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Dancing To The Perfect Storm

Most people who meet me today would never fathom that I was once a composite of the many faces, and conditions that make up the diverse human landscape known as homelessness in America.

Article by Colusa County Recovery
Colusa County Recovery Article

Going public about this traumatic chapter of my life has not been an easy decision for me.

It took deep self-introspection to fully come to terms, with the what, why and how I ultimately became homeless. Once I began the process; pieces of a puzzle began to emerge and a picture took shape.

It started with a car accident and an introduction to pain pills.

Followed by the closure of a business I owned. Income that I depended on and the loss of a home I had invested in.

My sense of personal identity and self-worth were deeply shaken; and I began to misuse my pain medications with a greater and more regular frequency.

Further losses were still on the horizon. People who were a part of the very fabric of my life, died.

I found myself washing down opiates with alcohol and eventually graduated to using illegal and dangerously addictive, mood-altering chemicals, in a misguided attempt to numb my feelings.

This was the toxic nail in the coffin.

My mental health declined at a shockingly alarming rate, and my ability to make cognitively balanced decisions was seriously impaired; which led to a run-in with the criminal justice system.

My life had become divergently CHAOTIC.

I was free FALLING.

The ABNORMAL had become NORMAL.

I was dancing to the inner music of a PERFECT STORM.

Alone, broke, and depressed in a sparsely populated rural area in the hills of Colusa County, I began contemplating suicide.

One fateful night, it reached an ominous crescendo, and I was confronted by two definitive choices:

Drive DOWN the hill. . . .

Or OFF the hill and end my life.

Becoming homeless literally saved my life, and ultimately was the catalyst that helped me to move forward with a renewed sense of purpose, as I began to repair the brokenness deep within me.

Today, I am no longer held captive by the adversities of my past. I am actualized and

free with infinite value and unlimited potential.

The future is again promising for this former homeless addict, who rose out of the ashes of pain and self-destruction, and emerged renewed on the other side.

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Susan Wagenaar is the founder of Clean and Sober Nation and Colusa County Recovery. She lives in the City of Colusa with her cat ZIPPER, who walks on a leash; is a part-time acrobat and full-time cuddle bug.


If you are experiencing homelessness? Or at risk of becoming homeless in Colusa County? Contact Colusa County Health and Human Services at 530-458-0260 or contact Social Services in your area.


SAMHSA national helpline provides 24-hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, and recovery in English and Spanish. 1-800-662-HELP (4357)


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