Wednesday, July 11, 2012
When Celia Marie Anzalone of North Chattanooga looks in the mirror she no longer sees dark circles and tired lines from lack of sleep and partying, she sees the youthful face she never lost and a smile that comes from embracing the light.
Two years of her life were spent self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, but she said she has turned from that life quicker than most, overcoming it with the help of God and the power of the pen. Her recently released memoir titled “A Life of Love, Drugs and Redemption, Celia’s Eyes” which recounts that troubled time, is also part of what helped her heal from it.
“I asked God for help, but my addiction was meant to happen so I could tell my story,” said Anzalone.
When she sat down to pen her memoir in January 2011, she said she felt if she confessed it on paper and to her peers that she could put her past officially behind her and begin anew.
She wrote the first version in three days and realized it was a book. By March 2 she had a contract and began writing her second book, “Celia’s Saving Grace.”
“It was very healing and therapeutic,” said Anzalone. “It poured out of me. It made me thankful for my past. I was paranoid after coming off drugs. Somehow writing about it and exposing it delivered me from it.”
She has since replaced her previous addictions with running marathons and reading the Bible, but all her past demons are brought to life in her first book, in which the 27-year-old reflects on her life from the time she was born until the time of her drug addiction and turning clean.
“I really liked drugs and I could not get out of bed for three months when I hit rock bottom,” said Anzalone. “There was one night I bought 7 grams [of cocaine]. I would get sick, throw up and do some more and repeat it over and over. If cocaine was not around I did meth. It takes years for your skin to recover. The crystals never leave your system.”
After two years she said she had taken the life of drugs as far as it could go and she wanted out. Throughout her wild phase the women in her family prayed for her, she said, but it took her reaching a place of desperation before she cried out for God to help her.
“There are two types of people ... people that want to be good but do bad, and people doing bad that want to do badly,” said Anzalone. “For those that want out of their lifestyle and want better for themselves, there is a way of escape and there is hope. It wasn’t easy. It took counseling and uncomfortable times. You feel good when you do drugs, so you have to realize that you’ll feel crazy before everything resets.”
She said people that go through addictions have a reason from their past that drives them to their crippling circumstance.
Instead of turning to drugs and alcohol, Anzalone’s new high is running in a variety of races in the Chattanooga area. She has competed in seven races this year and 20 races total, spanning from 5k’s to 15k’s and some triathlons.
“If you can run 7 miles you don’t feel like a weak person anymore,” she said. “It gives you a way to feel good about yourself.”