Beauty for Ashes

Beauty for Ashes

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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. 


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21 comments

  1. Ashley Day Captain

    Hearing that you were molested by a family member is heartbreaking and the person who abused you should have been held accountable for their actions. You mentioned that, as a child, you wanted your pain and suffering to allow someone to breathe easier; I can tell that you’re a caring person. I’m sorry that you lost your stepmother in such a traumatic way.
    It’s wonderful to know that you have been taking care of yourself for more than three years. The fact that you made the decision to work with women who have had similar experiences is admirable. I commend you for making the decision to enter a treatment center.
    Your children are lucky to have such a courageous mother.

    I wish you nothing but the best 🙂

    Ashley

  2. Knina7 Volunteer

    Hey pmoceo,
    Thank you for writing us, your story is truly inspiring. I’m sorry for what happened to you, it was not your fault. I am happy to hear that you are doing well these days. Thank you for sharing your story with us, we are always here if you want to update us or talk!
    Sending Love and Hope,
    Kelly

  3. Harton.13 Volunteer

    Hi pmoceo,

    You have showed so much strength in your journey and should be so proud. The worst things you have been through do not define all of who you are, and it’s amazing that you’re using your experience and knowledge to better other womens’ lives. You should be so proud of your sobriety, your family, and your growth, but I know some days are harder than others, so we are always here for you when you need us!

  4. tinayoung Volunteer

    Hello Beautiful Survivor! Thank you for having the courage to share your story with us. Really hit home with me.
    Congrats on being sober…I know how difficult that can be. You are a Warrior! Continue each day (sometimes each minute) to be strong for yourself and your child.
    May all your days be filled with Daisies and Rainbows…

  5. mikaylaanne11 Volunteer

    Hi pmoceo,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us! You’ve overcome so much, and I congratulate you on your 3 years sober! I’ve watched family and friends deal with addictions, and it’s not an easy path. You are a survivor and have a great deal of courage. I think it’s awesome that you’re paying it forward now and helping others who were in similar situations as your own. That ability to empathize with their struggles must be so validating to the people you work with. You are full of so much strength!

  6. Marissa Day Captain

    Hi pmoceo,

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. I’m sorry for everything you went through, but it is so impressive that you were able to pull yourself out of the slump you were stuck in. I’m so happy that you’re in such an amazing place and that you’re working with other women to better themselves as well. You’re so incredibly strong, and I’m proud of the woman you’ve become!

    Please let us know if you need anything. We’re here for you!
    Marissa

  7. music2799 Day Captain

    Hi pmoceo,
    I’m so sorry about what you’ve been through. Yet you’ve overcome, and that’s incredible. Congratulations for being 3 years sober – that’s an amazing accomplishment. I’m glad that you’re healing and working with women who have been in similar situations. You’re so strong and resilient, and thank you for sharing your story with us. If you ever need support, please reach out to us. We’re here for you!

  8. Kayla Volunteer

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. You’ve gone through so much, and survived and became a strong and resilient person. Overcoming drug addiction is one of the hardest things, and overcoming addiction, when mixed with trauma, is extremely admirable. Too often addiction and trauma go hand in hand. I’m so happy for you and your children that you’re able to be with them now.

    Sending you love,
    Kayla

  9. Samantha Harris Volunteer

    Hi pmoceo,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sorry that you had to go through this. You didn’t deserve any of this. I’m glad you were able to get help and heal from your experience. It seems like you have come a very far way, and you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished. If you ever need anything, let us know. We’re always here for you.

  10. Shannon Volunteer

    Hi pmoceo,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, it is truly inspiring. I am so sorry for everything you have been through. congratulations on your three years of sobriety and thank you again for sharing. please remember you are not alone, we are here to listen. Be kind to yourself

    Shannon

  11. Jordan Volunteer

    Hey there pmoceo,

    It is amazing to hear how far you have come in your healing journey. I just want to thank you for sharing your story with us, you have been through so much in your life and I am so happy to hear that you are in a much better place now mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You are worthy and deserving of love, and so much more. It sounds like you have surrounded yourself with a good support system too, which I think is one of the most important factors in the healing process. You are strong and so very brave. We are AVFIT will always be here for you if you ever need a place to confide in <3 I hope we hear from you in the future to see how you are doing. Sending hugs your way <3

    – Jordan

    1. dzreid Volunteer

      Hey there pmoceo,
      First, let me begin by saying that’s a huge accomplishment, being sober for 3 years Congratulations! That alone is something to be proud of. Thanks for sharing your story. Take a deep breath and take one day at a time. Baby steps to a brighter you. I’m glad that you got on that plane and are here today because of that decision! It sounds like you are heading in the right direction. You are strong and brave. Keep fighting the fight. You can do this! Be proud of everything you have accomplished! Being a single parent isn’t easy ( I can relate) but you are doing it. Hold onto that grace you found. Know that you’re not alone and you now gave another source if support through avfti.
      Dawn-volunteer

  12. Megan Volunteer

    Hey pmoceo,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It is incredible to see how you rose up and recovered after everything you have been through and I’m so proud of you. Three years sober is amazing!! Your story is truly inspiring and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it today.

    You are strong and powerful and you can do anything,
    Megan

  13. Natalie M Day Captain

    Hello there,

    First off, congratulations on being 3 years sober! That is an incredible accomplishment, and you should be very proud of yourself. I am truly sorry that trauma entered your life at such a young age and that you did not receive the support you deserved from your family. What happened was not okay, and it most certainly was not your fault. I am very happy for you and inspired by your fight to get better after all of the hard times you had. You are so strong! You are a survivor and I am sure you are a great mother! Please come back and update us anytime you would like! We are here for you and we will continue to support you! Stay strong! <3

    -Natalie

  14. Lizzi

    pmoceo,
    3 years sober is absolutely incredible, and you should be so proud of yourself. I’d like to think you got on that plane because somewhere deep down inside, you knew that you continue continue life that way you were and that you didn’t want to keep struggling. Sobriety is hard, and you are so strong for not only getting and staying sober but doing it after everything you’ve been through. All these traumas you experienced in your life, that had to be so painful. Not that drugs are a healthy coping mechanism, but there’s a reason people turn to them. They serve the purpose of temporarily reliving the pain that we don’t feel like we can handle. But now you’re handling life as a strong mother, sister, daughter and friend. I love hearing stories like this where things were so tragic, but you’ve turned your life around and now help other people going through similar things that you have. Keep up the amazing work, and thank you for sharing your story with us!

  15. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi pmoceo,
    I’m so sorry this happened to you. You family should have been there for you. What happened was not okay. I’m sorry that they didn’t help you in your time of need. I’m happy that things even thought the had to get worse before they could get better, got better. Even though it was hard and definitely a huge roller coaster, you got out of the drugs and got sober. I am so proud of you. Three years sober is great. That is an amazing accomplishment and an even greater milestone. I’m happy that you got your kids back. You are a great mom, sister, daughter, and friend. Thank you for trusting and sharing your story with AVFTI. Continue to stay strong. If you need anything else let us know.
    -Alyssa

  16. musicislove

    I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through. You’re supposed to be able to trust your family and feel safe with them, it’s unfair that that was taken from you at such a young age. I’m so happy that you’re sober, three years is a huge accomplishment, and your job sounds really rewarding, that takes so much strength and resilience. Thank you for trusting us with your story and we’re here for you!

    Delaney

  17. zelda Volunteer

    I love how you write, so well written. I’m a recovering addict myself and I’ve made countless bad decisions because heroin controlled my life. I’m very grateful to be clean now and I’m so proud of you for being clean too. That takes courage. You’re very strong and very resilient to have overcome so many obstacles in your life. Just know that we’re all here for you. And we wish you all the best.

  18. Thomas Volunteer

    Hi pmoceo,

    I am so sorry that you had to go through all of this. But you are so strong and resilient for coming this far. 3 years sober is an incredible accomplishment and spending your time helping others who have had similar experiences is very admirable. Thank you for sharing your story and keep up the good work! Stay strong.

    Thomas

  19. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am so sorry for all the trauma you have faced. You didn’t deserve that, and it wasn’t your fault. Congratulations on being 3 years sober. That is a HUGE deal, and I hope you feel proud of yourself. If there’s anything more we can do to support you, please let us know.

    Erin

  20. Julia Mandel Day Captain

    Thank you for sharing with us! You are a truly strong person and I am so glad that you were able to overcome and are living sober now with your family. Keep on being an inspiration to others! 🙂