For as long as I can remember, I never really felt a part of. I spent years of my life changing shades like a chameleon. I grew up with my father, stepmother, and half brother. Unbeknownst to me, my biological mother was an addict and signed over her rights to my stepmother when I was two. In her absence, I always felt a void. Thus my incessant fear of rejection set in. Isolation became my reprieve.

I remember my parents constantly telling me I was ‘too emotional’. I was silently battling depression/anxiety and I was void of any tangible solution. The solution was always presented to me by way of utter avoidance. I learned, from a very young age, that isolation would prove to be my safe haven. Venturing into school, I continued to struggle with finding my place. I was constantly comparing myself, only to wind up feeling less than or greater than. Needless to say, this robbed me of all possible joy. My untreated depression and anxiety led me off a slave to validation. This insane coping mechanism led to more misery and confusion.

My rebellious nature didn’t really set in until my freshman year of college. I instantly set out to leave for college, 4 hours away. It was no coincidence that I wound up at the most notorious party school in the state. I remember the first time I went out to drink with my friends – fake ID in hand – I had arrived. Feelings of anxiety were swept away and I felt untouchable. I found unwavering acceptance at the bottom of a bottle. I would dance and mingle with everyone in the bar. I knew no stranger. When my friends would opt to stay in and study or recuperate, I was never willing to turn down a night of drinking. My grades began to fall, my bank account was empty, and I found myself miserable and running back home to regroup.

In 2010, I gave birth to my son Liam. I remember feeling so enamored and full of purpose, but even this couldn’t keep me sober. I was prescribed opiates after the birth of my son and I remember taking them even after I wasn’t in pain anymore. I was never one to finish a full prescription of antibiotics but I didn’t miss a beat with my newfound love. I was diagnosed with a chronic kidney/bladder disease and it wasn’t long before I was reunited with opiates. At first, I was taking my medication, as prescribed, but still drinking. January 10, 2013 my stepmother passed away unexpectedly. I was left, looking for relief, completely hopeless. The night my mother suffered from a massive heart attack, I met my local drug dealer for more opiates.

It was off to the races. I was running the family business, alone. Depression and anxiety were manageable when I was emotionally numbed by my drug of choice. I continued to seek anything to fill the familiar void in my heart. I spent almost 3 years avoiding the reality of the world I was living in. Validated, with my prescription in hand, I denied the possibility that I had a problem. Finally, legal consequences caught up and I was experiencing full opiate detox on a cold floor in a jail cell. Grace met me there, in the form of utter desperation.

The day I walked out of jail, I felt complete apathy. My dad offered the gift of attending a dual-diagnosis treatment center and I never looked back. I entered rehab, only to discover the stark nature of what I was truly up against. Drugs and alcohol removed, I was still left with complete dis-ease. I began to unravel the webs of trauma, anxiety, and depression. For the first time in my life, I was hopeful.

As I approach 3 years sober, I am in awe. I have zero explanation of how I got here, other than the fact that I continue to operate with grace. Spiritual evolution is the foundation upon which my sobriety has been cultivated. I have women in my life that hold me accountable and love me, right where I am. I am still active in trauma therapy and I working through healing the traumas of my childhood. I spend less time judging my anxiety/depression and more time learning how to cope. I have the opportunity to be the best version of myself every day.

Tricia Moceo advocates long-term sobriety by writing, providing resources to recovering addicts and shedding light on the disease of addiction. Tricia is a mother of two, actively involved in her local recovery community, and is passionate about helping other women find hope in seemingly hopeless situations.