How My Family Saved My Life – And Why I Hated Them For It

I always told myself that when I became a mother, I would never use drugs again. I told myself that I would never lose my children because of my drug use. I told myself I would never be arrested.

But we know how these things go. One by one our boundaries push a little farther. I’d never use again, until I did. I’d never go to jail, until I did. I’d never lose my kids… until I did.

One by one our addiction’s “to-do” list gets smaller.

I told myself I’d never go to jail. I told myself I’d never lose my children. But then I did.

In 2019 I spent my birthday in jail, passed out and detoxing. My first time in jail, and I was arrested on my birthday.

My family had banded together and unilaterally decided not to bail me out. I begged, I pleaded, I bargained, I threatened. I manipulated. They refused.

I was furious. I hated them. More than I’d hated anyone. I was scared. Terrified. I didn’t know what to do. I was alone and detoxing with three dozen other girls who were incarcerated for a variety of drug and violence charges. If there was a place to make a connection, I told them, that was it.

Then you definitely need to be in there, if that’s your only thought.

Eventually my grandmother bailed me out, with two broken ankles and a broken back. I thought she was the only one who loved me. She didn’t care what the rest of my family thought, she just didn’t want me in jail any longer. That was love.

When I begrudgingly accepted the plea bargain and agreed to go to detox, I was searching for ways to buck the system. Anything to get out of getting sober. I was somehow still convinced that I could be a good, effective parent, and still get high—if it weren’t for my family. If they didn’t know. If they didn’t care. If they would just mind their businesses and stay out of my life.

But they couldn’t. They loved me. And they were afraid I was going to die.

I was going to die.

I couldn’t accept or admit it at the time, but my family saved my life that day. Sure, the circumstances were fucked. My husband didn’t care whether I got sober or not, he just wanted to control me. He wanted to hurt me. But my family knew that it was the only way to keep me from killing myself, at least while I was in there. They prayed I would stay sober when I got out.

I didn’t. In fact, I nearly died three separate times. Once from a cyst from shooting up; twice from overdosing alone in my car. God saved me, and there had to be a reason for it.

The longer I stayed sober—even against my will—the more I came to realize what my family had desperately hoped would save me. That they loved me and that I deserved to be sober. That they weren’t trying to punish me, but save my life.

My family saved my life that day. I don’t know if they know it, and I probably haven’t thanked them enough. But I will always be grateful of their decision, and that they loved me enough to leave me in jail.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please reach out. There is always help, and you’re not alone. Contact me directly for resources, or just to talk emily@recoverybees.com

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