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Alone, Addicted, Broke, and Pregnant: A True Story

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Alone, Addicted, Broke, and Pregnant: A True Story

It was 1990 and I was heavily addicted to alcohol and pain pills. After one of my drunken escapades I wound up pregnant by a guy I hardly knew who said he "couldn't be a father."  I detoxed from drugs and alcohol, alone in my bed, with three days of what felt like spiders crawling up and down my legs and a headache that wouldn't leave. I had lots of headaches after one of those kind of nights, but they usually went away after I had a drink or two. I couldn't do that this time because i was pregnant and didn't want to hurt the baby.

I decided I would quit drinking and drugging while I was pregnant--knowing that would only temporarily cramp my lifestyle. I did okay with that, except for a few glasses of wine here and there. I worked two jobs while I was pregnant to keep busy and save money so I could get move out of the crowded apartment with friends that I lived in and get my own place. I got food stamps and moved in Section 8 housing. I was living outside Los Angeles and it was hard to make ends meet. One day I took my baby for a walk in an old stroller someone had given me, and there was a deadly body sketch on the sidewalk in front of the building I lived in. Turns out the park across from my the apartment building I had moved into was a hang-out for drug dealers. Seeing that dead body sketch in front of my apartment scared me enough to make me want to move. But, i couldn't afford to go anywhere!

Luckily, a former boyfriend said I could come stay with him until I got on my feet. He was in Oklahoma. He sent  us plane tickets and packed up a few suit cases and moved to Oklahoma. Without a better plan, there I was, imposing on an ex who seemed to be helping me in order "to get me back," which being without a job. I began to feel helpless and really had no one to talk to. One day, I looked in the yellow pages for a women's counselor who might take me on a sliding scale (for free). I closed my eyes and whirled my finger around until  it landed on the page. I called the women's counseling center that my finger landed on. The counselor I ended up seeing turned out to also be a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. When she asked me if I had a drug or alcohol problem I said "Well, no, I don't have a problem because I quit using while i was pregnant and I am still not using." 

The truth was, though, that I was what I call "stark raving sober!" I was a "dry drunk," an addict who had been "white knuckling it" for a year. I did not know how to live sober; how to live without drinking or drugging to deal with life, to relax, unwind, go to sleep--you name it, I didn't know how to do it sober. I couldn't remember the last time I had a good night's sleep. I had social anxiety and no coping skills. I was nursing my daughter but not eating or sleeping well. I was totally drained, anxious, and could no longer take care of myself. I drank some champagne and some wine on a few occasions after I had my daughter, but I knew in my heart that I needed about 15 drinks to really calm me down. This counselor helped me realize that my alcoholic parents weren't the only alcoholics in my family!

I began to go to recover meetings outside of counseling, and after several months, the only help I got with recovery were those meetings. I didn't really like it and actually never intended to stay sober for much longer than I had to--just until my daughter got a little older. The people in those meetings seemed so happy that I thought surely they weren't really ever addicted like I was. And they all looked so good. I didn't think I could ever recover like they did, be as happy as they were, look as good as they did, have a life as good as theirs.

Truth is--I didn't feel I was worthy of such a happy life. I didn't think I was worthy of all the help they offered me. But, I let them love me until I could love myself. I hung around with "the winners"--the people who seemed to have solid sobriety. They taught me how to live sober. They taught me through a loving, caring, yet firm approach and they shared their experience, strength and hope with me, instead of talking "at me." No one ever made me feel "less than" when I shared with them the shameful things I did while using.  They helped me work through all the shame and guilt I felt and cared enough to "call me on my stuff," keep me out of denial so that I could take a healthy, honest look at myself.

I ended up going to college, getting a degree and a good job and being able to take care of myself and my daughter. But, I couldn't have done all of this alone. I kept going to those meetings and stayed connected to people in recovery. 

My story began over 20 years ago. In fact, next month it will have been 21 years since I took a drink of alcohol or abused pain pills. My family and old drinking buddies were taking bets that I wouldn't make it--but I did. All the odds were against me when I got sober and I had no intention of "staying stopped." But I stayed sober in spite of myself at first, and then for myself in the end. You can too. If I can get sober and stay sober, I really believe anyone can! I had no family support, no money, no insurance, no treatment, no job, and a baby to raise. And I did it. And so can you. Just try. And keep trying until it sticks!

This Story of Hope was created in celebration of recovery and to let families know that there are pathways to hope and healing. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families who are struggling with their son or daughter's substance use. Please consider sharing this page so that families know where to turn to for help, and that there is always hope.

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