“Ever since I can remember even as a little girl, I had addict behaviors. I would lie for attention, I would steal from people and drug stores, I would pick on other kids, and I was always getting into trouble. I was never comfortable in my own skin and I was never okay with where I was – I always wanted what you had and wanted to do what you were doing. I like to think of myself as a leader now, but I never used to be. I was a follower, a chameleon. I was really good at blending in and making you like me or feel bad for me, I always played the victim role. I was also really good at telling you what you wanted to hear and exaggerating the truth. Looking back now I see a little girl who is so very lost and lonely, begging for anybody and everybody’s attention and love.
I grew up in a good and loving home with my mom and my brother. But for most of my childhood adolescence a man who was very close to us, who I trusted and loved, sexually molested me. I knew what he was doing was wrong but I was terrified to tell my mom for fear of the outcome. So I didn’t- not until I was 14 and only because the one person I told, my best friend, made me tell my mom. That conversation was so emotional and very hard to have. We all sat there and cried and she was just so mad at herself for not knowing what was going on… but how could she? She wanted me to go to court and press chargers and register him as a sex offender but because of very complicated circumstances I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to do it, I just wanted all of it to go away and to pretend like it never happened. After that I stopped seeing that man and I’ve had very few encounters with him since.
Although sexual trauma is a part of my story, it does not define me. I truly believe it is not the reason I am a drug addict. I believe I was born a drug addict and as soon as I put that first substance into my body, something awoke in me that I soon wouldn’t be able to hide or tame. Middle school and high school were so good, my life got good and I was happy. I was a social butterfly and I made friends with everyone – I didn’t care who you were. I liked school and I was good at school, until I didn’t and I wasn’t. In middle school I started dating a guy who was 3 years older than me, he was a sophomore in high school and sold and smoked weed. So I smoked weed, I loved it, it made me giggly and happy. Soon after that I was started to drink a lot and alcohol became my focus. I loved getting drunk, I could let loose and forget about it all. It made me someone who I couldn’t be sober. It made me funnier, more outgoing, made me feel more cool.
Transitioning into high school I had already partied with most of the upper classmen, so I felt excited and comfortable. I wasn’t nervous at all. My mom was a single mom at that point working crazy hours as a nurse and I had the house to myself a lot, so I threw parties all the time or I was going to other people’s parties. I didn’t have structure or rules, but that’s not my mom’s fault. She was doing the best she could and she trusted me. She had no idea what was going on. So now I’m in high school and I’m smoking weed and drinking pretty much daily. My sophomore year I was introduced to cocaine and ecstasy and I really fell in LOVE. It was the love drug; it was a high I had never experienced before. I was always into tripping on mushrooms and acid as well. I would honestly do anything you had to offer me. I never thought any of this was a problem, I thought this is what kids my age do. I was just experimenting. I thought it was a phase and I would definitely grow out of it. But I didn’t, it got worse and I got worse. I started showing up drunk and high to school, skipping classes, and failing some of my classes.
Junior year was approaching and my mom was dating a guy from North Carolina so we had the opportunity to move down there. I thought it would be perfect for a fresh start and I could get away from all the drugs, but I was wrong. I just got worse down there. I was introduced to Xanax and fell in love all over again. That whole year is a blur because I was constantly blacked out. I failed two of my classes in North Carolina and my mom decided to move us home because I think for the first time she realized things were getting out of control and I was seriously struggling. So I came home for my senior year and things were good for a while. I wasn’t partying as hard or nearly as much and I started to focus on school and figure out if I was going to even get into college. Fast forward to graduation, I barely graduated, my guidance counselor let me walk with two less credits and I was so grateful. I was planning on going to Johnson and Wales in Providence and things were looking up. I was finally excited about something. But that summer before college, things got really dark and took a turn for the worse. My friends at this time were starting to take pills like Percocets – I was so upset. I always said that was a line I wouldn’t cross. But unfortunately, I did. Curiosity got the best of me and I finally tried one. I wanted to understand what the hype was about and why they couldn’t stop.
Let me tell you what, the first time I tried my first opiate, I had arrived. I had literally done it all up until this point – but opiates were by far my favorite. They consumed me, they made me feel like I had never felt before and suddenly nothing else mattered. I thought if I could feel like that for the rest of my life, I would be content. Everything would be good in the world. Boy was I wrong. Soon after taking percs, I experienced withdrawals for the first time and heroin was the only thing available. Once again a line I said I would NEVER cross. But I got desperate and I crossed yet again another dangerous line. My best friend who is now dead because of this disease gave me my first line and I thought, ‘Wow, this is so much stronger than pills, so much cheaper, and so much better.’ So I started doing heroin, daily. In hindsight, I thought this was all just another phase. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, or that this phase would turn into a miserable and dark 3-year run.
September of 2013, I started college. I was dope sick and miserable and thought this move to college was going to fix me. It would be the perfect opportunity to get away from all the opiates and just drink and smoke weed and occasionally do other drugs. Because again at this point, I had no idea I had a problem. I thought I had a heroin problem and if you removed the heroin I would be fine. This didn’t last long. I bring myself wherever I go, and a geographical cure was not going to work for me. So needless to say college turned into one big party, I didn’t take my classes seriously, I partied all the time, I ended up finding a perc dealer in Providence so I started doing pills again. I convinced myself, ‘I’m doing pills, not heroin, so it was fine. I am fine.’
By Thanksgiving break of my sophomore year in college, 2014, I dropped out. I decided to finally tell my mom what had been going on.
‘I have a problem and I need help to stop. I am physically addicted and will go through withdrawals if I don’t take a pill,’ I told her.
I was miserable at school, but I was really good at hiding it. I was living two different lives and it was exhausting trying to be someone I wasn’t all the time and carrying around this awful, big secret. My mom was devastated, we cried on the phone for a while and she said she would come get me that weekend. Back then we were clueless about addiction or what this even entailed. We had no idea that I should have called a detox or a rehab to try and get a bed, we had no idea about AA, or that kids my age were trying to get well, too. We thought that she should just detox me at home and I’d be okay. So that’s what we did, we detoxed me at home and it was miserable and painful but I got through it. I swore I wouldn’t do it again and I got a job and started working again. But one night drunk I decided to text my old dealer to get some dope and there I was again back on the hamster wheel of this vicious cycle.
The year of 2015 was awful, I was living this double life again and going from one waitressing job to the next because I would get fired or quit every time I got dope sick. At this point I wanted to stop so badly but literally couldn’t, I was insane and couldn’t differentiate the true from the false. My two best friends died over the summer of 2015, both overdoses only 4 months between the two. This broke me, it really did. Some of the people I was using with got better and I got worse. So I decided to try another geographical cure and move out to Wyoming and live with my cousin and build a relationship with my Dad and his side of the family. Once again this didn’t fix me – it just got me away from the heroin, but I was still drinking daily and doing Xanax out there. I just replaced one with the other. So I get 3 months clean off heroin and decide it’s time for me to come home because I was ready and stable enough. I didn’t last a week home before I was trying to get high again. I decided to try taking Suboxone though so I wouldn’t do heroin, but I just got addicted to the Suboxone and justified it and my behavior because at least I wasn’t doing heroin again. I thought I was doing well but I wasn’t, I was barely hanging on.
New Years Eve 2015 going into 2016, I was on my way to work in a snowstorm and I rolled my car 3 times. It was totaled. I walked away with not one scratch. I couldn’t understand it. I was lucky to be alive. That accident put my body into shock and I ended up with pneumonia. I used it as an excuse to get high because I didn’t feel good and I thought heroin would make it better. So here I am the first week of 2016 doing heroin again and starting another awful run and just got a $12,000 check from the insurance company for my car. I ended up putting $10k down on a new car and spending the rest on drugs and a shopping spree.
From January to March, a short three months, I caused havoc. I overdosed for the first time, I was failing out of community college, I had crashed my brand new car nodding out at the wheel, I was smoking crack and meth, and I had gotten fired from my job for nodding out folding napkins standing up. I was probably 95 pounds soaking wet and my face was all picked apart when I got a phone call from my mom tricking me into coming home. When I start to use, I disappear because I don’t want my mom to see me like that or try to stop me. So when she called asking me to come home, I knew something was up, but subconsciously I think I was so tired and just ready to surrender – I went willingly.
When I got there, it was like an intervention.
‘I’m begging you, please stay the night. We’ll call detoxes and treatment centers in the morning,’ she pleaded.
I obviously fought her the whole time and kicked and screamed basically, but when I woke up dope sick the next morning, I thought I had no choice. So I did, and the first place I called had a bed open the very next day, by the grace of God. This was my first God shot I experienced. I got into treatment and completed the 28 days and decided to go to further treatment to a sober women’s house in Maine. I learned so much while I was in treatment, I finally understood I had a disease that makes me insane and explained why I do the things I do.
The sober house was a blessing and I made the best friends I have ever had. I had women around me who were just like me who understood me, but I took advantage of it and didn’t follow any of the rules so I got kicked out. Luckily I got into another house right down the street but this house had a lot less rules and I had way more freedom. I think that whole summer I was in Maine I was trying so hard to do the right thing but I wasn’t done yet. I had all these ‘yets’ in my mind and didn’t think I was bad enough to be there because I had never shot up, I had always just snorted my drugs. Delusional thinking. I picked up my 90-day chip and went home to the girls and told them, ‘I want to shoot up.’ They looked at me like I was crazy, because I was. That whole summer I wasn’t doing the work I needed to in order to recover from my disease.
I met a guy, and I moved in with him. We were shooting cocaine and heroin and within 3 months we were homeless and I nearly died. I overdosed 6 times, we were living in a bed bug infested apartment, we were helping our drug dealer traffic drugs over state lines just to get a fix, and I had hit a whole new low I had never experienced before. Every time I got high, I was would go all out. It took my boyfriend at the time literally telling me, ‘I can’t get high with you anymore. You keep overdosing. You need to go home and tell your mom what’s really been going on.’
I got home the week of Thanksgiving in 2016 and my mom and I sat and had a heart to heart. I cried to her, showing her my arms and collapsed veins.
‘Am I actually insane? Should I go to a mental hospital? I just can’t stop.,’ I asked her.
I wanted to stop but I literally couldn’t. I didn’t want to die, I wanted to live, I just didn’t know how. So we came up with a plan to detox me at home again until I got my Vivitrol shot because all detoxes had a 2-3 week waiting list and I wasn’t going to make it that long. The next day was Thanksgiving eve and I woke up so sick. My mom was at work and I took a handful of her Klonopins to try and knock me out for a few hours so I wouldn’t try and get high. But I woke up around 3 in the afternoon literally so sick I wanted to die. I was pacing around my house nonstop trying not to call my dealer, trying to talk myself out of it but I couldn’t. I caved and I called him, and he came. That last overdose literally killed me. I was gone for 11 minutes, and if it wasn’t for my dealer staying with me calling 911 and giving me chest compressions until they arrived, I would have been brain dead. They had administered Narcan 3 or 4 times before they were about to give up, they lastly tried the drill which was new at the time. It is a long drill that screws your bone marrow and pumps Narcan into your bone marrow.
When I finally woke up, I was so confused – my shirt was cut open, I couldn’t move my arm, cops and EMTs all hovering around me, and my dealer crying in the hallways saying, ‘Oh my God, she’s alive!?’ I immediately tried to sit up and they were all telling me, ‘No, no, no please relax you have a drill in your shoulder.’ I remember thinking, ‘What the f*ck are they talking about a drill?’
When I got to the hospital and sobered up a little, I finally realized what had just happened. I broke down. If they didn’t have that drill on that ambulance that particular night, I would be dead right now. For days all I could do was cry, I was in shock, disbelief. Why me? Why did God choose to save me that day? Why did I live but my two best friends died? I had so many questions running through my mind. I was having such a hard time accepting what had just happened, because it was a true MIRACLE that I wasn’t brain dead, let alone alive. I know for a fact my best friend saved me that day, he was with me, I could feel him all around me after that. It was clear to me now that my time wasn’t over, that I had a beautiful life to live, I had a purpose, and a message to share. Ever since that day on November 29, 2016, I have been clean and sober from all mind and mood altering substances. I’m coming up on 3 years and it’s been an absolute GIFT.
What does my life look like today? I have a beautiful family. I have a 9-month-old son who is my everything, I have a beautiful German Shepherd who loves us and his baby more than life, and I have an incredible partner who is also in recovery who supports me and encourages me daily.
I see my family and friends regularly and they know that they can count on me today, because I show up today. I work a spiritual program of action, I have a sponsor, I sponsor women, and I share my story on many platforms today including my blog; The Sober Mom Diaries. My soul mission is to help people and show them there is a beautiful life waiting outside the life of drugs and alcohol. It’s not always easy, but it is so worth it. Any bad day sober is way better than any good day I had high. And that’s the TRUTH.
I love to travel and I love music, we go to a lot of shows and festivals. I’m currently a stay at home mom to my baby boy and love every minute of it. He’s growing so fast, I’m just trying to soak it all in. He is my reason now, whenever I feel like giving up or I start to lose hope, I look at him. He is my whole heart. I live a simple life today and I’m so content. Never give up on yourself because anything is possible! And always remember that life is not guaranteed, so live every single day like it is your last!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Taylor Bennett of New Hampshire. 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.
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