My name is Rennyvonne Fae Ledesma, Safe Haven’s resident psychologist. I helped started Safe Haven almost three years ago with Jonathan.
How I started working with Safe Haven began when Jonathan needed my help in preparing the center program, operations, and technical standards. However, wasn’t able to give Safe Haven my full attention then because I had graduate school to finish and other goals to pursue, then. Yet, I helped with administering tests to clients for psychological assessments and family dynamics sessions. Safe Haven always had me whenever they call.
Also, my passion to help people with substance use disorder goes back to my college internship days when I was with another addiction recovery center. Growing up sheltered, I only understood addiction as a bad and dangerous thing. Addicts were the people I was told to stay away from.
Over the course of the internship, my perception changed. I realized they were just like me. Scared, confused, angry, pained, yet very driven, passionate, full of life, had loads of potential in them, and they needed people to believe in them. Just like any other human beings. I make it my mission in life to show people that impossible things can be possible. I make it my mission in life to show people that the good can still exist.
Addiction, for me, is like another persona in an individual that thrives in living as a parasite. It likes to take away a person from its own soul. It enjoys taking away a person from his spouse, children, family, friends, and from the whole community. It likes to tell lies that a person cannot be who he is meant to be without it. Addiction, for me, is a complex disease where instead one tries to live a full and happy life, it causes the person to have a half-life the moment he/she continues to use. This condition creates a situation that breaks down families one at a time and to the extent, the whole society. Addiction makes a different reality in an affected person where he/she sees others as enemies, or monsters. Addiction makes a person unrecognizable, where a gentle being turns into someone a stranger and horribly disastrous to live with.
Nevertheless, that addicted person behind the substance is a pure soul. A human being trying to fight his/her way from the chains of the substance’s effects. A person stumbling its way out of a seemingly endless tunnel of darkness. It takes only a person who believes in them. A single light of hope that he/she can bravely follow and trust. That single light of hope who stays even if it wavers. It only takes a single person to believe that they deserve more in life. A single person to believe that they are more than the disease they have. A single person who willingly fights alongside them, seeing the pure soul that he/she is, seeing the human potential behind the entrapment of a devious parasite.
Dr. Seuss, in the character of the Lorax said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not!” Drug addiction has been a colossal issue in society for generations. It is about time that we offer what we can to create a better society without addiction. If we, as a society, can help prevent growth of infectious diseases by simply washing our hands, we are able to help people with substance use disorder live a better life and achieve their potentials by simply giving a hug.