I grew up in a small town, just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. McDonough was one of those easy to forget, hard to spot on the map small towns. I was never privy to the finer things in life and I was fortunate to be grateful for all the little things I was blessed to have around me. Life was simple for the most part, but my emotional experience was complex and often grueling. My birth mother signed over her rights to my stepmother and father to raise me, as she continued to struggle with her addiction. Abandonment and rejection have been a part of my story from the very beginning.
I experienced trauma at an early age of 5 years old. I was molested by a family member and when I spoke out about what happened my abuser was never confronted and the abuse was swept under the rug. This experience cultivated a lifetime full of avoidance, guilt, shame, self-hatred, and ultimately self-medicating to ease the remnants of PTSD that I was left with. My childhood memories flash in and out like a slideshow. I have some good memories and not so great memories, but all of them are incomplete and brief. I suppose my innate need to dissociate has definitely played a role. I can remember sitting in my room as a little girl always praying (to some higher power) to please let my experiences not be in vain – allow my pain and my suffering to at least help one person breathe a little easier.
I grew up in a home where I never wanted for anything. Materialistically speaking, my parents worked extremely hard to always give us everything we wanted. Emotionally speaking, this was not the case. I was your stereotypical codependent child, begging for love on my knees and desperately seeking approval and affection from my parents. Looking back, I realize my parents did the best they could with what they had.
Fast forward to my early 20’s, I got pregnant with my son and I was anything but ready to be a mother. I did the best I could with what I had. Raising a child is not for the faint of heart. Raising a child as a single parent requires courage, selflessness, stability, and unconditional love. Keeping up with total transparency, I never really experienced any of those things so I was ill-equipped to handle the new life placed before me.
Jan 10, 2013 trauma met me face to face again. This time, I lost the battle and I was captured as a prisoner of war. My stepmother was home alone, babysitting my son when she suffered a massive heart attack. It is every daughter’s and mother’s worst nightmare. I can vividly remember my survival instincts kicking in as soon as I dialed the number to a local drug dealer. I did not step foot into that hospital without the aid of my beloved opiates. I truly believed I could not face the destruction that potentially lied ahead without the help of some power greater than myself. Opiates were a power greater than I ever comprehended.
After spending 72 hours, completely medicated and emotionally numb, we received the news that my mother was brain dead. Despite all of the prayers, well wishes, and doctor’s aid – she was gone. Just like that, my entire life changed. I was no longer the young single mother trying to figure out parenthood. I became the addicted mother, daughter, sister, and friend that was completely oblivious to the nature of what she was truly up against. Held captive by the little blue pills, I was led off a slave and I was living in hell.
I managed to maintain my addiction for a few years before consequences finally caught up. From one codependent relationship to the next, I was reaching for anything and anyone to fill the void I felt deep within my soul. That’s when I met my ex-boyfriend – he was spiritually sick just like me. We were a match made in – hell. His substance of choice was meth and after the first time I tried it, I felt like I found the perfect concoction to sweep me off my feet and carry me into the land of oblivion.
My life became utter chaos. Legal consequences brought me to my knees. Detoxing from opiates on a cold jail cell floor is not one of my most favorable moments. In fact, it was my living hell. No longer could I hide behind the facade that my life was great and everything was fine. It was physically, emotionally, and spiritually clear that my life was unmanageable and I no longer had the power of choice in any matter. My life was run by one master – King opiates. I did things I swore I’d never do and became a woman I swore I would never be. I was finally faced with the option to check myself into a treatment center or lose custody of my son. Gratefully, I choose to hop on a plane in search of relief.
I’m writing this article today with a little over 3 years sober. Sure, I could tell you what is was like and what my experience in recovery entailed – but the truth is… I am here today because of unrelenting grace. I have no idea why I hopped on the plane that day. There were many days I’d wake up and snort my drug of choice before I’d even kiss my son good morning. Why did it matter if I lost him all of a sudden? Grace. How did I walk through years of trauma and heartache without running to the bottom of a bottle to minimize the painful emotions? Grace. How do I have the privilege of raising two gorgeous children as a sober mother today? Grace. Every ounce of who I am today is a direct reflection of me operating with grace.
Today, I finally have the clarity to see that every single ounce of pain, heartache, and trouble led me to exactly where I am today. I was dead, so lost in the world as I thought I knew it and my life was absolutely unmanageable. Today, I work with other women who have struggled with trauma, rejection, abandonment, and addiction. I am a mother, sister, daughter, and friend today. I am accountable, reliable, responsible, and loyal. Beauty for ashes, I have been revived.