Who is this stranger I was looking at in the mirror? What had I become? Who had I become? I no longer knew. From childhood and on, I became very familiar with the destruction addiction caused. I hated it. I hated everything about it. I swore never to become an addict.
I never understood why my mother chose drugs over love. But now, standing here looking at this stranger in the mirror, I understand in the worst way. I reflect on the past four years, the rehab, the broken relationships, the attempt I made on my own life just to try to escape addiction, my children, my family and where I’ve been for the past two years.
Alone on the run in a different state with a different name, never knowing when my last high would be. I had developed a love-hate relationship with heroin, the complete emptiness I felt every single day because I wasn’t ready to change or to get help, but now I’m finally free from addiction and its grip it had on me. Grateful to be in this tiny, freezing jail cell, a sense of calm had finally come over me. I’m safe and free at last.
It was so cold I could see frost on my cell window, but I was alive, dammit, and so very grateful. It was only three weeks into my 13-month sentence that I would receive the worst news in my life. It was a Tuesday. I was getting ready to go downstairs for church when an officer pulled me out — she was silent. Confusion overtook my thoughts; what had I done? Nothing, I told myself.
She then sat me next to a phone and handed it to me. It was both of my big sisters, hysterical and crying. All I could make out was, “Mommy’s dead. I’m so sorry. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I’m so sorry.”
I knew at that very moment she had overdosed before they even said it. I could feel my heart breaking as I dropped to the floor. Time had stopped. I couldn’t breathe. How could this be? She just visited me two weeks ago. I swore at that very moment I’d never go back to drugs.
I could not bear this loss on my own children. It was the most awful feeling. I’M DONE. I couldn’t even bury my own mother because where my addiction had put me.
I finished my sentence, got an apartment and job, did well for a few months, but bad habits have a way of coming back. Now I’m standing in line to get my methadone so I won’t be sick, I also haven’t stopping using.
I hated this, I hated that I had started again, I hated it. I knew where this road led, and it was straight to hell, and I refuse to go back there. I had lost so much, held so much pain and loss from it. The next week, I went to the admin at the clinic and told her if I wasn’t in rehab in a week I would die. She could see the pain in my eyes and hear the fright and terror in my voice. I was tired of the pain that came with addiction. They sent me to a rehab five hours away in the mountains. I did 57 hours a week of class … but it saved my life.
I met my fiance two months before rehab. I thought for sure he would quit on me, but here he was on the phone every day telling me how proud he was, how strong I was, how much I overcame and how much I deserved to be loved and happy and healthy. That man and rehab saved my life and gave me the strength and hope I so desperately needed.
I now have a house and a car and my family. I have a life I thought I’d never get. But as I celebrate two years sober, I know it’s possible for anyone. I’ve lost a total of nine people to addiction — three were like sisters and one being my mother. Please don’t let addiction win. We do have the chance to change. We do have the help to recover, and we do have the strength to overcome it.
Never give up, never stop fighting — we all deserve a better way. We are not alone.