‘I begged my husband to come back, but he was done. He took sole custody of the kids.’: Mom’s journey to heal her family after struggling with addiction

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“My name is Jaimie and I’m an addict. Or I was. I grew up with a mom, a stepdad who is and always will be Dad to me, and an older brother. My parents were pastors for most of my childhood and adolescence and we moved a lot. My dad was an alcoholic when I was very small and I remember having to live with my family and him on a rehab farm when I was about 3 years old. When he came out of rehab he was a changed man, never touched another drop of alcohol and committed his life to serving God.

I didn’t grow up around drugs and certainly never touched any drug or even alcohol until I was well into my late teens/early 20s. I had a short season of rebelling against my parents with experimenting and partying, typical teenage stuff which didn’t last long. I went to university and became a nurse and loved my job. I met my husband at age 21, married him at 22, and my life was set.

Bride smiles holding bouquet of lily's while husband stands hugging her from the side
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I got pregnant within 3 months of getting married and while we didn’t plan to have kids so soon we were ecstatic and couldn’t wait to start our family. When I was 33 weeks pregnant I started to feel really faint and dizzy, and like I couldn’t breathe. I called my husband at work and told him something was wrong and I needed to go to the hospital. Lots of tests and poking and prodding later, I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Emboli – I had multiple blood clots in both of my lungs and was very lucky to still be alive. I was told by a nurse that I was a bit of an attraction on the ward as most people with this condition don’t make it to the hospital. Often it’s sudden when it hits and death occurs quickly.

Pregnant woman with Pulmonary Emboli stands smiling while holding her stomach
Courtesy of Jaimie Honeysett

While I was in hospital I had a lot of medical students coming in to ask me questions and gawk at the miracle. I was put on huge doses of blood thinners for the remainder of my pregnancy – 4 needles in my thighs daily – and was monitored very closely. I got through that ok and had my baby, a beautiful girl named Bailee, and we were a family.

Mother and father sit on ground smiling at baby that is sitting on wife's lap in photoshoot
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Not long after she was born I started to get excruciating pain in my chest again and feel short of breath. It felt like the last time and we panicked thinking I might have developed more blood clots, and knowing the danger, we rushed to the hospital only to be told it was most likely some scar tissue or pleurisy from the blood clots, given some strong pain killers and sent home. The pain continued, I took my pain killers according to prescription, and they helped. My GP was sure the pain wouldn’t last long. 3 or 4 months tops. 18 months later, I’m still taking strong painkillers (oxycodone) and the pain is no better.

I got pregnant again in 2011, when my daughter was about 14 months old. We were excited again for another baby and I went off all my meds determined to have a healthy pregnancy despite the pain I was in daily. At our dating scan, they couldn’t find a heartbeat and said it may be too early, come back in 2 weeks. Two weeks later our worst fears were confirmed. I had had a miscarriage. The doctor said it was very common, not to worry and the dead fetus would come out on its own. I was to let nature do its thing. I waited for 6 weeks. Every day waking up thinking this would be the day my dead baby would come out of me and it never did. That was hugely traumatic emotionally for me and I didn’t cope very well. I didn’t know how to talk about it with anyone and my husband didn’t seem to be really affected by it and so I felt silly and weak. But I would wake up every day for 6 weeks waiting for the cramps and bleeding to start, always looking in the toilet after I’d been to see if it had. I was on a constant edge of anxiety, plus dealing with the grief of the loss of the baby, chasing after my active 1-year-old and still in physical pain in my chest. It was awful.I ended up being scheduled for a D&C as the doctors were worried the dead baby would cause an infection and my body clearly didn’t know it had died. My doctor had also resumed my prescription of oxycodone when I first miscarried because I wasn’t pregnant anymore technically, and I found over those 6 weeks that the pills stopped more than just my physical pain – they numbed my emotions as well. On a side note, if you’ve had a miscarriage, no matter how early, it’s OK to grieve. It’s OK to talk about it and acknowledge the life that was lost. I didn’t know that and if I did, who knows if I would have gone down the path I did.

Thus began my spiral downward. I started taking more and more of these pills to get the same numbing feeling as my tolerance to the drugs grew. I started lying to my husband, my friends and family, and my doctor, going to 2 or 3 doctor’s appointments a day to get more pills. I was chasing the numbness. I would hide packets of pills around the house anywhere I could, on shelves behind clothes, in boxes, drawers, cupboards, even in my kids’ rooms – anywhere. If I couldn’t get a doctor to prescribe me the strong stuff, I’d take handfuls of over the counter codeine mixed with acetaminophen – up to 40 or 50 a day to get a similar ‘high.’ To this day I don’t know how I didn’t die from liver failure.

Drug addict mother takes selfie while baby is asleep on her chest
Courtesy of Jaimie Honeysett

Fast forward again to 2017 – I had two more beautiful baby girls, a husband and a debilitating drug addiction. I had been through detox more times than I could count trying to get free, I’d been to rehab, my husband had threatened to leave me and take the kids and actually had a couple of times, but he always came back. I was so good at lying to him, myself and everyone around me that I didn’t even know what the truth was anymore. At my worst I was swallowing over 1000mg of oxycodone a day. Normal post-surgical dosage is 5-10mg. I’d stop at the pharmacy, buy the pills, then sit in the car popping out tablet after tablet and swallow them immediately. I’d have my kids in the car more often than not and I would tell them I was just taking some ‘medicine.’ I would come to hate the weekends when my husband was home and the doctor’s officers were shut because I couldn’t just go and get more if I ran out. Which I always did.

Mother addicted to drugs takes selfie while daughter rests her head on mother's shoulder
Courtesy of Jaimie Honeysett

I drove high with my kids in the car, I would drag them to appointment after appointment where they would hear me lie through my teeth about some pain I’d made up just to get a script. I hate that I did that to them and I will always have that on my conscience. I excused myself because they were ‘too little’ to understand, but they saw it all and understood more than I thought. I had pushed all of my friends and family away, they had tried time and time again to help me in different ways but I couldn’t be helped. I lost a lot of great relationships that will probably never be able to be fully repaired and I have deep regret and sorrow about that.

Mother with drug addiction's straight face in selfie
Courtesy of Jaimie Honeysett

In April 2017, the day after my 30th birthday, I lied to my husband for the last time. He found out I’d been using drugs again behind his back and packed up, took the kids and left. I was devastated. I still believed I was the victim and always blamed everyone around me for the way I was – the doctor for prescribing the pills, my friends for not seeing through my lies, God for not taking away the desire for drugs – everyone but me was at fault. Yes, I’d had a hard go of it and I guess a lot of people would (and did) excuse my behavior because of it, but at the end the day, the choice to ruin my life was mine and mine alone, but a huge part of remaining in addiction is having a victim mentality about what’s happened and choosing to lay responsibility at everyone else’s feet but your own. I couldn’t get better until I learned to accept my choices were mine and no one else’s, and in a way, when I eventually did, I got my power back.

Woman with drug addiction smiles in selfie in backyard with husband
Courtesy of Jaimie Honeysett

For a while I begged my husband to come back but he was done. He lodged our separation with the government and took sole custody of the kids. Rock bottom for me was sitting in the house I once shared with my family, alone, with a handful of pills in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other, knowing I had nothing left to live for. The only thing that stopped me from committing suicide that day was because it was my middle daughter’s 5th birthday the next week and I didn’t want my death hanging over that date.

So instead, I called around to any rehab I could find and got on the waiting list. I got into one in my hometown which I’m so grateful for. My kids could still come and visit me. It was a 3-month residential program and I’m so grateful to the staff and the program there because it saved my life. I was forced to really look at the ‘why’ behind the ‘what.’ Drug addiction is never the sole issue, it’s always a symptom of a deeper issue. For me, it stemmed back to the circumstances surrounding my birth (another story) and massive identity and abandonment issues arising from not addressing or acknowledging it for so many years, which was then triggered by the miscarriage and the availability of an ‘easy out’ with painkillers.

When I got out of rehab, I still had a lot of work to do to repair the damage I’d done. My marriage was over and I wasn’t expecting to get my husband back but I desperately wanted a relationship with my children. God is so good though and He has restored not only my children to me, but I’m proud to say my husband and I have now officially reconciled and our relationship is stronger than ever. That man is truly a saint and it’s only by the grace of God – and ALOT of hard work on my part – that he is even speaking to me, let alone wanting to build a life with me again. I still have a lot of damage to repair with extended family and I know that will take time and consistency on my part to rebuild all the trust that was lost, which I’m more than prepared to do. We are free to make our own choices but are NOT free from the consequences of our choices, a lesson I learn daily when my almost 3-year-old daughter who spent 18 months living away from me reaches out to her daddy for comfort when she’s hurt or upset instead of me, because he’s been the one solid consistency in her life, or when I have trouble with my short term memory because of all the abuse I put my brain and body through.

Father sits at restaurant table smiling with his three daughter's whom he has custody over
Courtesy of Jaimie Honeysett
Young girl with backpack on stands smiling beside her mother outside of her rehab center
Courtesy of Jaimie Honeysett

I have now been drug free for a little over a year and I can’t even express to you how much my life has changed. I’ve gone from a broken mess just about to end my life, to being so much healthier in body and mind. I have a beautiful home to live in with my family, I have a full-time job in Christian radio which I LOVE, I’m actively involved in my church alongside my family and I have beautiful supportive friends who know my story and have accepted me and love me anyway. It certainly didn’t happen overnight or without some trials, tears and backwards steps along the way, but through the process I’ve learned of the faithfulness of our Father and the patience He has for us, His children. I’m not ‘there’ yet, I’ve still got insecurities and I’m still terrified of ever getting back to that place of hopelessness and darkness, but everyone who sees me now that knew me then expresses amazement at the light in my eyes that was absent for a long time.

God has returned to me 100-fold what I lost and I will never forget the amazing grace poured out on me.”

Mother who got clean stands smiling beside husband and three daughters on Mother's Day
Courtesy of Jaimie Honeysett

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jaimie Honeysett, 31, of Orange, NSW Australia. Have you overcome your addictions? We’d like to hear your journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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