need to vote for the honest, decent family man.

This undated photo shows Dr. Al Gross. (Courtesy Photo / Dr. Al Gross for U.S. Senate)
Opinion: Gross will lead, and Sullivan has failed

Unless he is forced to speak out, Dan Sullivan remains near silent on major environmental challenges.

This photo of a by-mail ballot sent to an Alaska voter in October shows Ballot Measure 2.  (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: Elections Should be free, fair and open

By Bruce Botelho Ballot Measure 2 is about ending the influence of… Continue reading

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, testifies during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sen. Al Gross, an independent running with Democratic support, is challenging Sullivan in Alaska, a state that has long been a GOP stronghold. Across the country, Republicans are nervous about Senate seats like Sullivan’s they once thought safe as Democrats hope to capitalize on President Donald Trump’s unpopularity to retake the chamber. (Al Drago / Pool)
Opinion: Sullivan has earned my vote

If not for Sen. Dan Sullivan and our congressional delegation, we may have been forced to close.

”I Voted” stickers wait for Alaskan voters to pick them up during early in-person voting at Mendenhall Mall on Oct. 22. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: Sullivan has shown loyalty to party trumps the voices of Alaskan

Alaskans shouldn’t be surprised that it took Dan Sullivan a decade to say he opposes the Pebble Mine.

Opinion: Why I’m choosing Gross again

Now, 25 years later, we are again choosing Al Gross, this time as our candidate for the U.S. Senate.

In this May 7, 2020 photo, Sen. Dan Sullivan wears a mask at a hearing in Washington. Sullivan's office released a statement Monday saying the senator would support a confirmation vote to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court even in an election year. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)
Opinion: Sullivan has earned my vote

Senator Sullivan has a proven record of furthering Alaskans’ need.

Les Gara
Opinion: Voting yes on Ballot Measure 1 is voting yes for Alaska

We should be partners with the oil industry, not junior partners.

Most Read