THIS MONTH'S GUEST SPEAKER: "Noelle"
Originally posted in August 2013(The author retains all rights to this material)
In February of 2008, I was a Mom, a wife, a nurse and most importantly, a full blown heroin addict. I walked into my first NA meeting on a Sunday morning that February and have been coming ever since. My name is Noelle and I’m an addict…and this is my story.
My strongest childhood memories are of me not feeling like I fit in. It never mattered how many friends I had. I just always wanted to be someone else. I always felt like if I was prettier or thinner or richer or smarter, that would solve my problems and I would feel better about myself. I learned that behavior would get me attention and didn’t care if it was positive or negative. And it didn’t matter where the attention came from…my parents…teachers…the other kids...I just wanted it, all the time.
I began my descent into addiction in my early teens with alcohol, yellow jackets and black beauties, acid, pot, cocaine and crank (speed). A little bit later in my teens, it was boys and sex. Whatever my favorite was at the time, I always had to have more…there was just never enough. At first, using made me feel as though I fit in. My self-esteem issues disappeared when I was using. I had found my way to fit in.
As time went on, I continued to use throughout my whole life, on and off, substituting one for another. I had gotten married, became a registered nurse and then became a parent. Becoming a parent was extremely hard for me. All the inadequacies I had ever felt became magnified when my first child was born. I never felt “wired” to be a parent. I loved my daughter, but often resented her taking up MY time, and resented her from making me feel inadequate. And the fear of something bad happening to her was overwhelming. But as time went on, I tried to settle into the suburban mom role. I even had a second daughter. But the negative feeling just got worse.
I began to drink excessively and then one day I found the pain meds that my husband had been using. Starting with a half of a pill, I once again felt the inadequacies melt away. I was happier, more productive and a much better parent when I used. Drugs had been the only thing that took away the fear of life, the insecurities I had been born with and in general, they took away the pain of being me.
Half a pill every Friday turned into one pill every day after 3pm. As long as I only used at night and not at work, I would be able to manage things. The progression had begun and I was powerless to do anything about it. My husband’s progression was evident and we were losing everything around us. Our house was in foreclosure. Our cars were being repossessed. The kids were going without.
I separated from my husband, because his addiction was so evident, and I had rationalized my using as recreational. At this point I was doctor shopping, and having my estranged husband keep me in supply. I was working as a nurse for a large hospital, but was not taking drugs from there. Once again, I justified that my using was not that bad.
A couple of years of living like this, moving into my parents house for them to help me care for my daughters, and about 3 jobs later, my addiction transformed itself once again… The first time I did heroin, I knew that I had found the answer to all of my problems. This was quicker, cheaper and easier to get and my disease tricked me into thinking that heroin was more manageable.
For r a few more years my progression continued and I began shooting. I began taking IV pain meds from work. But I also knew that I was hitting my bottom. I could no longer function. I spent every day of my life either nodding out high or dope sick I bed. I no longer cared about my kids. I made my parents think I problems with my stomach. I was calling out of work all the time. And when I was at work, I was stealing so many drugs that it was less than a month before I was called in to the supervisor’s office and told that they knew I was an addict.
That day, I tried to lie and manipulate my way out of everything. Thank God they had way more evidence then they needed to prove that I was out of control. I finally admitted that I had a problem, partially because they told me if I admitted it than I would not lose my nursing license. But there was a small part of me that had been begging God for a long time for a way out.
You see, Moms aren’t heroin addicts. Nurses should know better. I wasn’t a homeless junkie. I had never prostituted. All of these thoughts had stopped me from ever seeking treatment. What also stopped me from getting help was the fact that I was scared to death to think of a life without the use of drugs. I had been using so long, I didn’t think I could live without them. I was scared.
Part of the process for me began with being referred to a program of recovery for nurses where I would be monitored for 5 years but if I met all the requirements, I would not lose my license. One of the requirements was I had to make 90 meetings in 90 days. One week after the meeting at work, I walked into my first NA meeting.
It was Sunday morning in the town I lived in and I was terrified. The first woman I encountered gave me a hug and welcomed me. The readings told me I was the most important person there. After the meeting, people told me to go to another meeting the next day. They genuinely seemed glad I was there. And they just genuinely seemed happy.
This was my first glimpse of hope. Was it possible that people could live without the use of drugs? Maybe, just maybe, I could too… That was over 5 years ago, and I am happy to say that, a day at a time, I continue to not use! This is truly a miracle! I used for a very long time and had to learn how to pretty much do everything. And I have learned it all in the rooms of NA. I have become a great Mom, daughter, partner, and employee. I have learned that no matter what, I don’t have to use.
I was once hopeless, thinking I was destined to die a drug addict and I had even made my peace with that. Today I have hope…I have faith in the process of NA. I have a sponsor, I have sponsee’s, I work steps, I have commitments, I make meetings and most of all, I don’t get high. I love Narcotics Anonymous. It gave me a life beyond my wildest dreams…which is a life where I don’t have to get high! My favorite saying is not from the literature... life is simply this…
My name is Noelle, and I’m an addict…