The effects of addiction on the human brain and behavior have been thoroughly researched. I am not a researcher. And, I am not a scientist. I am one person. And, this is my personal story, from my own experience with addiction.
Some people say that addiction is a path that a person chooses to take in life. If addiction is, as one dictionary defines it, “a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences,” ask yourself this question: “Why would anyone choose to have a disorder?”
Years ago, I battled with addiction. And, I can tell you firsthand that it is certainly not a choice. It dims the very nature of who you are. It robs you of the pleasures of life. It divides families. And, it destroys friendships. Addiction strips you of your morals, values, principles, and soul.
I lost countless, precious days and nights because of my addiction. And, still, I continued to struggle. I couldn’t see, much less accept, that my life wasn’t really my own. That my life never truly belonged to me in the first place. That my life was a great gift from a creator whom I had not yet met. My lack of drive, tenacity, and ambition kept me stuck in a deep hole that I refused to climb out of. I had become just another statistic. One of more than 60,000 people in Baltimore City who were battling addiction. I knew this. But, I couldn’t see a way out.
Some part of me knew that I wanted something different for myself and for my children. Some part of me knew that I wanted change. Every bone in my body knew that I needed to change. So, I put my pride and fear to the side. I sought treatment.
It took a full month, but I was eventually accepted into a transitional housing program. From there, I began to look for full-time employment. My journey to recovery had begun – and, for once, I had faith that anything and everything was possible. As I worked in a convent – a community of Catholic sisters – I began to see improvement in myself, and my faith strengthened daily.The sisters taught me valuable and positive life lessons that I am grateful for and will never forget.
- Only believe in yourself, and God will never fail you.
- Always be kind and merciful to others because we are our sisters’ keeper.
- Embrace every good opportunity that comes to you because we don’t know if those opportunities will ever come again.
- Take notice and good care of people who are experiencing hard times and illness.
- Help others to gain knowledge and understanding.Teach others what you know and share wisdom.
What the sisters taught me helped me realize why helping to care for others was my vocation, my calling in life. The sisters encouraged me to attend nursing school. As a step in that direction, they introduced me to the program at Caroline Center for certified nursing assistants.
Coming to know Caroline Center was another big moment in my life – another time that I had to eliminate all doubts and fears I had inside and believe that I was capable and that all things were possible. In coming to Caroline Center, I took a risk – a very good risk – of bettering myself and of becoming someone who not only believes in God but could see herself as being of God.
At Caroline Center, I have learned that life’s obstacles should never define or confine the person you are. We are all seeds just waiting to sprout. Once we are planted in good soil, we will blossom and grow into beautiful flowers – flowers full of compassion to be able to help others in need – full of passion to be able to serve.
Caroline Center has been one of the most significant journeys of my life. It can be that kind of journey for you, too. You are hearty seeds that will sprout even stronger stems and flowers. Just stay in this “good soil.” Keep becoming your best selves. Allow your spirits to grow!
“The Resurrection of Beauty” is Tiffany Hankin’s personal story of her courageous journey through addiction to Caroline Center. Ms. Hankin is a recent Caroline Center graduate and has begun her new career as a certified nursing assistant at a major area hospital. We are grateful to Ms. Hankin for sharing her thoughts and words as a guest writer in The Breakroom.
The image in this blog post was created by internationally renowned, Baltimore-born street artist and muralist Justin Nethercut, whose quotation below is from his interview with Calla Jamison in 2016 for the Maryland Coalition for Mental Health Awareness’ Annual Art Event. The mural was commissioned by Concerted Care Group Baltimore, a community-based integrated care center in Baltimore City. It is my great pleasure and privilege to see Justin’s mural each day on my way to and from work and to observe how it speaks, reaches out to passersby from its home at the corner of Greenmount Avenue and East 25th Street.
Here’s a take on the mural in the artist’s own words:
“In the piece there is a central character that is standing in water. The background is water and a sky that transitions from nighttime to sunrise. In talking to a lot of the patients at CCG [Concerted Care Group], there were a lot of concepts that everyone felt, and one of them was the act of stepping out of the darkness into light and how hard it is. People talked a lot about flowers, which is something I was excited about. You can deal with very intense issues with flowers and it brings a lot of beauty and speaks to the deeper issues. She is holding a lotus flower, which has a lot of symbolism including overcoming hardship. She’s turning toward the light and away from the dark. The lotus is symbolic of the beauty of her character, her strength, and she is trying to save it as petals drift into the dark. On the dark side, the moon is setting while on the light side the sun is rising. And to pay tribute to and honor the people who have unfortunately overdosed in the city, we are going to have a star for every person who overdosed last year, to pay tribute to everyone who fell victim to this disease.”