Tracey White has served as the Lead Recovery Support Specialist at Sojourner House for six years. But that is not where her story with the organization starts.
Sojourner House has played a part in Tracey’s life for 26 years. In 1995, she started her recovery journey in Apartment 9. After she completed her six-month program, she said she didn’t want to leave. But she knew she had to.
Knowing that she always did well in a structured setting, Tracey went to another recovery program for a year. There she found a job, found housing, and, in her words, “Never looked back.” Tracey celebrated 26 years clean on December 20th.
You Can Go Home Again
During her recovery journey, Tracey says that she learned that you can go back home again. After being clean for about 3 years, she came back to Sojourner House and began working part time. While she’s held other employment over the years, Tracey has kept returning to Sojourner House because, “They saved my life. I just want to be able to give back what was so freely given to me.” She says it’s very rewarding to come back and work at a place that means so much to her.
A Guide Who Knows the Path
As the Lead Recovery Support Specialist, Tracey spends her days supporting the women who are in the same place she was when she was in Apartment 9. That support includes everything from driving them to appointments, to assisting with apartment searches, to helping out with children, and giving them some guidance on whatever was going on in their life.
And while Tracey does all of this, “I share my experience, my struggles, and my hope with them every day,” she says, having been down this path. Tracey has experienced what can be possible at the end of this journey.
Opening up is also something she encourages the women to do. “I try to encourage them to talk about how they’re feeling. Early on you don’t know that this is a disease about your feelings, and it preys on your feelings.”
But having a guide who knows the path can also be difficult for a new participant. Tracey laughs, “I also let them know that I know all the little tricks and things they try to get away with. That some of the rules they have in place now are because of me.”
Talking to someone who understands provides a feeling of security, Tracey knows. And she loves being there for somebody and the reward of going to a meeting to see someone she knows is still clean.
Wisdom from 26 Years
So as Tracey reflects on 26 years clean, she wants people to know that the tired adage of
“Once an addict, always an addict” is a myth. “Yes, we may still have addictive behaviors, but that doesn’t mean that we have to allow the addictive behaviors to control our lives.”
Tracey feels blessed to have come to Sojourner House all those years ago, and she now aims to be a blessing to those who enter those doors. She reminds everyone, “It’s not an easy journey, but it’s worth it. It’s worth every bit of it.”