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Power of One
Sierra PhillipsSierra chips.adj

“My name is Sierra and I am an addict.” I have probably said this more then anything else in my life. I attended my first meeting in January of 2013. I walked into the room scared — I was 16 and wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. Everyone around me was hugging one another, saying hi, and being friendly.

Honestly, at that time I wanted nothing to do with anyone. I didn’t think I had a problem. I thought I was just another teenager who partied and couldn’t handle alcohol. I walked into this same meeting for months, not saying a word to anyone. I continued to show up because my living situation depended upon me showing up each week. I would be dropped off, sit in the back, and walk out quickly when it was over. I didn’t care about how friendly these people were, I was sure I wasn’t like them.

Over the years my attitude has changed. My addictions progressed from being that teenager who can’t handle alcohol to a young adult reliant upon drugs to function. I went to treatment for the first time in February of 2015. While there, I acknowledged the fact that I was an addict and that it was okay. I had a disease and it wasn’t something I could ignore anymore. I didn’t stay sober after this. I had multiple relapses, but I kept attending meetings. After treatment, I started to realize the value of friendships in the room. Over the years I have been in and out. I have fallen, dusted myself off, and was able to bring myself back up. I will have seven months sober this May. As I’ve built relationships it has meant I haven’t had to do this alone. People have given me a shoulder to cry on, food, a place to live, and even a reason to live. These people have taught me that it’s okay to let someone else help me. They have loved me until I was able to love myself.

One major thing that I have learned from working with The Mockingbird Society is being able to self-advocate and use my story in a meaningful way. I have been able to use these lessons in getting sober and making connections in the rooms. Part of recovery is being able to share our experience, strength, and hope with newcomers to recovery. When I first got sober, multiple people told me that my shares made little sense and that I sounded crazy. Over the years I have been able to take tools that I have gained through Mockingbird to clearly articulate my story so people can understand it, feel hope from it, and feel like they can get sober too. Another big thing that Mockingbird has taught me is how to advocate for myself and my needs. In the past, I didn’t feel safe saying what I needed to succeed within my friendships. Now I feel able to swallow my pride and ask for and accept the help I need from my tribe of supporters.

Today my life looks a lot different than that of my 16 year-old self who walked into my first meeting. I now believe that I am an addict with a disease. I am not ashamed of that fact either. I am now one of those people that my teenage-self thought was odd for being happy in meetings. I am grateful for the life I have today, and the people I get to call my tribe.

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We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit www.mockingbirdsociety.org, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ mockingbirdsociety.org. Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.