#PortraitsOfRecovery is the brainchild of local makeup artist, and addiction advocate, Nicole Ameila. Nicole’s experience and talent with makeup has been utilized to create stunning LIVE “masks” portraying everything from Autism to Addiction Recovery. This therapeutic experience allows for an individual to “transform” from a place of darkness, fear and shame, to one of power, light and happiness. Nicole uses some of the most popular techniques to create these dramatic looks.
The first picture – I was trying to remember what I felt like in my addiction. I know my eyes were dark and empty, which we enhanced for this picture. I had scars all over my face. I was dirty and my hair was a mess.
Today as a parent, I interpret Disney movies all day, so when I think about my recovery I see myself as Te Feti from Moana. As the story goes, Te Feti became a Lava Monster after her heart was stolen, comparable to how I felt in my addiction. Once her heart is put back, she transforms into a happy, flourishing garden which is how I feel about my life today. I am truly blessed to be doing work I enjoy, collaborating with a thriving Alumni community and waking up every morning to 3 healthy and beautiful kids. It might be chaotic at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
Imagine the feeling of praying and begging every day to die. Every move I made and every breath I took was controlled by my addiction. I was consumed in what felt like a never ending fire and the louder I screamed and the more I fought the higher and hotter the fire became. I felt trapped, weighed down by thick chains.
It’s hard to imagine that someone who had a wonderful childhood and family, seemingly everything that people want in life, could fall to what seems like the pit of hell, clawing, scrambling, broken, and hopeless.
It’s hard to imagine, especially when that was me.
Some days it feels like it was another lifetime. I lost my children, I was homeless, I was addicted and I had lost my will to live.
For my after portrait I focused on coming back to my roots. Appreciating the little things in life, the beauty of nature. Before my recovery, I had decided to give it one last shot. Try once more. I entered Rehab for the final time. I proved with my actions and not my words that I was doing the right thing. Being a responsible and productive member of society. Life, slowly but surely, was piecing itself back together. Today I have everything that I had once lost. I appreciate the beauty in all things, because I know what it was like to see only sadness and pain. I help others, I remain open and I remain grateful. The darkest of times opens our eyes to the brightest lights. I never give up, I continue to fight.
For the first photo I wanted to capture what pushed me to think that using drugs was my solution. I wanted to capture pain, hurt and most importantly, that words hurt. Growing up, bullying was a regular Occurrence for me. When people were calling me names and belittling me daily, I sought out drugs to numb the pain and to escape my reality but more importantly to be accepted by people who I otherwise wouldn’t be accepted by. Before I knew it I could not stop using. what started out as fun was had quickly become something that got me arrested at 16 & landed me in rehab at 17 & 18 all while still trying to complete high school. This photo captures how I felt during my active addiction. I felt useless, purposeless, battered, bruised and sad due to the bullying and to my active addiction.
For my after I wanted to portray the opposite of my before. Over the last almost 5 years that I have been clean I have had the opportunity to begin finding out who Cobi is and to love that person because he is worth it. I’ve learned that I’m unique, I’m fun and I’m beautiful. I want to portray that it’s okay to be you. It’s okay to not fit the typical mold of what society thinks a man should be, because that sure isn’t me. Who I am is a kind, loving, bright and compassionate soul who wants nothing more then to spread awareness, positivity and kindness into this world. This photo captures me having fun, being glamorous and being myself regardless of what others may think of me, something that has taken years for me to do.
The first picture of myself is how I viewed myself while I was using which was Beetle Juice inspired. Like Beetle Juice, I was always trying to talk someone into something for my personal gain. Also his features, the pale skin and all around dirt & decay pretty much describe the way I felt and to be honest probably looked.
Today I am able to be the son, friend , brother and all around person I always sold myself short of being. I also finally feel whole again, reunited with one of my all-time favorite passions: SKATEBOARDING. I am just grateful to be alive today and am trying to live my best life.