Addiction consumed me. I ended up feeling hijacked. Like I was someone's marionette. Every night was proclaiming I would not do this again. This is not who I am. Only to wake up and to it all over again. I started to wish for death. My shame was thick. Thinking of how I disgraced my family, especially my mother, was overwhelming. People would think she raised me wrong. That it must be something, she did. This enraged me, yet I couldn’t stop.
I thought I was too smart to get addicted. I knew better. I would never destroy my family like I had seen others do. Everything I thought I knew about this disease was wrong. I tried to get sober many times. Always attempting to convince myself I didn’t have this disease. I reluctantly tried again. This time I faced the feelings I had buried and the wrongs I had done. I emerged revitalized, finally accepting who I was and thankful for the chance at a life worth living.
In recovery, I have the capacity to appreciate so much more in life. At one point the simplest tasks seemed impossible. Today I smile countless times a day realizing I can accomplish what I once found impossible. My life is beyond what I could have imagined. I have a husband and kids that have only known me in recovery. They know they can rely on me. I have been there for my children's milestones and everything in between. I can jump out of my comfort zone, willing to let new experiences enlighten me. I have bonded with some remarkable people from being open about my recovery. I have friends that have shown over and over again that they will be there to help me in any way they can and I will do the same for them. They have become family.
Recovery is not just about how much better life will get. It’s also about having the confidence and resilience to get through the worst of times. Three years into my recovery my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer that metastasized to her brain. She was dying. She wanted to be in her own home with her beloved pets, not a hospital bed. I was there so she could do just that. I took care of her every day. I watched her fade away physically and mentally. Some days she didn’t know who I was or where she was, but I knew I was right where I belonged. If my family was nervous about my abilities to care for my mother, I never sensed it. I was at my mother's side as she took her last breath. I held her hand and told her I loved her, and it was alright to go. As I grieve, I can know I did my best for her in the end. The love she so selflessly gave to me I was able to give back to her. I was only able to care for my mother because I was in recovery. That experience only strengthened my resolve to help people.
I am open about my story because I didn’t know anyone that did what I did and got better. I don’t want anyone else to feel that way. I am open because I can recognize the hopelessness in someone's eyes when I speak with them just as I know they can see it has left mine.
Everyone seems to be affected somehow. Communities are starting to face the problem and come together to help each other. Our police departments are looking for more ways to help people with a substance use disorder. I volunteer as a recovery coach for C.L.E.A.R. This program seeks to facilitate medical intervention and improved access to treatment and recovery support. C.L.E.A.R. started from a police chief who knew he had to do something different in the face of this epidemic. This program is not unique. More communities are working on their versions.
I started attending my local recovery advocacy meetings. I talk about my story so more people can feel free to do the same and not feel ashamed to ask for help. The voices of recovery will become louder than the voices of shame and stigma. When we get arrested for drugs or DUI's we have no choice whether it makes the newspaper, radio, or tv. So why not showcase our recovery. Show our rise not just our fall.
My name is Kelly LaBar. I am in long term recovery which for me means I have not had a drink or a drug since January 26, 2003, and I am not anonymous.