Choosing to Beat Addiction and Live!
January 2022 Issue
By Kelly Hunter
Photography by Mike Force Photography
Four years ago, Taylor Parsons made a life-changing decision. After several years of substance abuse and trips to jail and rehab, the court gave her a simple choice: Prison or Grace House. She had never been to Brunswick. She’d been living in southwest Georgia for almost seven years. She’d tried rehab before, but something about that stark choice made her decide to give the Coastal Georgia halfway house a chance.
“My life before Grace House was so dark and depressing,” Taylor explained, “I was so miserable.” She was ready to make a change when the judge gave her that choice. “It was to the point where I was like, ‘I need to either make a change or die. I can’t do this anymore,’” she added. She didn’t want to die, but she knew she couldn’t keep living the life she felt trapped in. “I owe a lot of it to God. It’s not something I could just do on my own. I had tried tons of times… I had to just give up… let go and let God.”
On November 19, 2021, Taylor, now 25 years old, celebrated four years of sobriety. Today she has a husband and 18-month-old son, plus two wonderful stepsons. She and her husband each have their own business, and Taylor is living a life that her old self could not have imagined. “Everything changed when I got sober. I used to tell myself that I wouldn’t live past 21, so kids were out of the question.” Little Eli, with his big personality, keeps her going on hard days: “I cannot imagine going back to that life when I have this beautiful little, tiny human.”
Still, Taylor insists that she needed to get sober for herself. “I know a lot of people who try to get sober because of external reasons, but they keep going back.” The choice to leave her old life behind and move to Brunswick was hers alone, but Taylor recognizes how much help she’s gotten since then. “If it weren’t for the recovery community here, I might have ended up back where I was—physically, literally and metaphorically.” After six months at Grace House, she moved to a different sober living house downtown, thanks to her sponsor and others in the recovery community.
One of the big plusses to that new place was Taylor could bring her dog, Zeus, to live with her. “He has been there with me through all of it… I’d take him with me to not great parts of town. People would come up to my car and see him and back away. I didn’t know it at the time, but he saved me.” Taylor loves that Zeus is now living a much better life, with an acre to run around and other pups to play with. “He used to get anxiety when I packed a bag, because I wouldn’t come back when I was still using. It took him a while after I got sober to get used to the idea that I come back.”
Taylor met her husband through the recovery community. She says it has been essential to have a partner who understands what she has gone through. They support each other and help keep each other on track. “We had a one-hundred percent sober wedding. I loved it! We were there. Everybody was present mentally.” Sobriety has also given Taylor a relationship with her family that she never had before. “I didn’t talk to my dad for years, and now we have this great relationship. It’s all very beautiful—a lot to be grateful for.” Most of her extended family lives in Gwinnett County, and Taylor’s new little family goes up to visit several times a year.
There’s no doubt that Eli has had a lot to do with bringing the family together. Grandparents love to spoil those grandbabies! Eli is also responsible for Taylor’s gift and décor business. She had been working for her husband’s painting company when she found out she was pregnant. Never one to sit around, Taylor kept painting until she was seven months along! After Eli was born, she got a little stir-crazy and, in November 2020, started crafting: “I’ve always been artistic and sort of brought it in and the business took off.” The work-from-home thing was perfect, because, as she says: “I don’t like missing out on time with the baby.”
Now, Taylor is once again facing a choice. She has a wonderful job opportunity, but she would have to cut her own business to part-time. Right now, she’s undecided. Luckily, she has options. Whatever decision Taylor makes, it will be with a clear head and a strong support system.
Growing Up Fast: “A big part of what Grace House helped me with was how to be an adult. I didn’t know how to pay bills.”
Family Ties: Husband Jason, son Elijah (Eli), stepsons Wade and Haden
Baby Blues: Eli’s birth was difficult. The epidural stopped working and the doctors offered Taylor pain medication. Even in the throes of childbirth, she knew her answer had to be “No.” She said: “It’s a blessing that these decisions have become easier. Eli is so worth it.”
Family Pets: Dogs Zeus, Bear and Aspen
Nailed it: Taylor is not afraid of power tools! Much of what she makes for her business involves woodworking.