On July 22, 2011 I celebrated my 5th consecutive year completely meth free. .
Many of you have known me for years now, and you have been around when I was at my worst.
I didn't know what in the world I was doing back then, all I knew was that I needed something desperately, and I didn't know what it was or where it was or who had it. I just knew I would die without it. The truth is, what I was looking for was inside me the whole time, but No One had ever taught me how to use it.
I grew up in a house where the parents were not only absent most of the time, but they were also emotionally unavailable when they were around. The parents fixed themselves steaks and potatoes and sat in front of the tv to eat while my oldest brother struggled at the age of 11 trying to make macaroni and cheese for himself, my other brother, myself, and my little sister. I grew up in a house where attention was only given to those who misbehaved, and so I regularly engaged in physical fights beginning in preschool. The parents in this house did not notice decent and good grades, but punished with a vengeance those who brought home detentions slips and failures. I learned, through negative reinforcement, that the only attention I would ever get was the kind that hurt. And thus began my life as a violent, angry, self harming, torrential crying, agonizingly love-sick, addict.
I went to thirty-day inpatient rehab in March, 2005. I stayed clean for thirty-five days. In that thirty-five days I attended sixty-eight 12-step meetings, and got a temporary sponsor whom I called exactly zero times. I went back to my old ways of course, and I didn't notice how it had taken me ten years to become the gram-a-day user that I was before going into rehab, yet afterwards, I was back up to that in less than twenty-four hours. In that rehab center, they talked about the disease concept of addiction, they talked about the progression of addiction, they even talked about God and addiction. I wrote two pages on each of those, as well as two to three pages on every single idea and theory that the counselors at that rehab had for me. I wrote fifteen two-page essays, four five-page essays, thirty one-page daily inventory diary entries, and I filled out ninety three-times-per-day inventory questionnaires. That is approximately 200 pieces of paper, and maybe a hundred-thousand words, if you write small like I do. I put as much thought into each of these assignments as my fried brain would allow me. I truly tried to concentrate and apply myself when doing these assignments. Each week when I met with my individual case manager, she told me to stop using " flowery language. Only write the facts." But the facts were that I was still full of meth-aftereffects even a week after leaving detox. Two weeks after leaving detox, I was starving for real food, and alcohol. Then some of the other women there decided that I was all right and started talking to me. I forced myself to be nice and social. My anxiety was at an all time high and my buffer wasn't available. Every ten minutes I was swearing under my breath. I had no concept of coping with anxiety, I had spent my entire twenty-five years of life either stuffing my feelings and fears deep inside, or shoveling all the drugs I could get into myself so that I would pretend to be all right.
After rehab was over, I got a ride 200 miles back home with an advocate for the rehab. I unlocked my door and stood frozen and still as I surveyed the landfill that was my house. I had left the place a disaster of party objects. Beer cans and bottles on every surface and on the floor. Empty whiskey, tequila, and vodka bottles everywhere. the trash can in the dining room was over filled and about another trash can's worth of garbage was all over the floor. The wall phone receiver sat on the floor, it's spiral cord slightly dangling from the base on the wall. The litter was almost nothing to the stench that had finally caught up with my nose. A putrid and almost fleshy scent wafted across my face when I turned my head to look into the master bedroom to my left, at the bottom of the stairs. I hadn't had any pets for a month before I left for rehab, and I was curious about why it smelled like a decaying animal in my house. After walking through the entire house, master bedroom and half bath, living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry room, basement, both bedrooms and the bathroom upstairs, I came to the only conclusion I could. That the enormous amount of garbage in the house must have been filled with decayed food along with all the cans and bottles. I mustered up all of my strength and bagged up every bit of trash I could, and after three hours I had to stop and go outside to breathe.
I wasn't even embarrassed about this yet, I just wanted to stay busy because I had begun to massively crave speed.
There was only one reason I agreed to go to rehab. I wasn't on probation or parole. I hadn't even ever been to jail before. The food stamp/medicaid caseworker noticed that I hadn't been following through with any of the appointments she had made for me and my kids for a six month period of time. She made appointments for me to see a therapist, following my recent separation from my abusive ex-husband, (which was more like a secret, silent running away) she had made WIC appointments for my three kids, she had made appointments for me to meet potential employers, and appointments for me to keep my housing representative up dated. I failed to make any of those appointments, and I failed to return all of her calls.
One day, while I was taking a short hiatus from shooting dope and was snorting it instead, that case manager knocked on my door. I had several friends over and they had their little kids with them. All of our kids were playing in the bedrooms upstairs and all of the adults were mingling on the main floor. there wasn't a single sober adult there. I had obviously forgotten that I even had a case manager or I wouldn't have opened the door and exclaimed, "What you want Willis!!?"
Consequently, the party was cleared out, the police didn't search my house, they only stood outside near their cars discussing the local gas station's coffee, or lack thereof. The case manager sat me down in the living room. She talked, I looked out through the screen door. She asked me questions and then answered them for herself as I wondered why my parents' truck had just pulled up outside. She babbled on and on and I couldn't understand a word she said through my hazy, amped up mind. she pulled out papers and told me to sign them, and as she handed me her pen I stood up and walked out on to the porch. My parents and the police were talking. My father had taken the two car seats out of my van and put them into his truck and my mother was buckling my two youngest kids into the car seats. My oldest kid was sitting between the car seats. What was happening? Those are my kids- I gave birth three times, why are they fastened into someone else's vehicle? My mind screamed, and I ran down the steps and over the lawn to where my parents were talking to the police.
I could not comprehend anything that was said, my father's calm voice and insane riddled vocabulary mixed with my mother's banshee screams and the police officer's firm, law-abiding jargon. The only thing that remained sane, even though it was not the same, was my kids' faces, voices, eyes, cheeks, tears, cries, outstretched hands, wails, hearts, broken.
4,3,2. My kids were not even big kids yet. Babies, still sleeping with momma every night. Still jumpy and nervous just like momma when someone knocked on the door, when a glass fell and shattered, when a voice was raised. These three had not yet had a chance to even begin to heal from the devastating domestic violence that we had escaped only eight months earlier. These three had only a clinging hope that momma was the only constant they had and that she would raise up and grow strong, wide wings upon which they would ride to safety. These three now, in one sudden and scary moment, had nothing.
I will forever remember the utter devastation I saw and felt in my children's eyes that day. The desperate cries and agonizing sobbing that replaced each of their distinct voices and laughter. The emptiness that crept into their smiles, even after I finished rehab and went back and finished again. That emptiness has taken five years to comprehend, and it may take the rest of my life to fully understand and try to replace with trust.
Although I was conceived and brought up by shattered people, and lived the beginning of my life desperately and shattered myself, and even though I shattered my children on March 2, 2005, I am full-throttle on my way to being whole. And by making every effort to move forward, and by taking every opportunity to do the very best that I can, I will be whole, and I will be able to help my children become whole