The gift of desperation is a beautiful thing. How you gain it is another story. My life has never been a fairy tale but I can say I was blessed with a large family that loved me from day one the best they knew how. I was the first child and grandchild so to say I was spoiled rotten and doted on was an understatement. I always knew I was loved and never wanted for anything. No matter what was going on I always knew my family was a phone call away for anything. At age 19, I started working in an emergency room as a registrar where I met my future husband. Two years later we were married with a baby boy on the way. I continued my career, becoming an insurance specialist for a group of surgeons in Decatur, as well as my husband and I buying our very first home. I enjoyed being a wife and mommy and loved working in the medical field. At age twenty-five I learned a back condition had my whole life was getting much worse and my boss recommended a procedure he assisted with on a regular basis. So at twenty-five I scheduled a serious back surgery, and got sent to a pain clinic. I was immediately written a huge prescription for heavy narcotics without the blink of an eye. This would be the beginning.
Six months later and I was still working, but highly addicted to pain medication and taking more than prescribed. I have the surgery and a few months later the Doctor tries to lower my dose. I begin running out of pills too soon and in a panic reach out to an old “friend” who I knew might know a thing or two about finding pain pills. Turns out he knew more about just pain pills, I was introduced to my new best friend heroin. I had intended to just use it when I ran out of pills but I failed my drug test at the pain clinic, so I was dismissed as a patient and heroin was all I had left. No one ever spoke the word addiction to me or talked to me about getting help. I just knew I was sick without narcotics in my system and that I couldn’t tell my husband or my sweet loving family. My use quickly escalated and I was introduced to the needle. I was shooting up in the bathroom at work on breaks and I tried to go home and play mommy to my toddler for a while but that quickly was traded to everyday evening trips to the Bluff by myself. I am a very short tiny white female but I never thought twice about walking into a trap house full of men or what could happen to me. Heroin was all that mattered. I was a “functioning” addict for another year until I was hospitalized from a staph infection in my face and jaw for two weeks from my IV heroin use and picking at my skin. I also was bleeding out from infected stomach ulcers and had to have emergency surgery to stop the bleeding, while my face and neck were extremely swollen. At this point, my family finally knew I was using drugs and did their best at an intervention—either I go to treatment or they would have no contact with me including my husband; I wouldn’t have so much as a ride home from the hospital. I reluctantly went to please them but wasn’t ready. The gift was still there, but I still wasn’t ready yet. I couldn’t even complete the 30 day program and had a stranger pick me up. I came home to an empty house as my son and husband were staying with family while I was away. I took full advantage of it. That began the parade of strangers through my beautiful home and destruction set in. I started drinking every day and was stuck at my house, since I had wrecked my car high on heroin right before I was hospitalized. I was jobless and had no money for food and no way to get to the grocery store. My parents came by to try to reason with me and get me some help, but I was having no part of it. I wouldn’t see or talk to them for nine more months. The hardworking independent woman they had raised me to be was gone, getting high was my number one priority in life. I had given up. Along with many faces of people that used my house to do drugs in, meth came into the picture. I then became an IV meth user and any sanity I had left was gone. I didn’t care I couldn’t talk to or see my son. I didn’t care I was served with divorce papers. I didn’t care the new men I surrounded myself with were physically abusive at times. I especially didn’t care when all the utilities were shut off at the house when it was freezing outside as long as I had my drugs. I had no winter clothes that would fit me and no money to buy any food. Strangers were squatting at my house, stealing anything I had left of value and trashing the house in the process. I spent Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Christmas alone for the first time in my life. I remember laying in my room shivering and crying looking at a picture of my son and wanting to die. Death had to be better that the lonely paranoid hell I was living.
At the end of January 2016, I was evicted from my home by my husband. I was too high to show up for a divorce hearing at court so the Judge granted sole custody of our son to his father. My family was there for this process and begged me to go to treatment. I accepted a warm meal and some toiletries, but declined the offer. I decided to live with my friend who sold drugs out of his car instead. The gift was almost there. I only lasted a week before my meth induced paranoia forced me to have my friend drop me and all my belongings off in a Walmart parking lot at 11:20 pm on a week night. I finally called and told my family I was ready. God wanted to make sure I was extra ready though. I had to make a detour to Gwinnett County jail for 45 long horrible days for a probation violation. I quickly learned I could never make it in jail and knew I was done. My family reached out for guidance and found out about the Women’s Extension. I came straight from jail and walked in a hot terrified mess March 24, 2016. I expected to be able to learn to live clean and sober without having to use drugs and alcohol daily, but the gift I have been given here was so much more than that. I thought I had been a victim of my back injury, of the doctors who prescribed me the pain pills and once I detoxed I would be instantly fixed.
I thank God for everything The Extension has taught me! After being here for a year and receiving weekly counseling sessions along with the groups and meetings that have been available to me, I now know the drugs were only a symptom of what was really going on with me. I have done painful, yet lifesaving work here and am a completely different person. Today, I am a loving mother who is present for her son. I got to read to his kindergarten class last month. I attended his t-ball games with a shirt that proudly says “Julian’s Mom” on the back. I co-parent with my soon to be ex-husband who I can today call my friend. I work a full time job and just signed a lease on a townhouse with one of my sisters from The Extension. And one of the best blessings has been the love and support I again have from my family. Once I was broken and willing to do whatever it took, I let the Women’s Extension love me until I could love myself…. and today I sure do.