As a child, Tara’s innocence was taken from her. She didn’t have dolls. She was given drugs.
We meet Tara at MQI’s Aftercare House in Kildare where she is working through her addiction recovery. She’s such a tiny person. Her stature, her skeleton, are so delicate. Sitting in the chair, cradling her legs into herself, you might think she was a little girl.
She’s just 20 years old. Quite pale, with red hair in a long, wavy pony-tail. Tara’s bright blue eyes look up as she gathers her thoughts, “MQI gave me the feeling I’m worth something,” she tells us, “I was shy as a child and I’m still a private person. For the first three or four weeks with MQI, I wouldn’t talk about why I was really there.”
“Something happened to me when I was 12. I didn’t tell anyone. Our family didn’t encourage talking about our feelings. I was told to ‘cop on’ growing up. So, I kept that secret inside. One day, I was playing outdoors with a friend, and we went exploring in an abandoned building. We stumbled across people there using drugs, I recognised one of them, a neighbour.”
That’s how the addiction started for Tara. She missed out on school, surrounded by people who weren’t good for her. People who used her. You wouldn’t know it to look at her now, but she’s come back from three attempts to kill herself.
There wasn’t an hour of the day that Tara didn’t want to escape her life.
“I wasn’t picky about what I used. I just didn’t want to be sober because of the secret.”
Tara’s hands stay tucked inside the sleeves of her black hoodie, as if still protecting herself.
“I kept that secret for eight years. I didn’t trust anybody until I went to MQI for rehab at High Park. It took weeks of patience with me before I felt comfortable enough to open up. But MQI has people who are not only willing to listen, they want to listen. And that’s huge for someone like me. High Park gave me someone to listen to what I needed to talk about, what I needed to say.”
Although she looks so childlike, Tara’s wiser than her years. Describing her lost childhood, the classes and opportunities missed, she knows how far she’s come in recovery.
“I loved art therapy at High Park, it’s one of the things that helped me the most. I go to the gym to push myself physically. I didn’t think I’d ever like yoga but here I am. Meditation – I could barely sit still for five seconds let alone 15 minutes! But we do meditation here in the Aftercare programme every day.”
Just like it sounds, Aftercare is MQI’s continuing addiction recovery care for clients who’ve completed rehab at High Park or St Francis Farm. Our six-bed residence in Co. Kildare and the Day Programme offer a safe place to land until secure accommodation is found. Aftercare supports clients to challenge and strengthen their resilience, creating pathways to employment and education.
“I really like it there. It’s safe. Everyone is nice. And there’s even a dog, and I take him for walks in the evenings. It’s really nice to do normal things like that.”
“That’s gratitude that you can’t fully express.”
“When I finish the Aftercare Day Programme I want to go to college and actually put all of myself into it. Because, since I’ve come into recovery everyone’s been complimenting me on how smart I am. I never properly tried before, I used to sit at the back of the class, not really there. So, now I’m excited to go to college and actually do it. Just do it!”
Knowing that you’ve been with her in spirit, all along her journey with MQI, is profoundly meaningful to Tara.
“What do you say to someone who’s pretty much saved your life? That’s gratitude that you can’t fully express. Because if people aren’t donating, none of this would be here. So, I just want to say thank you. Without you I’d be still stuck in addiction. You are saving people’s lives.”
Thank you for helping Tara to find a new, healthy path in life.
Learn more about MQI’s work in supporting people through addiction recovery here
Donate to support people like Tara in their recovery journey here