“I told you, Gordon, that you meeting us in the parking lot when we arrived helped so much. At that point something told me we were in the right place. Little things make such a difference. Looking back on the past year there have been struggles to be sure but so many more achievements. Both are an important part of the journey. I do not know what the future holds for Dillon but I know that his time at Turnbridge has given him the opportunity to live his life to the fullest potential! Thank you for being there for him on his journey!”
Rec & Lifestyle
From the Family
“Arts and Crafts” was the theme this past month for the Turnbridge Women’s recreational program and glass blowing was the hands-down fan favorite. Hotspot Glass Studio in Fairfield, CT was our gracious host for this exciting event.
“Finding new and exciting things for our clients to experience is my job, but making sure our clients enjoy it is my passion,” said Director of Recreation, Brittany Trotta. “Glass blowing was one of those wild ideas that just seemed like a new and great experience.”
As Recreation Director, Brittany likes to shape the schedule of events each month based on feedback from the clients. “I love to hear the stories after each activity and listen to the feedback from our clients and staff,” said Brittany. “I attend the community meetings that are held at the houses each week and take suggestions for new ideas. The ideas I sometimes get are out of this world. These recreational events are a huge part of the client experience here at Turnbridge and I’m always looking to cycle in new ideas while keeping the ones that were a hit.”
Lauren Tiede is the Turnbridge Unsung Hero for the month of April 2018.
As a Resident Liaison in Phase I of the Women’s Program, Lauren’s role is to act as an additional support to clients who are in distress.“When clients first arrive, they are often emotionally raw,” said Lauren. “Being in recovery myself allows me to relate with our clients and understand where they are coming from. Having been in their shoes, I can empathize and be real with them.”
“Being nominated for Unsung Hero was definitely a surprise and I feel very humbled,” said Lauren “It's amazing to be recognized for something like this and I couldn't do what I do without the support and love from my coworkers.”
“Working at Turnbridge has shown me how to work with a team and given me a reason to be excited to go to work every day,” said Lauren. “The women I work with are some of the strongest, most inspirational women I've ever met. I feel incredibly blessed to work alongside women who support and encourage me daily.”
Helen K. is the mother of Danya K., a current client in Phase III of the Turnbridge Women’s Program.
Danya is the youngest of Helen’s five children and at the time she was born her family was living in London, England. But, when Danya was young, her entire family moved to the United States, which was a sudden and difficult change for her.
“It was a huge culture shock for all my children,” said Helen. “Danya wasn’t crazy about the school she was in when we came back to the U.S. She was enrolled in the top school in the Washington D.C. area and the pressure was so high that she couldn’t take it anymore after her junior year, so we moved her to the school that my other daughters attended.”
Helen recalled that, despite Danya’s tremendous academic gifts, she struggled to recognize her own potential. “Danya was self-deprecating and was very anxious about failing,” said Helen. As Danya settled into her new environment she started to develop a peer group, but Helen would find out later that Danya was exposed to substances around this time. This did not go unnoticed by her new school. “I was eventually called into the school and the faculty were considering not allowing her to graduate,” said Helen. “This was a huge shock to me.”
“As everything slowly came to light, I realized her issue was mostly marijuana because it wasn’t as visible as drinking,” said Helen. “I thought that I did something horrible moving them from London. It was such a small town and everyone knew everyone. When we came to Washington all the kids knew each other but my kids were the new ones, which was a really hard transition for them.”
“Danya went off to college in Denver and after a just a few weeks she decided she didn’t want to go to school anymore, but wanted to stay out there,” said Helen. “We flew out there and she looked gone. Shortly after flying back, I got a call from one of her friends that she was in the emergency room. I found out it was heroin.”
“Within two days we had her in primary treatment,” said Helen. “Danya was there for 30 days and went to sober living afterward, which didn’t work out. She then started attending an outpatient treatment program near home and was testing positive for substances the whole time. I told her we need to find a better solution. I found out Turnbridge was opening a Women’s Program and got her in as soon as it opened.”
Danya did very well at Turnbridge, but shortly after achieving 1 year of sobriety she suffered a brief substance lapse. Danya was able to use the network she had established and the tools she had learned to pick herself up and re-engage in recovery within 48 hours.
“The Case Managers at Turnbridge helped her and she came back to Turnbridge,” said Helen. “It took a weight off my shoulders. The whole experience with Turnbridge has educated us about our daughter. I’ve seen a huge amount of growth, maturity, and independence from Danya and it has been incredible.”
Today, Danya is preparing to transition into Thrive, Turnbridge’s long-term sober living environment dedicated solely for Turnbridge graduates, which will allow her to stay connected to the sober network she’s built in New Haven. Additionally, Danya is taking classes at a local college and works as a member of Turnbridge’s culinary team at the Phase 1 residence.
“I recommend a long-term treatment for anyone,” said Helen “This requires a lot more than just getting into recovery. It takes time.”
Zane M., a current client in Phase III of the Turnbridge Men’s Program, was born in Portland, but moved to Texas when he was young.
He was the oldest of six children, “which was a task in itself,” he joked.
“I did well in school, but I was a shy, anxious kid,” recalled Zane. “During my freshman and sophomore year I started smoking weed and it all went down-hill. It was my first real coping skill, which I wasn’t aware of at the time. I thought I just liked the feeling, but toward the end of high school all I was doing was smoking weed and started feeling depressed.”
“I got into college and it was very similar to what happened in high school,” said Zane. “I started out with good grades and they started to fall. My addiction progressed and I started using Xanax and cocaine. I soon fell into the world of fentanyl.”
“I have been arrested and been given ultimatums due to my use, but I still didn’t believe I was an addict,” said Zane. “I sat in my apartment and all I did was get high. At one point, I got a puppy and dogs know when you are doing something wrong. They give you that look. There was a dog park right outside the apartment and when I took him out and other people came outside I ran back inside instantly. I was so ashamed, but did not want to stop what I was doing.”
“I fell into a depression and was feeling suicidal,” said Zane. “Eventually, I moved back home and asked for help. I went to a 30-day program and they recommended Turnbridge for aftercare.”
“When I got to Turnbridge, I was just so happy about water, food, and a bed,” said Zane. “I did not have those things in my apartment. I started learning that if I tried to help others, my life would get better. I established a network and friends in the program. I phased up to the second phase and that was the big test. I had more freedom to be a member of society.”
“I progressed to Phase III and got a job,” said Zane. “I really started working on my recovery and working with a sponsor and volunteering. The biggest struggle I got through was losing a friend from back home. I used my network, the staff, and my case manager for help, which got me through.”
“Going through Turnbridge was all worth it in the end,” said Zane. “When I put my head down and focused on being a better person, things started to work out. I kept taking suggestions and it gave me the ability to create a person I thought I could never be. I shouldn’t be here but I am, and I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given.”
The Role of Self-Forgiveness in Recovery
As a therapist at Turnbridge, I have many times had the privilege of witnessing courageous processes of personal transformation. When a client first enters into the process of change here, he or she is often times struggling with a strong undertow of shame resulting from harms done through active addiction. These feelings can feel like an insurmountable burden. Unresolved shame can erode, inform and damage fundamental, core beliefs about one self: “I am undeserving;” “I am inadequate” “I am worthless.” Shame often involves negative feelings about the self as a whole and is associated with defensive strategies like denial, avoidance, isolation and relapse. However painful the above statements are, such honest confessions about self-concept are often the platform upon which authentic healing can occur.
I often talk in session about the idea of self-forgiveness as a pathway towards releasing the burden of debilitating shame. This does not simply mean “Letting Oneself off the Hook.” It means deliberately and intentionally creating a life “plan” that challenges those self-destructive core beliefs. In session, I would typically ask-- in response to expressed feelings of guilt/shame — “What can you do in your current life to act AS IF you felt adequate, deserving and worthy?” The answers I often get are creative and heartfelt: “I can help a newcomer.” “When I go home, I can do FOR my family rather than expect them to do for me.” “I can volunteer at a soup kitchen.” “I can speak up for myself.” “I can go back to school.” A fresh map begins to take form and it is now etched with opportunities to challenge self-defeating, constricting statements that leave clients feeling stuck in the pain of the past. Often times, we hold the belief that a feeling needs to precipitate action — but sometimes it is in taking the new action that the feelings about one self ultimately must change.
The path of self-forgiveness can be a path of action as well as one of self- empathy. Learning to apply a less critical voice towards one’s own transgressions — while still maintaining an appropriate level of accountability — helps clients apply similar compassion toward others and breaks the cycle of selfishness, a defining element of active addiction. I tell clients “Pay attention to any guilt you feel today. It is trying to tell you something about the nature of doing right and wrong in your life in this moment. What steps can you take to heed its message?” It has been said that there is no such thing as a “bad” feeling. Feelings of shame and guilt (especially in early recovery) can be particularly painful. However, when actively attended and carefully listened to, I believe they can be valuable messengers and purposeful facilitators of lasting change.
Turnbridge Alumni, Alec L., was born in New York, but moved to New Jersey as a young child along with his parents and two siblings.
Turnbridge Alumni, Alec L., was born in New York, but moved to New Jersey as a young child along with his parents and two siblings.
Shortly after the move, Alec’s parents split. “Looking back, I’ve realized how my parents’ divorce affected me through the years,” said Alec. “At the time, I felt I had to grow up quick ly and take on roles I wasn’t ready to take on. I turned to selling drugs in my early teenage years and eventually started to drink and smoke weed. I liked it, but it was more the lifestyle that I liked.”
Despite Alec’s troubling behavior, he was able to maintain good grades in school for a while, but as his substance use progressed he found this to be more and more difficult. “My lack of attendance started to reflect in my grades,” said Alec. “My addiction progressed and I was arrested for the first time. It slowly got out of hand, but I pressed on.”
“I eventually progressed to using heroin and cocaine,” said Alec. “I overdosed the night before my grandmother’s funeral and I knew things were out of hand. Shortly after, I had a trip to Italy planned with my father. My plan was to ween down and be clean for the trip. That didn’t happen. I was doing drugs in the airport and ended up spilling my guts to my sister and my father in the airport.”
“Asking for help was hard,” said Alec. “But, I finally got it off my chest and my father was very supportive. I was so afraid of disappointing him and letting him down.”
“I went to a treatment center and they recommended Turnbridge for aftercare,” said Alec. “I had a seven-hour car ride to Turnbridge with one of their staff members, who was also a DJ. He gave me the run-down of Turnbridge and I was excited.”
“I progressed through the phases, leaning on the case managers, support staff and my therapist to help me come out of my shell,” said Alec. “I was committed to helping myself at this point. Eventually, I got a job and I was made a house manager in Phase III. Taking time off from life to work on myself was the only way I could have become what I am today. I truly believe this. At Turnbridge I started to develop the network I needed to make a foundation for my recovery.”
“I am going through a lot right now, but using is the last thing on my mind,” said Alec. “I have a solid support network and I use it. I see my sponsor three times a week, I go to work, I have a relationship with my family that’s honest, and I’m able to create new relationships with others. I had to swallow my pride and take the suggestions given to me and it worked out in my favor.”
15 MONTHS Brad P.
14 MONTHS Brooke M.
13 MONTHS Dylan B.
12 MONTHS Michelle S.
11 MONTHS Meredith S.
6 MONTHS Ian P.