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Faith, Hope, and Recovery

– Written by Anna Derrington, Certified Peer Recovery Specialist

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20

One day while I was sitting in treatment at The Next Door, a volunteer came to share some hope with my fellow group of residential clients. She read this scripture to us and shared a motivational story about having just the tiniest bit of faith and how it can be life changing to believe in something. When I think about faith the size of a mustard seed, I think about hope. Hope is one of our core values at TND, and it is the one that stood out to me most during my first days, weeks, and months of recovery.

The Next Door has a program for alumni called Aftercare. It is a support group for program graduates, and it was so impactful for me to be able to come back to The Next Door after leaving residential treatment. My first night attending Aftercare, the facilitator asked us to pick a word that meant something to us and to write it decoratively with paint pens on natural rocks. “Hope” is the word I wrote on my rock. I kept that rock with me everywhere I went. When I was asked a couple of months later to come share my story with current clients, I brought my rock in with me and held it while I shared my experience, strength, and “hope” with ladies sitting right where I had just been. That was in 2016. In 2017, I had the honor of being asked to speak at the main fundraising event for The Next Door. My rock was with me then as well. The following year, I was honored to transition from alumni to staff. Also, in 2018, TND’s big fundraising event’s theme was “Lead Me to The Rock.” During the event, all attendees were given rocks with positive and affirming words written on them. “Hope” is the word that was written on the random rock given to me that year. I found hope here at The Next Door, a little over three years ago.

At the beginning of treatment, I did not want to be here. The idea of getting sober seemed as impossible to me as moving mountains. The first two weeks were some of the most difficult of my life, but there is something special about The Next Door. It creates a safe and healing space for women. After I let go and began to trust the process, I found peace here. There came a point in my treatment where a shift happened, and I surrendered. A place I had not honestly wanted to come to became a place I did not want to leave. A lightbulb had turned on. I realized I didn’t have to use anymore. That realization flooded me with relief and freedom. I heard people say that before, but it took me a long time to accept the personal freedom in that truth.

Aftercare gave me an opportunity to keep coming back to the place where my life had changed and where my new life had begun. I came every Wednesday night from 6-7. On Thursdays and Sundays, I volunteered to bring a 12 Step meeting to the residential clients with the help of my sponsor and other women in the fellowship. I was encouraged to go back to school and finish my degree. One of my classes at Belmont asked me to do a service project, and I chose The Next Door. I started volunteering to serve lunch once a week. Sometimes I was asked to facilitate the Aftercare meetings. This was a huge honor! Eventually, a front desk volunteer was needed, and I was offered to start training for that position. I volunteered at the front desk and then applied to work there as an employee. I was hired part time! It was an absolute dream come true. A goal I had set for myself in early recovery had become a reality.

This recovery stuff is magic, I promise you that. When we keep doing the next right thing we are amazed at what transpires. This IS a promise. There are no words for the gratitude I have for this place, the people who work here, and the women who come here for treatment. Shortly after, I was asked to apply to be a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. By staying connected, volunteering, and being asked to participate, I was able to set and achieve goals for myself. This was a huge contributing factor in my recovery.

Consistently coming back and engaging in meaningful participation helped me stay rooted in my recovery. I’ve always been interested in helping and adding to my community. Back in high school, I created a club called Hillsboro Helps to offer volunteer opportunities for the local students as well as Sudanese and Somali exchange students living in Nashville. I lost the desire for being involved with my community in active addiction, but Aftercare provided the opportunity for me to get reconnected and involved in my community. This was a gift. The Next Door, and being in recovery, has given me numerous gifts, including my life. And my life is tremendously wonderful today.

I did not fully realize in the early days of my recovery how important this place had become to me. It is only through reflecting back that I can see how essential The Next Door has been to my journey of finding my true and purposeful self. Being in recovery has given me the chance to figure out who I am. The person I’m turning into doesn’t want or need drugs and alcohol. I used drugs and alcohol as my solution for a long time. Now, I’m even better than I was when I first started using. I do not even slightly resemble the person I was before. That realization happened here, and The Next Door will always hold a very special place in my heart

Recovery can sometimes be hard, but it is far from impossible. Even if you start out with faith the size of a mustard seed—with hope—you can take steps towards healing with love and support.

Recycling is Mindfulness

by Kellie Kroening, TND Intake Specialist and avid baker

Recycling is a mindfulness practice. Maybe you know someone who recycles like it’s their full time job. Maybe you know someone who thinks the whole thing is a joke. Unfortunately, the movement for recycling sometimes get a bad reputation because of the way it’s been presented – for instance, “if you’re not recycling, then you hate animals and the eventual disappearance of the polar ice caps is on you and your empty Dr. Pepper bottles.” (Can we all just agree that harsh and judgmental extremes don’t really help anyone?) If the newest research is true, we have already passed something of a “point of no return” with the climate problems at hand, and it doesn’t just have to do with recycling. There are a myriad of contributing factors. Yet, while we will have to put our heads together in years to come for solutions to this issue, it doesn’t mean we should stop doing what we already know to be important.

The Next Door has recently started a recycling initiative called The Green Team, which I am honored to be involved in. We’re a small group of people who go around the building once weekly to collect recycling and take it to Nashville’s many drop-off centers, in addition to brainstorming ideas of how TND can be more sustainable and focus on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. However for me, there’s a bigger picture to why I recycle. I’m hoping that as TND participates in the Green Team’s new efforts, the conversation can turn toward mindfulness and how recycling aligns with some of our core values. I believe that recycling actually impacts how we interact with other human beings in the world. Let me tell you why.

When I was in 4th Grade I went to a magically special school called School in the Woods. In the middle of the Black Forest on the Eastern slope of the Rockies in Colorado, there exists a haven for fourth graders where you spend 80% of the school year outside, with the goal of learning how to be a naturalist. A naturalist is a type of biologist who studies the impacts of living species on each other and the environments in which they live. So, a troupe of 10-year-olds including myself spent the year walking around this piece of forest observing, notating, drawing, studying, identifying, counting, quantifying, qualifying, and appreciating the ways that all parts of the earth interconnect and impact all other parts of the earth. This experience was extraordinarily formative for me, and I carry that naturalist heart with me into all facets of my life. As an adult, I came to realize that this is why I was drawn to be a counselor; because counseling is really just naturalism. It is observing, listening, identifying, and appreciating all the ways that each part of someone’s life impacts each part of their own “ecosystem.” How, perhaps, someone’s childhood trauma impacts the beliefs about the self, and how those beliefs impact behaviors, creating gaps in emotional regulation, and how maybe, like for our women and many others, it may result in substance abuse or other dysfunctional coping mechanisms. We can study how the family system can be incredibly resilient even through the harshest blizzards and how the most frozen hearts thaw with enough time spent in the glow of a new sun. Or how when the lightning strikes one too many times, it may set someone’s whole life ablaze. The counseling relationship is there to give witness to all the life and death, growth and change, and to mindfully love the system through the process.

One very important lesson that naturalism taught me was that for the whole ecosystem to be healthy, each part must work in healthful cooperation. This is one of the things that brought me to the Next Door – it attracted me originally because it felt like the sort of place that encourages all parts of the whole to be healthy and to give and take, when needed. For instance, the core values encourage that if we want our women to understand values such as love, respect and community, then we need to also demonstrate love, respect, and community. Health begets health. Love begets love. Respect begets respect. You (be)get the idea.

Which brings me back to recycling. I believe that recycling is a mindfulness practice because for me, when my body makes that habitual motion toward the trash can with something paper, plastic, metal, cardboard etc. in my hand, I pause, and bring my awareness to the moment, instead of mindlessly letting go my waste into some hypothetical landfill. I could throw it away. No one would know. Would it make a difference? Does this one piece of paper or this one straw really matter in the scheme of things? Maybe not. But did you know that every person produces about 4 pounds of waste a day? (Don’t ask me to do the math on that; as you can imagine, School in the Woods didn’t help much with my math issues.) In that momentary pause, I consider that waste begets waste.

So, I mindfully turn my body instead to the little box where I collect recyclables. Because even though I’ll have to make an extra trip, and even though I’m just one person, recycling begets recycling. It is an act of love, and respect, and community because it says “I know that YOU live here too, and for the ecosystem to be healthy, all parts must work in healthful cooperation.” Maybe we are past a point of no return in climate change or melting ice caps but the naturalist in me urges you to believe that we are not past a point of no return within ourselves. It’s what we ask our clients at The Next Door to do every day: to believe that they are not past the point of no return, but that there is still hope that change can happen and that it does matter. Think about the impacts of living species on each other and the environments in which they live, and how that does start with you, within you, sitting at your desk, or standing in your kitchen, practicing mindfulness, and knowing in the grand scheme of things that whether you recycle something to be repurposed or just throw it away, it does matter.

A Building Filled with Hope

by Rachel Morris, Operations Director of The Next Door

I have been employed by The Next Door for almost 12 years.  During this time, as the Operations Director, my mission and purpose have been to provide a safe, clean, and functional facility to the clients of TND.  When I joined the staff in 2007, we were providing services from a small three-story building in downtown Nashville off 8th Avenue and Demonbreun.  This facility served our purpose well until we began expanding to meet the growing needs of the community. Our goal to serve more clients was coming to fruition, but the reality was that our facility could not keep up.  The staff were literally working on top of one another, and the building was deteriorating faster than it could be repaired.

In 2012, we began dreaming of a new and improved facility that would enhance our services and productivity.  In August of 2014, by the grace of God and generous donations from our beloved donors and vendors, our dreams came true! Staff and clients moved from 8th Avenue to a new state-of-the-art facility off Charlotte Avenue.

As Operations Director, this was more than I could have ever imagined. We went from a 13,000 square foot building housing 40 clients to a 44,000 square foot facility that can house 82 women.  We upgraded to all new equipment, bedding, furniture and beautiful decor. We now have:

  • A commercial kitchen that a restaurant owner would be ecstatic to have
  • Group rooms with comfy chairs and essential oils
  • Computers that actually work
  • Beautiful, professional artwork on the walls displaying our core values
  • Attractive bathrooms with fancy tile
  • Ergonomic chairs and new functional desks

Our hearts have been incredibly grateful since our dream became a reality in 2014.  But speaking as someone that worked in the old facility for 7 years, and the new facility for almost 5 years, I can tell you that it is not the building that makes the real difference in the lives of our clients. It is the professional and dedicated staff who truly care about our clients finding their way out of addiction.  When you walk into our facility you will immediately sense a dedicated team that come to work each day ready to serve with their whole heart.

TND has been providing consistent, compassionate care since we opened our doors in 2004.  On May 4, 2019, we will celebrate 15 years of service.  I am honored to be a part of an organization that is willing to serve our clients in any environment. We are proud of our facility but even more grateful for those who truly make The Next Door a success.  If you know someone that needs treatment – a daughter, sister, or friend – I can guarantee they will be in the hands of providers that truly care at The Next Door.

 

There’s Something Special About This Place

By Karen P., volunteer at The Next Door

“There’s something special about this place,” she said, dabbing her eyes. We all nodded in agreement.

We sat in a circle — eight clients, myself, and my co-leader on a rainy Wednesday night for our weekly Spiritual Wellness small group gathering. The subject of the teaching had sparked some meaningful dialogue —an opportunity to affirm these precious women of their worth and value in the eyes of their heavenly Father.

“Today is a great day,” I commented, focusing my attention on another young woman, who had shared how difficult it was to be separated from her children while working on her recovery at The Next Door. She was not alone in her anguish. “Today is a great day because you are right where you need to be. You made it through another day of sobriety! The Lord has good plans for you. He has good plans for your family. And that ache that you feel for your children tonight? God’s love for you is infinitely deeper than that. God tells us in His Word that He is making all things new— all things.” The room was quiet. I watched their faces, their body language, as glimmers of hope rose within them. “Lord,” I prayed silently, “heal their wounds, bind up their brokenness and shower them with your great love.”

For many of the women who come to The Next Door, grasping the truth that they are worthy of God’s love and treasured by Him is daunting. Often, they feel guilt and shame, regret and fear that God is angry at them, or that He has forgotten them.

As a regular volunteer, it is my great joy and privilege to share the Good News with them—to encourage them and remind them that they are not alone — that our gracious, powerful God longs to walk this journey with them. Sometimes a door opens for me to speak these words of truth. Other times, it is simply by being a calming presence in an intake room with an anxious newcomer, or walking with a weary client to the clinic, or believing God for miracles as I pour over the stack of prayer requests at home on my kitchen table.

I’m just one person of many who share the vision of The Next Door, and my small contribution sometimes feels insignificant. But I know that God is working through all our contributions of time, money, talents, and prayers. He is making streams in deserts, He is quieting storms, He is writing beautiful stories.

There truly is something special about The Next Door, and I’m humbled and thankful to be a tiny part of the big things God is doing!

The Next Door’s Homecoming 2018: Hands up for Recovery!

by Ashleigh Rakestraw, Clinical Services Program Manager of The Next Door

On September 19th The Next Door excitedly hosted the first ever TND homecoming event. Staff and alumni from all over middle Tennessee came to celebrate recovery, celebrate each other and celebrate the place that so many of them call “home”. It was an absolute joy to see so many familiar faces!

When I looked around the room at the courageous, empowering women surrounding me I couldn’t help but feel inspired. I saw that women, who at one time believed that they were broken and that they had lost everything, were now mothers, daughters, entrepreneurs, business leaders, lobbyists, homeowners and advocates for recovery.  I looked around and realized that I was surrounded by overcomers. Overcomers who refused to give up, refused to give in and are now refusing to let the disease take even one more life. I watched as woman after woman celebrated their sobriety birthdays by writing their number of years, months or days clean on their hands and calling out their length of sobriety. Cheers soared for the woman who was celebrating 13 years clean, 12 years clean, 10 years clean and so on. I waited to see if the cheers would slow down as sobriety dates ranging from a few months to a few weeks were called out, but it seemed that just the opposite happened. The less sobriety time a woman had, the more the crowd cheered for her. Finally, at the end, staff asked if there was anyone with one day clean at the event. I saw one shy woman, a current client of The Next Door, with tears in her eyes, slowly raise her hand. The next events that took place filled my eyes with tears. The crowd at the event went wild. Cheers filled the room for this individual who had chosen sobriety that day. The women who had 13, 12 and 10 years clean surrounded this client with hugs, high fives and support. I heard the crowd erupt with phrases like, “That’s amazing!” “How inspiring!” “You’ve got this!” “Keep coming back- it’s worth it!” A smile spread across the face of the woman with one day clean as she realized she was not alone- that at one point, every woman in that room had just one day clean. They surrounded her because they knew that every day is a battle with the disease of addiction; and that choosing sobriety- even for one day- is something to be immensely celebrated.

Working in this field, in the middle of the worst opioid epidemic our country has ever seen, you truly begin to see how addiction is just as it’s described in the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book-  “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” But looking around the room that night I saw immense hope. I realized that with women like the ones in that room, who are leading the charge on the battle against addiction and spreading the message of hope in recovery, we could in fact see a world where not even one more life is taken by this horrible disease. I am proud to share space with such powerful, courageous and bold women who share their journey with The Next Door; and I am humbled that these women call The Next Door “home.” The Next Door is ready to, alongside these women, continue fighting the disease of addiction! What a powerful time to be alive!

Weather Changes

by Cindy Sneed, Chief Clinical Officer of The Next Door

The first day of spring might have been March 20th, but that didn’t stop Mother Nature from unleashing some of the most interesting weather in Nashville this year. We had unbelievable amounts of rain, freezing temperatures, and to top it all – SNOW on April 16th!

How does this relate to Addiction Treatment?

The journey to sobriety is an unpredictable one… as is life! At The Next Door, we see rays of sunshine in the women we serve each day. We see them grasp a step in the 12 Steps. We see them become aware of who they are through an individual or group counseling session. But there are also days when it seems like a small cloud might be hanging around. We trust – we have to – that the cloud and its rain are providing much-needed refreshment for the seeds that have been planted. If the sun were to shine all the time, we would become parched and wish for rain. We first meet our clients when they are in the middle of their storm. Dolly Parton said it so well when she said, “Storms make trees take deeper roots.”

The women at The Next Door often wonder if it’s possible they will ever experience warmth from the sun again. We see after a week or even a few days the clouds begin to part. Then the real work begins.

In my 14 years at The Next Door, I’ve seen all kinds of weather. It is both the rain and sun and everything in between that keeps me coming back to see the rays of sunshine that will surely shine again soon.

Season of Renewal

by Sallie Hussey, Chief Development Officer of The Next Door

Spring is such a beautiful season of renewal. You see it all around and in many forms – flowers starting to bloom, neighbors dusting off lawn mowers to give the yard its first cut of the season, and drive-through car washes with lines around the block. With more daylight now, I see entire families on long strolls testing out bicycles from Christmas.

We see renewal here, too, as women discover how to live a new life in recovery. Watching strong, courageous women overcome a new challenge each day and blossom during their time at The Next Door is humbling. Years of substance addiction have worn down so many women and families physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I see changes happen in the women who are here and it’s just like the awakening in my own neighborhood each spring. Like most staff, I’m occasionally blessed with a brief hallway conversation once or twice a week with one of our women. In every case, I walk back to my office convinced of two things – women are resilient and God is present here. So many obstacles and barriers, like a snow storm on the first day of spring, threaten sobriety, but these strong, amazing women keep pushing forward. Staff (and amazing volunteers) here know that faith and prayer, layered on top of the very best treatment, are like sunshine on rich soil. They can and do produce the most beautiful results.

Addiction treatment is available for every woman and at TND it’s given with a special mix of compassion and grace. We are grateful to be a place of hope and renewal not just during the spring but all day, every day.

Light Bulb Moments at The Next Door

by Kate McKinnie, Development and Events Manager at The Next Door

One of my favorite things about working at The Next Door is hearing about or observing numerous “light bulb” moments that take place in a given day. They come from many different people who make up TND’s community (clients, family members, guests, current supporters) and happen in various settings.

Here are a few examples:

  • At the front desk of The Next Door, there is always a basket of encouraging scripture verses on slips of paper for clients to pick up as they pass by. I love it when the light bulb turns on and I hear clients say, “Ooh, that is just what I needed to read today!”
  • When donors or other visitors come for a tour of The Next Door, typically several of them will have a light bulb moment when they learn the full history of the organization and scope of its services. Often, I hear this remark: “I had no idea The Next Door did so much!”
  • At our annual Benefit Luncheon, after hearing a previous client share her story on stage, many donors reveal to me that they have that light bulb moment when they realize the women receiving care at The Next Door could be their daughter, sister, or friend, and how close to home addiction could be.
  • During a weekly group session facilitated by our amazing team of therapists on the topic of healthy relationships, many clients have the light bulb come on when they are able to identify an unhealthy pattern from past relationship choices, and how it’s led them down a destructive or dangerous path.
  • At evening family sessions or weekend visitation, many parents, family members, or spouses/significant others of The Next Door clients often see that light bulb come on when they learn that addiction is a disease and not just a poor choice on the part of their loved one.
  • Many mornings, after clients have had their morning devotional time, it is not uncommon to hear about that light bulb turning on when women say to staff, “Did you read Jesus Calling today? I swear – it was written just for me!”

Lord, thank you for the LIGHTBULB moments of awakening and new insights you are making possible through The Next Door’s ministry. We praise your name that change is possible when you speak to us and our hearts are open to what you have to teach us.

Change Can Be Hard

by Cindy Sneed, Chief Clinical Officer of The Next Door

Depending on the day, if you look up “New Year’s resolution failure rate,” the number is as high as 80% by February 1st. Change is hard! It’s also uncomfortable, especially when staying with the status quo is so much easier.

But then there are times we want change. We need change. And it can come at the most random times. For some it’s on New Years’ Day. For others it’s on their birthday – their personal “new year,” or the middle of a Tuesday morning in the summer. Where does this desire come from? What is behind those sudden bursts of motivation?

Oftentimes, when we answer the call to change something in our lives it can be beneficial–but it’s the sticking with it that matters.

Every day at The Next Door we ask women to change – change their thinking, change old influences, change their motivation, and change their perspectives. But our clients–like all human beings–can be resistant to change.

“One reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up, instead of what they have to gain.” –Rick Godwin

Regardless of what leads women to want to change by seeking help at The Next Door, women under our care are encouraged and empowered to make the necessary changes to move into a new phase of life– one that does not include drugs or alcohol or unhealthy relationships. Our integrated team of healthcare professionals work together to help clients focus on their present – to live one moment at a time. We also help women dream, imagine, and explore their future GAINS–rather than viewing things they are giving up and focusing only on their past. A common phrase used in 12-step meetings and in group therapy sessions at The Next Door is, “nothing changes if nothing changes.” Just like making a new year’s resolution to lose weight or stop smoking, it begins with making small changes we can commit to, that eventually lead to new, healthy habits.

The most rewarding part of my job at The Next Door is engaging with our clients and witnessing their growth and return to healthiness. I love watching them become more open to willingness and possibility and making commitments to changing unhealthy behaviors. Recently, one of our clients made this statement to me on her final day of completing our 30-day residential treatment program: “you’ll be seeing me again – not as a client, but as your co-worker. I want to work at The Next Door one day and help other women like you all have helped me.” Now that’s not just change – that’s transformation!

For any of you who support The Next Door with prayer, volunteer time, financial donations, thank you for helping us make CHANGE possible in the lives of the women in our community.

Blog Post – Strong

Sallie Hussey

I grew up in a family of strong women. My sisters and I were fortunate to have vibrant, talented women, like my grandmother, and even great grandmother, who were wonderful examples. My grandmother, a newspaper reporter, gave me a giant hard-back Webster’s dictionary when I started first grade. She told me to “ask if I didn’t know the answer” and “find whatever you need to do your job.” I didn’t really understand that in elementary school but, certainly as the years passed, it started to sink in.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I saw my mother and grandmother juggle career and family. I know they had adult problems and struggles, but I was shielded from them. Now I see how truly difficult it often was and how many challenges and obstacles they faced. Today is no different, in many respects for women in 2017. The challenges of motherhood and career can be overwhelming. The stigma of addiction and mental health is real and still one of the many barriers a woman must face.

Maybe being raised in a family of women (mostly) helped prepare me for work at TND. I see amazing women every day who are here and are working to overcome the most extraordinary circumstances life has given them – balancing family, careers, maybe school, and now overcoming addiction. Women are resilient and we are born to survive. The Next Door is uniquely, and wonderfully, equipped to help women and we do it, every day. I smile when I see our case managers and therapists just chatting with a woman in the hall, or when I see how easily our clinical assistants bond with a frightened young woman on her first day. Each day women help women here and it’s beautiful to see.

My grandmother would say we’re helping these women “find what they need” to do their job. Those jobs are numerous and diverse – wife, mother, CEO, business owner, care taker, home owner, sister, friend, student, and so much more. I know what a blessing it was to grow up in a family of strong women. I’m blessed now, too, to have even a very small part in helping these amazingly strong women in their recovery from addiction. We would love to have you join us.

Sallie Hussey serves as the Chief Development Officer at The Next Door.