I started drinking at 18, which is kind of a “late bloomer” for a drinker. I had been smoking pot and dropping acid before that, but when I started drinking I drank heavily. I’d drink as much as I could until I would black out because that was the cool thing to do. That’s how you knew you were really a part of the party.
When I was in school, I was a firm member of the D.A.R.E. program. I truly believed that drugs and alcohol were bad, and was brought up to be honest, caring, and loving toward other people. But when I started partying, drinking and doing drugs, all of those values and morals that I learned went out the window. I always drank in excess and couldn’t conduct myself like a lady. No matter how many clothes I wore, they always came off and I would wake up next to a stranger feeling really ashamed in the morning.
Out of Control
When I was 21, I got into a bad car accident that broke my neck in five places and gave me a traumatic brain injury that wound up paralyzing my right side. When I woke up in the hospital, they had me sedated and I vividly remember the feeling of being on the pain medication. It made everything okay. I would be lying in the hospital asking myself all these questions – Who am I going to be? What is going to happen to me? Will I ever feel normal again? Am I ever going to be able to walk again? Am I going to be a freak? – But the second the doctors gave me the pain medication, it would all go away. Life would be okay again. So that became my solution, and as soon as I got out of the hospital – the search was on.
Although I was prescribed two months of pain meds, it just wasn’t enough and I started seeking drugs. One day, I couldn’t find pills anymore and heroin was available and cheaper, so I graduated to heroin. Everything just kind of spiraled out of control from there. I would take any drug that I could get my hands on whether it was smoking crack, shooting coke or heroin, popping Xanax, or drinking until I couldn’t stand anymore.
I sacrificed a lot for drugs and alcohol. I chose them over my friends, family, education, health, even my children. I couldn’t stay sober during my first pregnancy and had to watch my first child in the NICU go through opioid withdrawals. I would watch her as she was hooked up to all of these tubes and monitors, and it just hit me. I realized that I am affecting somebody other than myself. I vowed I was going to do better, but when I was pregnant with my second child, I still couldn’t stay clean. Somehow by the grace and mercy of God, he was born healthy.
I continued living an unhealthy life with really unhealthy people and toxic relationships. When my daughter was two, her father died of a heroin overdose. A little while later, I got into an accident with my son in the back seat when I completely nodded out while driving and totaled the car. Luckily, everyone was okay, but I was given my first DUI sent to jail. A few weeks after getting out, it happened again. My dad had given me his vehicle so my children could get around; I was leaving my dope lady’s house, nodded off, and slammed into the back of another car.
This time, as I was waiting while my son was being checked out at the hospital, a couple of people asked me to come with them and took me down to a cop car. They let me know that they were from CPS and that I was a danger to my children and that they were taking them away from me. They let me go upstairs to give my son a quick hug and kiss goodbye, and they took me to jail again. When I got to get out and go home again, the house was just so quiet and empty. All of my kids’ toys were scattered about, but no one was playing with them. That’s when reality hit me. I needed to do something.
I knew about Healing Transitions because my sister went there a few years back, so I called them. A woman named Audra answered the phone – we are still close to this very day. Even though detoxing was rough, it was probably the easiest detox I have ever been through. I had a history of having seizures when detoxing off of opiates and benzos. At one point I had to be on epilepsy medication because of all the seizures I was having. But when I was coming off of them cold-turkey at HT, I didn’t have any. I could actually sleep at night. I know that God exists in those walls.
At first, I didn’t want anything to do with the actual recovery program. I was a very prideful, stubborn person at the time and did what I wanted to do. I had all of these unhealthy feelings and the only way I knew how to deal with them was through drugs and alcohol, so that’s what I did and I wound up having to restart the program several times.
Eventually, I started working with a mentor who suggested that I get honest with myself and the recovery program. That was the point where I began to realize that I could no longer live a life of lies. My spiritual condition wouldn’t allow me to do that. So I started being honest, and dealt with the consequences of my actions. And honestly, they weren’t as bad as I thought they were going to be.
In the 16 months it took me to finish the program, Healing Transitions taught me a lot of life lessons. Most importantly, they taught me how to be a good mother. I had never parented sober before HT. Parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, especially sober. Today, All of my relationships with my family have been restored and the family dynamics are better than they have ever been.
HT has given me a second chance in life. It’s given me the opportunity to live one day at a time and be of service to other people. I get to help other women the same way another woman did for me. She saved my life. She brought me out of the depths of hell and despair. I don’t know where I would be without her. And for me to be able to do that for someone else is a real honor.
I remember the first month I was at HT, I was in tears all the time. But one day, someone looked at me and said, “you’re going to help a lot of people one day”. I told her that I don’t have anything to give anybody. I don’t know what exactly that person saw in me, or why they decided to say that to me, but I’ll never forget it.
Recovery isn’t easy, but it’s doable. I worked really, really hard to stay drunk and stay high and the result was that I was constantly miserable. I only have to work half as hard to stay sober, and I have more peace and happiness in my life than I ever had before. So the work – it’s worth it.