THIS MONTH'S GUEST SPEAKER: "Pam M."
Originally posted in Sept. 2002(The author retains all rights to this material)
I came from a very dysfunctional home, being the third youngest of sixteen children. My Grandmother, who raised me, suffered from alcoholism. My Grandfather suffered from the same disease. My mother was not in the home at all. My Grandmother raised my father's nine children. My father suffered from the disease of addiction and was very abusive to my Grandmother, who is his mother. I can remember from a very young age hearing loud noises day in and day out and knowing that it was my father beating my Grandmother. I was always told that what goes on inside the home, stays inside the home. My most happy memories were of going to school and going to sleep.
As the years went on, the abuse went on. There was yelling, cussing and a lot of angry people. Through all that, I never, ever felt that my Grandmother did not love her son. There was nothing that she would not do for him. She raised all his children. She took good care of all nine of us and, often the other five half siblings of my mother too. With that many siblings, times were really tough.
My Grandmother held down three jobs to take care of all of us. I don't know how she did it all day in and day out. She took me in when I was left in a hospital and I became one of her favorites. If it had not been for my Grandmother, I don't know where I would have ended up. I always stayed close to her. Maybe I wanted to stay close to her because of my father's abuse towards her.
My Grandmother did a good job teaching all of us right from wrong. She always wanted to know where I was and made it clear to me that I had to be accountable for my own mistakes. All my memories of my Grandmother are good.
When I was in about the sixth grade, the only woman that I loved started getting sick, but she still did all she had to do to take care of me. All through her illness she kept encouraging her grandchildren to understand right from wrong. She tried to not let my father's drug addiction interfere with her giving us a good home.
At my eighth grade graduation, nothing else mattered to me but to make my Grandmother proud. It meant a lot to me to be her favorite. As I was on the stage in my graduation, my Grandmother got a telephone call telling her that my father had been in a fatal automobile accident. I don't remember if I was sad, or relieved that the abuse would stop towards my Grandmother. I did not understand why she cried so much at the time, but I guess it comes from a mother's love.
Years went by and in high school it was no longer about home pressure and what my family thought I should do. I turned to pier pressure, but I heard my Grandmother telling me to go after my dreams.
Then, I was introduced to my first drug, which was marijuana. It did not last too long because I was not happy with the feeling it gave me, so I moved on to another drug. I only drank occasionally. I did not particularly like to drink alcohol because I did not like the smell. I learned to use downers, barbiturates, etc. This was the start of my drug use, which lasted for a very long time.
At that time, I looked at it as a kid just having fun. School was no longer important. I started disrespecting people. I vandalized homes and became a defiant teenager. I thought of all the things my Grandmother had so lovingly taught me and I was letting it all drift away. Nevertheless, my heart was with my Grandmother all the time.
I met a boy who became the love of my life. We were always together. The relationship lasted about two years, when he went back to his country to marry another woman, who I did not know about. I was hurt, angry and sad. I could not eat, I was too weak to even do drugs, and I felt like I was going to die. He returned to the United States while I was suffering from all the pain. We went back into the relationship, but it did not last long because he was a married man then.
When I was twenty-one I met a new man who was much older than me. He introduced me to cocaine, which became my drug of choice. When I did it, it felt like it was part of my body -- cocaine and me. Every now and then I would also use downers during that time.
I went through a lot of pain and hurt in that relationship. He had children with another woman and I tried to act like it did not bother me, but it did. I had a daughter with this man and I was a happy-go-lucky mother. I was the favorite granddaughter and my daughter became the favorite great grand daughter.
My love for my child continued to grow even as I was using, but I could not do all the good mother/daughter things that my Grandmother did with me because I was using. My Grandmother continued to tell me to move forward in my life, so we ended up moving to another location. That did not last long and we moved back to Newark. I was using more and more.
My Grandmother entered the hospital and we did not know if she was going to survive. I went to visit her, but did not tell her that I moved back to Newark. My Grandmother started giving up at that time. My daughter was about seven months old. I would hear my Grandfather talking to my Grandmother while she was in the hospital and it upset me, so I felt the need to stay close to home. There were drug dealers in my Grandmother's home and my Grandfather tried to get them out.
It was a very sad day for me when my Grandmother passed. My whole world shattered. I remembered her words telling me to be sure to take care of my daughter. I tried, but sometimes I would leave her with my Grandfather because of the use of the drugs. Not long after my Grandmother passed, my Grandfather joined her. I think he died of loneliness. He did not want to live without his wife.
I moved in with my sister, who was using as well. My drug use was still in place, but not as intense as in the past. During this time I met a new man. I continued to use and took care of my daughter as well as I could. Everything started fading away. I moved out of my sisters house and in with my new man.
I became pregnant with my son and stopped using drugs. I did not stop because I wanted to, I stopped because my boy friend said I HAD to. After my son was born, I picked up again. After that got pregnant with my twins. Nothing really mattered but the use of drugs. When I had the babies I was tested for drugs, which came back positive.
This is when DYFUS came into my life. They came to take my babies. That told me that I had to do something about my drug problem or lose my children. I had to tell my children's grandmother about it. I was scared to tell her.
The children did come home with me and I did not stop using. There was a home health aide to help me with the twins. Then, I started using again and I started to isolate. My home life was tense. I could not go out without there being yelling and arguing. I distanced myself from my family. I became disgusted with what drugs had become in my life.
During this period of my life, my oldest daughter was raped and murdered. I was angry and sad, which made me isolate more. My drug use got worse and I was at the point of no return. My son was removed from the home, but my twins stayed with me.
My children's grandmother moved away, so it was just me, the children, and my boyfriend. Everything that my children's grandmother had worked so hard to keep together, was gone. When she moved out, other people moved in and they were drug addicts.
I did not really care about anything because of the overwhelming tragedy that I had in my life and I wanted to give up. No amount of drugs were going to help the pain that I was in after the death of my daughter. I felt alone and trapped. I used drugs.
I don't know how my children and I survived through the madness. I wanted to change my life, but I did not know how. The father of my children sought help, but I stayed out for six more months, using everything under the sun. I lied, stole, and manipulated in a vicious cycle, over and over again. The father left in the spring.
On October 27, 1998, I made my decision to do something different. I took my twins, turned them over to DYFS and asked for help. I needed to get my health back. My heart had failed in 1995, landing me in ICU for thirteen days. So, in remembering that part of my addiction, I told them my heart was hurting. Actually, my heart was hurting because I did not want to use drugs again.
I told the DYFS worker that I would do whatever she told me to do in order to stay clean. I remember people talking about Blind Faith. I wanted to go straight to a rehab, but they made me go home before I could enter a rehab. I went to meetings and I stayed clean. My brother helped me by telling me that he had faith that I could do it.
November 11, 1998, was my turning point when I was in a rehab and H & I came into my life. I was defiant, loud and vulgar. There was a woman who came to speak. She was happy and telling her story with a smile. She told us that out of the 36 people in the room, only one would be successful at getting and remaining clean. I decided at that moment that I would be that one.
I never wanted to speak about my daughter's death, but a Counselor made me talk about it. She said that I HAD to talk about it. I think that fear was one of the reasons why I used.
I stayed 38 days in the 28-day program and got into a recovery house. They discharged me because I would not fully open up. I did not want to talk about my daughter's death.
I had to move back to Newark and stayed at my brother's house with his six children. My children's father would come spend weekends with me. I was not happy and I was getting anxious. I did not know what I was feeling. My brother-in-law had eleven years clean and started using.
I wanted help. I called a Halfway House three times before I finally spoke to someone who understood. I was told to come in for an interview. Somebody cared! I was accepted at a Halfway House and my recovery began again. I learned so much in that House that I never realized at the time, but it stuck with me. It was an awesome program.
I got a therapeutic discharge and moved to a directional home. I learned that things that made me use in the past should not be things that would make me use again. I called the program a MIRACLE! I did everything the NA program suggested. I far exceeded 90 meetings in 90 days. I was told to keep coming back, and I did. Life is not always easy, but, today, I have a great relationship with my Sponsor who helps me through it.
My twins are now back with me and they are a joy. I have met wonderful people who care about me. People even miss me when I do not go to a meeting! Just for myself, I am living life on life's terms now. I am paying my own way and paying my bills.
I know that the God of my understanding will take care of me. My willingness lies within my heart. I have celebrated three years clean. On October 27, 2002, I will celebrate four years clean. I never thought I could spend a birthday clean. It is because I remain open and willing to do whatever I have to do to stay clean.
Recovery is wonderful and I would not trade it for anything in the world. Thanks for listening. Pam.