A new article from Tom Gasparoli – Emmy Award-winning journalist, newspaper columnist and author:
Her name is Alison, and just before the Let’s All Be Free team turned on the camera to interview her about being free, she whispered that she was worried, and wondered if she’d have anything meaningful to say.
We reassured her that she would do fine. The camera light went on. We asked one question.
Alison, a slender, taller-than-average woman with a dignified bearing and auburn hair, stood on the dewy grass in the garden of a refuge for the homeless.
She started talking almost as the question came out. It seemed – in a good way – that Alison might never stop.
She and her husband had lost a young child. That was more than bad enough. Then she had a serious surgery, and the painkillers she was prescribed relieved more than the physical pain. They helped Alison hide from the searing pain in her heart. Then she got addicted. Then they lost a good business. Then they moved. Then they lost a home.
The spiral continued. So did the pills, and what she had to do to get them.
Alison kept talking to the camera. One day, she said, while staying in a place unsafe and unclean, she’d heard about a homeless shelter that might take her, might help her heal. She had to go. It was hellish at times. But it worked.
Being free, to Alison, means freedom from the hold of the painkillers, the panic of not having any more in her hand, the comfort of a roof over her head, friends to soothe and sit with her.
Being free wasn’t about the success of her business, or what kind of car she drove, or her latest piece of furniture. It was about a clear mind, a sense of warmth, and the belief that the pills were no longer necessary to wake up – or go to bed.
The loss she experienced, the terrible trap of the drugs, the openness to getting help, the fact that help found her… led Alison to a place she never imagined she could be.
She’s healthy. Hopeful.
Free to start over. Free to tell us all about it. All we had to do was ask.