Birthdays are special. Celebrating one free from addiction is extraordinary. My daughter’s recent 34th birthday was exceptionally joyous. A former heroin addict for 15 years with many overdoses, we never thought she’d live this long.

Clean and sober for four years, a bachelor’s degree, marriage to a wonderful man and now a 3-month-old baby. What an accomplishment for anyone but even more so considering what she’s overcome. Recent studies report 50,000 Americans overdose and die; that’s 144 people every single day. Families forced into the grief club they never wanted.

So, how did my daughter survive and my son didn’t? I don’t know for sure, but what she did for sure was surrender; I don’t think my son ever did. He wouldn’t walk the talk when he was released from prison a year and a half later. He couldn’t see his life without drugs, but she could.

She let go of the sordid lifestyle she’d been living and became a Christ-follower actively reading and leading Bible studies in prison. She finally saw what we’d known all along; she was a woman of worth, not a junkie living in a trap house, caught between two worlds.

Depression runs in our family, a daily fight against the darkness. Life was passing her by, so she decided to run as in school. The third prison sentence was the push she needed to make a profound change. She stepped out of the walls of bondage in her prison whites and claimed her rightful place in the world.

For hours she ran, round and round the small courtyard, clocking 10-13 miles a day. She became a vegetarian, only eating the beans and vegetables they served. She grew stronger, and as she did, God revealed his path for her. Faith, fitness and food became the key to lasting recovery. She’d teach others what she learned. And she is. Her depression receded into yesterday’s news.

For over a year and a half, she lived this lifestyle, yet I feared she’d go back to using when released like many do. She didn’t. Her shoes never left the pavement; her feet running into her destiny. Running miles along the seawall day after day became a CrossFit certification, sharing her story with everyone she met. Each step up into the life she was meant to live. Now graduate school. A testimony to the human spirit in tandem with God.

She remains steadfast in her faith even when her brother Wells died recently. Her strength our lighthouse. She’s learned to be happy and grateful for another sunrise. She encourages others to live from the heart. Do the hard things to live the way they want, eschewing small dreams and the rat race that keeps most in bondage. As said in the film, “The Greatest Showman,” “Men suffer more from imagining too little than too much.” Enjoy the view each day, and step out.

Don’t allow fear and depression to win. What do you have to lose? Only your life.

Leslie Cappiello, Ph.D., is an educator and lives in Galveston.


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(1) comment

Charles Douglas

Ms. Cappiello! What an amazing story, and testimony to what GOD can do, ..if an individual decides to seek Him out in faith and make the corresponding actions needed for change to transpire in their lives! Your daughter is now uniquely qualified to testify to the goodness as well as the power of God which he utilizes to turn disasters into blessings! One of my favorite scriptures is Lamentations 3: 22-23. " It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not."

V23) " They are new every morning: Great is thy faithfulness."

It is my hope and prayer for your daughter and her family that they become shining, living memorials to the virtues, goodness, love of God shining like a Light in Darkness that others.. ( like who she use to be ).. will see, the Life In Abundance God has for them, by her using the principles of Inspiration, Proclamation, and Demonstration, while functioning as His Workmanshp in Christ, and being his ambassadors he has call us to be in this world!

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