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My Dreams in Recovery Part I

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My Dreams in Recovery Part I

This article has been a long time coming. I wanted to write it back in spring 2016 but just didn’t get around to it. Now, I have the time and I have the inspiration to get it done. This piece has been highly influenced by the song “Good Old Days” by Macklemore featuring Kesha, because I find that song to be inspiring, recovery-aimed, and filled to the brim with dreams that sparkle and shine once you rub them a little with your sleeve. 
In this very moment, it is the first time in the nearly four years of struggling with my mental health where I feel so inspired, so happy, so content, and so very fulfilled. I honestly believe that seeing the film “Avengers: Infinity War” has grounded my feet on the earth (or Midgard, as it were) as I remain steadfast, looking into my future’s horizon, watching the big bouncy houses inflate and wave around in the wind. I see a *future* for myself, one not where I never struggle, rather one where I struggle and I don’t fall as deep into the abyss. I can envision and really see a future for myself where I am stable (as I have been for about three months) and I utilize my learned skills in dialectical behavior therapy and so many other therapies to be *here*, to stay alive, to thrive and succeed. I didn’t have this just a few months ago. It’s exciting and refreshing and…amazing. I dream for my life to be like this every day. I dream of inspiring others to come forward and tell their stories. I genuinely believe that my story can help inspire others. 
Advocacy is such a big role in my journey of recovery. I’ve never mentioned it before, but I have been an In Our Own Voice (IOOV) presenter and a trained peer-to-peer mentor for the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Massachusetts chapter since March 2016 and Fall 2016, respectively. In my IOOV presentations, I talk about when I buy my first house (hopefully with a romantic partner); painting my front door dark green with a pastel yellow, green, and pink fleur-de-lis on the outside; and painting the phrase “your life is worth living” on the inside. 
I created my WordPress blog “Recovery to Wellness” in May 2016, where my slogan is “where survivors radiate badassery.” One day, maybe even in the next year, I want to create a nonprofit organization out of it. Recovery to Wellness is the birthplace of creative projects like “Recovery Home,” “Recovery Restoration,” “Recovery Raquel,” and “Worldwide Recovery Recognition Month,” with the latter being in August. My Recovery Home features a large house with a rainbow lighthouse on the property, a gazebo, a stationery room, my front door, a stone sign saying “Recovery Residence” on the grounds, with the house on a green hill overlooking a small town with a Barnes & Noble’s, Target, Michael’s, Jo-Ann’s, and Longhorn’s Steakhouse. Maybe, in light of “Thor: Ragnarok,” I will have, of some kind, a very large statue of Loki, the god of mischief, on my house’s property, too. It will bring a smile to my face at least. 
The goal of Recovery Home is to make the choice of choosing to spend my time creating this fictional place (and real-life parts) in my mind where I am happy and living a life that I enjoy rather than spending that time brewing in darkness and feeding suicidal thoughts. I could create something beautiful out of something ugly, or I could just simmer in that dark place. I find that having hope and light outshines the darkness just a little more each moment. It never eradicates the presence of the darkness and maybe that’s never been the point, maybe it’s about finding balance in the cosmos. 
My “Recovery Restoration” project, in its dreamiest state, involves pro-recovery artwork with the artist and author’s journey in recovery on the back of each piece and the compiled photo albums to be donated to psychiatric inpatient units. It’s a way of providing hope, becoming a beacon for those at their most vulnerable, and offering peer support until they themselves leave the hospital and re-enter the community. 
“Recovery Raquel,” while also being my Twitter handle, is the persona I’ve created to represent the best version of myself, akin to a superhero, which has aided me and saved me multiple times over the years. She is me and I am her, inherently, and she represents hope, faith, and light to me. She has worked within me as the light to show that maybe things will get better. Although she’s worked in very subtle ways before, I know she will always be there, no matter how dark it gets in my line of vision.