THIS MONTH'S GUEST SPEAKER: "Toni"
Originally posted on Dec. 2010(The author retains all rights to this material)
I ALWAYS FELT LIKE I NEVER BELONGED
Hi, my name is Toni and I am an addict. I always felt like I never belonged….right from the age of 3 or 4 on up through adulthood. I was a shy, self-conscious little girl that grew into an insecure depressed adult with very low self-esteem who began to use drugs at the age of 16. When I used drugs I felt prettier, more self-confident, and more alive than ever before. I felt like I now had a personality whereas without the drugs I felt boring, like why would anyone want to ever talk to me?
I grew up in an upper middle class household in the suburbs with parents who were happily married for 50 years, the middle child of two brothers. I had what I would call a “normal” upbringing. My mother was, and still is, a very attractive woman and next to her I always felt ugly and fat. Mom was always thin and beautiful. I felt that I could never live up to her expectations for me to also be thin and popular like she was when she grew up. I think this just added to my feelings of inferiority and awkwardness around people.
I was married twice, had two children, and kept using to feel “normal.” I blamed everybody for everything that happened in my life over a 30 year period. It started with blaming my mother for what I had become, I thought, mistakenly, that she should have loved me more. I blamed my husband of 23 years for everything that I thought was wrong in my life; our financial woes, my having to work shortly after our daughter was born, on and on. He became the scapegoat.
As time went on I became chronically depressed. I went to numerous psychiatrists and therapists for help when all along it was the drugs that were making me crazier and crazier. I sought out the local Rabbi in our town thinking he could give me answers … never telling him I was an addict. I was detoxed a few times by my neurologist in New York only to use within days of going home.
My entire life was centered on getting and using drugs. I had lived this way for over 30 years. I truly never thought that it was possible to stop using drugs. I was resigned to a life of misery, lying, cheating, depression, and by the end of the road, wanting to just walk into the ocean and never come out. My thinking was so self-centered from using. I only thought about myself. I never thought about my parents, my kids, my husband, or my former friends whom I had deserted. I would have done anything to get more drugs and not feel the pain of withdrawal. At the end of my addiction I was confined to a life of getting high before work, during work, running home for my lunchtime fix, and rushing home after work to use once again until I would just pass out in bed.
The year was 2006…I had overdosed a few times and still thought I could handle drugs until I picked up the one drug that sent me over the edge mentally and financially, oxycontin. I was hooked immediately, and spent the next three months pursuing that drug. I stopped paying the mortgage, the bills, and became all consumed with the getting and using of drugs. In December I was with my daughter at her doctor appointment when the doctor called me in and said to me, “I can no longer help your daughter with her depression unless you get help.” She then gave me the name and number of a detox facility which I called as soon as I got home. I thought, finally, there might be an end to this life of hell. That was the first time I thought maybe I don’t have to live this way. I knew if I continued I would surely die.
One week later I was admitted and what a relief! I felt like I was finally with people and in an environment where I belonged! NA meetings were brought into the facility daily and for the first time I had hope. I was determined to try and work this 100% when I got out, so I did whatever they told me to do including going to a meeting the day I was discharged. The next day I got a Sponsor whom I called at least once a day. I attended more than 90 meetings in 90 days and also went to an Intensive Outpatient Program 3 days a week for many months. I gradually built up a network of women whom I could call daily and talk to about whatever was going on in my life. Once I had 90 days clean I joined Hospitals and Institutions and brought meetings into facilities such as rehabs and jails for over the next 3 years. I have always had commitments and a home group. I continue to talk to my Sponsor daily, attend many meetings weekly, have commitments, and just for today place my recovery above anything else that is happening in my life. Learning how to live life on life’s terms without the use of drugs is not easy…but I truly believe that with a Higher Power in my life today I can continue on the road to recovery one day at a time. If I could lose the obsession to use and find a better way of life, for today, I know that it can and will work for anyone with the true desire to find a new way to live without the use of drugs.