*Trigger Warning. Mentions of Abuse, Suicide, Drug Use*
I am an addict.
I will always be an addict.
Though I will be clean for 8 years on 2/11/14 I will always struggle with addiction.
There are debates within church circles as to whether once one becomes a follow of Christ they should continue to call themselves an addict because “They are made new”
That’s up to each person. I know that for me I have to call myself an addict because I am; not just to drugs. I can make anything an addiction. When I walked away from drugs at four months pregnant it seemed as though God had “removed my addiction” and my story was praised as a miracle. Later, when the protective bubble of the church I was living in would pop my addiction would manifest itself in different ways.
I took my first sip of alcohol at 9 years old. It was an accident. I was having a sleepover and I was thirsty so I went to grab a water bottle from our basement fridge. I gagged when I tasted what was in it. My parents used to fill plastic Evian bottles with vodka so that when we went to the water park they could sneak their alcohol in.
Most of my years from 8-13 were spent at parties. Whether they were at our house or one of my mom’s many new “friends” from nursing school. There was alcohol and the kids were left on our own. I cannot even recall the number of times that we just spent the night or random people spent the night at our house because people were too drunk to drive home.
I got purposely drunk for the first time at 11. On a cruise ship at my uncles wedding; my grandma said my cousin (who was NINE) could have one glass of champagne each. It’s not my fault that every time I turned around the waiters kept filling up my glass, now is it 😉
I swore off drugs and alcohol at 12 after my friend committed suicide after a long battle with drugs. Here’s the thing I look back and struggle with. We were BABIES. We were 12 and 13 and struggling with hard drugs. Heroin, cocaine and speed are the three that come to mind. In 8th grade I gave up and said “fuck it”
I believe that’s when I said fuck it about a lot of things. It became easier to just be; I don’t mean being in the way I know now. I mean shutting down. That was what I wanted all along.
To be numb. Even though at that point, at 13 I had no idea of the trauma buried subconsciously; consciously I knew that to protect myself.
It became getting drunk and high before, during and after school. I was still on my own all the time. My younger brother and sister were in daycare and I came home alone every single day so no one noticed that I was wasted.
We as kids found a way to get wasted on anything. We even went through a period where it was caffeine pills. Take enough and you get a pretty good buzz. Taking them at a youth group retreat…… Not a wise choice.
My parents had stopped the crazy weekend partying by the time I was in high school but still were not good role models about drinking. Their sage wisdom was “If you’re at a party and drunk or your ride is drunk we’ll come get you. No questions asked”
Which ok, I get to a degree. Yet there was no education behind it. No let’s talk about choices or the consequences of drinking, drinking too much or drinking at random parties.
I also was allowed to drink at home, with my parents and my family. They also, and my friends parents allowed my friends to drink at home with my parents. I never got in trouble for drinking.
I made several poor choices throughout high school in regards to my drinking and did a lot of stupid shit. College was not any better. In fact college was a nightmare.
I left school, rather was kindly asked to vacate the school because I had tried to commit suicide twice in the dorms. No doubt my drinking being a large factor.
I went to rehab that April; it was 2000 and I was 18.
I initially went for mental health purposes but when they did the drug and alcohol assessment they moved me to the addictions track and my parents FLIPPED. Undoubtedly it caused them to look at their own choices; yet this was MY problem. I was the alcoholic. I was the one who was wasted all the time and got kicked out of college.
I was 18, on my own and newly sober. I wasn’t allowed to go back home so I moved to Costa Mesa, California to start over. I did start over. I was independent. I was clean, I had a job, I went to AA meetings.
Then life happened.
From the age of 18-24 I would bounce in and out of rehab 20 times; not able to stay clean longer than 90 days. I picked up my 90 day chip once high on heroin.
I had no idea what was going on inside, in my head, in my heart and honestly even though suicide was a frequent thought and I would go on to attempt suicide several more times I liked being an addict.
I think because I never had to feel anything. I was high, drunk, in rehab or so damn medicated that there were zero REAL feelings.
Any time I went to treatment or therapy the only thing that was ever discussed was my “symptoms” or my mental health diagnoses or going over and over “my story.” It was a face value treatment based system.
Granted they could only know what I told them, and I only knew what I knew consciously.
I did not know anything.
And then I got pregnant; at 24, as an active addict.
I knew I was pregnant, I knew this was the change I needed and I knew that my life was about to change, I just did not know exactly how.
I did not stop using until February 11, 2006. I was four months pregnant. I did use after I knew I was pregnant. It is not anything that I am proud of and I could sit here and list the reasons why but they aren’t important to anyone but God and I.
February 11, 2006 is also the day I decided to give my life to God. Like I said in the beginning it was considered this miracle that God removed my addiction and just BAM overnight I was a different woman.
But I wasn’t.
Everything, like this 900 pound thirsty, long toothed monster just pushed down deep into the recesses of my heart.
What I struggled with after that was called sin, lack of faith and just not handing it over to God.
Until I started in therapy two and half years ago and realized why I used, why I drank and why even when clean I still exhibited addictive behaviors with other things.
After a year I was able to call my therapist on the phone on a Friday night and say “I am ready to accept that I had abusive childhood, that I was molested by my father and that I am survivor of rape”
Those things devastated me to say yet they made so much sense.
Using drugs, drinking, the eating disorder, the men and the spending it was all a defense; a protector inside guarding the wounded child who experienced the abuse, the trauma.
Learning to let go of those defenses is hard and I will be candid and say that I have gone back on a few.
The last year and a half has been the toughest because as I was diagnosed with Chiari I was put on all sorts of pain medications. I think in some way I knew I was going to come to a place where there were going to be some addiction issues whether they were just physical, psychological or I outright would become addicted.
I’ll admit that I had a tough time. I liked being numb again. I liked spacing out and not having to deal with my life falling apart around me and having a LEGITIMATE reason to be taking the medications.
When it came time this past December to withdrawal I was angry. Angry because I wasn’t ready to start feeling again and angry because I knew I was going to have to go through withdrawal.
But I did it and I am moving forward; with a lot of those areas that I struggle with as choices I make when I am lonely, weary, bone tired from circumstances and wanting to give in.
That’s why I say;
My Name is Bethany and I am an Addict.
I will always be an addict. The propensity for me to fall back is there. Far, FAR in the back; I have come too far to throw it all away and would never put my baby girl through that.
However that doesn’t mean that those other things don’t mean I am not an addict.
Addiction comes out in so many ways.
So, so many ways.
Just because I stopped using 8 years ago does not mean that I was miraculously healed.
Because I wasn’t.