Saturday, November 11, 2017

The day I drank my daughter's Ritalin

The story I'm about to tell you is disgusting. Repulsive. The story I'm about to tell you might possibly make you think differently of me. The story I'm about to tell you might possibly make you think that I'm an unfit mother. The story I'm about to tell you is the hardest thing I've ever written/talked about. The story I'm about to tell you HAS to be told, because I can no longer keep it hidden.

Our youngest daughter has attention deficit disorder, or ADHD. We figured this out pretty early on, but decided to try more conservative measures rather than medicating her. However, nothing seemed to work and her pediatrician decided to try her on Ritalin, a stimulant that treats ADD/ADHD. I had never really been into uppers, so I wasn't too concerned about having this drug in the house. One thing that I quickly learned, however, is that a drug addict can essentially find an affection (or possibly affliction) for any type of substance that can be abused. In the end, a high is a high. And in the end, we will do anything we can to get high. Before I went to treatment the first time around, I had started sipping on Ritalin every now and then. I developed quite an affinity for it, and was often even proud of myself for how much I got done while experiencing a stimulant high. It might just make it to the top of my drug of choice list. One day while everyone was at school, I installed a floor to ceiling shelving unit...all by myself. I was super proud. What an amazing wife/mama I was when I drank that magic syrup. Or so I thought.

Anyway, I went to treatment and vowed that I would never do anything that atrocious again. I came home after 100 days and my family resumed life as normal. Well, everything was normal other than the compulsive desire I had to check the medicine cabinet to see if the Ritalin was there. It was like I was being magnetically pulled toward that cabinet. I didn't want to open it, but eventually I just couldn't resist. And the Ritalin was still there. I remember standing beside my inground swimming pool, med bottle in hand, on the phone with my sponsor. I told her that I was having a hard time, just didn't tell her how hard of a time. I managed to put the bottle back that day without taking a drink of it, but, as time went on, my resolve dissipated. My new morning routine began. I would give my sweet little girl her medicine, then I would take some for myself. There was a large quanitity (like several of those nice big liquid medicine bottles), so I wasn't really concerned about anyone discovering that it was dwindling.....quickly.

Well, I soon noticed that the Ritalin was dwindling quickly, so I did what any respectable mother would do. I started filling my daughter's medicine cup up with water and giving it to her. On the days I didn't dose her up with two teaspoons of water, I would give her the choice of whether or not she wanted to take it. I reminded her that it sometimes made her tummy hurt, and she would say she didn't want to take it. I then made her promise not to tell her Daddy because he might get mad at us. She was pretty thrilled with our arrangement, and I guess I was too.

Much to my dismay, one morning I found the bottle empty. Bone dry. I'm pretty sure I didn't even remember finishing it off. I took the kids to school then came home to look for something, anything, to get me high. I'd already finished off all of the cough syrup, pain pills, and muscle relaxers in the house. Running out of options, I decided I would have to make a trip to the Urgent Care, but not to the one I usually went to because I was red flagged there. Getting high takes so much work. Trust me. I got into my van and as I proceeded to pull out of my driveway, I had a great idea. Instead of taking a right at the bottom of my hill to head toward town to the Urgent Care, I hit my left turn signal and headed down the road....right out to my kids' school.

I pulled up in front of the school and just sat there for a minute. I'm not sure if I was trying to talk myself out of or into what I was about to do. I looked down at myself and realized I was in pajama pants, my husband's hoodie, house shoes, and no bra. I had makeup from the previous day staining my face. I decided not to let my killer looks hold me back and I got out of the van. I walked up to the door and pushed the buzzer to be let in. I walked through the doors and asked where the nurse was. They pointed me back to her office, and as I approached the door, I noticed the nurse and the principal were sitting with a little girl who appeared to be quite upset. From what I gathered, they were helping the young student bear the news that her mother had overdosed and died. Not even a sight that tragic could stop me from what I was getting ready to do. I stood outside of the door and thought to myself, "Man...I wish they'd hurry up...I need in there" (such compassion). Finally, it was my turn and I walked up to the nurse's desk and began the speech I'd rehearsed. 

Me: I just wanted to let you know that we've decided to take Addy off of her Ritalin. It makes her stomach hurt and just makes her mean and grouchy. I just think that it's not for her.

Nurse: Ok. That's fine. I will make sure we don't give it to her anymore.

Me: Ok. Great. 

I stand in awkward silence, not sure how to continue.

Me: So, what do you think would be a good medicine for us to try with her? (manipulation)

Nurse: I'm not really sure. Have you talked to her doctor?

Me: Not yet. I'm planning on getting her an appointment over Christmas break.

Nurse: Ok. Just let us know what you decide.

Me: Ok. We will.

She waits for me to leave. I can tell she's got a million other important things to get to.

Me: Well, does she have any medicine left?

Nurse: (opening up the medicine cabinet) Yes, she's got quite a bit left.

Me: Well, do you mind if I just take the rest with me so that you don't accidentally give it to her. Plus, she might actually need it over Christmas break.

Nurse: I can give it to you, but I need you to sign this form.

I signed the form, and once I stepped out of her office, I put the medicine bottle in the pocket on my Chad's hoodie. I walked down the hallway and passed the principal, Sandy. She asked how I was doing and I responded with "good."  I was in no mood for a conversation. But, as I wrapped my fingers around that bottle in my pocket, I felt so ashamed. I got to my car and almost immediately the shame turned to excitement. I couldn't get home quick enough. At this point, I would love to tell you that I walked into my house and poured that medicine down the drain; however that was not the case. I consumed every drop in the bottle, and I'm pretty sure I did it rather quickly...maybe even with a straw. Ritalin is often referred to as "Kiddie cocaine" or "poor man's cocaine" and I immediately knew why. I probably did my daughter a favor by consuming it myself. Better me than her. 

The next morning I woke up feeling even more hopeless. I, once again, had nothing to use...and I had just robbed my kid's medicine from the school nurse. I had truly reached a new low. (Thankfully that was my all time low. I'm not saying that because I'm proud of it, I'm saying it because I'm grateful that I didn't have the chance to go lower. But for the grace of God...) The next couple of weeks were a blur. Luckily I developed a cough, so I was able to get some cough medicine with codeine prescribed to me. That got me through the rough days of Christmas. I finished off all of the liquor in the house (Chad is an amazing cook and has a couple of recipes that require a certain kind of alcohol). I only meant to take a few swigs of it, but I found myself filling an empty liquor bottle up with water and hiding it back in the pantry. He'd never know the difference. 

The guilt (from taking the medicine) and the misery (from no longer having the medicine) left me a wreck. I had been blowing off counseling appointments with my pastor because I wasn't really interested in having to lie to yet another poor soul. I happened to be at the church one evening for our recovery program (that, yes, I was still involved in) and my pastor walked in. He walked up to me and told me he'd been trying to get a hold of me. I lied and said I'd never received his calls or messages. He then asked me to come back to his office. How was I going to get out of that?! He almost immediately asked if I'd relapsed, and I told him yes and allowed him to believe it was because of the recent surgery I'd had. He pretty much told me I needed to come clean and get my rear end back to treatment. That night, on the way home, was the night that I confessed to Chad what I'd done. That night was the night he kicked me out. That night was the night that I knew that he was finished, that his threats were no longer idle. That night was the night I knew I was going to die if I didn't quit this crap. 

I made the decision to go to treatment partly, because I knew I needed more help and partly because I needed a place to stay. January is an awfully cold month to be homeless. On the Sunday before I left for treatment, we decided to go to a church down the road because I couldn't face my pastor or my close church friends who knew what was going on. While there, I ran into Sandy (the kids' principal/our family friend) and she asked me to sit down and talk to her. She then proceeded to ask me if I took the medicine from the school. I said that I did. She then asked me if I drank the medicine or if I threw it away. I could have easily lied at that point, but I was just done with it. Lying was going to kill me. I told her that I indeed had consumed it myself and that I was going to treatment. She told me that she already knew that I had taken the medicine because after she passed me in the hallway, she just knew that something was off. She'd asked the nurse what I was doing there and quickly put it all together. She told me that there were only three endings to the life I was living: jail, institution, or death. I knew there was at least one of those I wasn't okay with. She told me all of the things I know: that I'm so fortunate to have a husband who loves me the way he does; that I have some of the most beautiful children on the face of the earth; that I had way more to offer the world than what I was doing; and that I was going to die if I didn't stop. I believed all of those things, especially the last one. She informed me that she would be checking to make sure I went to treatment and stayed there and she offered to write me letters. That evening I stood in my bedroom staring at the wall, thinking that I wouldn't go to treatment. I couldn't make it through a second time. My phone dinged and I picked it up. It was a message from Sandy that said, "Are you packing? Still going, right?" There was no turning back.

I obviously went to treatment, and at the end of my program when I was about ready to go home, I began working on the things I needed to do before I left. I had to write a resume and put together an action plan. I worked on a calendar to try to give myself a schedule for when I got home. I put together budgets and got utilities turned on in my new apartment. But, after that was all done, there was one thing I still needed to do. I needed to make amends. I called Sandy with my case manager and told her that I needed to apologize. I respected her more than what I did that day, and I respected my daughter more than that. I was sorry and I couldn't believe I'd done something like that. She forgave me and told me that my honesty when she asked me about the Ritalin saved my butt. She further informed me (in true Sandy fashion) that she would make sure I NEVER put my hands on my daughter's medicine again. Kind of embarrassing, but it is what it is. (Sandy is now a close friend and great accountability partner. She may very well be one of the busiest people I know, yet she makes sure I know that she is always a phone call away. Kind of funny the way God works sometimes). 

It is absolutely insane how far addiction can take you. I never in a million years dreamed I would be the mom pulling a trick like that. I never in a million years dreamed that I would put my needs before my daughter's. I never in a million years dreamed that I would walk into a school looking the way I did that day! That should have been a red flag in and of itself! But, that's what addiction does. It makes us people that we truly are not. 

Months later, I went to the school to make amends with the nurse. I needed to tell her that I was sorry and that I was changed. I walked into her office much the same way I did on that cold December morning. But, this time I entered the door with dignity, and walked out with pride....and empty pockets.

 To read about the day Chad kicked me out (pack your sh** and get out), click here

Saturday, June 24, 2017

I still get high in my dreams

I still sometimes get high in my dreams. If you are a recovering addict, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Using dreams. Yep, they're real. And they feel real.

I've had dreams where I'm digging through old purses for pills, which in my past life I frequently did, and then I find a handful of them hidden in a zipped pocket. While I was in treatment, I dreamed that I was on a home visit. I was traveling in a big, white conversion van--maybe because I was accustomed to riding in what we dubbed the "druggy buggy" or "pills on wheels."  Anyway, I was a few rows back in the van and I noticed a bottle of pills in the cup holder up front. As the van went around curves, the lid came off of the bottle and pills started floating through the air. I grabbed them as fast as I could, then worried the rest of the dream about failing a drug test once I got back to the facility. I woke up in my bunk bed scared to death that I'd relapsed. It felt so real that it shook me. As I got into the line for the 7am drug screen the next morning, I actually found myself getting anxious about failing the screen.....even though I knew it was just a dream.

Just a couple of weeks ago (after being opiate free for 30 months) I had one of the most vivid using dreams I've ever had. I can remember nearly every single detail. The dream took place in my old high school. I was sitting at a giant wooden table in a conference room that appeared to be the former study hall. I think that I was there for some kind of meeting, but then a guy I used to know pulled a duffel bag out from under his rolling chair and laid it on the big mahogany table. He had a bag full of assorted drugs, and he started pulling them by one. I just kept shaking my head. I didn't want anything he was offering. Well, until he looked at me and said, "I've got your favorite." He slid the bottle across the table to me, and when I read the label, my stomach dropped. He was right. It was my favorite. I told him that I would take a couple with me, but that I was sure I would never use them.

I left the room and walked down a stairway. I put the pill in my mouth and kept walking. Somehow one of my best friends, Ash D., found me and grabbed me by the arm. As we walked, I tried to spit the pill out. But, it just kept growing in my mouth and I couldn't spit it out. Ash kept trying to help me as we wandered the halls of that old school. We walked up a small set of stairs near the Guidance office, then over to the library. I started trying to yell, my mouth filled with the ginormous pill that I needed to spit out.  I couldn't swallow it. I didn't want to take it. I couldn't relapse. If I did, I'd have to tell my friend Sandy (even in my dreams I know that I have to tell her the truth!) and I couldn't let my family down. I awoke in a cold sweat, spitting onto my pillow. I opened my eyes and they slowly adjusted so that I could see the room around me. I wasn't walking through the halls of my old high school, but lying in my comfy bed in my safe and quiet bedroom. I looked beside me where Chad peacefully slept. I was home. And I wasn't alone. Once I realized that it was just a dream nightmare, I allowed the air that was trapped inside of my lungs to finally escape. I had never been so happy in my life to be clean.

None of that, however compares to a dream I had while in treatment. While it wasn't a using dream, it's one of the worst dreams I've ever had because I had to wake up from it.

I was lying in my bed at home, holding my little girl. 
She must have gotten scared and wanted her Mommy.
Her damp hair rested on my arm.
I put my nose to her head and smelled her hair.
It still smelled like baby shampoo. 
I wrapped my arms around her even tighter
and she snuggled into me.
I twirled her damp little curls around my index finger.
I watched her little chest rise and fall with each breath.
I kissed her flushed cheeks. 
And I smiled. 

Still sleeping but somehow half-awake, I tried to pull that curly-headed brown-eyed baby even closer to me. But, my arms were empty. She was gone. Adrenaline shot through my veins and my body jolted wide-awake. The room was still dark and I blindly felt all around the bed for my little girl. She was gone. My eyes began to focus on the room around me, and I was scared. I didn't know where I was, but I knew it wasn't home, and I knew that my baby was gone. The fog and confusion began to clear and as a small light shone into the dark space, I remembered where I was. 

I wasn't home.
I was in treatment.

I heard the trickle of the fountain that was in my room.
I looked beside my bed and saw the battery-operated candle my friend Charon had snuck into my bag when she dropped me off to treatment. 
I peeked out toward the top bunk and saw my best friend Leanne sound asleep.
And though I wasn't alone and I was in a comfortable bed in a safe place that was beginning to feel like home, I wasn't home, and my arms were empty.
I wept and I wept and I wept.
I quickly closed my eyes, trying to get back to sleep, but, most importantly, trying to get back to that dream. 
But it never came.

That dream should have kept me clean forever, but, sadly, it didn't. I ended up making the same exact mistakes again and forcing my curly-headed, brown-eyed baby to relive the same exact nightmare.

Dreams come from our sub-conscious mind. I don't pretend to understand any of that, nor do I know how to interpret dreams. I've read many many articles about using dreams. Researchers say it's normal because our brains were so accustomed to abusing drugs. I know that my brain was very accustomed to it because I had used for almost eight years. That's a lot of behavior and memories to unlearn. It's all so complex and complicated. How can a dream like that pop up when I haven't even thought about using? I don't have a freaking clue.

But here is what I find important. One article I read said that although using dreams can be very surreal and terrifying, the most important thing to look at is how it made you feel. Did you wake up feeling disappointed that you weren't high, or did you wake up feeling completely relieved and grateful that you weren't high? Those two responses make all of the difference in the world, and I'll admit that I've had both of them. In the past, I was so ticked to wake up and realize that the purse that was full of pills in my dream was actually a purse full of gum wrappers, old receipts, and my long-lost lip gloss buried at the bottom of my closet.

Thankfully, the most recent dream I had scared the crap out of me. I woke up thrilled that I hadn't really thrown everything away....yet again. I was disgusted with the girl in the dream who thought she could put a pill in her mouth and get away with it. I don't know what all of the details in the dream meant. The mind has a funny way of mixing all kinds of different memories together. But, the one thing I kept thinking about, even days later, was that certainly there was some kind of symbolism. Not being able to spit that ever-growing, swelling pill out kept coming back to me. It finally dawned on me. It wasn't just one pill. It immediately turned into something that I couldn't get rid of. It overtook me. I had quite literally bitten off more than I could chew. And that's exactly what addiction does. It starts out with something as small as a little pill and eventually it's something we can't get rid of.....even when we try our hardest to spit it back out.

More often than not, my dreams (while always quite crazy) are now good ones. And when I wake up in the night and feel a sweaty head in the crook of my arm, I open my eyes to find that while it's not my tiny curly-headed brown-eyed baby, it's now my curly-headed, brown-eyed ten-year old who has crawled in bed with me because she wanted her Mommy.

I put my nose to her head and smell her hair. 
It smells like the big-girl shampoo she now uses. 
I wrap my arms around her even tighter
and she snuggles into me. 
I twirl her damp little curls around my index finger. 
I watch her chest rise and fall with each breath. 
I kiss her flushed cheeks. 
And I smile. 

Because that, my friends, is a dream come true.

May you dream of lovely things and wake to find them real. 
-JJ Heller

Thursday, June 8, 2017

I blinked and he turned 13

June 4th, 2004 found me 33 and a half weeks pregnant, eating at a Mexican restaurant with my family. I stood up......and my water broke. We rushed to the hospital only to be told that I was peeing my pants. two days later, on June 6th (after I'd continued peeing my pants for 48 hours), I went back to the hospital to discover that, indeed, my water had broken. I was sent to Ohio State University Medical Center by an ambulance driven by a cousin that I hadn't seen in years. When we arrived, after some less than desirable care from my nurses, we were informed by the NICU team what we would likely see when they delivered our baby. He would be blue, not breathing on his own, and would require time in the NICU. Plus, since my water had been broken for more than two days, he could possibly have a serious infection. They wheeled me into the ER to do an emergency c-section and on the way in, they jammed my feet into the door frame. Needless to say, I didn't have much confidence in my care team! OSU is a teaching hospital, so I listened to a few residents argue as they did my c-section, each yelling that the other was doing it wrong. Wow. Luckily, I had an amazing anesthesiologist who drew on the curtain in front of me to show me what was going on. He kept me calm, and at 1:30 am on June 7th when our tiny little baby was welcomed into the world and rushed to the doctors who were waiting for him, that same anesthesiologist leaned over to say this. "They are bagging him right now, so you can't hear it....but that baby is screaming and crying, which means he is breathing just fine." He was taken to the regular nursery and evaluated for about eight hours. When I finally got to hold him the next afternoon, I was in awe. He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen (even though now when we look back at pictures we think he looked like an alien!) We carried a 4 lb. 14 oz. baby out of the hospital only four days later, without a clue as to how to raise him.

He was a fighter from the get-go. He had lung problems and ended up being in the hospital every few months from the age of twelve weeks on. He had horrible allergies, asthma, episodes of his lung collapsing, partial deafness, celiac, and an esophagus disease, as well as migraines. But, he's a fighter. Always has been, always will be.

He got the best of me. He got the mom who wouldn't dare take a sip of caffeine while pregnant and read "What to Expect when you are Expecting" cover to cover. He got the mom who went to childbirth classes and made sure she did everything right. He got the mom who would barely take a pain pill after a c-section because she wanted to pump breast milk for him to drink even though he wasn't strong enough to nurse. He got the mom who made everyone germ-x before they touched him, the one who sang lullabies as she rocked him to sleep, the one who read to him and taught him new things every single day. He got the mom who nearly attacked anyone who smoked near him because he was highly allergic and had bad lungs. He got the mom who took him to the park and the zoo, the mom who rarely left his side. He got the mom who slept in the oxygen tent with him in the hospital when he didn't want to be put down.

But...somewhere along the way, he got the worst of me. He got the mom who couldn't get out of bed, the one who strapped him in a five point harness/top of the line Britax car seat, then got behind the wheel under the influence to drive him. He got the mom who sometimes didn't know where he was. He got the mom who was distant, the mom who rarely paid attention to his discoveries, who rarely answered his questions. He got the mom who sat up with him into the late hours of the night....him watching the Bee movie with his feet on her lap, her sitting on the couch getting high. He thought they were spending time together. She knew she was worlds away. He got the mom who laid in a nasty shower floor in his hospital room going through withdrawals while he laid in a hospital bed trying to breathe.

After many years of this, when he was nine years old, I went to treatment. He was tough and strong, so I didn't worry about him. He had handled everything in life up to this point like he was ten feet tall and bullet proof, so I didn't worry about him. I must have been too high to notice his vulnerability or to realize that he was still just a kid. After not seeing him for a month, Chad brought him to my first visit at the treatment facility. He proudly brought in a pair of new shoes he had just bought to show me (he has always loved shoes, just like his mother). He seemed so much older than I had remembered, but he seemed to be doing okay. We played games and ate lunch together, and I showed them around the house. He walked up and down the matching wood spiral staircases and looked at the fountain...both of which happened to be in the room I was staying in. When we got the warning that visitation was over in ten minutes, I sat down in a chair and he climbed into my lap. He just laid there, and when he looked up, I could tell he was trying not to cry. I walked my family to the door, and hugged them all goodbye. The girls and Chad were crying, and I was trying not to. Ethan seemed okay. He turned to walk to the car, then immediately turned back to me. He wrapped his arms around me, and leaned into me and wept. That was truly one of the most heartbreaking moments of my entire life, and I can't even imagine how it felt to him.

He has continued to be a tough little man, and has worked through much of the trauma of his life with the help of an amazing counselor. He talks about things now instead of bottling them up, and I continue to be amazed at the maturity he shows. I would give just about anything to go back and redo those important years of his life, but I can't. For now, I try to be who he needs me to be AT THIS MOMENT, and continue to be open and honest with him about addiction. He understands things that most kids his age do not, but I hope this only helps him be strong enough to make good choices.

He loves to build and has a little picnic table building side gig. He loves music and has recently decided that he could quite possibly be the next Eminem. He loves to vlog and to play video games, as well as to learn about any type of technology. He loves playing basketball and watching football. He has been obsessed with cars and tractors since he could speak, and that hasn't changed a bit. He drives our tractor all over our property. He said the only exciting thing about turning thirteen is that it means he's one year closer to driving. He's extremely self-sufficient, until it comes to getting something to eat or drink, at which point he expects to be served. His poor wife. He is not afraid to be who he is, and he readily admits that he still crawls into our bed sometimes in the middle of the night. He is a touchy feely kind of kid, and he's always giving me hugs and kisses. I hope he never changes.

I could not be more proud of this kid. He has his flaws, as all kids do (especially teenage boys), but I believe that he has a heart of gold. He constantly makes people laugh, and it's hard to not have a smile on your face when you are around him....except for when he's hungry and turns into an ogre. As much as I am sometimes convinced that I did, thankfully God didn't allow me to completely screw up that little boy's life. Instead, he has protected him, strengthened him, and given him wisdom and understanding beyond his years. I pray that all of the dreams he has come true and that he accomplishes all of the goals he has set, even at such an early age. I pray that God uses his stubborn nature to make him an unstoppable force. Although I can't stand the thought of him getting older, I can't wait to see the man he will one day be. I'm not sure what that will look like, but I know one's gonna be great.

I love you Ethan Chad Monroe!!

Ethan at one day old

His 10th birthday just so happened to fall on my first outside visit
in treatment. We had his party at a pizza play place halfway
between our home and my facility. What a sad birthday for a kid to have.
Thankfully, I've been there for the rest of them.

Another visit while I was in treatment.
Chad and the kids came to my baptism
at a local church my group was going to.

Ethan sitting in the exact place at the Mexican restaurant
where my water broke. Hahahaha!!!!

He still gives me kisses at 13!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Great Narcan Debate

At the risk of receiving a horrendous amount of backlash, and with hands trembling, I would like to weigh in on this controversial topic.  

Naloxone (Narcan) blocks or reverses the effects of opioid medication, including extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing, or loss of consciousness. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic. Narcan is used to treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency situation.

I have read so many negative things on facebook and on other sites about the use of Narcan.  Here are just a few of the statments I have heard and/or read.

They should just let those junkies die.

Why would they stop an overdose?  That's one less drug addict on the streets that we have to worry about.

People just take advantage of Narcan.  They get high knowing they have a so-called lifesaver.

Why am I paying for a drug addict to be brought back to life?

Some people have had to use Narcan like 6, 7, 8 times!  They are taking advantage of it.  

If the elderly and veterans can't receive free medications, why should a bunch of junkies?
(I do believe that the elderly and veterans should be taken care of.  I have two amazing grandmothers who could use the help and a disabled veteran brother who could as well. That's not the point here.)

We live in a country where EVERYTHING is controversial and debatable.  I get it...we like to argue.  And....we like to be right.  

But, my question is this.  

Since when did we become a society that wishes death upon people?  

I'm sorry, but I do believe we have reached a new low. 

I agree that some addicts will take advantage of Narcan.  We humans have that tendency to take advantage of things.  I can quickly rattle off a list of things (and people) that I've taken advantage of. Some people take advantage of government assistance, but some people don't.  We shouldn't completely take assistance away just because of the ones who abuse it.  It only hurts the ones who truly need it.  

I met a lady recently and I began listening to her story.  She was neck-deep in her addiction and overdosed...twice.  She received Narcan....twice.  She is now carrying the message of recovery to everyone she meets.  She had a complete turnaround.  Not only did Narcan bring her back to life, it brought her back to LIFE!  She is just one of the lives saved by Narcan.  I wish that I could show you a picture of her because sometimes we are so quick to judge someone we don't know...can't see.  If you saw her smile, you would never wish death upon her.  If you heard her laugh, you would be grateful that she was given a second chance...followed by a third chance.  

The most "popular" argument I have heard is that someone's life should not be saved if he/she engaged in risky behaviors (like shooting heroin) that could lead to death.  Humor me for just a minute.  Let's say you like to drive fast.  Like, sometimes really fast.  You look at the speed limit signs, but you don't really obey them.  Yet, you always have a good reason for speeding.  Maybe you are late for an appointment or you are getting ready to have a "digestive emergency" (cops say they hear this all the time).  As you are speeding (and essentially breaking the law), you lose control of your vehicle and it flips....with your two-year old in the back seat.  Someone witnesses this and calls 911.  Police cars, ambulances, and firetrucks quickly arrive, and, upon inspection, it is determined that the jaws of life are required.  The firefighters extract the small child from the vehicle, but you are fading quickly.  At this point, all of the officials gather together to debate what to do. Should they save your life?  The thing is, when they ran your license, they learned that you've had not one, not two, not even three, but four speeding tickets in a two-year span.  Even worse, it looks like you rear-ended someone not even three months ago.  Hmmmm....what should they do.  Let you die?  NO!!!  They don't let you die.  That would be asinine.  Without any thought, they've got the jaws of life cutting you free.  You get a second chance.  And, even if you don't learn your lesson and you continue racing around in your mom-van, it was still the right choice to save your life.  You see, what you do with the gift you have received is up to you.  

How many times should an addict's life be saved with Narcan?  My answer to that is as many times as it takes. Until they "get it."  But, what if they never "get it"?  Well, that's unfortunate.  Still, we have not made a mistake by extending the opportunity to live. Someone in my family is in a mess right now. He has battled drug addiction the majority of his life. Just a month or so ago, he overdosed and received Narcan....just in time. Sometimes I lose hope that he will ever break free. Sometimes I get angry when I see the pain it causes everyone...including him. Sometimes it breaks my heart to know his mom's biggest fear is getting a phone call that he has died. The only thing that kept her from getting that phone call recently was something called Narcan.  He's been given a second chance at life, and it is up to him as to what he does with it. I pray it's that he finds recovery before it is eternally too late.

Here's the deal. That girl you saw lying on the side of the road, lifeless, getting revived by EMTs, she's still a person. She has a heart. And a soul. She has parents. And grandparents. And possibly children. She had dreams of being someone. Now, all of her hopes and dreams are scattered on a dirty, cracked sidewalk as men and women she does not know do everything they can to save her life. In that moment, nothing else matters. It doesn't matter that she just prostituted herself for dope money. It doesn't matter that everyone who loves her has turned their backs on her. What matters is that she is dying....and there is something that can save her life.

I'm not sure why there is so much controversy about a life-saving medication. If something has been discovered/manufactured/invented that can take a person that is essentially dead and bring them back to life, why in the world would we be mad that it is being used? The only travesty regarding the use of Narcan is that it wasn't available sooner....that there are grieving mothers whose children it could have saved.

I do hope that parameters regarding Narcan are set....and that they are set soon. I believe that any person who is revived by Narcan should be court-ordered to some type of treatment, whether it be inpatient or outpatient, and enrolled in drug court. I would love to see the addict get real and lasting recovery.....once his/her life is saved. 

We can all agree that this drug epidemic is out of hand. It's absolutely devastating our communities and tearing families apart. What is the solution? Well, I know the ultimate solution is surrendering to God. But, logistically, what is the immediate answer? Where can they go for treatment? How will they get through the withdrawals? How do we show them that there is hope? How do we make them want to get clean? How can we get them to hear truth when they have sold themselves out to a lie? I have no freaking clue. 

But, I do know one thing for sure. It's not by letting them die. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Addiction is a disease

My heart has been so heavy the past few days. So many horrible things are happening. I get it.
Drugs are taking over the town we live in. People are overdosing and getting hit with Narcan, not just once, but multiple times, and sometimes as many as twenty people in one night. As bad as this is, I still don't think they deserve to die. As bad as this is, they are human...just like me....just like you.

I know that what I have to say may not be popular, but that's okay. I don't expect everyone to understand my point of view. I actually hope most of you do not understand, because if you do, it likely means you have walked through hell either as an addict yourself, or with one you dearly love. If you don't understand, consider yourself lucky. I hope you never have to.

Anyway, here are my opinions (and that's what they are...opinions).

There has been an article circulating ALL over Facebook called, "A 12-step guide to show that 'drug addiction is NOT a disease'." The title alone initially turned me off, but I like to read articles that pose differing positions as mine to educate myself more and to attempt to understand the position from which others are coming. Addiction is such a complicated thing and I do not believe that anyone has a solid, infallible idea of its origins or particularities.

However, all I know is what I've learned through treatment, 12-step recovery programs, sitting in rooms with other addicts, and my personal experience. And here is what I believe.

I believe that addiction is a disease. 

I believe there is something within an addict that makes him/her different from others, and I believe this "something" is genetic. It took me a rather long time to come to that conclusion. When I first entered treatment, I was adamant that this talk of addiction being a disease was bull. I, like many others, stood the ground that it was a choice and that people who thought it was a disease were looking for an easy way out, a "get out of jail free" card (no pun intended). However, after some time, I began to see a larger picture....I began to see that there, indeed, was a chemical component involved.

In AA, this is called the X-factor. This is an explanation of the X-factor found in "The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous:  Interpreted by the Hazelden Foundation."

Many people get high when they use drugs or alcohol. But, they can stop using if they feel sick or if using leads to problems. This is not true for chemically dependent people. Drinking or using drugs makes us feel great. And once we start using, we cannot stop even when we want to.  Experts think this happens because our bodies react to drugs and alcohol in a unique way. We call it the X-factor because no one knows exactly why this is true. Many studies have been made of this problem. But so far no one can explain why some people become chemically dependent and others do not. The main point is that we are not responsible for the X-factor. Think of it this way: Some of us have blue eyes and some of us have brown eyes. Some of us have a heart condition and some of us don't. Likewise, some people who use drugs and alcohol will get addicted to them, and others will not. People who have blue eyes or diabetes are not bad people. They are not weak-willed or lazy. Their bodies are just different from the rest of ours. In the same way, those of us with the X-factor are not bad, weak-willed, or lazy. Our bodies just respond to alcohol and drugs in a different way.

No one knows where this phenomenon originates or what makes certain people have it. It's why some people can take prescription pain pills for a short period of time and never think about them again, while others take them for a short time and learn they can't live without them. There is way too much on that topic to delve into here, and I'm not willing or able to provide that info.

What I do know is that there is something in my brain that makes me an addict. Had I never been exposed to opiates, I think the disease would not have awakened. However, when I was only 16 years old, I smashed my finger in a car door and ended up having a screw placed in my fingertip. I was given Tylenol with codeine, and something in my head changed. I can remember nearly everything about that first experience, I know what chair I was sitting in, what food I was eating, and even what clothes I was wearing. And that was twenty years ago. After that first encounter, I spent the next several years relishing in that memory. I couldn't wait for it to happen again. I believe I became sick in my early years, my disease just lurked underneath the surface, waiting to overtake me.

When I first entered treatment, I did not think I had a disease.  You know what I thought? I thought I was just a bad person. I thought I was scum....a sinner. I thought I would never change. When I learned more about the concept of addiction as a disease, I found hope. Many non-addicts believe that we addicts give up when we accept that we have a disease....that we just succumb to it and become card carrying victims. Oh, but no. Quite the opposite. When I looked at this new information that I possibly had a disease, that I was genetically predisposed to addiction, I let go of the belief that I was just "bad." That belief was what trapped me in guilt and shame. That belief was what kept me an addict. That belief was what gave my disease complete control of me.

Now that I know I have a disease, I know that I HAVE to stay completely away from the thing that makes me sick. For me, that is pain pills. They keep me sick. They keep my disease active. Because I have this disease, I have to exercise my CHOICE (yes, I definitely believe the choice factor comes into play with addiction...but more on that later) to manage my disease or it will manage me. If I CHOOSE to not use, my disease will remain in remission. If I DECIDE to use, that disease is gonna flare right back up. I have to take the proper precautions (every time I use that phrase I picture Harry from Home Alone saying it) to not let my disease end fatally.

I believe that I will always have this disease (more on that later). That does not mean that I will live in active addiction; rather, knowing that I have a disease makes me scared, even terrified, to go anywhere near pain pills. It means that I choose to live in pain rather than to take pain pills. When I start taking pills, the choice goes away and the disease takes back over.

I don't care if your list of 'why addiction is not a disease' is twelve steps long or two hundred miles long. I can give you a million examples and first hand experiences to back my case that it is, in fact, a disease. It's okay that you support your really is. And I will continue to support mine, because knowing that I have a deadly disease keeps me alive.

I have written a rebuttal to each 'addiction is not a disease' argument.

1. Cancer doesn't have a 28 day rehab.  I sure wish there was a twenty-eight day rehab that cured cancer.  Furthermore, I wish there was a twenty-eight day rehab that CURED addiction. Unfortunately, there are neither. Rather, both diseases are progressive and deadly. 

2. You can't point to the exact moment the cancer started. I also can't point to the exact moment the disease of addiction started.  I'm gonna assume sometime in my formation as a fetus, because I carry a genetic predisposition for addiction.  I can, however, tell you the exact moment that I knew I was different, and that was when I was given pain medicine as an innocent young teenage girl. 

3. Cancer can't be eradicated with hard work and self-discipline. The word eradicate means to destroy completely and put an end to. I guess this example means that addiction can be eradicated? Believe me, I work my butt off and use as much will power and self-discipline as one can muster, and I still have the disease of addiction. It might not be in control, but it's still there. I've seen people with twenty years clean and sober take one drink of beer and their alcoholism return in full force. If someone can show me how it is completely eradicated, I would appreciate it!  I have a disease, I just choose to starve it.

4. Cancer doesn't give you satisfaction, a high, a confident feeling, or an enjoyable moment. I find it funny that the word satisfaction is used to describe addiction because that lends itself to the notion that addiction can be satisfied. Quite the contrary. A true addict has a desire to use that is insatiable. This disease is a beast that can never be fully fed. Addiction is enjoyable? I will admit that it is fun for a season. I rather enjoyed getting high. But, the fun/enjoyment ended when I tried to stop using and couldn't. I definitely didn't feel satisfied or confident when I came to that realization. 

5. Cancer doesn't make you the life of the party.  Well, neither does addiction. I'm pretty sure the person sitting in the corner nodding out isn't the life of the party. I'm pretty sure the person convulsing, seizing, and foaming at the mouth isn't either. Believe me, my addiction never made me the life of the party. Instead, it made me an isolated, hateful, depressed ogre who was on the verge of committing suicide. 

6. You can't get cancer because your friends convinced you to try it. Yep, you're right. And, unfortunately, we sometimes don't know that we have the disease of addiction until we try drugs or alcohol. That makes even more sense for ALL of us to stay away and never try it. 

7. We don't know what caused your cancer.  I so wish we knew what caused cancer. I also wish we knew what caused the chemical component of addiction....why some people's brains are wired differently....why some are predisposed to it. I wish I could know for sure if my kids will have it. All I can do is encourage them to never find out.

8. You can't spend money, steal money, or sell yourself for money to buy cancer.  We do often steal money and do gross things to get drugs.  Yes, we do.  Because we have a nasty disease that drives us to do bad things that we normally wouldn't do. My disease turned me into a monster. My disease made me someone that I am not. 

9. You'll never get in trouble with the law or go to jail for cancer.  Actually....funny story. I was in treatment with a school teacher (gasp) who had found herself deep in addiction and the trouble that surrounds it. How did she get there? She had cancer as a teenager and after she started using opiates to treat her pain, she discovered that she was the proud owner of two deadly diseases. Luckily, neither one killed her. Rather, she chose to seek treatment for both of them.

10. Cancer doesn't feel good.  I won't even pretend to understand what cancer feels like. I can't imagine, and it breaks my heart to see victims of cancer become so weak and powerless. It does feel good to get high....for a season. But, let me tell you, there comes a point in time when it no longer feels good.  When it hurts so bad that you just can't stop. It breaks my heart to see those with the disease of addiction become so weak and powerless.  

11. After you recover from cancer you aren't tempted to slip back into it.  Some people with cancer (with proper treatment or miraculous healing ) are lucky enough to have the disease go into remission. That might not necessarily mean that the disease is gone forever, it just means that it is, at that moment, dormant. Sadly, the cancer often comes back and many don't win the battle a second time. With addiction, we often experience a thing called sobriety. It doesn't necessarily mean that our disease has vanished into thin air, it simply means that the disease is dormant....and as long as we starve it rather than feed it, it will stay that way. Sadly, many people relapse and don't win the battle a second time. 

12. You don't lose friends and family because you have cancer. In fact, you tend to gain more.
Yes, the disease of addiction is so serious that it rips parents from their children and children from their parents. It tears apart marriages, breaks up life-long friendships. It robs us of any meaningful relationship we've ever had. But, when those of us who suffer admit to it and walk the journey toward healing together, new relationships are formed. Honestly, I have more friends (true ones) since I became open about my disease than I ever did before. I have a recovery small group that has become my lifeline. They are my best friends and the ones I want to do life with. Those of us who share the same struggle bind together and hold one another up. We are all survivors of a deadly disease and we celebrate that with one another. 

Honestly, that was a pretty good attempt to disprove the biological ideology of addiction. I'm fairly certain that this article succeeded in 'proving' to thousands of readers that addiction is not a disease. Really, I'm kind of glad that people are having dialogue about this disease! Even if my view opposes yours, I'm glad we are talking about it and not ignoring it. I am, however, not happy that some people continue to converse about it in such a derogatory, ignorant way. There is a huge difference in asserting that addiction is not a disease and stating that we should "stone those addicts to death" (yes, I actually read that statement this week and it reminded me of a time I heard a preacher say that teenage girls who get pregnant should be taken out and stoned. So, yeah.....).

Here's the deal, you can take your twelve step guide and I'll take mine. The big difference is that my 12-step guide is going to lead me to a life of freedom despite my disease.  While I have a disease, I'm going to choose to not let it control my life.  I'm gonna do whatever it takes to keep it at bay.  I'm gonna do whatever it takes to make sure that this disease does not rob me of life or of true enjoyment. I'm gonna do whatever it takes to make sure that a disease that is out to kill me does not succeed.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

I tried not to steal your pills

So, I've never considered myself much of a thief. In fact, I can't recall anything that I've ever stolen. Well, except for a sweatshirt I accidentally carried out of a store while Christmas shopping several years ago. I didn't even realize that it was in my hands and I didn't remember which store it had come from, so I couldn't return it! I tried to give it to Chad as a Christmas gift, but it didn't fit him. Now, where was I? Oh yeah, not much of a thief. I actually returned a twenty dollar bill to the bank once when the teller gave me three instead of two. She nearly stroked out that I brought it back. I will not steal from you. Or anyone else.

Unless it's pills. Then I will rob you blind. Well, the old me would. When it comes to pills, they are all mine. My pills are mine. Your pills are mine. If you don't think so, just watch.  Well, don't really watch. I need you to look away so that I can steal your pills.

Over the years, any medicine that came through my house was free territory for me. My motto was "one for you, two for me." If it was in my house, it was mine.

Along the way, I decided to get clean, and I seemed to be pretty successful, provided there were no narcotics or amphetamines in my presence. Then, I was in trouble. Big trouble.

Unfortunately, I married a man with dental problems. His teeth are straight and white, though, because that would have been a deal breaker....I'm a teeth person. They just aren't as strong and healthy as they should be; even though I've never met another person who brushes, flosses, and power washes (his words) their teeth like he does. Anyway, I was clean and sober, and he had a dental procedure. I can actually remember where I was (in a parking garage) when he called and asked me to pick up his prescription for him. I cursed him under my breath for making me do that. I picked the script up at the drive-thru pharmacy, and I vowed to not even open the paper bag they sent out to me. But, I did open it, and I immediately regretted it....but not really. I then proceeded to unscrew the lid on the bottle and just stare at the contents. I was super jealous. I wished that I was the one who'd just had a mouth full of root canals. (What a freak!!!) I put the lid back on the bottle and placed it back in the paper bag where it belonged. All the way home an internal argument took place.

I am NOT going to take those pills. Definitely not. Well, maybe I will just take one. Or two. No, I'm not going to take those pills! Nope. Not doing it. But, if he doesn't end up using them, I won't let them go to waste. I'll give it a few days and see if there are any left. No! I'm not taking them. Oh, I know I'm gonna take them. But I'm gonna try hard not to.

That dialogue truly happened. Addiction is absolute insanity.

I walked into the house and to the bedroom and handed Chad the bottle. Before I left the room, I said, "You better put those pills up. Because I want them in a bad way." I was proud of myself that I told him what I was thinking. So proud that I found myself digging through our bedroom for them the next morning as soon as he left for work. I eventually found them in his sock drawer stuffed into the toe of one of his white pairs of socks. I opened the bottle, poured them out in my hand, and counted them. He hadn't taken very many and he seemed perfectly fine when he left that morning, so I was sure he wouldn't miss one or two. So, I took one or two and vowed that I wouldn't take anymore. I positioned the sock in the exact way I had found it (I secretly thought maybe he had it placed a certain way so he could tell if it had been tampered with) and closed the drawer. I decided not to take anymore.  Until later that evening when I found myself in the drawer again. And the next morning when I again found myself in the drawer. I counted them every single time. Nope. He hadn't taken a one. I kept this up for the next day or so, until I realized there were only a couple pills left. I took one and left the last one for him. You know, in case his teeth started hurting. I wasn't that heartless.

The next day, I was putting clothes away in our bedroom. He walked into the room and started toward his dresser. I held my breath as he reached for the top middle drawer. He opened it up and I waited. "Misty! Did you take my pills?" I just turned around and stared at him. I couldn't really lie.  I mean, I could have blamed our young children or our German Shepherd, but I knew he wouldn't buy it. He picked up the bottle and threw it at me and said, "Well, why did you leave me one?! If you're gonna steal my pills, take them all!" So, I did what any self-respecting drug addict would do, and I took the pill. He did offer it, after all.

That type of situation happened way more often than I would care to admit. I would start out with all intentions of steering clear of anything I couldn't/shouldn't take, but I failed miserably. I wanted to stay away from them, but I guess I wanted to get high more. One of my friends, Destiny, told me once, "Misty, you won't get clean or stay clean until you want to be sober more than you want anything...more than you want to get high. Plain and simple." I wasn't there yet. Because as much as I wanted to be honest and responsible, my desire to get high was stronger.

Last week my oldest daughter had her wisdom teeth removed. I was worried for many reasons. I was worried for her and for me. Addiction runs deep in her blood too, and I was scared for opiates to be introduced to her. I was just as scared to know they were in my house. Her boyfriend went with me to take her to her procedure, and he was also the one who took all of her paperwork, including her prescriptions. I pulled up to the drive-thru pharmacy and he handed me the scripts. I tried not to look at them, but I found myself reading them none the same. When I read the word Norco (the new Vicodin), my breath got caught in my chest. My drug of choice. In my hand. I left the prescriptions there for Chad to pick up later. He told me he would be giving her medicine to her and for me to keep my hands off. I happily obliged. Then, a little conversation started in my head. It sounded kind of like an argument. It went something like this.

I'm glad he put those pills up......I wonder where he hid them.

I'm not going to look for them.......Surely he's gotten smarter than the sock drawer. Wonder if they are in the safe? Maybe in his nightstand where he keeps his medicine?

I would not dream of taking one.......One little pill wouldn't hurt. No one would ever know.

Luckily, I've learned to distinguish between those two voices. I know which one is reason and which one is insanity. I know which one is right and which one is wrong. I know which one wants the best for me and which one wants to kill me. I know which one is truth and which one is a lie. And I quickly told the wrong one to shut up. My daughter's procedure was on Friday morning and my Recovery small group is on Friday evenings. As soon as our women's group started, I told them about the battle going on in my mind. They showed me love, support, and encouragement. My good friend Kristina looked at me and said, "I've never seen this Misty. In the years that I've known you, I've never seen you openly express a struggle. I think you're going to a place you've never been before." She nailed it.

I never once looked for those pills. After that initial freak-out moment, I forgot about them. I truly didn't give another thought to those little things that used to hold me captive. For the first time in the last decade, I didn't steal pills that I knew were there....somewhere.

You see, I am in a place I've never been before and I'm headed to a place I've never been before. Recovery is like that. I'm growing and learning and changing every single day. And somewhere along the way, I think I've finally figured out what my friend Destiny told me. Last week, I may have had an extremely short moment where I wanted to get high, but you know what I wanted even more than that? Way more than that? I wanted to stay clean and sober.

I want to be clean and sober more than I want anything.

Because staying clean and sober gives me more than I could ever want. 

It gives me life.

A freaking amazing one at that. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Can I just be real with you?


"Girl, that mask is going to kill you. If you don't take it off, you're gonna wear it straight to the grave. And guess what?  I'm not holding your hand the whole way there."  

Those were the words said to me by my counselor, Tif, the second time I went into treatment.  You see, she had continued to be my outpatient counselor between my two stays in rehab. For two months, I had sat across from her in the pretty office with the comfy chair and told her how great I was doing. I talked about anyone and anything but myself. I couldn't tell her I had relapsed. She thought I was strong and she believed in me. She didn't know that I was weak and couldn't believe in myself. So, I spent the time to make the hour and fifteen minute drive to her office, spend an hour in counseling, and drive an hour and fifteen minutes back home.  Three and a half hours just to sit in an office across from someone I completely trusted and respected......and bold-faced lie. I planned my visits so that I could pass a drug screen. I knew how many hours/days the drug would show up in my system, so I carefully calculated when I could use. If I 'accidentally' used too close to an appointment, I would reschedule because I 'wasn't feeling well.' I was always a nervous wreck when I screened, even when I knew that I had planned it correctly. The lady who drug tested me is one of the sweetest women I have ever met and she just breathed life and hope into me the entire time I was in treatment. I would screen, slide the urine cup through the window in the wall, then discretely look over her shoulder to see what she was writing down....and to see if the drug I had been using was specified on the screen. I would walk to my car and feel so dirty and disappointed in myself. I just wished that I could change.

It's so hard to get real with people. It's so hard to admit that we are struggling. Believe me, I know. I'm certain that a large portion of my relapses happened because I didn't tell anyone IMMEDIATELY that I was struggling. That was my first mistake. When I got clean, I initially thought that I was supposed to be perfect. If I admitted my struggles and temptations, I would appear weak. People would be disappointed in me and they would just worry that I was going to relapse. So, I didn't tell anyone. I white-knuckled cravings, and then I relapsed. I look back so many times and wonder what would have happened if I had asked for help, opened up, or confided in someone as soon as the struggle began. But, I can't change that. However, what I can change is what I do from this point on.

I still struggle. I may go a few months and never think about using or have any cravings; and then I have a few days where they seem to come a mile a minute. That's how recovery is. It has ups and it has downs. It has easy days, and it has harder days. The days where I find myself with a desire to use do not make me weak. Rather, getting through those days without picking up makes me stronger.

How do I get through those days? I tell on myself. I try to stay real. Sometimes it's easier than others and sometimes I convince myself not to talk about it. The past couple weeks have been rough, and I found myself wanting to isolate rather than to open up. I made it through, and I eventually reached out.  And you know what I received in return?  Love, encouragement, and support. All I had to do was reach out. Sounds so simple, doesn't it?

Staying clean is hard. If it wasn't, everyone would be clean and sober. So, what I have learned is that I have to out myself at the first dangerous thought/behavior. Sometimes it's something one might consider 'silly'. Like cough medicine, perhaps. Yes, cough medicine. Last week I came down with one of the nasty bugs that has been spreading like wildfire. After feeling rough and coughing all evening, I decided to take a little bit of cough medicine before bed.  The thing is, I hadn't taken it in over two years.....not since the days of drinking whole bottles through a straw. I poured the liquid precisely to the two teaspoon line, making sure to not let one extra drop reach the cup. I swigged it down, and as soon as the bitterness hit my taste buds, my stomach churned...not necessarily because of the taste, rather more because of the memories associated with it. Somehow, that led to my brain craving a high, and I caught myself saying, "Well, I do feel sick...I should take some more." Luckily, at this point in the game, I'm pretty aware of when that part of me tries to start making decisions, and I shut her down with just a little bit of resistance.  That, however, does not mean that the thought completely and instantaneously disappeared.  It did not, but I continued to fight it, and I eventually reached out to a couple of my support people. I did the next right thing.

What I'm here to tell you is that you HAVE to tell on yourself and you can't wait until the needle/bottle/pill is in your hand. Tell at the first thought.  It's not an option. It holds you accountable and keeps you out of denial. If you are a recovering addict and you are struggling, tell someone! Message me and tell me. Tell your sponsor, accountability partner, or friend. Go to a meeting and speak out.

This doesn't just apply to drug addiction. If you clicked on that site you know you shouldn't have been on, tell someone. If you talked to that person you shouldn't have talked to, tell someone. If you ate that piece of cake you weren't supposed to eat, tell someone. If you are having trouble forgiving someone who hurt you, tell someone. If you blew your paycheck/maxed your credit card on yet another shopping spree, tell someone. If depression ruled your week and you didn't get out of bed for two days straight, tell someone. If you are sad yet pretend to be happy, tell someone. If grief is overwhelming you, tell someone. If your anger got the best of you and you cussed someone out in the Wal-Mart parking lot (hey, it happens), tell someone. Whatever it is.....tell someone.  Do me a favor and lose the phrase "I'm fine." If there is one phrase that will kill you, it's that one. If you have people who care enough about you to ask how you REALLY are, take advantage of that and tell them how you REALLY are. Let's face it, denying how we are feeling doesn't change our situation, it merely keeps us trapped there longer.

It's time to get real. Time to lose the facade. Time to quit trying to appear okay when you aren't. Time to destroy the mask. Because guess what? You will wear it straight to the grave.....and I'm not gonna hold your hand the whole way there. Let's get real, folks.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I have a friend I would like you to meet.....

So, in treatment you meet lots and lots of people. Some people drive you crazy. Some people make you reexamine yourself. Some people you forget. But, every once in awhile, you meet someone special. Someone who leaves a mark on your heart that lasts forever.

I met Kayla for the first time in February of 2015. I watched her walk through the door of our treatment house a broken little girl, and I watched her walk out that same door a confident woman. Somewhere along the way, she made the mistake of telling me she loved to sing. I love to sing as well, and I have a pretty big mouth, so I happened to blurt out in our "choir" class one day (yes, they have those at rehab), that Kayla could sing. She turned blood red and I'm pretty sure she wanted to slit my throat. But, when she opened her mouth, a sound that had been trapped for years (think Carrie Underwood) made its way into the room. And after I listened to it, I knew for certain it was far too beautiful to ever return to that dark place again. When girls leave treatment early, they typically say it's for a good reason (mom is having surgery, sister is having baby, don't want to miss a birthday/anniversary/wedding/graduation, etc.) but the cold hard truth is that a dope boy is usually waiting at the bottom of the hill to pick them up. When Kayla decided that she was ready to leave the program a little early, I knew exactly what that meant. Kayla was ready to leave the program a little early. I never doubted her for a single minute, and that very night I prayed that I would one day find the freedom that she had found. And I did.

This is Kayla. And this is her story.
Can we just give a girl props for smiling for her mug shot?!
When I asked her about it, she said, "Girl! Even in drug addiction I was prissy!"

Two years. Two years clean and sober. Did it really ever happen? Did I really go through six long years of being addicted to drugs? Sometimes I ask those very questions. Well, not sometimes. More like every single day. I'm such a different person now that I forget the life I used to live was actually real. That is how my Jesus works.

February 18, 2015. I was a total wreck. Train wreck, car wreck, plane wreck. Whatever kind of wreck you wanna talk about, I was one. That day I slid down the door of my bedroom, clinging tight to a bottle of pills. That was my only way out. I would just take them all and get it over with. I had thought about this many times before, but this time it was different. I had no one left. My dad was disgusted. I had thrown my Bible at him. I was done. My mom was heartbroken. Everyone was done. I shut the door and made the decision to make death finally take me from the hell I was already in.
Misty here. Nearly every single addict I talk to tells of a moment like this. A moment they decided death would be better than the life they were living. This is how hopeless addiction is. And this is how hard it is to get out of it. Death seems to be the only option.
But, someone knocked on my door. Someone tried to come in and I knew who it was. It was the guy I had met only two months ago. It was the guy who'd had a dream that God had healed me completely from my addiction. It was the guy who was now my boyfriend. I reluctantly let him in, but I wouldn't let go of the pills. I remember holding on to the pills with one hand, my face buried in the other hand, tears filling it. I finally let him pry the bottle from my hand. In that moment of loosening my grip and allowing him to take them from me, I began to trust God.

I called a treatment center in Kentucky called Karen's Place. They asked me to go to a medical detox facility before I came into the program. I had no money to do that, but I trusted that God would provide a way. The next day, a huge snowstorm hit my area, leaving me stranded to withdrawal at home with my mom who was determined to keep a close eye on me while I detoxed. I detoxed for five days and then my boyfriend drove me to Karen's Place.

I walked in the door, and I found all that my soul had been longing for. Jesus. He was there. Up on that hill. And he had been showing me for a long time that He was there. Darkness had blinded my eyes. He was there in everything that I had gone through. I just needed to open my let the darkness fade. And when I did, all I could do was weep. I wept because He forgave me for something I had done. He had been there holding my right hand as I did it. He was there behind me, holding my shoulders, as I stared into the dark eyes of someone I loved who was getting ready to hurt me. He was always there. And he would continue to be there. Always. I realized that I was now a new creation through Jesus. I did not need drugs any longer. I needed Him.

I left after only three weeks in treatment because I knew that God's work in getting me clean and sober was finished. I felt that He was telling me I was ready. It was time for me to leave. He had accomplished what He had set out to do when He led me up to that place on the hill. And you know what? He was right. I have NEVER picked up another drug. I lost the insane desire to use.

Now, if I were to try to tell you that the past two years of sobriety have been easy, I would be lying. The easiest part has been staying sober. Crazy, huh?! The hard part was realizing the deep rooted issues that had led me to my addiction and allowing God to rid me of them. My identity was all messed up. I had believed lies about myself that were never true. I learned who my identity was in Christ. I realized that I was co-dependent and that I needed to be independent and only rely on God. I forgave people who I considered unforgivable. I forgave myself. I became aware of how weak and sinful of a person I am. I also would be lying if I told you that I still don't struggle with sin. I do. I am mouthy and fiesty. (Misty here again. True that!! I watched her in a cat fight once {ironically with a girl she ended up being best friends with} and girl is fierce!). Sometimes I cuss. Gasp! I get angry. I get jealous. I gossip. I try to manipulate. I disobey God. But He gives me strength. He shows me grace. His mercies for me are new every. single. morning.

I am forever thankful to my God for the things He has given me during my two years of sobriety.

  • my identity
  • my soon to be husband
  • the wedding of my dreams (March 4, 2017...aagghh!)
  • my family
  • a job
  • my license and a car
  • not only one, but three bank accounts
  • a new house
  • new healthy friendships
  • perfect sleep
  • the grace and strength to stop smoking cigs (June's possible!)
  • material things
And more.  So much more.

Kayla and her fiancee, Wes. You remember....the one who believed
in her long before she ever believed in herself.
I know, it gives you the feels.
Feel free to cry. I am.
Thank you, Jesus, for rescuing me. Thank you for providing for me and for giving me grace and mercy when I least deserve it. You are God. And I am not. Thank you for always reminding me of that. Thank you for making me aware of myself and for showing me how much I need you. I do need you and I do want you in my life. Your breath has given me life. A redeemed and restored life. Continue to mold me into who I am supposed to be through you Jesus. Amen. 


Kayla is two years clean and sober today!  Please join me in congratulating her. Believe me, she deserves it. 

Kayla, I am so proud of you! I am proud to call you sister. Proud to call you friend. I am grateful that our paths crossed, if just for a short time. I am thankful that when I lose hope as friend after friend relapses or dies, I can look at you and know that recovery is possible....that we do recover. I look forward to watching what God continues to do in your life. Oh, and I can't wait to see wedding pics!
You are an inspiration to people everywhere. Keep living in freedom and never look back. Love you!