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Introduction to My Story
I used to be ashamed of my story, but it’s been a long time since I was able to tell it with such confidence. My incredible story of overcoming addiction begins with the truth. The truth is that for over 10 years, I was addicted to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism for special needs parenting. It felt like the weight of the world was upon my shoulders: I had to be constantly on the alert and worrying about my child, feeling like there wasn’t anyone out there who could understand what I was going through. Because of my addiction, I ended up divorced and distanced from my kids.
My biggest regret in life was using drugs while my children were growing up. Not only did I put myself and my kids in a situation that could have resulted in tragedy, but I was also living with the constant guilt of removing myself from their lives. To keep them safe, I had to distance myself so that they could remain protected from the chaos of my addiction, yet this created an even greater sense of shame and dishonesty. I never knew how to end this destructive habit; all I wanted was to obtain a feeling of relief for a few moments, only to find myself unable to come back out. It quickly became an endless cycle of build-up and destruction that consumed me and felt like there was no escape in sight.
When I was in the midst of my dark period of destructive addictions, it seemed that there was little hope for me. Then I met Walter – the love of my life. We were married within just a few months and it was the happiest time I had ever known. Unfortunately, our bliss did not last as we soon learned that Walter had pancreatic cancer and he only lived for four more years. Despite this, my family embraced him with so much love and kindness and he proved to be the driving force to help me get clean. With his influence, understanding and unconditional love, together we were able to create a supportive environment for my kids to grow up in. He played an invaluable part in our lives and may have gone too soon but will never be forgotten.
But when my beloved husband passed away in 2019, I finally reached an emotional rock bottom. That’s when I knew it was time to make some drastic changes in my life and look within – possibly for the first time – in order to start loving myself again. Thankfully, by seeking counseling and support from family members, I’ve made it through this storm and am finally able to tell my story fearlessly.
Background on Life Before the Struggles Began
Before life became overwhelmingly difficult, I was blessed to have three beautiful children and a successful nursing career. While the arrival of my eldest two was quick and smooth sailing, my third would challenge me in ways that I couldn’t have anticipated. She was born 13 weeks early and came into this world with some health concerns of her own; however, that only made our bond as mother and daughter all the stronger. Despite the overwhelming struggle of everything else I felt like I had achieved what every woman dreams of – a job that is meaningful, children who are healthy and happy, and a husband by my side who supported me every step of the way. It wasn’t until later down the road when those struggles began to show themselves that life started to unravel, but knowing what utter joy it felt like living in the present moment taught me invaluable lessons about determination and resilience.
Before my struggles began, life was already full and intense. I had two very bright children who of course required tailored education to maximize their potential and I also had a young infant born with lung disease and mild cerebral palsy – yet despite the major medical issues he faced, he brought so much joy to our family. With three kids by age 25 and difficulties arising from Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression, and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, am I overwhelmed? Yes – but it was my greatest pleasure to be a mom!
Description of the Addiction That I Faced
Addiction is a powerful force, one that I experienced firsthand. I have exposed to narcotics thanks to a long-time friend and then met my biological family and my older sister, who was also struggling with an addiction. From there it only got harder for me; I became so entrenched in this world that I had no idea how to break away from it. It seemed like I was managing to keep things hidden from people close to me, but unfortunately, they noticed something had changed when I was no longer able to control the craving. In hindsight, what began as an innocent curiosity quickly spiraled into a full-blown addiction.
Details of How it Impacted my Family and Personal Relationships
My downward spiral into opiate addiction had a devastating effect on my family and personal relationships. Friends distanced themselves, feeling uncomfortable discussing the topic with me. Family members were hurt and disappointed in my choice to turn to drugs for comfort, which only pushed the people I loved farther away from me. But it was the innocent words of my youngest child that cut the deepest in terms of understanding the impact it had on those closest to me. One day, seeing how weak I had become due to my drug abuse, he sadly looked up at me and said “Mom, I know I may die before you, but now I think you might die before I do.” His words alone ignited a fire in me that shifted my perspective and motivated me to seek true healing and change for my family’s sake.
Going to Rehab
Going to rehab for two months was one of the toughest decisions I had ever made. It didn’t help that the treatment facility was seven hours away, putting an even greater strain on my family and loved ones. They supported me throughout the entire process, though, and I emerged feeling like a new person, committed to continuing my recovery in sobriety. Unfortunately, upon returning home, I found that my old triggers were harder to ignore than anticipated, and my willpower soon eroded under the strain of my vices. Nevertheless, even though the successful treatment didn’t last long-term I still appreciate what it gave me: a space to reset myself and make real progress in fighting addiction.
A Divorce and Down A Dark Addicted Path
After going through a difficult divorce, I fell into an addiction filled with years of not making the best decisions and trying every substance the streets had to offer me. Much to my surprise, Walter came into my life as my husband and newfound savior. Not only did he help me become sober, but he also showed me that I can still find joy in life without relying on unhealthy practices. He taught me how to value myself and gave me hope for the future. His unconditional love reassured me that there is still happiness out there if I am willing to keep fighting for it. I feel truly blessed to have met such an amazing individual like Walter, who has willingly devoted himself to restoring my lost faith in the world around me.
Life after Addiction: Losing my Husband
The loss of my beloved husband Walter was a painful blow to me, but in a way, it was the wake-up call that I desperately needed. While initially, I thought the void he left behind could only be filled by turning again to drugs and alcohol, as time passed, I realized that continuing with this downward spiral would only mean I’d end up following him too soon. It was then that I knew that only through help could I make sure his death would not be in vain. So, after mustering all the courage at my disposal, I set on a life-changing path by showing up at my addictionologist’s office and demanding entrance into the medication program. Much to my surprise, he made room for me and since then, it’s been an uphill battle towards sobriety – one which today has been thankfully crowned with incredible success.
Loneliness Almost Killed Me
After Walter’s death, I think that I wanted to find companionship to fill the void. Unwittingly, I found myself in an abusive situation and barely escaped with my life intact. After that harrowing experience, I now choose to live a content and solitary existence with my two cats. I derive joy from different aspects of my life: quiet nights watching movies on the couch with my cats, weekend hikes out in nature, or lunch dates with friends. Life after addiction isn’t always easy but it can still be beautiful – if you change your mindset and make conscious choices to live intentionally and purposefully every single day.
The Medical Struggles I Faced
Two years into my sobriety, I was struck by an intense medical issue. I had osteomyelitis – a bone infection – in my clavicle, first rib, and sternum. MRSA had made its way through my body and forced me to go through 4 major open chest surgeries to extract the infected bone, sending me to the hospital for months at a time in a fight against sepsis from MRSA. My doctors were running out of options and had to use one of the strongest antibiotics available which left me with harsh side effects. During my entire struggle, I managed to remain strong by refusing narcotics – something I never would have been able to do during my addiction. When there was no other choice for treatment, I accepted them but this time around handled them properly due to my newfound strength and dedication to getting better. I may have horrendous scars from the surgery, but I had newfound faith in myself, helping heal old emotional scars.
Coping with the Loss of a Spouse
After what has seemed like an eternity, I have finally been able to break free of the bonds of addiction. I have gotten a fresh start and have a unique opportunity to create meaningful relationships with the people who meant the most to me, particularly my kids. But it’s hard. After all, that’s happened, it’s probably been a long time since my kids will have seen that side of me. My late husband Walter was always all about family, and his spirit pushes me forward in my goal of reconciling with them. It is going to take patience, courage, and resilience on my part – qualities that I never knew I had until this process began. Even though things may seem daunting and challenging at times, despite the pain I still carry from having lost Walter, remaining steadfast on this road is how I can honor him and prove in his absence that his values of love, commitment, and unity still live in our hearts.
Re-Building my Life After Grief
Now is the time for me to move forward. Life after my addiction and grief may be challenging, but by rebuilding it slowly with determination and compassion, I will become stronger in the end. My goals are set on creating a better future for myself, finding joy in my relationships, pursuing a meaningful career, and improving upon my physical and mental health – it sometimes feels like an uphill battle but I’m up for the challenge. Taking active steps forward towards making positive change has opened up doors of opportunity that before were unknown. Dealing with sobriety, as well as facing fears and anxieties head-on is allowing me to realize many of my aspirations that have been previously out of reach. I know that although life won’t ever be the same without my beloved husband, it is still worth living and striving to make it even more than what it was before – that is my new mission in life.
Learning to Love Myself Again
Life after addiction can be a daunting journey, however, I am attempting to use it as an opportunity to love myself again. As part of my mission, I have started this website and blog in the hope that I could help those who are currently struggling with addiction and mental health issues. I also want to help special needs parents in any way that I can. Through this website and blog, I hope to share my nursing knowledge so that it can help others. Learning to love myself again has been challenging but I feel determined to use my knowledge and experience as a way back to self-love and acceptance.
Taking Care of My Mental Health
Life after addiction is full of possibilities, but having a strong foundation of mental health is an essential part of the journey. Aside from abstaining from unhealthy substances, I understand that taking charge of my mental health is necessary to avoid slipping back into addiction or associated depressive states. If I want to be successful on my post-addiction path, regular self-care and mindfulness are key skills to maintain control of my thoughts and emotions. Visualizing goals and setting a plan of action to achieve them helps stay grounded and focused when times feel tough. It’s also important to find support systems for people who understand the struggles that come with life after addiction. Taking charge of my mental health is an important step towards living a more fulfilling life free from addiction.
Building New Relationships and Connections
Life after addiction can be difficult but also liberating. After overcoming addiction, it took me a while to realize that I had to cut off old relationships that were formerly tied to my unhealthy lifestyle in order to stay on the right track. With that realization came new changes – I moved back to my hometown and started fresh in my own home with my two beloved cats. Along the way I have made several new connections and relationships – some of which are like family now – that are nourishing and rewarding rather than destructive. There is no doubt about it, life has taken an incredible turn for the better since overcoming addiction and it’s been a journey worth taking.
Moving Forward: Reconnecting With My Kids
My love for my children is unconditional, yet I feel completely broken. I have made so many mistakes in life and I regret the way that I have hurt my kids. My heart aches for the time I spent away from them and all of the moments we missed out on together. No amount of words can describe what depths of sorrow I am in for all that has passed. While it may seem daunting to reach out to them now, I find hope in knowing that each day brings us closer together and gives me a chance to make up for a lost time. And just today, my thoughts are especially with my middle child, who is celebrating their 28th birthday – Happy Birthday Bri! You will always be in my heart.
Understanding Their Feelings and Struggles
Coming out of addiction isn’t easy, and the process of rebuilding my life and the trust of my family has been the biggest challenge I have ever faced. As a mother, nothing was more heartbreaking than realizing that my oldest son hated me for what I had put them through. Despite this, I hope that he can overcome his bitterness and eventually see all the love that I have to offer him. Over time, with effort and determination on both sides, I’ve been blessed to reconnect with my other two children as well. Watching them grow into such amazing people fills me with an immense sense of pride – but added to that is a deep sadness at not having been able to participate in their lives due to my actions. Today, I want nothing more than to be an active part of their lives – now even more than before because of the experiences we shared overcoming my addiction and its related setbacks.
Making an Effort to Repair Our Relationship
Starting a new life after addiction can be daunting, especially when it comes to repairing relationships with my kids. While I cannot undo the past and the hurt that this has possibly caused them, I can take action to rebuild the trust they once had in me. I have started by making sure that I stay on my medication and make regular appointments with my addiction doctor to ensure that stay clean. Furthermore, I am committed to forming a deeper understanding of their experience by actively listening to their stories, validating their feelings, and showing patience for as long as it takes for us to get back on track. Above all else, I’m dedicated to taking continual steps towards rebuilding our relationship so that one day we might trust each other again like before.
Conclusion: Reflections on Starting Over Again after Life’s Struggles
Life after addiction has been hard but in some ways, it has also been a blessing. Although I sometimes look back on the struggle to get here with a hint of nostalgia, I wouldn’t change a thing as hindsight is 20/20. I have accomplished more than I ever thought was possible and I can honestly say it feels good to be walking down this path. Not only have I gained a sense of stability and direction, but overcoming addiction allows me to offer my children an example of strength and perseverance despite life’s rocky road. After almost four years without opiates, progress continues with proper medication and the guidance of an understanding doctor. It’s surreal to think about all of the things that I have managed to accomplish since getting sober, yet what matters most is giving strength to those who continue their struggle each day until they find a way forward and start over again.
The Best Explanation of Addiction I’ve Ever Heard – Dr. Gabor Maté
Setting New Goals for the Future
Recovering from addiction is a long and difficult process, but it is also immensely rewarding. Deciding to turn one’s life around after addiction and begin looking ahead to a brighter, healthier future requires tremendous strength and courage. An important part of making this transition is setting new, achievable goals for the future. For myself, these goals involve focusing on positive activities such as working on this blog through which I can help others who are recovering from addiction as well. With this in mind, I am determined that life after addiction will be better than ever before – with exciting opportunities and new beginnings just around the corner.
Encouraging Others Who Are Going Through Similar Struggles
Living with addiction can be an overwhelming and life-altering experience. It can take a long time to truly break the cycle of addiction and move on in your recovery journey, but it’s important to stay positive even when the going gets tough. For those who have made progress in ending their addictions, there is no higher calling than giving back by encouraging others who are going through similar struggles.
Sharing personal stories, offering support, and providing resources are just a few of the ways that recovering addicts can play an active role in helping others. By taking the time to reach out to those still stuck in the treacherous grip of addiction, we can foster a sense of hope that can ultimately pave the way for meaningful change. I would love to hear your story. Please comment below. For help with addiction, go to The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
For more, read The Top 17 TED Talks For Anxiety and 25 Best Websites for Mental Health for Kids and Adults. I talk about losing my husband in Grief: The Day Cancer Took “My Walnut” Away.