I was into self-abuse more than drug abuse, which is the same thing I guess. I was born in Lynnwood, California.
I am the second child and I have two brothers and a sister. My father is a nuclear engineer and also an active alcoholic, doesn’t use while he works, and my mother has an eating disorder problem and weighs about 400 pounds.
And I grew up pretty much in a . . . I felt like an outsider and I felt like there was nothing that I could ever do that could please my parents. I got straight A’s and that was never good enough.
I had a bladder disorder while I was growing up, so that, you know, I would be in school and the kids would make fun of me because I couldn’t control my bladder. And I grew up with that, with the same kids in a Catholic school. And so I had a lot of resentments growing up, because I was a victim and society had put all of these things on me, and nothing was my fault. I never made any mistakes, society did it.
I had . . . the first time I ever used any kind of mood¬altering substance I was fifteen years old. And I was at home baby-sitting for my little sister and I decided that I wanted to find out why my father enjoyed drinking so much, and what the big brouhaha was.
And so I took everything that was white out of the liquor cabinet and I mixed it all together in a water glass and drank it down real quick and immediately threw it up. But I was so intent on finding out what the whole thing was about, you know, what it did to you. I knew that everybody acted differently after they drank, but I wanted to find out what it would do to me.
So I mixed everything that was white and I made certain by watering everything down too and put it into a water glass, drank it down, and this time it stayed down. And I thought that it was wonderful. All of a sudden music sounded better, I felt better, I felt more confident in myself. I even felt confident enough to call a boy. I mean and the first question he asked me was if I had been drinking and I obviously said “no” because I was certain that if he had found out I had been drinking he wouldn’t like me anymore.
The next time with the same boy that I had called I was at his brother’s wedding and I got extremely drunk on champagne and ended up dancing and screwing around with four guys at that wedding and embarrassed this guy in front of his family. And embarrassed myself, but yet I continued to go back for more.
I dated guys that were generally not very nice to me and I thought that, you know, I should probably . . . I went out with guys to validate me. I only went out with football players because I thought that that was the thing to do and that’s what the popular people did and prayed to be one of the popular people.
But I ended up with like the football player rejects, the ones that could barely make the J.V.‘s, and consequently they had their own problems and took a lot of it out on me. They did not treat me well, but I thought that’s the way it was. I was not used to being treated well. I never really felt loved as a kid and I thought love came in getting slapped across the face or screamed at or berated and so that’s what I looked for.
And later on I met a guy who was a West Point cadet and decided that he was going to take me out of all of this shit. And so I dated him and had a long-distance relationship with him and we decided that we were going to get married. So I ran away from home at nineteen and moved to New York so that I could be near this guy, to make sure he was the one I wanted to marry. And there was nothing that was going to stop me from marrying him anyway. He had already started beating up on me and always reminded me of what a shitty person I was and I believed this about myself because I was always told this. I didn’t know any better.
I don’t mention any drug or drug usage or getting high right now because it just wasn’t part of the picture. I was into self-abuse more than drug abuse, which is the same thing I guess.
We got married and he was stationed down in Fort Worth, Texas. And we lived at Fort Hood and Coleen, Texas, and we bought a house and we did all the things that like normal married American people do. We wanted to live the American dream, or so I thought that that’s what we were doing.
So we were living there and we met up with a fellow that he had gone to school with and this person used drugs and of course my husband said. “No, no, no, that’s illegal. We can’t do that.” So the first time I was feeling so excited being around pot. I had used it a couple of times when I was a teenager and I remember I liked it but it was just not a part of my life. And I remember being very excited seeing this pot and my husband quashing the idea of using pot and then of course I did not want to do anything which might make him angry— for some reason that day I didn’t want to get beaten up.
So the next time we went out with these people we turned to these people as friends, and I think it was because I desperately wanted something that would make things different. And I thought the answer was in drugs.
So we used for the first time, I guess, in about two years. I had smoked pot and I then progressed to using pot on a daily basis, when I woke up in the morning, on lunch breaks, on my way to work, on my way home from work. Being at home I constantly. . . I smoked pot like I smoked cigarettes, I mean if pot was sold in packs I probably smoked two packs a day. And I thought that people who didn’t smoke pot were deprived of some great insight into their inner being, and I thought that I had found the answer and nothing hurt, you know. My husband could beat me up all he wanted — nothing hurt — and it was great because I didn’t have to think about it.
We began dealing pot shortly after that. I never in my life bought one ounce of pot. I started at pounds and immediately began dealing it, because I wanted to support the habit. I tried one time to quit smoking and I went for two weeks. I knew it was doing something different to me and I quit smoking pot for two weeks during that period of time and I remember the frustration of trying to talk with somebody who was high on pot while I wasn’t using.
But then the pain got so bad I went back and that con¬tinued for a period of about two years and we moved to Washington, D.C. He got out of the Army — he was a diabetic — he got out of the Army, no problem, and went to work as an engineer with some war monger place up here.
Shortly after that I left him and I went wild. I mean, if you had a drug I would take it. If there wasn’t any drugs and they was . . . I mean, there was always something available to change my mood. I never really went into mourning over leaving this guy, but then he was an asshole anyway. It was probably one of the best things — aside from getting clean that I have ever done in my life.
But I moved from guy to guy. I used the toilet seat as a pillow a lot of times. I woke up in a lot of bathrooms, I woke up in a lot of strange places, and I finally met this one guy, I mean after a whole chain of guys. I could not be alone. I could not be with myself. It was too terrifying.
And I met this guy and he was in recovery. And I thought that this guy is the answer to everything. I started going to meetings with him and not realizing that perhaps I might have a problem I used while I was going out with him, never in front of him. And I am sure he was newly clean, so he didn’t he wasn’t really paying attention to the signals.
So I decided that I would get clean too, so I would get to know this guy and understand his soul, so that he would never leave me. One addiction led to another and I ended up getting pregnant. And five months later we broke up and that was the end of it. And I was carrying a baby and I was very scared and it was the first time that I ever had to ask any¬body for help aside from a man. I was five months pregnant and showing and there was no man in the world that was going to be willing to fix me this time. I was real fixed.
So I had to ask people in recovery for help and that was . . . I didn’t know how to do that. I had to call on women. I didn’t know how to do that. Women were always a threat to me. They always were competition. They were never . . . I could never be a friend with a woman. It ended up that a lot of people took care of me during my first year clean. And the most incredible things.
One guy saved his money, his coins, and at the end of the year he would roll them all up and buy himself a bunch of jazz albums. So he gave me all of his rolled coins when I was out of a job and I had a baby and I didn’t know what to do and he gave me his money and never asked for it back.
People . . . I almost gave my daughter up for adoption and I remember people said, “Don’t make any major decisions in your first year in recovery,” and of course I was forced to make a decision. I was either going to be a Mommy or be a real basket case. And I took my daughter to the adoption agency when she was a day old and dropped her off and I walked out of there and realized that it was the biggest mistake I ever made.
Fortunately there are laws which say you don’t have to sign anything and so I went back and called a couple of people and I told them how I was feeling. They said: “You know, it’s okay if you want to be a mommy.” You know, some people don’t have to make these kinds of decisions in their first year of recovery. But it was somebody saying it’s okay and that’s all it took.
So I took my last weekend of being a free person and went out to a lot of meetings and talked with a lot of people and went and picked up my daughter that Monday. And I have never regretted it. People in recovery, after they found out that I kept the baby, they threw a surprise baby shower for me and gave me everything I needed for the first year of this kid’s life. And from there it is just indescribable the amount of growth and the deepening friendships that I have.
I never had real friends before. Never had people that I could count on in a crunch like I do now. And I have never been able to say, “You can count on me in a crunch,” and now I can say that. Now I can make myself available to the kind of feelings, the kind of help that people need, the kind of help that I need. I can ask for help and I don’t have to look for anybody that has a dick between his legs to give me help. I can get help from people in recovery who just understand.
And the end of the story as far as what happened with me in being a single Mommy — that was pretty rough and I don’t recommend it for anybody. But it was something. If I wasn’t, if I had not kept that child, if I had not been pregnant, there was no way on earth I would have been clean. And I know that today and I remember what my friend was telling me: “You know, whatever it takes to keep you clean, it is whatever it takes,” and at that time it was the kid.
Now I have a family. I am married. My husband has adopted the baby. She is four years old and I am . . . I don’t have all of the things associated with a successful life, but I have something inside of me that I wouldn’t give a million bucks for, or I wouldn’t take a million bucks to give up. It’s an inner peace, it’s something that I can go back to when things get really rough, when work is driving me nuts, or the kid is driving me nuts, if I can find that place which recovery has given me. It’s just a focus there.
I don’t claim to be a highly spiritual person or anything like that. I think I am just trying to make it through every day. I probably should mention that I am also a recovering Catholic and the kind of spirituality that was taught to me as a child is nothing like I ever dreamed. It’s nothing like I have now. It’s not what I ever expected it to be. I always felt very guilty and I don’t feel guilt any more, unless of course I do something wrong and I know I am doing something wrong.
But I don’t feel guilty for being alive. I don’t feel like I committed any great sin for living, and that’s how I used to always feel. I was a professional victim and although I have been recovering now for almost five years, I can slip back into that so easily. And when I slip back into that it reminds me of when I was using drugs and how I felt then. I also know that I never have to feel that way again.
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