“At the sweet, innocent age of four years old, I already had a life plan. From preschool to high school, they ask you one important question. ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ My answer never changed. ‘A professional wrestler.’
Funny. I’ve said that all my life. But about 5 to 6 years ago, I never expected to be a full blown heroin/opiate addict.
I was the athlete, the class clown, the apple of everybody’s eye, the prankster, the singer, the dancer, the lover, and the baby of the family. I could do no wrong, and I was precious. I loved life and my family to no end.
What we learn when recovering from anything is no addiction or mental illness discriminates. My childhood was amazing, and I have nothing but fond, beautiful memories. Take away the drugs, and the main problem is still there. Me. God laid out a plan, and while I don’t believe heroin addiction was that plan, the aftermath and the life I live today is what he was setting me up for.
From an early age I had to have a boyfriend. I was searching for love and I found it in all the wrong places. What business does a 10-year-old have, ‘falling in love.’ Every boyfriend I’ve ever had, I was in love with. I was so desperately searching for a feeling that wasn’t naturally there. Ever.
Throughout my high school years, I’ve found myself in situations where I was abused physically, emotionally and mentally. As I got older, I realized I put myself in those positions. Some were self-inflicted, some were not my fault.
Freshman year of high school I broke up with who I thought was the love of my life. I met him when I was in sixth grade. My world felt like it ended, because it nearly did. ‘How can I live without him?’ Well newsflash to all of you, I did and I was doing just fine afterwards.
That is until sophomore year of high school when I met another guy. He was into all kinds of drugs. He was smoking pot so I started smoking pot. He was a skater boy, and I should’ve said, ‘see you later boy.’ I didn’t. During that relationship I was sexually assaulted after a party one night. I told my family two weeks later and I get called a slut at school for months on end. Cops investigated and found him guilty because he admitted it on a phone call the detectives overheard while they were sitting at a table with me. Perfect. All the people who called me names came running to me apologizing because the man was put behind bars.
Junior year of high school I met this guy who HAD to be the one. The most charming man I think I’ve ever met in my life. One month in and he smacked me across the face. I stay in this relationship for another eight months. Every day I got the sh*t kicked out of me. This was the year I experimented with painkillers for the first time. It took away the physical pain and it sure as hell took away the emotional pain. We go to court, get a restraining order and never speak again.
Senior year of high school. YEP you guessed it…I meet ‘the one.’ This time has GOT to be it. James. Yes I will say his name, because I will not say it in vain. To this day he stills means a lot to me. Sparks fly, chemistry is there, we were a perfect match. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school when I felt sick. I couldn’t understand why. ‘Is this withdrawal?’ Yes. For the first time I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms. My relationship continued, my drug addiction continued, and it spiraled completely out of control. I’m doing opiates, sniffing heroin for the first time, and smoking crack cocaine like it’s going to get me into Harvard or something. ‘What happened to me?’
James and I separate. He gets help. I don’t. I wasn’t at the point of admitting I had a huge problem. I knew I was physically addicted, but I still did not grasp the mental aspect of addiction yet. James was a kind, athletic, loving, funny, warm-hearted man. He always meant well, never meant to hurt anybody. He loved his family more than anything. He loved hockey. That was his safe haven. He fought tooth and nail, until God saw he was really tired and he couldn’t fight anymore. On December 28, 2017, James lost his battle to the disease of addiction. I was not with him, but James meant a great deal to me and he always will. We love you James and may you RIP.
My family relocated in 2012 and so did my addiction. I moved to a new location but it didn’t stop me. I find myself in very deep. One day I said to myself, ‘I am meant to be a heroin addict forever.’ I truly believed it.
I couldn’t see the light anymore, and wrestling, the one thing that meant so much to me – I couldn’t watch ‘Monday Night Raw’ or ‘SmackDown’ without crying. I should be in a ring. Not in my bed sniffing pills or heroin. I lost all hope at that point. I was alone for years, the girl who always had to be in a relationship, the girl who was so desperately looking for love. Alone.
It wasn’t until April of 2015 when I looked at my father and told him, ‘I need help.’ I looked at my mother, and told her I needed help. I went to my first detox. What do you know? I meet the love of my life while I’m detoxing off of heroin and opiates of all sorts. Shocker.
He was from Florida and was tall and handsome. He made me laugh and he made me feel a sense of self worth. I was scared walking into detox and he was the first person to introduce himself to me. When you leave detox, you go to a treatment center. I followed him. I fell in love and became obsessive and crazy. I’d been on drugs for years, I didn’t know how to process any kind of emotion. A few months in, he admits to me, ‘You deserve better than me.’ Still, I stuck around, I thought maybe he would change. When I would go to see him, girls would be walking down the stairs leaving after they just finished having sex with him.’Why am I doing this?’
I relapse. After about four months of continuous sobriety, I decided to shoot heroin for the first time. Barely a month in, I overdosed and nearly lost my life. I went to another treatment center. Fell in love in the treatment center with yet another guy. And repeated the same exact cycle. The overdose did not stop me from making the same mistakes again and risking dying every day.
Yet another detox. This time has got to be it. My parents decide it’s a wise idea to ship me across the country to Arizona. I didn’t want to, but I went. I HATE planes. But I didn’t want to do this anymore. I wanted to get better, I wanted my life back, and dammit, I want to be a pro wrestler!
About a month in the treatment in Arizona, I leave against medical advice with two guys who I was not romantically involved with. We decided since we were all musically inclined, we were going to form a group of some sort. We went to Calabasas, California, and I found cocaine in the sister’s room of the guy’s house I was staying in. I did it with no hesitation. It was in that moment, I knew for sure. I had a major problem.
I called my mom crying. ‘I want to go back to the treatment center I was at in New Jersey,’ I told her. I wanted to give it a real shot. My dad wanted nothing to do with me, he was done. That really hurt. He still decided to buy me a plane ticket so I could go to treatment. But that was where it ended with him. I had to do the rest.
December 10, 2015, I go back to treatment and I have not looked back since. I wanted a new life. I left treatment and went to a recovery house which taught me how to live again. I fell in love maybe two times. The second time, the guy was great, but he just wasn’t for me. The more my head cleared throughout the years, the more in touch I was with hurting others. I knew I was mentally strong, but he wasn’t. If I left, it would destroy him. Which would destroy me. Two years in and he asked me to marry him, and I said yes, very hesitantly. A month or so later I officially ended things because I realized, all I want is to be happy. And this wasn’t making me happy.
Years of sobriety have gone by at this point. I finally knew all those years of ‘being in love’ was not what I thought. I can tell you I was never truly in love. I was searching for something and forcing something that was never there to begin with. Heroin and opiates gave me the love at the time that I needed. The needle, that damn needle.
The older I got and the more sober I became, I learned to love myself. I’ve had many suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts over the years. I didn’t know where I belonged. The two things I knew, I wanted to be a professional wrestler and I wanted to find love.
Thank you to my whole family. I’ve done some horrible things, things I will never forget. But I forgave myself. I grew to love and appreciate myself. I’m a great person, I’m a lover, I am a people pleaser. I want the best for everyone around me.
I am nearly 4 years sober from heroin and opiates. I say it with pride. I am living my dream as a professional wrestler. I have a wonderful man, with whom I feel the LOVE I’ve been searching for my entire life, who shares the same exact goals as me, and takes none of my BS. I need that, believe me. My family now trusts me and supports me in everything I do. Hearing my father and my mother say, ‘We are proud of you,’ will never get old. I can watch wrestling again and not cry with sad tears. But I do catch myself looking up at the sky and saying thank you. I’ve had opportunities a year into pro wrestling, that 7-year-old Victoria would be dreaming about at night.
It’s a cliché, but they always say if you stick it out, your life will end up beyond your wildest dreams. My wildest dreams, I’m living right now.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Victoria Andreola of New Jersey. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more inspiring stories of overcoming addiction here:
‘I loved my older cousin. At 8, I learned the only way to be friends with him was to have sex with him.’: Daughter and mother in addiction recovery together after years of childhood trauma, ‘If that isn’t wonderful, I don’t know what is’
‘I bought a rope and began to hang myself.’ I was living a fantasy of mine. I didn’t see myself living past 30.’: Young woman survives addiction, multiple suicide attempts, says suffering has been her ‘greatest teacher’
Provide hope for someone struggling. SHARE this story on Facebook and Instagram to let them know a community of support is available.