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Rebecca Ronning joins us on the SHAIR Podcast today. Rebecca is 21 years old and recently celebrates 1 year clean. She began using heroin at age 17 and from that point on has been battling drug addiction. She came from a good family, got into college full time at age 16 and graduated with her associates of arts degree at 17 while graduating from high school at the same time. A star athlete in high school in diving and went to state 4 times.
After graduation Rebecca got into nursing school and with 2 semesters left for her RN degree she dropped out to go to rehab. She had everything going for her but heroin took her down hard. She went to her first inpatient at age 19, was admitted to 5 inpatients, 3 sober houses, and fired from pretty much every job she had, using drugs the entire time.
It got so bad she began selling her body for drugs, was charged with a felony and overdosed 4 times. She lost all hope. Her family would tell her you HAD so much going for you how could you throw it away. Her parents are 25 years sober and they have helped her so much but nobody could save her from herself.
The consequences just go on and on but the BEST part is how her life is now and what she can mainly say is service work has saved her life. Today Rebecca volunteers speaking at detoxes and treatment centers. What’s most important to her is for other young people to know you can be sober and have fun!
Clean Date: July 18th, 2015
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Omar: Rebecca, are you ready to get started?
Rebecca: Yeah, I’m ready.
Omar: All right. Let’s do this. First of all, take us into your normal daily routine, including recovery.
Rebecca: I work Monday through Friday. I wake up about 5:30 every morning and get ready for the day, bring some peace in my life before I go to work. Then I work till about 3:30, 4:00 and I try to hit up a meeting about 3, 4 times a week. It really depends on how I’m feeling that week. I go for a walk every night. That’s like my meditation period. I feel like … I’ve these nice walking trails by my house and so just getting out in the nature really helps to calm me down after a long day. I meet with my sponsor every week. We meet at the same time, same day, same place. Consistency is what helps me get through the week. I just really try to do exercise during the week, especially on the weekends when I have off and I like yoga and just kind of … My life is pretty boring, but not in a bad way. It’s pretty average, I feel like, compared to what it was.
Omar: You’ve already covered how in your daily routine you take your walk at night and that’s how you meditate. Is there anything else that you do to maintain your spiritual condition, that conscious contact with the higher power?
Rebecca: On my way to work, I always keep the car pretty quiet and just that’s when I say my prayer for the day, just however small it is, and I feel like I got more connected with my higher power by getting connected with other people to begin with. That’s how the connection first started because at first, I thought, “That higher power stuff, like, that’s cute, that’s nice for you, but I can do this on my own. I’m good.” Now, I really feel like it’s crazy. I just feel this really great connection. I just notice these God moments now and I feel like that’s the coolest part of my recovery is seeing all these things that are happening in other people’s lives too, not only myself and just seeing all, how God comes into people’s lives. My higher power is God and that’s just really cool and really amazing what recovery has brought me in that sense.
Omar: Okay. How much clean time do you have, and when is your anniversary date?
Rebecca: I have 13 months today, so my anniversary date was July 18th, 2015.
Omar: Awesome. Congratulations.
Rebecca: Thank you.
Omar: That’s great. All right, and tell us how old you were the first time you drank or used drugs, and more importantly, how did they make you feel?
Rebecca: I think the first time that I ever did anything, I was 12, and smoked weed for the first time with a cousin. I really don’t remember too much of that. The first time I drank when I was probably 13, I remember it was with a bunch of girls, and I just remember throwing up so much that night and the next day and I’m like, for the next couple of days, I’m like, “Oh, that was horrible.” Then after that, it was texting them like, “Oh, when are we going to do that again?”
Omar: Rebecca, number 1. What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Rebecca: I think really what kept me from getting clean was just being sick, being dope sick from heroin. What kept me from staying clean was my arrogance. I thought I could outsmart the program or something or treatment. I told my therapist just a couple of months ago that I’m like, “The promises have started coming true in my life.” My first reaction is like, I’m pissed about it because that means it does work.
Omar: Number 2. At what point did you have that first spiritual awakening, that aha moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed the hope that you could recover?
Rebecca: I think that I found hope in hearing other people share their story. When I was in treatment, seeing people that came back and told their story really made me feel like I could stay sober and felt like, “If these people can do it, I can probably do it too” so that was really what got to me and helped me and encouraged me. Just the people on the program have just always encouraged me and told me the truth. Even when it meant that I was wrong which God forbid that I’m wrong, and so I feel like … I was never really like, “Oh my gosh, that is the moment.” It was just so many different moments in the beginning of my journey that just all collided to one night like, “We got this.” It’s always, “We.”
Omar: Tell us, Rebecca, do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to a newcomer that you read in early recovery or currently?
Rebecca: I read the book Velvet Elvis in treatment and that’s by Rob Bell. That’s a really good one. That really helped me get connected with a higher power.
Rebecca: That was really important.
Velvet Elvis – Rob Bell
Omar: Number 4. What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Rebecca: Service work will save your life. For the first 6 months of my sobriety, a lot of mornings, I volunteered at the Salvation Army in the morning and helped made breakfast and serve it to people that are homeless or people that can’t afford food. That was a really humbling experience and amazing. I highly recommend that for anybody. If you can find something like that, that’s amazing.
Omar: Anybody, yes.
Omar: Service of any kind, whether it would be in the rooms or it’d be in a soup kitchen or it’d be at an orphanage, when you are doing something that doesn’t benefit you in any way, shape or form, where you are doing selfless work, service work, it’s the most rewarding and gratifying experience of your life.
Omar: Giving freely is like alchemy, right?
Omar: It just brings so much abundance into your life, right?
Rebecca: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah, it’s so important.
Omar: Finally, number 5. If you could give a newcomer only 1 suggestion, what would it be?
Rebecca: Do what other people tell you to do. Do anything anybody tells you to do. That was seriously the most important thing I could have done for myself is get my own self out of the way. A counselor used to always tell me that, “You can’t get out of your own way.” It was so true. I had to just trust in other people, that I don’t always know what the hell I’m doing.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER
“Service work will save your life.”
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Rebecca!
See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.