Three years ago, Victoria was living halfway across the world in Australia. “I wanted to get away from my problems, but my problems followed me. I didn’t have any family there, I was super isolated, hanging around the wrong people, working in the wrong places. I knew I was in trouble, but I didn’t know what to do about it.”
Victoria reached out to a greater power, asking what she should do. Grasping at straws, she did an internet search for beginner 12 step programs and that’s when Victoria’s life changed – forever. The next night she went to her first 12 step meeting. Standing outside the meeting hall, terrified to go inside, Victoria recalls hearing laughter and feeling a warm energy radiate out of the room. These things were a foreign concept to her at the time. She has been sober ever since she walked into that first meeting, but the recovery journey hasn’t always been an easy road.
At seven months sober Victoria moved back to Canada. She felt like a newcomer again and had to re-establish relationships, make new connections, and find her people. This is when Victoria found Avalon. She immediately felt that same sense of warmth she had felt at her very first meeting in Australia and knew she was home. Victoria has been an active member of Avalon ever since.
“Avalon is my second home. I feel so comfortable and safe here. Because Avalon is women only, it provides a different level of comfort and I find I can be more open than I would in a mixed meeting.”
Victoria says Avalon is a welcoming and accepting atmosphere for her to come to on any given day where she can focus solely on her recovery.
Initially, when Victoria came back to BC, she’d attend up to six meetings a week, sometimes more if needed. Then, at two years sober, she gave birth to her first child and for a time, stopped going to meetings. She found herself in that dangerous place of emotional distress and isolation that she had experienced before. She had stopped connecting with other women in recovery, being of service, and wasn’t working with others – she needed to do something to get back on track, and fast. One day at a time, Victoria returned to Avalon and was soon chairing and hosting meetings through Zoom, guiding other women through the “Big Book” and giving away what had so freely been given to her.
Recovery during a pandemic
“It’s been a wild ride,” says Victoria. At home with a new baby at the onset of the pandemic, Victoria says some days she couldn’t even get dressed. One positive to come out of COVID-19 was the innovative ways to now join recovery meetings. “I’ve thrived during this time. I’m able to join meetings while taking care of my baby – from home. I have the support I need and I’m even able to connect with people I met at meetings in Australia!
COVID itself is quite isolating and I recognize that isolation is a dangerous place to be, so it forced me to reach out to people more.” Victoria added, “That being said, it has been nice to get back to some in-person meetings at Avalon. It brings a different level of connectivity, and we are able to reach more women through the hybrid meeting format.”
Victoria says the most rewarding part of her recovery has been working with others and giving back. That’s when her sobriety really came alive. “You get what you put in,” Victoria stated. Someone once shared with her that, “12 step programs are handed to you on a silver platter, it’s up to you if you want to enjoy the feast.” She was willing and had that gift of desperation needed to embrace all this program has to offer.
“Without Avalon holding a safe space for me to go to on any given day, I’m not sure I’d still be here today.”
Addiction is a disease of isolation, and it is our mission to make sure that women know they are not alone. Avalon is committed to being there for women, no matter who they are, where they are, or what stage of their recovery journey they are in. We hear every day from women who need our services, and we know that we need to make sure that Avalon is available where and when they are most needed. To meet the growing and evolving demand for our services, we are working to extend our opening hours to include evening and weekend support.