Finding Community, Humility & Purpose at the YMCA


Finding community, humility and purpose at the YMCA

10 months ago I was lost, broken, and hopeless. We all have what we think is our path, our plan, or our way, even our life’s forward momentum. Humbled, I soon found out this was not “the plan”.

I first started drinking at age 13 and have struggled with substance abuse issues ever since. By my late teens, what had started out as a bad habit progressed into a crippling and life-threatening pattern of behavior that I could not seem to halt. At the young age of 23, I had made more attempts at sobriety than I would like to admit. I was well acquainted with traditional substance abuse counseling, the twelve steps, and other modes of treatment.

Growing up, I experienced success academically and athletically. I had confidence, genuine self-esteem, and hope for the future. I came from a supportive family; but by early October of 2020, any resemblance of those qualities had completely vanished from my consciousness. With the last ounce of courage I had left, I reached out for help.

I moved to Austin and through good fortune, I landed at the Active Recovery Homes (ARH) sober living.   I have always appreciated the benefits of being physically active, but I lacked education and accountability when it came to making a fitness plan and sticking to it.  ARH connected me to the YMCA and a membership, which was initially just a perk that added attraction to ARC/ARH. I have since learned that Active Recovery Coaching and the YMCA offer so much more than personal training at a gym.  

While all of these support systems are great and necessary, ARC provided a unique take on recovery that worked for me. I never felt like my coaches, Lance and Shawn, were talking down to me. I felt like it was a peer relationship that positioned them to provide effective guidance and leadership. I also realized the value of a consistent personal fitness regimen that has become indispensable in my recovery.

When I first got to ARH, I had a warped perception of where happiness and fulfillment came from. I was looking to become reacquainted with “the plan” which was really fueled by a desire for money, respect, and status. I was pursuing the same path that had always led me back to a drink or a drug, but I was willing to be guided by those with more experience than myself.  Through the guidance of my coaches, I reluctantly took a job at the YMCA as opposed to returning to the job I had before getting sober. This was one of the best decisions I have made since getting sober. I had not planned to stay at the YMCA for longer than two months, but seven months later, I am still here. 

Community is so important to us in recovery and for the first time in my life I have a job that I actually enjoy going to and because of working here, I have a first-hand view of the impact that the YMCA has on the lives of those inside and outside of recovery.   In my opinion, the community element of the ARC/YMCA is the most important and beneficial piece that it provides to its clients. 

The YMCA and ARC provide a combined community that is such a valuable resource to those who utilize it. I am one of many individuals who has benefited from it and am better because of it.  Through working at the YMCA and seeing the value of the YMCA and the ARC community, I have been inspired to pursue my personal fitness certification and join ARC as a coach. This is a way for me to give back to others new to their journey and usher more people into the YMCA community. I am fortunate enough today to manage the ARH sober living home and be an example to others. 

Both the YMCA and ARC communities have been essential pieces of my recovery. Today, my life does not resemble “the plan” by any stretch of the imagination, but I have found peace of mind and purpose that has not been present in my life for quite some time. 

Edward M., TownLake YMCA Member

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