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PO Box 5838, Sarasota, Florida 34239

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Purpose House Super Star - Tiffany Jenkins

As a child, I was often asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.  My answer varied depending on the day; an astronaut, a teacher or an actress were among some of the answers I gave.  At no point upon being asked however, did I ever respond: “ I would like to be a lying, thieving, drug-addicted criminal.”  That was never part of my plan.


Relationships, peer pressure and my own incessant need to feel different and escape reality, resulted in me experimenting, and inevitably becoming dependent on narcotics to make it through each day.  Within two months of trying that first drug, I went from being captain of the cheer-leading squad and straight ‘A’ student– to completely dropping out of school.


I was ignorant when I first began using, unaware of the consequences that came along with prolonged use.  I had no idea that by taking that first drug, it would soon become my sole focus in life from that point on, ultimately resulting in the complete destruction of my entire world.


Addiction grabbed a hold of my soul and never let go.

 

It dragged me down to the depths of hell and pulled me through dark, vile and dangerous scenarios that I never wanted to be a part of.  I was lost, I was hopeless, and I was powerless.


The only way for me to feel halfway human, was to get high – and at times that required me to make desperate choices to continue feeding my habit.  Things I never wanted to do, things that broke the hearts of my family members and destroyed my sense of self- worth. Finally, after years of abusing drugs and breaking the law; I found myself broken and alone; within the cold, concrete confines of a jail cell.


My poor choices had finally caught up with me, and I now had to suffer the consequences of those actions and do the time.  My life had become a dark, desolate place and now I had nothing but time to reflect on my past – and my seemingly impossible future.


I was given a choice at my sentencing.  I could be free from jail after serving my time; or I could relocate to a 6 month inpatient rehabilitation facility.  I chose the latter, as I realized that keeping myself away from the drugs for an extended period of time was never going to remove the desire for me to use.  I knew that the only way to understand and conquer this disease, was to educate myself about it, and receive the help I desperately needed from professionals. I wanted another shot at life, and I knew I couldn’t do it alone.


I spent the following 6 months taking a good, hard look inward.  I began to learn different ways of coping with my feelings and emotions, that didn’t involve using drugs or alcohol.

 I started loving myself again and slowly but surely, began earning the trust and respect back from my loved ones.  I was beginning to think that it was in fact possible, to live a life free from active addiction.

Upon successfully completing the program, I found myself at a crossroads once again. There were two paths laid out before me, each resulting in completely different futures depending on which I chose.  I had an option to go live with my father, whom had gotten sober 15 days before I was arrested.  He had been attending meetings and assured me it would be a safe place to get back on my feet.


While I believed he would, in fact provide a stable living environment for me; it wasn’t my surroundings that concerned me – it was my own self will. 


I wasn’t sure that I was ready to be left to my own devices just yet.


Therefore, when a pamphlet from Purpose House Transitional Homes was presented to me by my father after a visitation two days prior to my graduation, I immediately felt an inexplicable pull on my heart. It was as if my Higher Power was speaking to me through the universe and there was suddenly no question in my mind of where I needed to be.


I called the number on the pamphlet and within a week, I was moving my bags into the garage of the home.  I remember the day like it was yesterday.  I remember how nervous and hesitant I was, because suddenly the thought of residing with 5 other women after a year of sharing a room with other women; seemed exhausting.


All my concerns disappeared the moment I stepped foot into the house. 


There were no bars on the windows, no chain locks on the doors, it was just – a home.  I walked in and immediately noticed there was a girl about my age sitting on the couch and watching one of my favorite movies while eating popcorn.  She excitedly introduced herself and explained it was her day off and she had been dying to see this movie.  I immediately wanted to join her – and I hadn’t even completed the tour.


To my left there was a woman sitting at the table eating a bagel and reading from The Big Book, I waved and from there I was brought to my room and introduced to my roommate, who was just leaving for work. I looked out my bedroom window and noticed a woman sitting in the sunshine and doing step work. 

I was suddenly overcome with gratitude, and the realization that this was a safe, stable environment – but more importantly – I was going to be surrounded by strong women who were on the same path to freedom as myself.  It felt like; I was finally home.

The next 6 months of my life – made me the person I am today.  There is no way to describe the peace that comes along with knowing that if at any time, I had a moment of weakness, or needed some clarity and a different perspective; all I needed to do was walk out of my bedroom.  There was help less than 10 feet away in every direction.  Purpose House shattered all the expectations I’d had in regards to living in a halfway house.  I didn’t feel locked down, in fact it was the opposite; I felt free.


I attended 90 meetings in 90 days, which was one of the requirements of the home.  Doing this enabled me to make friends in the fellowship, and understand the meaning of what a real, healthy and mutually beneficial relationship really was. Purpose House had a curfew of midnight, which made it possible to attend a meeting, then meet up with friends for dinner, a movie or bowling.


I found myself having fun on a daily basis – without the use of drugs.  On Sunday’s all of the members of the Purpose House community gathered together and attended Celebrate Recovery, which is a biblical and balanced program that allows us to overcome our hurts, habits and hang ups, based on the actual words of Jesus.  I learned so much about my higher power and how remarkable the connection between His own words and my current situation were.


I acquired a sponsor, a job, and I began working the steps. Purpose House gave me enough freedom to experience the real world with my newly sober mind, all while holding me accountable and giving me a safe place to return each day.  I was slowly rebuilding a life for myself, while my room mates and friends in the home cheered me on every step of the way.


My father ended up being diagnosed with cancer and losing his home simultaneously.  He moved into one of the Purpose House sober living facilities, where he was given a comfortable place to spend his final days. I truly believe that Celebrate Recovery strengthened my father’s relationship with the lord, releasing any fear or concerns he had about transitioning to the next life. My father and I made a lot of wonderful, sober memories for the first time during our time at Purpose House, one of my favorites being the day we received our one year medallions together in front of all of our loved ones during one of the house meetings.


Today I have over 6 years sober.  Since transitioning from The Purpose House to the real world, I have gotten married, had 2 children, and acquired my stepdaughter full time. Today I’m able to be the person God had intended when he created me. My life is far more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed, and I almost didn’t live to see it. When I look at my children and listen to their little giggles, I am filled with gratitude as I realize how differently things could have turned out.  I am forever indebted to Purpose House – for it was in that house; that I found my purpose.


Tiffany Jenkins is a renown recovery advocate, published author of High Achiever, and dynamic speaker. You can follow her recovery journey, order her book, get tickets to see her live show at Juggling the Jenkins.