I am a person in long-term recovery. I am a suicide attempt survivor. I am a person in recovery from a mental health crisis. I am a person in recovery from drugs and alcohol.
Throughout my childhood, I saw nothing but gambling, drugs, alcohol, violence, and broken homes. My god-brother and god-sister died when I was a teenager because my god-brother drank until he was unable to control his emotions and shot his wife. When he sobered up, he realized what he did and committed suicide. A few of my friends were victims of homicide or mistaken identity. I saw my cousin lose his house and most of his families’ savings due to a gambling and alcohol addiction. Friends and family would end up in jail or prison for their acts of violence and gang activity. Family reunions or get-togethers were not considered fun without a lot of alcohol, food, and bad karaoke singing. People would pass out on sofas, throw up in the backyard, or get punched in the face for being inappropriate to someone’s wife or girlfriend. As a kid growing up, we played in the same room these things took place in. I saw all these things happen in front of me and it was normal for me, at least that’s what I thought.
My mother was never supportive. Anything I did wrong was the end of the world in her eyes. I could not do anything right. As an Asian, I was expected to be so smart which meant straight A’s. When I got a C, I was called dumb by my mother. When I had to stay after for tutoring, I was confronted by her and told that I was not going to my tutor. I was accused of being out doing drugs instead which was the reason I had a C. I gained weight and was called fat and a disgrace to the family because nobody wants a fat Asian. I lost weight and was called ungrateful because I refused to eat the food that was prepared for the family. When I ate too much, I was called rude because I did not share with others. When I ate too little, I was called inconsiderate because I did not try to pretend to enjoy the food that was prepared for me without force. I was not allowed to have friends. Friends were no good. They were bad people who would make me dumber, uglier, and more disrespectful. I was not allowed to have a boyfriend because I needed to focus on school and work, and that my man would come in the form of an arranged marriage.
I couldn’t escape my parents because they did not speak English and needed constant interpreting of verbal and written languages. They were sick so I drove them around to their appointments and to run their errands. I tried not to make it seem like I was tired because if I was to act tired, I was accused of doing drugs or sleeping around with strangers even though the real reason I was tired was that I got up at 6am to run errands until 6pm.
I was not allowed to socialize so I was unable to attend my junior or senior prom and was going to miss graduation if it wasn’t mandatory that I went. I had a lot of self-esteem and self-confidence issues. I did not know if I was good or bad. The friends I hid from my family said I was amazing and a true angel on earth but going home, I was lower than dirt.
I drank because my family drank. I did it secretly though. I would not drink in front of family but I would in front of friends. Why not drink in front of my family? It would only make me look like the low-life I was made out to be, and because of that, I would drink whenever I could. Before school, during classes, after work, heading home, you name it. I eventually drank myself through my years of college where I would not go to class until I hit up a bar close to campus. Why did I do it? It was not to follow in my family’s footsteps. It was to mask my family. When all you see is violence, sex, drugs, gambling and abuse, you try to make it go away. Unfortunately, the only way I stopped my family’s addictions was to develop my own.
I drank for years. A lot of my friends playfully said I am an alcoholic because I was able to drink so much and not get drunk. How did I stop? Money. It costs a lot to pay for alcohol. I was going in debt. I went through a few credit cards and refused to pay them because alcohol was calling my name.
I longed for my mother’s attention and approval. I did everything. I held down three part-time jobs when I was a student in college. I signed up for the maximum amount of credits to be considered full-time. I joined or started my own student organizations. I studied at the library and the computer lab for hours and hours. I did all this and received so many awards, recognitions, and a high GPA, but it was never good enough for my mother. Every day, she told me how much she didn’t like me and how much I disappoint her. I tried my best to gain her approval and she was never satisfied. Of all people in the world, I did not expect my own mothers’ attention to be the one who I had to fight for when it came to love and affection. I did everything and everybody told me how much they appreciated me but to me, I was not good enough because I was not good enough for my mother.
All the years of constant emotional and psychological abuse, the first-hand experience with broken homes, my version of “normal” households, and alcohol finally came to a stop when I attempted suicide in July 2012. Nothing worked that day, I kept drinking and it kept NOT working. I didn’t know how to ask for help because I was taught as a kid that I need to keep things to myself because nobody would listen to me. I was told repeatedly by my mother that I was unwanted and not needed and nobody would listen to me. That mentality stuck to me. I isolated myself. I withdrew from everything. I gave up. I overdosed on pills and was in ICU for four days before being transferred on a 302 to a mental health treatment facility where I stayed there for close to 3 weeks.
There I attended groups, went to meetings, abided by the rules. What helped the most was that there was group therapy where I could finally tell someone, anyone, how I felt. I figured I would not see these people after I left so I cried every chance I got and I told my story every chance I got. I listened to what the therapist had to say when I did see her on a one-on-one basis. I did positive affirmations every day in order to help me think positively about myself. Everybody already had positive things to say about me but I did not believe them. The positive affirmations were my way of making myself believe what everybody else was saying and helped me not think of what my mother said to me.
To this day, I still do a million and one things. The only difference is I am finally now doing it for me and not for my mother or anyone else’s approval. I am also doing it without using alcohol and drugs to make the pain go away quicker. I have not attempted suicide since 2012 and I am thankful and grateful every day that I was able to overcome these obstacles and can continue to say “My name is Stacie and I am in recovery.”