‘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’

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“On June 5, 2015, I found myself in the dirtiest house I had ever been in somewhere in Lake Worth, Florida. There were mattresses on floors, the dishes in the sink smelled up the entire place, the energy in the home was so dark. I could tell within minutes I was in a situation I would not know how to get out of. I found myself waiting in a line of 5 drug addicted people for the only needle we had to shoot whatever the drug chosen was for that day. I knew in that moment, I no longer cared about what happened to me. I do remember a smile poking out from under my misery when I realized I got to go second after the person I was dating, because they were the drug dealer. I thought, ‘When did THIS become my source of happiness? How did I get here? I cannot do this for the rest of my life.’

Courtesy of Samantha

My name is Samantha Gorson, and I was born in Hollywood, Florida, where my father gambled for a living and my mother was a stay-at-home alcoholic that I spent the entirety of my childhood with. My father only came around to sleep or eat, as he traveled to Las Vegas or Atlantic City any chance he could get. I could tell early on my mom was lonely, and she found comfort and love in glasses of wine. My father found love in money and women (who weren’t my mother), and I was the chubby, theater kid who had no idea where I was supposed to fit in, even at the early age of 5. I find that my first addiction was attention – I just wanted to be noticed the way my parents noticed and acknowledged their vices.

Courtesy of Samantha

This search of trying to be part of something or fit in somewhere started when my I would spend time with my cousins. My mother’s older sister had 2 kids, one older and one younger than me, and we did everything together; Jewish holidays, Halloween, pool parties, sleep overs, learning to ride our bikes, everything. My older cousin was so cool, I loved him, I wanted to be his friend so bad and by the age of 8, I learned that the only way to be best friends with him was if I would have sex with him and whoever else he had over. I do not remember much from that time, how long it lasted or who was involved, but I do remember the bright red carpet and how it didn’t hurt to be on my knees in his closet. This ongoing ‘event’ became our secret, and I held onto this secret for close to 15 years. In this time, my parents were getting divorced and I spent the next few years angry, sad, confused, mad at the world. I never got over what happened to me, I stuffed it so far down that the only thing that started to make it better is at 13 when I smoked weed for the first time. I found my out.

Courtesy of Samantha

Academics were never hard for me, I was a smart kid, I did my school work, I had good grades, I just never felt like I fit in and I was getting bigger physically the older I got. By 15 years old, I was over 200 pounds and about to lose my father to the disease of HIV. Talk about rough. I was about to go into my freshmen year of high school, and I held my father while he took his last breath. My life was out of control from that moment on (even though it had already been traumatic enough).

Courtesy of Samantha

By 16 years old, I was ‘partying’ every weekend, I had lost my virginity, I was kicked out of school and sent to an all girl’s alternative education school. I was put in my first drug and alcohol treatment center at 17 years old and my life continued on this path of destruction for years. Jails, institutions and isolation was all I knew now. In one of my many treatment center adventures, I met someone. I met the girl I would fall in unhealthy, toxic love with. Jessica was in treatment for an addiction to heroin and I was not. At this time of my life, I had never even seen heroin or knew what that felt like or meant. I remember when we first started dating, I’d say to her, ‘I don’t care what you do, but the minute you bring heroin back into your life, I am gone.’

Little did I know, that I had to do what she wanted me to do because just like when I was 8 years old, I felt that I had to do what I was told to do so she wouldn’t leave me. I felt love from Jessica that I had been looking for my whole life, but she was a raging addict that introduced me to a life I never knew possible. The thought of ‘How did I get here?’ crossed my mind daily.

Courtesy of Samantha

Jessica and I ended up in Mountain City, Tennessee, in a trailer over a sink with crystal meth and a needle and I remember her saying to me, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ At 21, years old I was completely immersed in a life of absolute horror. I can only ever explain my active addiction as ‘horror.’ I ran from everything that was important to me, I stole from the people closest to me, anyone in my way was just a means to an end, all that mattered was numbing all that I had ever been through and making sure Jessica wouldn’t leave me. I shot drugs for over a year, we ended up homeless together, stealing and selling anything we could just to support our habit.

On June 5, 2015, I had enough. I was high, I was dirty, Jessica had been cheating on me, I was only there for the drugs, and I knew I had so much life to live even if I had no idea how I would get there. I nodded off that night, woke up the next day and called the only number I remembered from the 12 Step meetings I had tried numerous times. I had no idea what was about to happen, but I knew I needed to get help.

Courtesy of Samantha

June 6, 2015, is the day I surrendered. I was dope sick, I had not showered in weeks, my hair was greasy, my shirt was so low that you could practically see my breasts, I weight about 250 pounds, I was heartbroken, but I was READY FOR SOMETHING TO BE DIFFERENT. For whatever reason, I had not died out there, I could not understand why, but I knew I needed to give myself a chance to live.

On June 6, 2019, I celebrated 4 years clean and sober. I work in the drug and alcohol treatment industry, I have my own apartment, I have friends that love me, I have lost 110 pounds, I have sought help for my trauma and mental health and I now help women just like me stay clean and sober too.

Courtesy of Samantha

Believe me when I tell you that this has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life, way harder than active addiction ever was. Feeling all my feelings, losing people, falling in and out love, digging into my childhood in therapy, still having a mother in active addiction and having to stay clean and sober through everything life throws at me. There is absolutely nothing more important to me than my recovery, nothing that matters more to me than helping other people just because I am now the power of example.

Courtesy of Samantha
Courtesy of Samantha

Before I end this, I need to say that miracles and magic are real. My life is nothing short of an absolute MIRACLE. I should have died out there, but for an unexplainable reason, I did not. When I had 18 months clean, my mother followed in my footsteps and got herself clean as well. We both now get to recover together, if that isn’t wonderful then I don’t know what is. I am honored that I now get to tell my story all over. I would not trade this life for one more high ever again.”

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Nicole Dechavez Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Samantha of Florida. 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 people overcoming their addictions:

‘I wanted him to love me. I let him put a needle of meth into my arm. Within 6 months, I lost my son.’: Woman’s journey from ‘successful businesswoman’ to ‘dying drug addict’

‘I was sitting in a hotel room. I had on a tight black dress, listening to my client say what ‘he wants to do.’ My gut was screaming to leave, but if I left, there is no money, and my ‘boss’ will be upset.’

‘I was ABANDONED on my grandma’s front porch with a note that said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ My own mother said those five words about me when I was only 8 months old.’

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