It’s been a long time since I shared my personal testimony of active addiction to recovery. I find myself to be hesitant to share this intimate part of me publicly due to fear of judgment or maybe perhaps fear of the unknown. I have rescheduled this post several times to try and talk myself out of allowing it to go live while questioning why I even decided to write all of this to begin with. BUT… I’m a firm believer that secrets keep us sick and I don’t have room for that in my life today so here goes nothing.
This is a bit of my story minus the gory details…
For as far back as I can remember in my life, addiction and recovery were there in one way or another. Both of my parents are addicts/alcoholics and used around me when I was growing up. They split up when I was pretty young, and my dad, aside from a few relapses, has maintained long-term sobriety. My mother, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to find the road away from active addiction, and it’s a current state for her to this day.
When my parents split, my dad moved back to the Midwest where he is originally from, and I stayed with my mother in Southern California. She was what I would describe to be as a “runner.” She used men and manipulation to get places for us to live, so needless to say we moved often, from one man’s home to the next and we never really had roots anywhere. I can remember seeing more drugs and other illegal activities than any child should ever have to witness. As all of us addicts do, she made decisions that put me in not-so-safe conditions which ultimately cost her custody of me. At the age of ten, my mom lost custody of me, and I was sent to the Midwest to live with my father. It was at that time that I was introduced to recovery for the very first time.
My dad was in his first couple years of sobriety when I came to live with him, and it was refreshing to see someone who had their shit together. My dad was involved with a support group in the area and would bring me to meetings and other program functions. I also attended a tween group that gave me a place to be around kids that had seen what I had seen and understood how it felt to grow up with an addict parent. Even though I can remember enjoying those groups and functions, it wasn’t enough to keep me away from the drug lifestyle because only a few short years later I was smoking pot and drinking on a regular basis and putting myself in high risk situations.
I can’t remember the mindset I was in when I started drinking and using, but I don’t remember it being because of pain. I definitely had a lot of pain and abandonment issues… among other things, but I can only remember drinking to fit in and have fun with my friends. However, I always had a different time than my friends did. I was the one puking, blacking out, and getting violent. I could never remember what happened when I came to the day after.
That didn’t stop me from pursuing cocaine, crystal meth, and ecstasy from the ages of 14-16. By the time I was 18, I was a full-blown heroin addict and crack-cocaine user. I was the one thing I said I’d never be, the “crackhead” people make fun of; the one who lies, steals, and manipulates anyone, just for the sake of another fix.
That’s who I became.
I frequented many rehab centers, institutions, and jails due to the consequences of my addiction. I was on the verge of killing myself from either a drug overdose or from driving while under the influence and nodding out behind the wheel. That was the insanity of my addiction. Before long, I got arrested again and spent another six months in the county jail. The judge granted me a furlough for rehab and then I was headed straight to a long-term treatment facility.
I turned my 90-day treatment stay into 180-day stay because I couldn’t keep my focus on myself and not on the men in treatment with me. Why are we attracted to the people just as toxic as we are? It’s something I will never understand. I substituted my drug addiction for a sex addiction and I found “love” with another resident of the treatment facility. As “luck” would have it, I was approved to move into a halfway house that was in the same city he lived in. Within a month of moving into the halfway house, I found out that I was pregnant. I moved in with my child’s soon-to-be father and I stayed clean throughout my entire pregnancy. I delivered a very healthy, beautiful baby girl.
Over time, I had an extremely difficult time getting along with my daughter’s dad, so I left him and moved back to my dad’s. It wasn’t long before I was meeting my friends at the bar. I justified this by saying I’d go for only “one” drink, but that quickly progressed to three, four and so on.
I was introduced to narcotic painkillers at this point in my life, and the opiate lover that I had once been came back in full force. Before I knew it, I was hooked on opiates again. My whole life revolved around getting money to get pills, finding pills, eating the pills and repeat. My mind was consumed with avoiding withdrawal at all costs. I was back living in the insanity that I experienced while on heroin. Before long child services became involved. I failed a drug test since I was unable to go a day without taking pills or I would withdrawal. I had to sign over temporary custody of my oldest daughter to her dad, and I was ordered to go to detox.
I got way worse before I got better. I’d be lying if I said I went to detox right away. A non-addicted person would be appalled by that last sentence I’m sure. You’re probably thinking, “Why wouldn’t you go get better as soon as possible for your child?” The truth is I wanted to so badly it hurt. I just couldn’t stop my self-destructive behavior. It was all a mess; I was a mess. My life was an absolute train wreck. I hated myself for becoming, yet again, something I said I would never become.
I was exactly like my mother.
I finally went to detox and got my life together again. After a long, hard fight and emotional roller-coaster ride, my ex and myself attended family court and finally agreed to a co-parenting agreement for our daughter. In the meantime, I had another daughter with the man I had been dating since my oldest daughter’s dad and I split up. At that time, I had two children that needed me to be the best me possible.
I carried on with some more clean time but without working any kind of real program. I didn’t attend meetings, didn’t have a sponsor or support system, which also meant I didn’t have any clean friends. I started being the middleman for my old using buddies and getting pills for them because I knew where to get them, and they didn’t. I was convinced I could “control” my usage even though my history had proven the exact opposite. My usage progressed. It was chronic, and I was hooked… again. Over time, I was at risk of losing both of my children, my significant other and the last of my sanity.
I needed a change. I needed to change!
I once read a quote by George Bernard Shaw that says, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” That is the absolute truth. I had to make a change if I wanted to progress, and I had to start with my mind. I did pay attention to some of the groups in treatment, and I knew exactly what I needed to do. I had to stop being a coward and running from my fears. I had to get clean for myself and not for the courts, my kids or my family.
Enough pain makes one want to seek change, and I was on my knees begging God for a change.
I didn’t want to live the rest of my life in this insane pattern of getting clean, relapsing, getting clean, relapsing. It was making me miserable, and since I was miserable, I wanted everyone around me to be miserable too. That’s the only feeling anyone around me was allowed to feel in my presence.
I sought out a change, and I found it in the 12-step fellowships. I have a solid foundation today and the tools to cope with the areas of my life that I constantly tried to control, but were always out of my control. When I found a conscious contact with the higher power of my understanding, something inside of me changed forever, and I’m certain that it was my spiritual awakening. For the first time ever, I worked the 12 steps and found out so much about myself. I finally understand that I have the disease of addiction, a compulsion, and obsession that I am unable to control despite all the negative consequences I have endured. I don’t have to live that way today, and it feels so amazing to wake up in the morning rather than “come to.”
I no longer have to live another day trapped in the bondage of withdrawal. People actually tell me they are proud of me today! I haven’t had to sit in a jail cell for nearly eight years now. I am a mother to all of my daughters, the mother my Higher Power would have me be, the mother my girls deserve. My significant other that I mentioned previously is now my husband, we share two amazing daughters together, and more promises come true on a daily basis. I have an amazing career that I am beyond passionate about that I would have never dreamed to be a possibility for me before now. I am forever grateful to the 12-step fellowship for showing me how to live. I’ve incorporated spirituality and meditation into my recovery program and found a non-denominational church in my area that I attend regularly. I can finally see the Light.
I am coming up on 40 months clean which is beyond my comprehension. I am not white-knuckling like I used to do. I work a program of recovery. I cleaned house, I trusted my Higher Power and I continue to help others.
I’m finally free.
Thank you for allowing me to share.
Love & Light,
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