From Escaping Pain to Embracing Healing

Marie found herself in a place of darkness and dependence. What began as a means to desensitize the pain of real life, quickly progressed into a fulltime reliance to the point that being sober was almost unbearable.

Growing up in the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama, Marie had everything she needed. However, she experienced external pressures to be and look a certain way. When her family entered a difficult season, Marie began comparing herself to her peers. She first learned to escape through playing with dolls where she could pretend to be someone else. These escapes into another life were only the beginning to a cycle of numbing and escaping. As a freshman in High School, she found herself spending time with exceptionally older friends who exposed her to drugs and alcohol. Finding more exciting escapes, Marie quickly found refuge in alcohol and drugs. Marie accounts, “Once I found drugs and alcohol, it got to the point where being sober was not comfortable… I didn’t want to do anything sober.”

In constant pursuit of escape, Marie found relief through her drug use while also maintaining her image as a successful student throughout High School. Moving to her dream college, she hoped things would improve. However, things worsened and brought Marie to a greater dependence, resulting in deep depression and loneliness. Dropping out of school, Marie moved back home. It was here that she attended her first 12-step meeting. She explains, “The thing about addiction is, it is the only disease that talks back to you in your own voice. As soon as I left there, my head began telling me ‘No, you’re not an addict…”  Believing this lie, she moved to a different school and found herself alone, in the cycle of depression and using once more. Marie accounts one particular time when she was stuck in a three-day bought of using. She says, “I saw a cockroach crawl across my floor, and I went to stomp on it when I stopped myself and thought ‘wait, it’s the only living thing I’ve seen in days, maybe I shouldn’t kill it.’” Having hit a new bottom, she realized she needed help and went home that day, beginning her pursuit of healing. However, her disease still spoke the lie “you are not an alcoholic.” Marie describes this season saying, “I disqualified myself. Everything I heard of people doing that did not apply to me, I said ‘Well, I didn’t use like them…’ and then I went and qualified myself.” Marie describes these qualifications as “yets” which stands for “You are eligible too”.

Marie Danner
Marie Danner

Reaching this new rock bottom, Marie entered into recovery headfirst. Finding freedom and true community at every turn, she was able find holistic healing by surrounding herself with like-minded people. Getting involved in a 12-step program, she immersed herself in the world of recovery, and found ways to give back. Returning to school, she got her bachelor’s and master’s in social work and has found healing in loving those who are suffering from substance use disorder. Healing found its way into Marie’s heart, soul and body. “With addiction came a lot of horrible things… but I gained so much more than I had lost. If it weren’t for the fact that I am an addict, I don’t know if I would have developed what I have.” She now sponsors individuals and works with patients who are suffering from the disease of addiction. The redemption found in brokenness creates a beautiful picture of healing for Marie. In humility and determination, Marie was able to fight for healing not only from substance use but also from the internal trauma she had faced and fought for so long to escape.

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