I don't recall ever having dreams as a little girl to grow up, finish school, go to college, or even have a career. That wasn't in the cards for me, or so I thought. No one in my family had ever graduated High School, let alone get a degree. My earliest memories include my parents telling me that I was worthless and that I would never amount to anything. My only goal was to get out of that house.
After many overdoses, suicide attempts, and my body being sold at 14 years old for drugs, I finally made it out. Only to become everything that I hated about my parents. I was angry & violent like my father & I was a liar, and thief and sold drugs like my mother.
After almost three decades of using substances, I was exhausted. I felt like I had a python inside of me choking the life out of me. I didn't want to live anymore. I found myself back in jail facing 4 more years with a plan to complete suicide. I hated everything about the woman I saw in the mirror, I couldn't quit doing drugs & breaking every promise I ever made to my children. My pain was so great I didn't know how to let it go.
People would say "if I just loved my boys, I would quit. " It wasn't that I didn't love them, I didn't love me.
Thankfully, God had other plans.
I was ready to do whatever it took for the first time in my life. I wanted to live.
I had a spiritual experience in prison and I knew that day my substance use disorder had been taken from me. I prayed for God to show me the truth in my life about where I needed to forgive, where I needed to ask for forgiveness. I had to work through those resentments, guilt, and shame.
Today I reflect on this truth: when I felt safe, that was the moment that I began to heal. When I lost all of my excuses, I found all of my reasons.
I can't change the past or the mother that I once was to my sons. But today I get to wake up every day as a mom in long-term recovery. I no longer see myself as a victim, I am a survivor!
Charmin Gabbard is the Director and visionary of the Connection Café and visionary behind this ambitious project. Charmin is empowered to make a difference in her hometown. Combining efforts with local and state leaders, her mission is to stop the spread of infectious disease, bring awareness to mental and substance use disorders, as well as support people in all stages of substance use and recovery. As a Certified Recovery Coach, Charmin has invested in countless lives by mentoring and developing recovery programs and by partnering with correctional facilities to support others in their recovery. Since being released from Madison Correctional Facility in 2015 with only her GED, Charmin has earned an Associate degree in Human Services and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. Additionally, Charmin has earned Certified Addiction and Drug Abuse Consultant II (CADAC II) credentials through ICAADA along with countless certifications. Charmin has formed relationships with dozens of Indiana organizations dedicated to addressing substance use disorder and is incredibly knowledgeable about local and state treatment and recovery services.