Jenni Whiteside works for Kyros as a Recruitment Manager, working one-on-one with the countless trainees who join Kyros to become Peer Recovery Specialists. 5 1/2 years into her own personal recovery, Jenni recently got married to her husband Leighton. Working with different people every day, Jenni truly inspires each person she encounters to find their own success in recovery.
What do you think are the biggest challenges that people in recovery face?
Removing shame and replacing it with confidence of a bright future. I remember constantly wishing I could fast forward to a place of long term recovery. By the time I had arrived at treatment, I had proven to myself time and time again that I was completely powerless over drugs and alcohol. I was ashamed of myself, my actions. I was tired of being the problem, and terrified of the future.
Prior to August 1st 2017, I couldn’t tell you the last time an hour went by without feeling immense amounts of shame. How would I explain my employment gap to employers? If they knew I was newly sober, would they see me as a liability? Am I a liability? How am I going to handle stress? Am I strong enough?
Now, although my past is full of darkness, there isn’t anything I am more proud to talk about than my recovery. It is the most wonderful thing about me. Am I proud of the person I was over 5 1/2 years ago? No, but I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her. If I didn’t have the darkness, I would never have known the value of the light.
The fact that I have been given the opportunity to provide strength and hope to others fighting their way out of addiction has proven to be my purpose. Now, I get to be the person for others that I so desperately needed in my active addiction.
I had no idea that the strength it took to crawl my way out of addiction would be the strength that would carry me to success today. The most shocking part about it all was that I was never alone.
There were millions of people who understood my experience.
How has your life changed throughout your recovery?
Recovery gave me back a life that I didn’t realize was possible. I never thought there would be a day where I didn’t rely on substances. I still recall how daunting it was to wonder how I would hide it 20 years from now. Today, nothing could make me go back to the way I was “living”.
What does success in recovery look like to you?
I believe success in recovery will always be defined in the eye of the beholder. Because of this belief, I believe success in recovery is the arrival of self acceptance. I am imperfect, and that has never felt more okay. Success in recovery builds over time through experiencing every moment of laughter, sadness, pain, and happiness for the first time without substances.
Whether I felt it or not, every moment counted and I was right where I was supposed to be. In my early recovery, I thought success was having societal achievements; A reliable job, a college degree. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Success in recovery means living a happy, accountable, healthy, fulfilling life. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I will wake up everyday and try to be my best self.
*If you’d like to read more about personal recovery stories, visit our blog here.