There is hope
I'm almost 60 looking back now, it is true what doesnt kill you makes you stronger. I come from a very dysfunctional alcoholic home. there were all forms of abuse. when I was little my mother gave us alcohol as medicine when we were sick to help us sleep. I found myself faking sick often. I guess I was an?alcoholic from the start. I knew how to tickle my nose with anything until I was sneezing and runny. I would stay home from school and take gulps off the bottles of whiskey from the shelf in the kitchen.
I remember that warm feeling coming over me and it did what it was supposed to do at the time, it made me sleep, which in my house was a comfort away from all the screams of the beatings being passed around. There were 6 of us kids, my mother was surely overwhelmed.
By the time I was 10 I was drinking everyday, running home from school to get there first to get my gulps of whiskey and head off to bed. When disturbed from my stupor I was violent also. This was long before child abuse laws, before they had court petitions, and before anybody really cared if your parents were abusing you or not.
I was next to the youngest. my older sisters were begining to get that certain unwanted attention from my step-father. Being nearly the youngest allowed me to become a watcher. I knew how to count his beers, I knew when it was unsafe to be around. I knew to dress like a tomboy. He still wanst keeping his hands to himself, but I learned how to get out of the way. Booze was my buffer, it was all I had.
At 13, I heard? a terrible disruption one morning before school. It involved one of my sisters who was in early pregnancy, my step father slamming her and saying, "If you were going to give it away, it should have been mine!" I threw a few extra clothes in my school backpack and left for school never ot return to that house.
Out of the frying pan into the fire they say; I was living couch to couch and eventually ended up on the street crouched in?a doorway. A man came by and offered me food and later a shower. What seemed like a simple act of kindness led me into drug addiction and prositution. For the next five years I held a pretty good crank addiction ( I think today kids call it Meth) It takes on a life of its own, I became willing to do whatever was required to get the drugs, and booze when I had nothing else. I was beaten, raped and left on the side of the road for dead. I have been stabbed twice. Nothing mattered except waking up and thinking what did I need and what was I going to do to get it.
Something changed, geographical cures as we say. I left town because it was too "cop hot". So in the new place I was just plain street homeless, and detoxing bad. I was sleeping in some bushes of an office building and a guy would come every morning and bring me coffee. I thought he would just be another john but was too shy. Having developed some kind of relationship he asked me if I had high school diploma. No I only went to 8th grade, but I loved to read. He brought me some clean clothes and put me in a hotel room. Oh goody a sugar daddy I thought.
He was not anything I expected. He was actually a military recruiter and the Vietnam war was raging on. He took me to takethe?GED test and then entrance testing for military. I was finally clean and thought life would be good. I didnt know that I was an?alcoholic or an addict. I thought it was situational.
So here I am serving on a military base and someone asks if I want to go to the lounge after work. of course the answer was yes, it is the only way I know how to socialize. I certainly didnt want anyone to know who I really was. I carried so much shame with me. That first drink gets you drunk. And I was off and running.
It was not a pretty scene. I would wake up in the men's dorm feeling like I had been passed around like a party favor. But it was what I was used to, people just used me up and tossed me aside. When I asked the commander for a discharge, I had already been charged with drunk in uniform, absent without leave, and a few other charges. Rather than put me on another guard duty assignement the military agreed that I was not fit and they let me out.
right at that time I took a hostage. Met a young man who thought he couldnt live without me, so in order to keep me around the base, he decided we should get married. I didnt love him, I dont think I knew what love was. But I knew I didnt want to go back to the life I had before the military so I agreed.
Now again there was a three year period of sobriety because I found out I was pregnant. I knew enough about fetal alcohol syndrome and I didnt want that to happen so I managed to wean myself through the DT's.? I had the cute house the white picket fence, everything a little girl normally dreams of, but I was restless, irritable and discontent. Stark raving mad! thats what I was. I picked fights and I was violent with him. When the youngest child was five months old I packed up the kids and moved to another state. Another geographical cure, though I have no learned that no matter where I go, I take myself with me.
So I move into a small place, just me and the kids, get friendly with neighbors, get a job, get some cocaine which is avaible just then, and think I got it all figured out.?( laughing as I write) the only thing I learned over and over was when I pick up a drink or a drug, I dont stop until something horrible happens. It went on for years. I was drinking everyday and then using cocaine on the weekends when I could get babysitters. Then I had a live-in sitter and all hell broke loose.
There was a drug related shooting in my apartment. It was my moment of clarity staring at the bullet hole six inches from my daughters head. I stopped using. I didn't know how I was going to do it, but people would call and say, heard of the shooting can I hook you up? I stopped answering the door and eventually had the phone shut off. I moved.
when I changed jobs, I met a woman who was court order to Alcoholics Anonymous, she didnt want to have to go alone and ask me to go too. It was there that I finally found people who seemed to talk about what I knew. No they didnt go as far down the hole as I had, but they at least could talk about that first drink, first substance.
I heard about how my mind told me that drugs and booze were the solution to my problems when the realiity was that they always got me in more trouble. I hear about how to go to 90 meetings in 90 days and different kinds of meetings so that you can hear lots of stories and know that you never have to be alone. I heard about finding one person that you think you can trust and ask them to help you. what a concept, asking for help. I had done my life my way for so long and I had to realize that it hadnt gotten me very far from that dysfunctional home I ran from in the first place, I was surely sick in my own way.
So I stuck around, I did what I was told to do. I got a job in the meeting. I passed out chips. I began to feel like I belonged somewhere. If I was having a bad day I had people to call. I admitted my faults, and I learned to ask for help outside the halls also. I took parenting classes, important for me because all I knew was abuse and I was passing it down to my children. I asked for help in every instance and I began to grow up.
My kids were still in grade school. I learned I have a thinking problem and that I can use positive affirmations, prayers meditations and hotline friends to get me through rough times. Prayers---I had a hard time with the God concept of the program because of all the abuse I suffered and as a child I had so many unanswered prayers, but eventually I found my way.
Today everybody I know is clean and sober, and I know a thousand or so. I have served on committees, I have told my story often. The most important thing that set my foot on the path of recovery was learning to listen and not judge others. followed by trusting someone enough to help me up that ladder of the 12 steps of recovery.
after some time sober I found my true home on the the Red Road of recovery. It is a Native American path of recovery, same 12 steps but they are done in a circle rather than linear. I hold talking circles in which a sacred object is passed in a culturally appropriate manner and?everyone gets a turn to speak.
I volunteer in my community because helping others helps me to forget myself. There is a story that my Native people tell about a young brave who was very sad about the path of his life.? He isn??t the big hunter he feels he should be. He cannot play the flute like his brother. He hasn??t won the hand of the pretty girl of his dreams.? He doesn??t know why Creator made him because he can??t find a purpose for his life.? He left the village and was going to throw himself off a cliff when a frail and humped over old man stopped him by the river and asked for his help in crossing it.The young brave, burdened with his problems somewhat reluctantly, took the old man's arm and led him across the river. When they got to the other side, the old man, with a broad smile, asked the young man if he was feeling better.The youth first taken back by the question, pondered it and realized that he indeed had begun to feel a little better.
The old man chuckled and said, "I am not as helpless as I look. But I had a dream last night that there is a young man who needs to help someone who is worse off than he is."? The old man then proudly proceeded to walk unaided back across the river. As the young man stood there, he realized that he had thought about nothing but himself in the last several weeks.
The lesson we are taught is that you never know who is being helped more, the helper or the helped. It's not important to know.
And so it is, today is just a day like so many other days. If I do the right thing then right things happen. I'm still in counseling outside of 12 step programs because it is what I need to heal those broken parts. I understand progress not perfection. I understand that there was a purpose for my life after all. I went back to school and got a Bachelors degree in Human Services and Community Pyschology. I work with wet drunks and addicts on the street because it is where I came from. For there but for the grace of god go I.
thanks for listening, hope you got something out of it...there is hope, even when you feel hopeless.
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.