I grew up in Seabrook, New Hampshire – a small beach town. I have a brother who is twelve years older than I am. I also have an identical twin sister. Neither of them have this disease. Growing up, my dad was a police officer and my mom was a business owner. Neither of them were around a lot. I blocked out a lot of my childhood, not because I had a lot of trauma, but because there is nothing significant that sticks out to me. The earliest memory I have is going into high school. I went to school with a significant amount of people. The only other person I knew was my twin sister. I attended Catholic school before that and went from a school of four hundred to three thousand. Our high school was divided into four towns, and that’s how it made you feel, too. You fell within your town. Unfortunately, the people I fell in with smoked a lot of pot, drank in the parking lot, and skipped school. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that. I thought I was just a high school kid. I was pretty depressed in high school, too. I had a real problem getting out of bed in the morning. I thought I needed an Adderall and a Xanax to get through the school day. That’s what I thought was normal. I thought everybody did that.
I graduated from high school and I didn’t go off to college because I didn’t think I was the “college type”. I thought that I was not meant to be anything significant. I didn’t really want to be, either. I wanted to hide. So I worked at this dead end bar. It was a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant and we partied. During that time, I found Percocet. Percocet is my number one love. It’s what I needed to get through. At the end of that summer, I went to detox for the first time. My brother came up to my bedroom and said, “You’re going to die”. I kind of laughed in his face and then he started to cry. I thought, “Oh, no… I have to go”.
In treatment, one of the techs – or whatever she was – a counselor, maybe? – said to me, “You’ll be back ten times over. You’re not ready”. I was like, “You don’t know me. You don’t know my life. You don’t know my story. You have no idea what you’re talking about”. I should have listened to her at the time. I didn’t know she was right.
I was eighteen. I thought, “I just have to kick this issue”. The truth is the issue had kicked me. I didn’t think it was going to be a lifelong struggle. I didn’t think that I was going to be twenty-seven years old and still trying to battle this. I didn’t think I was the real deal.
I kept doing the same old thing. My family owned a restaurant. I would get fired from that restaurant about mid-summer every year. I’ve been fired six or seven times. My poor family – they didn’t know what to do. They were just done. It comes to a point where most families don’t know anymore, especially if they’ve never dealt with it. They don’t know how to help save your life. They’re at the point where it would be easier if you weren’t there. That was my truth. It was easier if I was dead because I caused so much chaos.
I think it was the end of July. I had just turned twenty-three. I was sitting at the bar – one of my best friends is a bartender at my family’s restaurant – and my brother said, “You have to go”. I didn’t think anything of it. I was high. I was nodding off – which I didn’t even realize I was doing at the time. I remember him asking, “do you have anything on you?”
It was easier to lie. That’s kind of how I ran my life – lying about everything. So, my brother said, “You’re not welcome here. You’re not welcome on the property, including Eastman’s Fishing”. I said, “Okay”. He said, “I don’t care what you do. You just can’t be here”. I said, “Alright”. So, he drove me home.
My mom said, “You’ve got to find a place to go”. By place to go, she meant treatment again. But I didn’t find a place.
My mom knew this guy named Chuckys Fight – and Chucky came to my house. He lives on Seabrook beach, which is right across from my family’s restaurant. He came with this guy named Scott. They sat in my mom’s living room. I was sick and I wanted them to get out. They said, “You’ve gotta get some help”. I told them: “I’m fine. I’m gonna kick it on my mom’s couch”. That was my go-to. I could kick it. At least I thought I could.
It was a Saturday. I went to The Process Recovery Center the following Monday. I picked up for the last time on Sunday. My mom gave Michelle a hundred dollars for groceries and said, “Good luck”. I didn’t have insurance so it was a cash-pay. My mom said, “This is it. This is all you got. Make the best of it,” and dropped me off. At that point, I knew I had nothing. I had a boyfriend I had been with for almost three years, and he was a big part of the reason I didn’t want to go. He didn’t know the extent of my addiction. He knew I did drugs – but I hid a lot of it from him. When I got to Nashua, he didn’t know.
I detoxed at the Process. I didn’t have insurance – I didn’t have any other option. I didn’t necessarily want to get sober. I just wanted to stop hurting people and stop the same old behaviors: Stealing, lying, and cheating. I did it to everybody I came into contact with and I didn’t care.
In treatment, my new thing was a shopping addiction. I got myself into quite a bit of debt. I couldn’t sit with myself, so as soon as I got off a restriction, I would go to the mall and spend money. I had some money saved from working that my brother took from me. He gave it back when I was sober and I spent it in about a day. I think it was a little over a thousand dollars. Then I opened store credit cards. It was just my addiction manifesting itself in other ways.
After maybe two or three weeks of being in Nashua, I met this other guy, and I thought it was love at first sight. He had about two or three months sober. I had not even a month. I broke up with my boyfriend because he was no longer serving a purpose, and I got into a new relationship. We got picked up on warrants together and I truly thought it was love: This was it. Looking back, it was just delusional thinking. I thought everything was going great. We were living in sober houses and it was true love.
Then I got pregnant. I can’t even remember the timeline now. It was three – maybe four – months into my sobriety. I couldn’t keep the child. I was living in a sober house, working at Buffalo Wild Wings, and that’s all I had. None of my family were supportive. I truly knew in my subconscious that it wasn’t right – nor was it the time. After I got the abortion, I almost immediately picked up. I used for about three weeks and got kicked out of the sober house. It was a mess.
I remember sitting in a room with Michelle and Amy, and they said, “You want to go to treatment?” I was like, “No, I’ll call my mom”. My mom told me I had a week to get it together and that was it. I never listened. I thought, “It’s my mom, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about”. I kept using and drinking for that first week, and then a good friend of mine died. I hit a wall. I couldn’t stand myself. I couldn’t look in the mirror. I had no feelings, no emotions. I had no more “I’m sorry’s”. I had nothing to say. I always had something to say. I always wanted the last word. For the first time, I didn’t have anything.
I called Michelle about a week after that. My sobriety date is December 24th, 2016. I called her and said, “I want to come back”. She said, “How much time do you have?” I lied. She knows that now. I just needed to go back and try again. I had about six or seven days. I got a sponsor immediately. I asked this girl and she said, “no,” but she pointed me in the direction of another woman who literally helped saved my life. She was tough and she was real, and she was what I definitely needed at the time.
I lived in the sober house for about six months. I became a house manager and then I got sick of being a house manager, so I asked Michelle if I could live with her, and she said, “I guess”. I lived with her for about six months until I found an apartment and moved in with my friend Kailah. We lived together for about a year. In that time, I did the work. I did three fourth steps, reached out when I had to, and helped other people. I became a responsible adult. I cleaned up my messes. Everyone thinks it’s easy to clean up your messes, but not when it’s your grandfather, or your mom, or your brother – not when “sorry” isn’t enough.
Then I met this guy in the program. Two years later, we’re getting married. I have a job that I love – a job that’s challenging – a job I never thought I could have. The reason I think this time is different is that my willingness to be honest is different. I was able to let people in for the first time and make hard decisions. I did the work and asked God for help. That was it. I didn’t do anything special other than what everybody told me to do. I put myself out there.
As time goes by, the way that recovery looks is different for everybody. For me, recovery looks like just being able to show up and keep my word. I don’t go to a ton of meetings – I’m not perfect – but I do show up for my sponsees. I do step work. I pray. I think that showing up is literally the most important thing in recovery – not only for you – but for others – which is why we’re doing this.
Don’t lose hope. I thought I was unable to get this. I thought I was incapable of having recovery. Now I think that anybody can do this. If I can, anybody can. We all have this available if we want it bad enough.