“I’m so proud of the woman that I am today. I can look at myself in the mirror now…and I love myself!”
Those are the words of TROSA graduate Dalila. Talking with Dalila, her confident personality, perseverance, and positive sense of self shine through. A testament to the strength she has gained on her journey to rebuild a better life.
Dalila grew up as the youngest sibling in her large family’s loving home. She endured trauma that she kept to herself. “I absolutely had people around me—my family—that I could have turned to when needed…but I chose not to.” Dalila found solace in drugs and alcohol as an easy way to escape her emotions.
While turning inwards, she lost her confidence, her drive to succeed, and her spark. “I really wanted people to like me and accept me. I dimmed myself down because I didn’t want to shine too brightly. I was afraid people wouldn’t like me. I thought that I wasn’t good enough. That was a label I put on myself, and I started to believe it. I internalized it, and behaved in a manner that wasn’t me. I became OK with just doing the bare minimum. I became OK with relationships that weren’t healthy.”
Her substance use contributed to a cycle of negative thoughts about herself; and as Dalila grew older, her drinking consumed her thoughts and actions.
Dalila worked towards her Associate’s Degree while navigating an abusive relationship. Her relationship’s instability—fueled by substance use— took its toll on her mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Her sister learned about TROSA, and tried to persuade Dalila to consider the multi-year treatment program. “I kept pushing treatment off. I said I wanted to finish my degree first, but there was only a little bit of truth to that.”
Dalila made the Dean’s List and earned her degree…but her addiction overshadowed her accomplishments. “I was asked to be a speaker at graduation, but I declined because I knew I wouldn’t be able to deliver a speech without drinking. When I walked across the stage to get my diploma, I was intoxicated,” she shares.
In 2014, Dalila did start TROSA, but had to leave the program early. Dalila maintained her recovery, until Christmas Eve 2015. “I chose to drink, and it just took off from there…ten times worse than before. I was drinking all day, every day. I started losing everything again.” Family is important to Dalila, but she was quickly losing them, too. Her sister told Dalila she would not interact with her until Dalila sought treatment, and her parents’ worries and sadness were ever-present.
“I could feel the pain I was causing those around me, but I wasn’t present. I was thinking about my next drink.”
Dalila’s will to live pushed her to call TROSA again.
“I wasn’t ready before. I first went to treatment to get away from a bad relationship and to make my family happy. I just went through the motions.”
Her new program at TROSA would be different. She restarted TROSA’s program in 2017.
“When I walked through the TROSA Women’s Program’s doors again, I felt a sense of peace. I was ready. This time, I couldn’t leave how I came in.”
TROSA’s cost-free and comprehensive program gave Dalila the time and tools needed to address her emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. She received housing, meals, clothing, therapeutic classes and activities, and counseling. Most importantly, she was part of a supportive community where she could safely feel open to sharing, learning, and growing.
Every TROSA resident participates in community assignments to provide structure to one’s day and to help develop life skills. Through her community assignments—including serving as TROSA’s education department coordinator—Dalila realized her strengths and talents.
Encouraged and empowered, Dalila was able to confront painful experiences from her past, to realize her self-worth, and to work on healing. “The most challenging part about my time at TROSA was doing the work in counseling to address things that I had blocked out of my mind.” She learned at TROSA how to address emotions and anxiety in a healthy way, how to prioritize caring for herself, and how to establish boundaries in her life. “I didn’t have boundaries and I worked hard on identifying and creating them. And it was worth it. I’m ok now if people don’t like me, because I love me. I have fought hard to be the woman that I am today.”
Dalila proudly graduated TROSA’s two-year program in 2019. She has a network of TROSA graduates, residents, and staff that can help support her recovery, and she is a role model and a mentor to many.
“I just feel good today; and even when I may be having a ‘bad’ day, I can stop and reflect on the way I am feeling and why, and I know I can pick up the phone and call someone if I need to. People tell me how much of an inspiration I am to them, and I do the same for others. I pick up the phone and send a text to let people know ‘hey, I’m thinking about you,’ because you never know what someone is going through, or if someone may need to hear that today.” In taking initiative to reach out to others, Dalila is strengthening her own recovery as well, pushing herself out of her comfort zones because, as she shares: “there’s no growth in comfort.”
Dalila’s drive to continue growing and learning allows her to enjoy the everyday moments once taken for granted. “Life is a different experience today…and I’m all about it!! I’m employed and my day consists of working and enjoying the little things now in life. I enjoy doing the routine things every day…I love cooking…I love hearing the birds outside my window.”
In addition to newly appreciating the details of life around her, Dalila has renewed her relationship with her family. “I talk to my family on a daily basis. My sister and I talk again and she’s my best friend. She encourages me and gives me strength. It feels good to talk to my parents now and to have them excited to hear my voice. I am proud that I’ve been able to establish my own roots. I am married to a fellow graduate. In addition to self-accountability we believe in being accountable to each other. We’ve worked hard to get to this point. Life is definitely better on this side.”
Today, Dalila is happy, healthy, productive, and reflective. Her courageous self-discovery and growth—sparked at TROSA—continues as a proud program graduate, as she continues to practice what she has learned during her program. “I’m still working on me, and life is so good right now. I’m just happy and excited about the future, and what’s to come.”