The questions I had pondered my entire life were “can I really be happy?” and “will I ever be able to live in my own skin?
” I marveled at such questions since I was a little girl up until the ripe age of 21.
More than ever there was a need to be like the average child, the average cocky teenage girl, or even the average temperate drug user.
The ingredients of being sober included severe consequences of not getting what I wanted in the moment and more importantly, waking up in the morning to handle life on life’s terms.
From hiding under a bed dreading about going to school, to living on the streets of Sepulveda in clothes I hadn’t washed in two weeks, there was one thing in common: I could not face reality.
The delusional state of just stagnantly breathing became surviving daily life with grace, dignity, and honesty.
Today, my drive to survive consists of what I went through, what changed during the process, and what my life looks like as of now.
I remember my innocent age of 13 years old before I had any illegal drugs in my system. As I sit here and reminisce on the past, I wish I took childhood more seriously.
My grandparents and my mother raised me in a big house. I attended private school and I always had food on the table. We even had a Golden Retriever named Shadow.
From doctors to ADD testing facilities, I grew up with the mindset that a pill could fix anything.
By the age of fourteen, I was on almost every prescription medicine for ADD, ADHD, and depression including Adderall, Vyvance, Zolft, and Prozac.
Despite the pleasing hand I was dealt, I couldn’t see past the fear and frustration of being a shy “no one”.
When I attended middle and high school, I was bullied quite a bit for being the weird ugly girl with a shy personality and oversized clothes.
My fearfulness led me to a deep resolution to not eat in front of people. The reason of starvation stemmed from being overly self-conscious with a self-esteem that was purely nonexistent.
The fear manifested and the unrealistic expectations of how I felt others should act etched a carving that splintered into the skin of who came into contact with me.
The twisted perception I had at that age led to the predestined solution and destruction of drugs and alcohol.
When I turned 15 years old, marijuana was discovered. Weed went from a fun and alleviating drug to a dependence that ultimately started me down a long road of desperation.
Weed was accepted in my family, but if only they knew where this simple recreational drug would take me. After inhaling the mesmerizing smoke, I wanted to meet the man with the miraculous plant.
I made it a goal to try to take some home with me and soon after that I was smoking and selling large quantities of green.
Nothing else in life was important until I physically had the plant in my possession. Eventually marijuana stopped treating my disease and I needed something much more potent.
I was introduced to a 27 year old man one night through Facebook and the last thing I expected doing was getting introduced to heroin. At first he didn’t want me know he was an addict.
He hid it from me, but when I saw his eyes watering and him sneezing and slipping into the night to hunt for the dealers, I knew there was something drastically wrong.
I could smell the odor of burning tar slip through his clothes and soon enough I was standing up trying not to collapse. I married heroin that night and we stayed together for four years.
I was now 20 years old and the drugs had led me to a point of being spiritually, emotionally and physically broken. The consistent need for something was getting old and I was exhausted.
Every single morning I would have to pick up a straw and smoke dope until I was well enough to pick myself out of bed.
The bathroom was next as I needed to throw up from the stomach bile that collected in my belly from the night before. My brain felt like it was deteriorating.
I started having emotional outbursts with those around me when I didn’t get my way or my money or my drugs. I was still living at home at the time.
My mother and grandparents did not want to kick me out because they thought they could prevent an overdose if I stayed at home; however,
this still had a place in the earth to plant me if an accident did happen. Those around me were turned off by my negative behavior and I was quickly losing all those who cared about me.
After a while I started getting sick of being sick and tired, but the drug use did not stop.
I never thought I would end up in jail but shortly enough, I did. After my first night in jail, anything was believable.
I had gone off the deep end and I couldn’t wait to get out so I could get high yet, once again. Van Nuys Jail was freezing, smelly, and stale.
The deputies always burned the food in the microwave and the beds were as hard as stone. The women were quite inspiring especially the one young girl I met.
She had cut her husband up with an ax. She ended up giving me her shirt to keep me warm while I was kicking heroin.
I can recall kicking the metal bunk beds as hard as I could at 4 am in the morning, praying to a God I didn’t know existed.
After six days I was released and I went back to the only love I knew, my dope.
As soon as I finally got kicked out of my house after multiple threats to stop, Sepulveda Boulevard was not far from where I lived.
The Boulevard was corrupted with a false assumption of security and people who sold drugs. I was motivated to go to any length to get my dope.
I can vaguely recall driving around scary men for drugs. I would rotate from living in my car and waking up in cockroach ridden motel rooms.
I even awoke one night to realize my social security card and license were stolen. The month I was on the streets had me feeling the lowest I had ever felt.
I didn’t know how to say no and therefore, I couldn’t stop inhaling substances. I just wanted a safe place to stay and I felt I needed to be told what to do.
After a three day drug using free for all, I felt like I needed help. For the first time I admitted defeat in the means that I couldn’t do this by myself.
I literally felt insanity rise up in me like a bird taking flight for the first time. I admitted myself into Kaiser hospital and they directed me to a downtown mental institution.
For seven days I was locked in with the real crazies. There was a lady I was housed with who would open up the Bible by her bed, pick a page, and make it a mission to follow whatever it said.
She would say a Wiccan prayer every time she did this process. It was a miracle that I lasted those seven days as I felt as if I was turning into one of those people.
After sobering up, the self-realization set in that I was just a drug addict. The doors of the institution opened up and I awoke from the casket I was set in.
I could now see the freedom awaiting me in the horizon.
The first step of the healing process was to admit complete defeat of everything I thought I had control over.
I had a moment of clarity meaning that this life I was living was not definite and that there was a solution. When I would walk into meeting halls, I would see people smiling and laughing.
I just wanted to be like them. The introduction of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings spawned a foundation based off of a solution and other people striving to achieve a better life.
There were content homeless people, business people, lawyers, mothers, fathers and even children in these meetings.
Now, I would never mingle with a vast amount of these people outside these meeting halls, but one thing in common kept us together in perfect harmony.
That one perfect thing was the solution that rid us of the obsession. I kept hearing the 12 steps echo around the halls and I decided to give it a try.
A sponsor guided me and now I guide other women with the same tools that were taught to me: helping others is my newfound freedom.
The selfish, self-seeking, inconsiderate, dishonest and fearful behavior escaped me and the serenity rose out of my pale white skin.
I now take women through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in which has instilled in me a new pursuit of survival. The women I have helped needed to survive as I have and so we walk together.
My family welcomes me into their house to this day. I even have a key to the house so I can let myself in when they are not there.
My family brags about me wherever they go and they are so proud of me. The relationship I have with them now is simply remarkable.
My sobriety date is July 1st, 2015. I am now a secure 24-year-old woman who is capable of surviving life on life’s terms.
The struggles that I have encountered leading up to now have shaped my inner core. I can now see the other side of the many hardships that come up in my daily existence.
I never thought it be possible to get sober and be happy. I also did not think that getting sober would put me into a state of happiness.
I stay in the present now and I do not dwell in the future or the past. The problems that I encounter are much smaller than they used to be.
The thought to use has not sprung up since I admitted defeat. As Malcolm X admitted, “. . . I never had been so truly free in my life” (144).
The idea that everything happens for a reason has been ingrained in me and each trial and tribulation that is endured increases me strength and my drive to survive.