Following is a story of recovery written by a Crossroads client. We are sharing stories of recovery throughout September to celebrate Recovery Month. If you have a story to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Almost a year before entering Crossroads residential, I started getting signs from my Higher Power in the physical manifestations of the infections I began experiencing for the first time ever in the history of my active use. I had a long discussion with an ER doctor regarding my issue with other doctors always judging me and discriminating against me due to my addiction. This doctor treated me with respect and dignity by not only actively listening to me, but also being direct and truly understanding my fear of labels.
God started really appearing for me from that moment on, but my addiction had created such a deadened sense of self that it took some aggressive acts for His attention and acknowledgment to finally penetrate the walls of denial I had created. A few months later. I was almost busted by the DEA due to the increase in my drug trafficking activities, but God, yet again, stepped in by having the Confidential Informant (a “friend”) give me a last minute warning, so I was able to avoid arrest and prosecution at almost 40 years old.
Another event that truly got me started thinking about the road to recovery was one of the deepest and most heartfelt conversations with my brother, another recovering addict. This brought us full circle in many respects due to the resentments that we had each held. His resentments toward me for the emotional/physical abuse I had subjected him to as we were both children. And mine toward him for introducing me to my drug of choice through my boyfriend. This conversation included an extremely tough talk regarding our past and concluded with him suggesting that it might be time for me to let go of my extreme control and to ask for help. He inspired me with his humility and story of his own recovery through a halfway house program here in Portland.
Shortly after planting this, I turned 40, and the already building depression that I was experiencing kicked in. My drug use increased again, and I started isolating even more. My infections got worse until I landed myself in the hospital for a 5 day stay. One Friday morning, after a couple days up on Ritalin, I turned yellow. The color I had always associated as a healthy/healing color now became the sign that I was sick.
Hours in the ER trying to draw blood, a massive emotional breakdown and my body being poisoned with a hidden infection led to my liver and spleen enlarging so much that the pressure on my heart almost caused me to have a mild heart attack. My body was so poisoned that my mind blacked out for 3 days. I was in the ICU for 3 days and have only a slight memory of my mother finally being there. I didn’t know they had been asking me if I wanted them to contact anyone, and I had been refusing until that day.
Writing this right now has induced the first selfless emotion of realizing what it must have been like for my Mother to hear that her Daughter was in ICU, her system poisoned by infections caused by her IV drug use. I remained in the hospital for 2 more days, making every promise that it would never happen again because I didn’t want to die.
After returning home I swore on my son’s life that I would never touch another needle. This was a significant point to show that my addiction was out of control. I was back in the ER with another infection. Another circle came full with the doctor who had treated me with dignity the summer before. We had a very in-depth spiritual conversation regarding my addiction and the fact that he was seeing me was NOT a coincidence. I truly believe, as he did, that there is no such things as coincidence.
You would think that this last infection would be my bottom. But falling flat on my face, I insisted on digging myself a little deeper by trying to switch drugs and not paying rent.
I finally made an appointment with Crossroads residential for an interview and asked my Mother to bring me. I abhor being a hypocrite and knew that asking my Mother would force me to follow through. I tried to maintain my life leading up to my entry date (a 3 month wait) and am extremely lucky that my Higher Power was there in the background.
My recovery for the first few days was so chaotic that I knew then I couldn’t manage it myself. I was finally doing what I had never done for myself. I asked for help. I experienced the biggest sense of gratitude and fear when my son dropped me off. There are days since that time that I have had such vivid rewards from my Higher Power that I feel like I’m going to lift off the ground.
God gives me a flash of real life that truly keeps me grounded and reminds me that my recovery is about real life. The ups and the downs are something that will happen regardless. I get through it with the help of my meetings, support, women to call, groups at the house, my connection with my Higher Power, and a continued sense of utilizing the Serenity Prayer.
Today, with 35 days clean/ 72 needle-free, I live in the moment knowing I am worth it and working the program as it is intended. My recovery is the most important thing in my life now and I am hopeful and excited for my future.