There was always a reason to go to a coffee shop.
Jennifer had been addicted to weed and alcohol for 17 years, and smoked her last joint in May.
For the first time in 17 years, Jennifer, 35, will celebrate New Year’s Eve without alcohol and without drugs this year. She opened her eyes on a trip to transport Ukrainian refugees. “One of the other volunteers couldn’t keep their hands off the alcohol. I felt so ashamed. I thought: I don’t want to and I shouldn’t be.”
Back to her childhood. Jennifer had two loving parents. She was bullied and had financial problems. And she has ADHD. “I told myself marijuana was my medicine. And when I smoked marijuana, I drank too.”
Stop three times
She temporarily stopped smoking cannabis three times: when she moved back in with her parents at the age of 21, because her relationship was over, and while she was pregnant – giving birth to two sons, ages 4 and 2. Since the children were there, she only smoked and drank at night, when they were in bed, not at home. She also had a good job and a good marriage. I said to myself “So my usage can’t be that bad.”
“But when the war started in Ukraine, I set up an organization with others to match host families and Ukrainians. We went to Poland by bus to pick up refugees. On the way there we had a glass of wine, and I said to the group: We can’t do it on the way back. These people need to Comfort and safety. But one of the volunteers couldn’t keep his hands off the drink.”
“clap my face”
“I looked at her—and was so embarrassed. There were kids there. I sat in the back of the bus, as far away from this guy as I could get. It was a slap in the face. As soon as I got home, I called for help.”
Jennifer has already received EMDR therapy for trauma. The next time she came to see her therapist, she talked about the trip. “I said, ‘This has to end.'” Together they choose a clinic. Jennifer was treated on an outpatient basis because she was living in a safe house and did not interact with other users. On May 18 of this year, Jennifer smoked her last joint and drank her last six-pack of beer.
“I calmed down. All this time I thought I needed cannabis for it, and now I see: The drugs keep me in bed every night anxious. And every morning when I woke up, I wondered if I’d had enough weed for the day.” She also now knows: Addiction has had an impact on her work. “I thought I always went in there sober, but the herbs stay in your blood for days, so you wouldn’t be quite as fit if you used them the night before.”
Of course, there were times when she realized she was wrong. That time when her son asked what she was doing when she was rolling the joint, for example. Or when she stopped driving lessons because she knew her drug use was endangering not only herself, but others as well.
“I also decided to stop a few times, but after a few days there was always a reason to go to the coffee shop again. My little one – a crying baby – was crying a lot: coffee. I had a period: coffee. I worked hard: coffee.”
Now, after seven months without cannabis and alcohol, dare we say: I don’t need those drugs. “My life is so fuller now. Drugs have made my feelings so flat, and now I’m experiencing it. Fighting with myself and addiction is over. And you know? I’m a much nicer person than I always thought.”
“Of course sometimes I think: It’s a waste of the past 17 years. But at 35, I could have gone on like this for another 20 years. I’m really proud that I turned the button this year. 2023 can only get more beautiful. I’m enjoying my family on I hope to gain my degree as an expert through experience, so that I can tell young people: You think resources are your greatest friend, but they are your greatest enemy.”
“Expectations were higher. We’ve waited so long’
Corona has thrown a wrench into the works twice, and this year Catalyn finally managed to get married.
After having to postpone their wedding twice due to Corona measures, Catalin and Flores got married this year. “Finally,” Kathalijn laughs. “But then I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
Kathalijn, 39, and Flores, 43, have been together for about 15 years. They have four children – the eldest is 10, and the youngest is 5. During Christmas 2018, Flores proposed to her. A big wedding is planned. It had to take place on Ascension Day 2020. “Everything was arranged: the dress was ready, the suit was ready, the children’s clothes. Then the first closing was announced.”
“just sick of it”
Cathalijn and Floris have had enough of it for a while. “The day we were going to get married, the weather was beautiful, too. That was too bad, because it was exactly the weather we were hoping for for our outdoor wedding.” The couple decided to postpone the wedding for more than a year, until July 2021.
“We thought it should be possible again. But even then it couldn’t continue, unless we adhered to strict measures. The number of guests had to be reduced to 60, everything had to be done remotely and we weren’t even allowed to go out with our guests.” “s.” drive receiver “, it will be. That was not good. We weren’t in too much of a hurry, so the wedding had to be the party we had in mind.”
Everything has been rebooked
Once again the party has been postponed: to this year’s Ascension Day. From the location to the videographer: everything has been rebooked. New invitations were sent out, new clothes were given to the children – which had grown normally everywhere now – and expressions of thanks were adapted for the guests. “We gave out the drinks bars. The original wedding date was already engraved on it two years ago. And at the right angles to that, we marked the new date with a corona sign. That’s how they tell the story of the wedding.”
And on May 26th there was finally: the big day. “Amazing day, really everything we had hoped for,” Catalin looks back. They got married under fruit trees on an island near a restaurant in Utrecht. “Renovated farmhouse, very nice.” The weather was great. Lunch was served with parents, brothers and sisters. Then the other guests arrived, got married, drank, ate and celebrated.
“The restaurant staff said such a big party had never been celebrated there. The roof really went off. After all the corona measures, everyone was really looking forward to a party, we noticed it in the air. No one canceled, even the family from outside were there.” “.
a little more expensive
There were a few changes from the original plans, but only positive ones: The guest list was a bit longer, there was a photo booth, and as a surprise for the kids, they rented a Hummer limousine, disco lights included, to get from wedding venue to venue. Go where they will spend the night. “It just got a little more pricey,” she laughs. “But we were also able to save for two years longer.”
“Now we’re really saying to each other: ‘It should have been like this. I’m so glad we got married just this year. And because the kids were two years older, they could all be there all day and were so aware of it’ the boys could wear rings, and the girls were flower girls. Expectations were higher because we waited so long. But they all checked. Also for the kids, who regularly ask when we’ll get married again.”
I spent hours listening to the birds.
After being deaf for nearly 14 years, Jacqueline could hear again.
“squeak and ring”. Jacqueline, 51, heard this earlier this year after being deaf for almost 14 years. She was setting up a cochlear implant (CI), a device in her head that allowed her to hear.
Jacqueline was born hard of hearing, but she didn’t let that stop her. In 2008, I got a good job as Operations Director and Deputy Regional Director in a large housing organization. Then something went wrong: In no time I became deaf. I only heard the lower bass notes. Deliberation was no longer possible, and the tools were not sufficient for it.
along the abyss
She says, “I am childless and unwanted, and during that time I got a divorce. My business was my life.” “I started looking for a career that would fit what I could still do, but they didn’t want me anywhere. At the end of 2011, I was turned down.”
Jacqueline has gone on to lecture, volunteer, develop training, and hold a TedTalk; But the lack of colleagues made them feel lonely. She got a job for people with occupational disabilities, but despite the help her employer gave her, the work cost her a lot of energy.
“I often use the metaphor of walking along an abyss. You feel like the earth is collapsing under you and you could fall at any moment, so you need all the energy to stay upright. And when the aura came, I started looking for tools I didn’t know before. But the experts said, ‘You’re already using everything. Isn’t a cochlear implant your thing?'”
‘This is not going to work’
The surgery was on January 18th. About six weeks later, the device was plugged in and I heard the sound again for the first time. And while that sounds fun, it was especially hot. “It all sounded like a continuous series of indistinguishable noises at first. I drained the energy. I panicked and thought, This isn’t going to work.” What followed was a process with an audiologist and speech therapist, and above all a lot of practice.
“And then I began to hear noises I had never heard before in my life. I sat on the moor for hours, listening to the birds. I heard my dog scurry across the parquet. A car ticker. The ticking of the clock. I managed to strike up a conversation with a stranger I met in the woods. One night while I was walking in a park, and I heard a deafening sound, so I turned to YouTube to find out what it was: cockroaches. Special!”
In June, Jacqueline was able to return to work. “The people and the company have been very good to me, but I realized: I can do so much more again. I can talk on the phone and participate in meetings. I didn’t want a job that I got because I had a disability, but it’s a job I’m really happy with.” On December 1st, I started as a Project Administrator, Participation, Diversity and Inclusion in a government organization.”
Despite the fact that it was a difficult process, Jacqueline looks back on “year one.” “Because of my setbacks, I realize how special it is that everything is going so well now.”
In the new year, she hopes to move out of her apartment and into a house with a few extra rooms so she can paint and not have her computer on the dining room table. Near the forest, where she walks with her dog. “I still see this abyss, but now I’m behind the safety fence. I no longer live with the fear that things will get worse: I can now trust in my abilities. And I have a very good perspective for the future.”