A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Constance Alexander: The long, winding road to recovery begins with admitting there’s a problem

A blazing sun lights the path to recovery but the route is not straight or narrow. As depicted in the logo of Serenity Recovery, the road curves toward the horizon before it reaches the vanishing point. The image is an apt representation for the work of the non-profit organization, which offers an intensive 12-month outpatient program that leads alcoholics and addicts through a rigorous course designed to educate and equip them for a life of sobriety.

In her office, a block off Main Street in downtown Murray, Assistant Program Administrator Holly Cherry explains how Serenity works. She uses the word two ways – one as the name of the organization, but the other is the lower case “serenity,” a state of mind, body, and spirit that has special meaning for those recovering from addictions to alcohol and/or drugs.

Ms. Cherry also works for Hertown, a six-month residential program for women that follows a 12-step approach to create a structured setting focused on sober living. Holly describes her jobs with the two organizations as “sort of part-time,” but both have a full-time commitment to provide experience strength and hope in recovery.

“I’m on everybody’s hotline,” she says.

Holly’s desire to help others goes back to her years growing up in Calloway County. She recalls a man with an alcohol addiction who worked for her grandfather. Although the man’s wife had requested his paycheck go to her, it mistakenly went to the husband, who spent it. As a result, the family was in need and showed up at Holly’s grandfather’s house.

“The mom was driving a station wagon and she was crying,” Holly recalls. They had no money for coats.

Holly ran into her grandparents’ house and then upstairs, to where the winter clothes were stored. “I gave away my sister’s, mother’s, and father’s coats,” she admits.

When her pappy asked what she was doing, Holly replied that she was just helping the family. “He said, ‘That’s all right,” Holly remembers, “and that’s been my heart since the beginning.”

Holly follows her own life of sobriety as she works with participants in Serenity Recovery and residents of her town. Every morning when she wakes up, she strives to turn her will and life over to a power greater than herself.

“I try to live a solution-based life,” she explains, “and I try to shed resentments. Constant work on yourself is the key to it. Resting on your laurels is a mistake, and I know if I get lazy it will show.”

People discover the path that works for them, but the process is gradual. Holly says that she “waits for the light bulb to go off” for each person.

Some days she takes clients to appear in court or helps them with budgeting and saving. Each day is different. “I’ve learned never to expect that someone is going to do what I think they should,” she says.

She also reports that she does what she does “because it feels right and feels good. I want to see people succeed,” she goes on.

The good news in a season when those with addictions, and their families, suffer, Holly Cherry asserts that Murray, Kentucky has some of the best recovery services because of options like Hertown and Serenity Recovery.

“There’s an alcoholic or drug addict in so many families,” she declares. “There’s no use in pushing it under the rug.”

Holly Cherry is all for removing the stigmas associated with the problems. Getting things out in the open can be the beginning of recovery. Just admitting there is a problem is a good place to start.

Even with two jobs, Holly admits, “I’m the poorest I’ve ever been, but I’m rich in spirit. My needs are always met.”

Serenity is on Facebook. For information phone 270-227-2650. Email is serenity.recovery@icloud.com.

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Constance Alexander is a columnist, award-winning poet and playwright, and President of INTEXCommunications in Murray. She can be reached at calexander9@murraystate.edu. Or visit www.constancealexander.com.

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