If I told you how many times I’ve tried to get clean–well, I don’t think you would judge me, because I think we’ve got a really good, strong, supportive group of people here, but suffice it to say that I’ve lost count. For me, recovery has always been elusive.
At one point in my life, just before I made my first truly serious commitment, I told a friend of mine (okay, my middleman) that this was my last cop because I was going straight. This man looked at me with a smirk on his face and said, “you say that like every two weeks.” And I couldn’t be mad at him. It was true. I would get paid, spend all my money on drugs, be sick, swear them off forever, then find a way to get more. Every time.
Needless to say, two weeks later I was calling him again.
After that, I stopped for a while. I found out I was pregnant, I was afraid of losing my boyfriend–now my husband–and I was just tired of living in fear all the time. I wanted a different life for myself and the child growing inside me. I still didn’t stay sober, though. My daughter was about six months old the next time I used.
You know, towards the end of my pregnancy and once my daughter was born, I just could not understand mothers who continued to use after their children were born. I didn’t even want kids when I got pregnant, but I just could not imagine harming that little body inside of mine, nor doing anything to risk losing her once she was born. How anyone with children could continue using, knowing the harm it causes to the entire family, especially the children, was just absolutely beyond me.
Until I was one of those mothers. It started with a prescription and after four years, multiple failed attempts at getting clean, another baby, a new house and a chronically-relapsing roommate who was a friend of my husband’s, it ended with jails, institutions, and very nearly death.
Within a month after I got out of jail I overdosed three times, alone in my car. No one will ever convince me that it wasn’t the Spirit of God who woke me up, gasping for air, dripping with sweat and vomiting. I still kept using.
In truth, I was forced into recovery. I fought it tooth and nail. There were two things that I knew: I did not want to go back to jail–and I was on a path set straight for it–and I desperately needed my children back.
Let me tell you–I lazily worked a half-assed program before it finally clicked. I had relapsed once more, and got caught a week later. My grandfather was dying in the hospital, I failed a UA, and DCF showed up at my house, resulting in my husband kicking me out again. At that point I knew I was done.
The day my grandfather passed, my mom called me to tell me the news and begged me not to do anything–“please, if you can’t stay sober for yourself, or your kids, or for me, do it for him. This is not the life he wanted for you.”
I had already made the decision. It was time to change. I just wish I had done it sooner, so he could’ve seen me. Happy. Free. Dependable. Responsible.
I wish I could have apologized.
Today I’m back home. I graduated my program, and though I’m still paying off the court costs and can’t be released from probation until it’s paid off, my officer has faith in me again and barely even looks at the results of my UA.
Today I have a job I love, and a second job that’s okay (haha). My family trusts me. I have my kids back and I live with them and care for them every single day.
I haven’t heard “are you staying this time?” or “is Daddy going to kick you out again?” or “when are you coming home?” in months.
And I have a baby boy–Atlas Harrison, named after my grandfather William Harrison.
Today I have a new life, and it isn’t always easy, but I thank God each and every day for second–and third, and tenth, and twentieth–chances.
Recovery isn’t a race. It doesn’t matter how you get there, how long it takes you, or what you have to do. Just get there.
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