A couple weeks ago, a blog post documenting the recovery story of a very good friend of Aid in Recovery, Gresha, sent ripples through the community. Because it’s difficult to answer every comment left on the post, we have identified five of the best follow up questions that needed to be asked:
1. You identify yourself as an addict, what does that mean to you?
I identify myself as an addict because that is who I am, I am an addict. This is something I have come to terms with. I realize that being an addict will be with me for the rest of my life. There will always be temptations tapping on my shoulder and lurking in the shadows, waiting for me to be vulnerable enough to snag me again at any moment. I am an addict in recovery and that is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. I am proud of the fact that I am in recovery. I use my past and my addiction as a tool to help others know that there is always hope for recovery!
2. What is your “normal” today?
Today, my normal is pretty chaotic. My normal is waking up next to my husband, going to my full-time job, and coming home to take care of my husband and children. My normal still includes struggles here, there, and everywhere. But with 2 years under my belt of being clean, the struggles are few and far between. When a struggle does arrive, my family, husband, and children face them head on with no fear. My normal is feeling excited and joyful listening to my children’s laughter as they play, being married to the man that stood by my side, and held my hand as we walked through Hell. Having an amazing relationship with my parents and siblings, being in public carrying on a conversation without the help of drugs for confidence, and having the trust of my family again is part of my normal today. I take care of my children emotionally and physically as a good mother should. My new normal is amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
3. What was your defining moment or “aha” moment when you knew you had enough?
I got married to my husband in the summer of 2013. I was in the middle of a relapse. A good friend of ours played a major role in our wedding. We spent all weekend catching up, partying, and having a blast that weekend. I knew this friend had the same addiction I did. We talked about it and confided in each other. After the weekend was over, he went back to his home in a city that was about 30 minutes away. I married my husband the following Saturday and we found out my friend had passed away due to an overdose Wednesday. He lost consciousness in his bathroom. The water was still running in the bath tub. He actually passed away Monday and was not found until Wednesday, when the water started leaking into the apartment below. He was in that bathroom, alone for 2 days before anyone found him. Still to this day, there is an ongoing investigation as to what happened the night he passed. When I received the news he was gone, I was in total shock for a little bit, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was sad, angry, and in denial. The next day, I couldn’t help but think about him. I would picture him lying there alone and I thought, “That could have been me!” My children would have lost their mother, my husband would have lost his wife, and my parents would have lost their daughter. I couldn’t let that happen. My husband and I got back from our honeymoon, and a week later, I walked into my addiction specialist’s office and said “I HAVE HAD ENOUGH! I need your help.” I got down on my knees and prayed as hard and long as I could for my Heavenly Father to give me the strength, motivation, willpower, and patience to rid myself of this disease. I put my faith and my life in God’s hands and with my family by my side, here we are 2 years later, clean and going strong. And with God’s and my family’s help, I intend to stay that way because my life couldn’t get any better than it is now! I still think of my friend often and keep in touch with his family. R.I.P. my friend.
4. How do you maintain a positive outlook on life and about yourself?
At the height of my addiction, I was having drug induced seizures. One almost killed me due to passing out. I hit my head on a concrete floor, cracked my skull, and this caused bleeding in my brain. I maintain a positive attitude because I am happy to be alive. There was a time I didn’t think I would make it to see 30 years old, and here I am getting ready to celebrate my 33rd birthday! I am still here to grow old with my husband, watch my children grow up, graduate, get married, and have children of their own – if they choose to. My family shows unconditional love for me and I show them the same. They keep me positive and keep me going every day.
5. What tools do you use so you don’t relapse again?
When I started on my final journey of sobriety, after 2 relapses, I started seeing an addiction specialist (A doctor that specializes in addictions and addictive behavior). His name is Dr. Waller. He is a man that I kind of owe my life to. He is amazing. Along with Dr. Waller, I see a counselor as well, and a social worker from time to time. I started out going once a week for a while, then every 2 weeks, and now I only have to go once a month. They get to know their patients on such a personal level. They are here for me any time, day, or night. Just knowing that I have that resource if I need it, helps me. I also surround myself with positive people, my work, and my amazing family. I love to write and play guitar as well. Just having something to do and keeping my mind off of drugs helps keep me sober. Don’t get me wrong, the temptations creep into my head and I do think about drugs from time to time. But one of the best things I could have gotten out of my counselor is to learn how to not ignore the thoughts, yet acknowledge them, and go about my business. Possibly, sometimes write the thoughts down and rip them up and throw them in the trash. I started my personal blog and writing blog posts for Aid in Recovery, and believe it or not, I use that writing as a tool to help others. Looking back on my past and then looking at how far my family and I have come, gives me great strength. And that strength is what I depend on as a tool every day.