Finding purpose, peace within addiction recovery

Photo of Denver coaching room

Published Feb. 5, 2021

When Mary Ozanic visits with hospice patients, she feels a great sense of honor. She knows she’s sitting at the bedside of someone who’s had a long life full of stories.

“I just had a visit this morning with a 99-year-old woman whose heart is failing. She was engaged and communicative and alert,” she said. “What a remarkable thing, to talk with someone who’s about to turn 100 years old."

In Ozanic’s search for serenity in her addiction recovery, she discovered a job that truly makes her happy and gives her purpose. It was a similar search – one for peace and fortitude years within her recovery – that led her to Face It TOGETHER.

“I sobered up and as the years went by, I started college, took the hospice job, but something was still hanging over me,” she said. “(It was) a sorrow, disappointment and regret in myself.”

The abyss

When Ozanic moved to Colorado more than 15 years ago, she had a successful, years-long career in event marketing and production but became “mired in the abyss” of addiction.

“By the time I was done, I was homeless living in my car and spending nights here and there on couches of friends who would still take me in,” she said. “I had become unemployable, destroyed my professional reputation, my family had wiped their hands of me completely and I was absolutely, totally alone.”

In 2015, Ozanic sought help from a friend she met at a 12-step meeting and enrolled in an inpatient treatment program for two months.

“But there were issues, mentally and emotionally, that I had not addressed, character defects that I needed help with,” she said.

Ozanic had a lot of past regrets and future fears she needed help overcoming when her therapist referred her to Face It TOGETHER.

Letting go

Ozanic’s coach, Heather Lister, is also in long-term recovery and has 12-step experience. 

“We understand each other on an intimate level,” she said. “I consider Heather my life coach.”

When Ozanic was first given a tour of the Face It TOGETHER center, she remembers thinking it felt like being home.

“It was warm, open and inviting,” she said. “They don’t seem to be running an assembly line… They make me feel so welcome, like they genuinely care and that they’re glad to see me. It feels personal.”

Through Ozanic’s work in coaching, she’s been able to let go of some resentment and regret from her past.

“Unresolved issues have been laid to rest and I have stopped hoping for a different past. I have reconciled with who I am, and I’ve begun to move forward,” she said. “It’s not so much about sobriety anymore as quality of life and successful aging.”

Her discussions with Heather remind Ozanic why she wants to maintain her recovery.

“I feel like I have purpose. And I owe a lot of that to Heather and to Face It TOGETHER,” she said. ”She helps me map out direction and details of how to accomplish goals, personally, spiritually and professionally."

A large part of that direction has included talking through the challenges related to Ozanic’s graduate degree. She’s pursing a master’s in community health sciences with an emphasis on public administration and nonprofit administration.

Her thesis project is a business plan for a nonprofit whose mission is to capture life legacy stories of aging Boomers and hospice patients. She has a passion for helping others improve the quality of life at the end of their lives.

“The key to happiness is being of service to others, to love thy neighbor as thy self,” she said. “I’ve met remarkable individuals with wonderful stories who have experienced firsthand decades and decades of American history.”

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