“I’m a 30-year-old mom of 2 and a (now) happy wife of 8 years to a man in the Air Force, who is getting ready to close his career and retire in just under 2 years. Being married to someone in the military is not an easy thing to do, mainly because of deployments, or not being able to disclose certain things to spouses, etc. My boys are now 8 and 6, and they are my reason for everything I do. My 6-year-old is on the spectrum and was diagnosed with autism around the age of 2 or 3, and it has been challenging to say the least, but life changing.
Around the year of 2010 is when my life started to fall into what felt like a pit. After dating my now husband for 2 years we married on July 9, 2010, 5 months after our son was born. My grandfather raised me from birth and was essentially my dad. He was able to see me get married and have a child, and he lived long enough to make sure I married a good man who would take care of me and my son. In November of that same year, my papa ended up in the hospital with severe pain and it turned out to be cancer. We didn’t know the extent, but the cancer had spread all over and I believe he knew it for some time and didn’t tell us. He had cancer before, and had his voice box removed causing him to speak in a whisper for the rest of his life. I had a drinking issue at the time. Not that I drank every day, but I drank until I passed out or blacked out. The night of November 7 into the morning hours of November 8 I recall downing a few bottles of wine. My grandma called around 5 a.m. and asked me to come get her to take her to the hospital because something happened and papa was moved to intensive care. I assumed he was having issues breathing like he always did. I was too drunk to drive up there.
The next phone call I got two hours later was the one that devastated my entire world. My papa was dead. Just like that, gone. He went into cardiac arrest. I never got to say goodbye and I think that is what got to me. After the chaos of the funeral, my grandma asked us to move in with her to help her out some, so we agreed.
Around September of 2011 I became pregnant with my 2nd child who was in May of 2012. Unlike my first pregnancy that was high risk due to pre-eclampsia (he was delivered via emergency C-section, which later became an almost fatal infection for me) this pregnancy had been smooth sailing and so was the delivery. He started showing signs of being delayed at an early age. I could tell something was not right and I was certain he had autism. I just had that gut feeling. We took him to be evaluated and sure enough, it was autism. Autistic people go on to have very normal and productive lives alot of the time, but he’s on the more severe end and I don’t believe he will be able to live away from home, but I have hope. I mourned a lot after that. I felt bad for him, felt guilty, confused, scared, and angry. But I held all those emotions inside due of fear of failing as a mother.
My husband had a deployment to Japan coming up and I was left with being sole caregiver to all, including my then bedridden grandma. She was literally like having another baby, down to the adult diapers. I made her a promise though, that no matter what, I would never put her in any type of home, and I kept the promise.
I started to take a pain pill every now and then to help with my growing depression. I was convinced I was much more powerful than the pills and I thought I was in control. I hid the addiction for a while until things got out of hand. It is amazing at how fast a person can get hooked on opiates. I managed to hide it until I started taking up to 30 Lortabs a day. (Yes. 30. I don’t know how I’m alive and have a healthy liver). Money was starting to disappear from the account. My marriage was struggling and barley holding on for another year or so.
October 2014 things took an even darker turn. My grandma went into the hospital and passed away on October 7. My husband had lost 3 co-workers the day prior to a bad accident overseas. Two weeks later one of my close friends took her own life, seconds after I left her house. She and I had gotten into an argument minutes prior to her doing that, and I carried that guilt for a long time. After moving into a house we rented I sank low. I was still strongly hooked on pills, and I was going to the methadone clinic every day. I hated it. I was a slave. I decided to stop one day. Cold turkey. That’s not something I would recommend to anyone as it’s unsafe and very uncomfortable. I was sick for months and I contemplated suicide. I was 210 pounds at that point, on drugs, depressed, close to a divorce, and struggling financially and in every other aspect in life. I finally couldn’t do it alone anymore and got help. I had gone a month without bathing or brushing my hair, causing my long pretty hair to become a giant tangled mess, so I had to cut it out of my hair and it left me with short hair.
I went into a treatment facility and got the help I needed. I moved into a sober living house in South Florida. It was scary because I had never been on my own. My husband would help when he could, and my small minimum wage check wasn’t even enough for bus fare. I usually had to walk 3 miles one way on Dixie highway in the middle of the summer in 2016. I was noticing that my stomach wasn’t as big as before but was still at about 180 pounds. Coming off the methadone did wonders for that. I finally gave in and returned home. I knew I had to make a change there or I would be back in the same boat as before. I immediately found a job. Being active and putting down sodas was the first thing I did, then I got into teas and working out. The amount of progress I made was simply amazing, and by December of 2016 I was down to 150.
I was diagnosed with arthritis and degenerative disc disease in October of 2016 and lived in severe pain, but went without medication due to my history of addiction. I was still depressed, and my brother and his fiancé took notice while visiting from New Hampshire. I have 2 siblings. One is in jail and the other is in New Hampshire. They are twins and 11 months younger than me. We all grew up in the middle of nowhere Georgia, but after driving a semi and taking a load to New Hampshire one day, my brother never came back. He found a woman and made a life for himself. In May 2017 they visited us in Georgia and saw how bad I was. They asked me to come to New Hampshire with them. I had never been north of Washington D.C. I knew it was the right thing to do, but it was the scariest thing I have done to this day. I packed my bags and left that night, not knowing when I would see my kids again or if I would be married much longer. I cried for the first 400 miles.
When we finally got there more than 24 hours later, it wasn’t like anything I expected. It was cold and rainy on Memorial Day weekend. It was a feeling of excitement, fear, and so many other things all at once. I woke up and saw the beauty of New Hampshire and quickly fell in love with the people of New England. I realized I was free and I had the chance to do whatever I wanted and be whoever I wanted. I was living in a one bedroom apartment on Manchester Street in Concord on the couch, and my brother in his room. I found a job serving tables and I was happy finally. People didn’t know my past and liked who I was. I was complimented on my tan, my accent, and I loved it.
On June 8, 2017, a close childhood friend was killed in a head on collision. I returned home for the funeral and realized I wanted to be with my kids. Life is too short not to be with loved ones and I realized that. I can’t really explain what happened over the next year, but I can only describe it as a time of spiritual and intellectual growth. I found spirituality to be my source of pleasure. I started learning anything and everything. I gave up TV and it’s actually been well over a year since I’ve so much as touched one. I have come to notice I can’t eat greasy fast food and stuff anymore, I feel like garbage if I do. I cut back on portions and opted for grilled instead of fried, water instead of tea, etc. I do a lot of stretches and yoga poses randomly throughout the days to help the arthritis. It has strengthened my core and toned my body.
I don’t know when exactly I noticed the huge change, but suddenly I loved me and enjoyed my own company. I still do. I’m now 135 pounds and have maintained that for the past 8 months. I wake up every day and thank my Creator that I was blessed with another day and blessed with an open mind so I could make my own choices and feel good about it. My son’s and I grew extremely close, and they both won the highest awards in their classes this year. Several to be exact. I no longer mourn the loss of a ‘normal’ son, but welcome the learning experience and valuable lessons he has brought into my life, among other things. I no longer carry guilt, and I know my worth.
I know I can be happy on my own, and if there is anyone who is not good for my soul in my life, I don’t need them. My marriage has improved greatly, and my health as far as the pain has significantly improved. I’ll always have the arthritis, but I hope to keep the symptoms at bay for a while. For the first time in my life, I’m truly confident, but I never forget where I was and how fast I could get back to that if I don’t step back and let life guide me, because I can’t lead myself.
I want more than anything to be able to become a counselor, a PTSD counselor specifically. I want to help others see they are not their circumstances and that change is possible and will happen. All you have to do is ask for help if needed and never be ashamed of yourself or your actions. I don’t know what life has in store for me, but I look forward to it now with confidence.”
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