THIS MONTH'S GUEST SPEAKER: "Barbara"
Originally posted on Oct. 2000(The author retains all rights to this material)
I can remember as far back as 4 or 5 years old feeling scared and shy. Mom and Dad did not get along too well and the fights made me upset. I was also very frightened when they went on vacation, I had a sinking feeling mom would not come back. I was scared of Dad’s temper. Mom was an active alcoholic and suffered from depression. They stayed married until I was around 11 years old and my sister was 16.
I was around 9 years old when “I” became the designated problem in our family. So again, at 11 years old, Mom, me and my sister moved to an apartment; I stopped any formal religious training. My dad stopped paying any bills. My mother’s drinking began getting out of control. My sister moved in with her boyfriend and his family. I then became the caretaker of Mom. I was basically abandoned by everyone. Going around the house, finding bottles, throwing them out, Mom getting more, and so on.
By the time I was 13, Mom was dating quite a bit and I was left to care for myself. At one point Mom had a serious alcoholic relationship and she would spend weekends in New York at his apartment. Mom would tell the guy who owned the Italian Restaurant to let me eat there and “keep an eye on me.”
I guess you could say, that this was the point when I totally stopped trying to live like I saw other kids living, which was the point when my thinking changed.
I started hanging with others who were smoking and drinking. The only saving grace I had was singing. It was my one joy. I did as I pleased. The only intervention came when someone was called in because I was “acting out” at school. I started “partying” all the time.
Mom started having mental breakdowns and Grandma came to live with me. I saw my mother suffering and, as usual, no one explained to me what was happening so I assumed full responsibility for her problems. I sure didn’t make things easy on Grandma. This went on for quite a few years. My acting out and running away became more severe.
I started progressing to other drugs and found that being numb felt better then tolerating being with me. You know the feeling, running as fast as you can and still taking you wherever you go.
I met my children’s father when I was about 15, I was singing with a group, and he walked in. I thought he was pretty cool. We married when I was 18. We have two beautiful children. We were very young, we used, and we had lots of baggage. We divorced.
I ran away a lot. Different cities, towns. It didn’t matter; I still could not live with myself. I came back to Jersey because my children deserved a better deal than I had. I came back and went into my second Therapeutic Community, (my first TC was in 1969). I was in the second TC for 24 months. The theory in those days was give all clients that went into re-entry their wings (permission) to drink. I went into my second TC 10/72-10/74, I graduated?
Basically, I had learned how not to “act out.” I went back and forth to court many times to regain custody of my children. They were in foster care, the foster parents adopted me and I moved in with them. It was during the year I lived there with my children I was taught parenting skills. They were kind and very caring people. It was my first experience with “squares” and I thank God every day for them.
It took time for my children and me to adjusting to each other. We saw therapists & counselors. It took quite a bit of time for my children to trust me, and rightly so.
For many years I was a “Weekend Warrior”. I drank on weekends; I justified this because I was given “permission” from the TC I graduated from. The truth is I felt so inadequate about myself and so uncomfortable in social situations I had to be NUMB. I only stopped drinking because I found out I’m a diabetic and drinking made me very sick, but I would still drink on that special occasion.
I married my second husband in 1985 and this too was destined not to succeed. He was a graduate from a TC and he also drank. I always chose relationships that are addictive in one way or another. Never feeling too good about me makes me crazy, so I act out on stuff based on my addiction rather then healthy choices. We divorced in 1991.
I believe the year was 1989 I started having severe depression. I went to a hospital and received ECT and was placed on meds., to address my psychiatric problems. I had two more hospital stays for my depression. I saw a psychiatrist for many years to deal with STUFF.
I regrouped, took two courses, Home Health Aide and Nursing Assistant, successfully completed the courses, but still didn’t feel so good about myself.
I was on my way to work, had an accident, had surgery and wound up into my active addiction once again. This time it was in pill form. I stopped seeing my psychiatrist and kept going back for the pills from my surgeon. I was on deaths door when My Higher Power saw fit to bring me to NA.
I married for the third time in 1985. We have been together for over 8 years. He also has children. Both of my wonderful daughters each have two children. In my years of recovery our relationships have gotten sweeter.
I am very fortunate that I have a Higher Power in my life today and that I have NA in my life. I have learned to be honest, to stay teachable and share with others. I consider this to be my first time in recovery.
Thank you, Barbara L.