Hitting Rock Bottom...Twice.
On the outside looking in, my childhood appeared normal. Mom, Dad, Daughter, and Son all together under one roof. Mom worked to pay the bills, dad was an involved stay at home parent, and sister and brother were as close as can be.
From inside the home the picture looked a lot different. Mom was a fully functioning pothead and dad was an abusive alcoholic. My little brother received the brunt of my father’s physical and mental abuse. The abuse I received was a secret that I carried with me until I was 18. Abuse that taught me that sex, pain, and manipulation equaled love. My mother, always working, was oblivious to any of the abuse.
By 16 my father was diagnosed with severe mental illness (SMI) and mom took a turn down the road of destruction with drugs and alcohol to cope with my father’s newly strange behavior. My brother and I were left to fend for ourselves as teenagers. Once my father’s threats and violence became too much to bear, I ran away from home. I was 16. The straight A honor roll student quickly transformed into a homeless high school high school dropout entangled in a web of drug and alcohol addiction. Over the course of the next several years I was extremely unhealthy, in and out of jail, and living extremely dangerously.
The drugs and alcohol tricked me in to feeling invincible, unstoppable, brave, and in control of my own life. I was broken, lonely, and completely lost constantly asking myself “who am I”? I remember coming down from 3-day binders lying in bed unable to sleep, crying from physical and emotional pain. This went on for a couple of years.
In 2007 I started dating my drug dealer and within 3 months wound up pregnant. My initial feelings of fear and sadness were soon replaced with happiness and joy. I had always wanted to have a family and be a mother. I was strong enough to quit drinking and using during the pregnancy but not mature enough consider the future regarding the relationship. I was blinded by the ‘idea’ of a family. At 8 months pregnant I married the dealer, also an addict with a violent temper. I was sure things would change and get better.
During the pregnancy the state brought up old charges from a felony case a couple years back and I faced a year in jail. When my son was just 7 months old, I was sentenced and taken to jail. Within a week Child Protective Service had taken custody of my son. Over the next two years I struggled in and out of incarceration, sobriety, and the weight and pressure of a CPS case all on my own. Unstable in a job, housing, and rarely sober I made decision that haunts me to this day and signed over my parental rights to my then 2-year-old son. My son deserved so much more then I could give him at the time and deserved stability. At 21, I had hit rock bottom and completely lost the will to live. My little family but more importantly my child’s world ripped apart and I was to blame. I felt like I didn’t deserve to live, nor did I want to. I felt ashamed, guilty, and so angry with myself for the decision I had made. Why couldn’t I just stop drinking and using?! For my own child who I loved and cared about more then anything. To this day I haven’t been able to fully forgive myself for the decisions I made a more importantly the decisions I was not strong enough to make. Although I am trying, I’ll never forget the sorrow, hopelessness, and despair I felt.
My continued path of self-destruction and self-loathing took me further down the dark path of using and drinking which included a lot of physical and emotional abuse, crime, and violence. Within 6 months I was back in jail. This time 4.5 years which turned out to be a much-needed time out from myself.
While I was there, I had a lot of time to think. I finally admitted I had a drinking problem and decided I shouldn’t drink anymore (if only it were that easy). I had earned my G.E.D., took a computer course for business, and developed a work ethic and sense of comfort in stability. Unfortunately, working on my recovery hadn’t crossed my mind. I genuinely thought all I had to do was decide I didn’t want to drink anymore. On the night I was released I had an open beer in my hand and within 2 months was back to day drinking and in once again another toxic relationship. I left the relationship only to find out I was pregnant. Once again, my dream of having a family was a possibility even though both of us were not well enough for a healthy relationship. 2 weeks after my son’s birth, I had a few drinks for the holidays (a pitiful excuse) which once again fed the addiction I had suppressed for the last nine months. Immediate guilt and cravings both consumed my mind. I made excuses to myself in attempt to justify the obvious fact that I was an alcoholic back in active addiction. It was 2 months before the toxicity of that relationship had returned and CPS took my child from me for the second time. I had hit rock bottom for the second time. With complete and utter despair in my heart I handed my sleeping 2-month-old son over to CPS at 11:13am on February 18, 2015.
February 18, 2015 is my sobriety date. I was flooded with emotions I had felt the first time I lost a child to the state and I was filled some stronger new feelings. Feelings of determination, courage, love, and strength. Feelings of hope for change once and for all. The first 365 days of sobriety I went to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, worked the 12 steps, church, and countless self-improvement classes. I will never forget the feeling of rebirth that I felt. That “pink cloud” of early sobriety. I learned how to live sober. I went outside and enjoyed the desert sites that I had been surrounded with my entire life, but never saw. I experienced musical performances, art, museums, and cultural ceremonies that I was once to inebriated to appreciate. A relationship with my mother was rebuilt after I had hurt her so deeply, I forgave my father for his actions. In forgiving him and letting go of that anger I carried inside I freed myself. A year later my son was home and the case was closed. One day at a time I began to forgive myself and started learning how to love myself.
Today I live with a full heart, open mind, and inner strength and peace. I am a mother, wife, and entrepreneur, and every day am shaping into the woman and mother I always dreamt of being as a child. I have made mistakes and have regrets that I would give anything to be able to change. I’ve hurt people, burnt bridges, and lost trust, but I strive and hard every single day to make amends, inspire, and encourage others who have hit their rock bottom or on the way there. Living with addiction can certainly be a challenge, but a challenge I will gladly face every day then the struggles of active addiction. The past does not define me or any one else and every waking day sober is a gift.