“Never take a seat when you should take a stand.”
At some point in all of our lives we must sit back and reflect on everything that has brought us to where we are at. Many of us play the game of the victim of circumstances and this setback has our minds and our hearts asking the wrong question; “Why is this happening to me?” What we fail to see is that a string of decisions lead us down this path, and we may have wandered away from who want to be, or how we see ourselves. In our teenage years humans tend to run from the innocence of childhood. As adults we search for that innocence lost. Who we dreamed of being as a child, and who we have become might be far from personal expectations.
When we achieve a vision of who we want to be, the questions start to change, and values start to re-align. The questions begin to shift: “What have I learned? What can I change? How do I build the life I want rather than the life I have?” When an individual reaches this moment, the abject clarity of life becomes less of a struggle, and more of a challenge, but also an incredible breath of relief. Change is scary, and in a sense when we decide to change our very being and begin to understand our faults and shortcoming, it becomes even harder. A need fills you to replace the old habits with new ones, and we look for healing through others’ words, and their support. We value the things we did as a child as we chase this innocence, navigating as closely to the things that made us happy back then but were lost in the mire of adult decisions. It’s a struggle for personal growth. It is reflection of the past, but not reminiscing. It is leaving people behind in search of new relationships.
It is all an uphill battle and the battle has to be fought one day at a time. No one knows this journey better than a recovering addict.
Elise Costa resides on Cape Cod. She was born in Harwich and resides in Harwich today. Her story is more of survival and of finding herself through creative means. She has a great understanding of who she wants to be tomorrow and the next day but knows that the past is always one haunting thought away and that to stomp that voice out, it is imperative to be in the now. Elise’s story picks up in her tween years.
“Life growing up here was fun, until it wasn’t fun anymore. Drugs are a huge part of my life. I was younger and in high school. It took many tries to get my life together and what happened. When I was 12 years old, it was the first time I picked up anything and it was alcohol. The gateway drug isn’t weed. It's alcohol I believe.”
At the age of 17 she was introduced to opioids and after a health scare, her life started to spin a bit out of control.
“And then I remembered my 17th birthday. Someone was like ‘Oh do you want to do a 30 of Percocet?’ I said yes, I didn’t know what it was. And I fell in love immediately. That's when things got really bad. I somehow managed to graduate high school. My addiction progressed and when I was 19 I found out I had MS which was so scary. I went on a skiing trip with my father and my sister and I felt like I had a hair in the center of my eye and every day it got a little bit blurrier and blurrier so when I got home from a week-long vacation, I went to an eye doctor and he opens my pupil and in the matter of seconds he rules MS or a brain tumor. The next day I had an emergency MRI and I got rushed up to Brigham and Women's and I was at the hospital for 5 days. My vision did come back but a couple months later I lost vision in both of my eyes. I didn’t know it was so scary having a disease like that and I never thought I would be able to walk so what does a drug addict do best? Pick up heavier drugs. And I started shooting heroin. That brought me to my knees faster than anything.”
During this time period, she worked on and off at recovery and looked forward to the future, but always seem to stumble a bit. Soon though, she understood who she wanted to be for the future, and the person she saw in the mirror was not it. There was need for great change in her life.
“I ended up at this place in Hyannis, Homeless, not Hopeless, which was a great transitional housing that you had to be clean to reside there. I learned a lot there and I was like finally, I can’t do this anymore. What am I doing with my life? I am 26. So, I called my neighbor who is my sponsor because she is cut from the same cloth as me. I went to a meeting with her. I am doing the steps now. Life is good.”
Now she can look forward and see a future for her and her budding family. She has decided to pursue a license in cosmetology for the time being, but in the future, she wants to work with and help recovering addicts. Her family is behind her along with her fiance as she continues this journey. Elise Costa has that fire in her eye. They show hope for a bright future and the need to succeed. There is strong presence that radiates in her aura. Her testimony is powerful, and the words ring out that she is ready for the future. For the rest of her life. She has found ways to cope and to grow in art and thought in her surrounding environment.
“It (art) takes me out of my head. It’s always just been relaxing to me and it was the one class in high school throughout all of my trials and tribulations that I still loved no matter what. I just think that it is very healing and relaxing. It’s like your mind and what you’re thinking. You paint something and it’s how you see it. You go back and look at it and I drew differently than you might have drawn it and I think that the human brain is cool. And the Cape, I like the beaches and I like the nature of here. (I enjoy) The conservation land that I walk every day, being outdoors and riding horses. The whole culture of the Cape because it is small.”
“There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. And positivity, no matter how bad something is. You can always find something positive. Never take a seat when you should take a stand.”