My name is Andrea. My clean date is 3/29/10.
Early Rejections and Emotional Voids
I was born in 1980 to a single mother. I was not her first child; my sister is three years older than me and has always taken care of me like a second mother. My grandparents were well off and were very active in our lives, as my mom had her own demons and she did the best she could with lots of help from them.
Our father was not in my life at all, though he had spent a few years in my sister’s. I remember being a child and asking questions about him. When my grandfather told me that my divorced parents didn’t want me, I remember feeling unloved and rejected.
That was the first time I remember feeling unloved or rejected. I guess that makes me the stereotypical spoiled white girl with daddy issues.
Learning to Fill the Voids
As a child, I was not the most attractive girl. I had glasses, I was tall and skinny, and I had buck teeth. The kids in school called me beaver, Urkel (as in Steve Urkel), and Green Giant. My first experiment with altering the way I felt was to excel at school. It was easy for me, and I would bring home a report card full of A’s and get rewarded and praised. That was the feeling I was looking for, that external validation and I wanted more.
I was also a little clumsy, or maybe a lot. When I broke my arm, I got to sleep in front of a TV in the living room. I got a loopy feeling from the pain medications and I liked that feeling. Instead of watching the TV, I watched the ceiling fan just spin. Throughout the next few years, I experimented with alcohol and pot. I didn’t start with beer or wine, I started on the bottle of wild turkey in the kitchen. It burned, and I puked, but I went back for more.
At the age of 17, my mom was dating a guy that was not very respectful of me. He was closer to my age. He was always around, so I started hanging out with my friends at one of their houses. One of them was dating this guy that was using meth. He wouldn’t let me try it because “I had a future” and he didn’t want to corrupt me. I finally snuck some, and from that moment things were never the same.
Drugs Fill the Voids Better
Some people say it takes years of building up a tolerance, but once I found that drug, I was willing to do whatever it took to continue to use, including dropping out of high school. I was addicted. Shortly after, I had my first sexual experience with my daughter’s father. We ended up moving to Tennessee to try to get away from the drug scene, but we just switched to something else until I found out I was pregnant.
I was fortunate enough to be able to stop using each time I got pregnant, but it never lasted. I made it to six months with my daughter before I was drinking heavily and I was only 18. When she turned one, she and I moved back to north Georgia to get away from the life that I felt trapped in, the abuse of her father.
However, I was using meth within two weeks. I drug my daughter from house to house, job to job, around dealers and some questionable people for years. I would switch drugs every so often to try to convince myself I was in control, but any time I gained a little weight, I would be back on the “Jenny Diet.” It was a horrible cycle of self-destruction that helped me eventually get a DUI and a few driving on suspended license arrests.
The Use Can Stop – Just Not the Addiction
I would sleep it off in jail and usually couldn’t make it a month before doing something after my release.
I was on probation, using. My best thinking told me it was best if I didn’t go to report, so that way they didn’t know I was dirty. I ended up spending nearly nine months in jail on a two-year probation sentence for not reporting. After that last stay on the probation revocation, my mom had my cousin pick me up one afternoon to take me to a meeting. I wasn’t ready, and the entire time I looked for differences and justified not staying.
Like any good addict, I found another person to give my attention to, and I began the relationship with my son’s father. You know the bad boy kind; tall, sexy, and highly toxic. He was in work release, so time together was limited; but that didn’t stop the attraction or dysfunction.
In fact, I used his problems to mask my own and could focus on fixing him. He’d claim to work when really, we were just hooking up. About a week after his release, and after only four months of being together, we got married. He was my new drug. We were both willing to give up everything as long as we had each other. Our life was like a roller coaster of really bad and really romantic times, no consistency and no middle ground.
The Downward Spiral to the Bottom
When I got pregnant, I was able to stop getting high, but the week I stopped breastfeeding, I was back on it. By the time my son was four months old, his dad was back in jail for hitting me. I spiraled fast from that point. I used more, and whatever I could get, so I didn’t have to feel the pain of not being with him.
Now I was raising two children by myself. When my son was seven months old, I was arrested with two possession charges, and both of my children were no longer in my custody. That experience was a bottom, as I never thought the authorities would take my children.
Only wearing size 2 clothes on a tall frame meant I was like a lot of other women; underweight from our use and strung-out. I detoxed in a padded cell off opiates and meth.
After sitting in jail for a while, I was willing to admit I had a problem. Most women I was in jail with got probation or rehab, and I figured I’d get one of them, too. Instead, I was offered an accountability court. I went to groups and gave random screens while going to meetings with a sheet to get signed. I remember this one counselor telling me he believed in me because he had been there. At the time, I didn’t believe him, or anyone in meetings, and only attended the meetings because I was mandated to attend.
Finally Hearing the Message of Recovery
Something happened; I heard my story from another woman. She had remained clean, graduated from court, and had her kids with her. That day, I finally had hope for me. Click To Tweet
Her story of addiction and her recovery gave me a reason to believe that maybe I could do those things too. I started listening to what she was saying, and then I started hanging around after the meeting to get phone numbers and talk to other people. This is how I found new friends.
After a while, I got a sponsor and began working steps. I found a home group, I got involved in service, and started really studying the literature. When I went to court to regain custody of my son, my sponsor was with me. When I went to visit my daughter, my sponsor talked to me on the phone and prayed with me to have faith and accept the situation, and to remember that no matter what happened, I didn’t have to relapse over it.
After a few years of doing the right thing, working steps, and making significant changes in my life, my children and I were reunited.
My Turn to Share the Messages of Hope
This year I turned 38, something I never thought I would do. These days I am a sponsor. I still go to meetings, and I still do step work, and because I continue to do these things, I have not been to jail or used drugs or alcohol since I was 29.
I remarried at four years clean, and my husband is also clean. He is so supportive of me and my dreams. Together we have a blended family of four. My daughter is now grown, and I am learning to parent her differently. Our three boys are involved in activities, so we are always on the go. I went to college and will graduate in December.
I work in an accountability court, and I get to plant seeds of hope in others who are just starting their journey. Some days, I know they don’t believe me that life without drugs and alcohol is good. I see the same looks I gave my counselor years ago.
But I’ll continue to spread the message that recovery works because the life I have today is so much more than I dreamed I could have or deserve. I want the people in the accountability court, the women I sponsor, and people in meetings to know that the lie is dead – we do recover.
- 38 years old
- 8 years clean
- Daughter, Wife, Mother, Stepmother
- Sponsor, Service Member, Friend
- Recovery Advocate
- Group Facilitator
Writing, and recovery heals the heart.
From Addict 2 Advocate’s readers understand that just like Andrea heard her story from another, it’s the stories that help us relate and find hope.
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