I use to think the world owed me something. I was so good at playing the victim role in nearly every relationship and situation that I found myself in.
Today, I am an overcomer and I am no longer playing the victim. I am a person in long term recovery which means that I have not used drugs or alcohol since August 28, 2013. It took me such a long time to finally find my way into the “recovery world.” I constantly felt like I was wearing a sign that read “drug addict” everywhere I went and I did not want to relate myself to anything that had to do with recovery from drugs. I had fear of being in recovery because I felt that I would always be known as a junkie, even though I might be clean.
Before I entered recovery, I was a crystal meth addict that had been using every single day for nearly two years. I did not start right off using meth, in fact my drug use started as soon as I took my first drink of alcohol and my first drag of a cigarette. I was saved! I felt like the worries of the world were lifted off of my shoulders and I had finally found a place where I felt welcomed and accepted. I enjoyed using for quite some time, until it became like a job. In the end I spent all of my time finding ways and means to get more of my drug of choice. My family eventually found out and most of the same things that happen to anyone else in that situation happened to me. I played the victim role for a few years before completely surrendering to my addiction. I finally confessed that I was in fact a drug addict and that I could not get clean and sober alone. I had a family that stood by my side and a lot of motivators (my son) that helped me stay on the right path.
While I was actively using, some of my biggest fears were that the state of Mississippi was going to take Rhett, my one year old son at the time. I guarded my secret drug use with everything in me. I lied compulsively so that I would leave no paper trail as to who I hung around or what I was doing when I was not in the presence of my family. The other things that made me very afraid were what others would think of me if I were to ever be found out. There are so many misconceptions about addiction and recovery and the stigma is very alive and real. I did not want people to question me being a good person or not. I think the largest misconception about addiction is that people think that it is a choice. People in the south especially feel that addiction is a sin and that the individual addicted should be able to stop whenever he/she wants. I am here to say that I tried several times to stop, I had the will and desire to stop but for the life of me I could not stop nor control my using. I was in denial for a long time until finally surrendering and admitting defeat to crystal meth. I would say the largest misconception about recovery is that most people believe that people in recovery will return to using at some point. I have heard people say, “Those people will never change” so many times that it is sickening. One great thing about recovery is that I have learned where to put my nose and where to not put it. I pick my battles and fight them more wisely than I ever have. Recovery has given me the gift of discernment which I never had before.
I do believe that addiction is a family disease and my family was very much affected by my using. Before my family had learned of my addiction they each played certain roles of the “addicted family.” I was the addict and the victim while the other members of my family played the enabler, the scapegoat, the mascot and the hero. I was the only individual in my family using, but all other members of my family were battling something. I grew up in a wonderful family and never needed for anything besides the love of a man, my father. He was there and he paid for me financially. However, emotionally he was not there for me in a way that I felt a father should be there. Thankfully, we can talk about these things more today than we ever could before. I always stuffed my feelings to please everyone. I think that is a symptom of the disease of addiction. So, my family was very much affected by my using. My son, who was only one at the time, cried constantly for love and affection and attention from me. I was unable to give him what he needed because I was so worried about what was going on in the “underworld” as I called it. I became so sick of my lifestyle until I finally surrendered and really didn’t care about keeping my secret of drug use anymore.
I decided to move from Mississippi to the tri state area of Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania in the fall of 2013. I took my last hit of crystal meth on August 28, 2013. I was so dang afraid but on the other hand I was so excited. I believe the unknown scared me more than anything. I did not know where I would end up or what my next move would be. I only knew that I was moving North and that I wanted to get better for my son. I had not yet learned to love myself and my son seemed like the best reason to get clean at the time.
Today, I want it for myself because I love myself and I also want it for my son because he deserves a loving mom who can be present in his life. I will say that the best thing that has happened to me since I have been in recovery is having the ability to have visitation with him. I was a terrible mother when he was a baby. I was so sick and addicted and really could not care for him like he deserved. Now, I am able to be there for him emotionally and financially. I write a blog on www.thefacetimemom.wordpress.com to record all of our interactions and feelings since I have been living away from him. We facetime regularly and as I type he is sitting with me on the bed. I am currently having my first summer visitation with him this summer (2016). Dreams really do come true in recovery!
Since I have been in recovery, I have learned to love. I knew what love was when I was using, because I loved the drug. I put nothing in front of the drug and I hated anyone who got in my way. Today, I love my recovery. I love the journey and love the people who have helped guide and encourage me along the way. I cannot get over how much my perspectives have changed over the past three years. I can’t imagine what my life might be like in three more years if I keep doing what I am doing. I never thought that I would be able to love anything or anyone without getting something in return or without being a possessive, crazy person! Recovery has granted me the freedom to love and be loved and that is a gift unlike no other.
I think I am most proud of the fact that I have not given in to use even though I have been separated from Rhett. Most moms would go crazy if they were separated from their child and at times I have felt like I was going crazy. Instead of giving into those feelings and triggers to use drugs or alcohol, I have called someone like a sponsor or recovery coach. I have gotten help from therapists and mental health professionals. I have filled my time with volunteer work and school. I got a job working as a detox technician at a local rehab and worked my way up to become an alumni coordinator for six facilities in the network. I am so dang proud of myself for doing things the right way in order to deal with the separation between me and Rhett. If I could do that, I know anyone else can.
I have high hopes that my story will shed some light onto those who do not understand addiction and recovery. I struggle with wanting to convince everyone that addiction is a disease. I have learned to accept that not all people will believe the way I believe or understand things the way I do and that is okay. I have spent countless hours of my time telling my story in the hope that it will change one person’s perspective or save one person’s life from addiction. I cannot place those sort of expectations on people. I will be disappointed if I do.
Today, I am most grateful for my relationship with my higher power. I know that I do not live my life perfectly. I am human and I still do fall short daily, but I will say that I have never felt as close to my higher power as I have since being in recovery. I am an open book today. I have nothing to hide. I share my mistakes with a trustworthy friend and I am able to confess my wrongs to my God, who loves me regardless. Before recovery, I had no love or admiration to God because I did not yet understand what it meant to confess and to admit my wrongs. I think I thought that I was the God of my own world. Today, I know there is a greater being in charge and I am no longer the one who tries to control everything. That alone is a huge weight lifted off of me!
Recovery has brought me closer to people. I can have relationships with my family, my sons father, my friends and new acquaintances. I can be in a relationship that is not based on lust and sexual pleasure, but instead on mutual understanding, acceptance, and love. Recovery is unlike anything I ever imagined. I never thought I would be able to pay bills, tell the total truth and be faithful to a man. Because of recovery, I am able to do those things and more. I finally feel like I am an adult! I can finally do adult things! It’s so totally cool.
I believe my greatest value and strength that I have gained since being in recovery is my care for others. Yeah, on some days I can still be pretty selfish and worry only about myself, but for the most part, I am doing all that I can to help the newcomer in recovery. I do a heck of a lot of volunteer work, I work professionally as an alumni coordinator, I sponsor women in my fellowship of choice and I take a lot of crisis calls in which I am able to practice my recovery coach and counseling skills. I love that I can help the families of the addicted as well. The families suffer just as much if not more than the individual who is addicted.
I do feel that the stigma of addiction still affects me even though I am in recovery and have been in recovery for three years. There are so many people who do not understand so I spend a large percentage of my time advocating for people in recovery.
I hope that joining this project will possibly inspire someone else to enter into recovery and not be silent about it. I am not anonymous because I feel that the only way we recover is by being accountable to others. Others should know we are proud of what we went through before entering into recovery. There are so many people who will never make it and will die as a direct result of this disease.
I want to dedicate my recovery journey to my son, Rhett who will always be my motivation for everything that I do to better myself. Without him, I am not sure that I would have been as dedicated to this process as I have been.