"You know I hate when you just stand there and stare at me," my husband said from the couch, barely looking up from his video game. "Yeah, but I married you, which means that I get to stare at you whenever I want,"  I replied as a mildly defeated, sort of smug smile formed on his face. I had a habit of staring at him at random times, without actually saying a word to him. He hated it. I think he thought a stare from a woman meant a fight was about to ensue, but this just wasn't one of those things. I stared at him like a child stares at the gates of Disneyland the first time they see them. Pure amazement. Because having someone marry me, especially someone who was a good person, happened to be the high school love of my life, and cared about my children and I equally—was not something that was always realistic for me. In fact, being a woman with anything to offer another human being was a recently new development. Because five years ago, I was useless, helpless, and dying. Because five years ago, I was an active addict. I'd like to say that it was my grandmother's death, my mother's battle with cancer, my emotionally troubled childhood, or my failing out of my first semester of college that propelled my journey into darkness, but the truth is that the signs were there since childhood. I was always a little chubby,  because I loved food and found comfort in it. Next was love. I loved love, and felt pain when I was alone. Next was t.v.  I would find myself obsessing about the news, or crime documentaries, or the end of the world, to the point where my family thought I was crazy. As I made my way through high school, I found other obsessions; partying, shopping, and driving too fast down empty back roads in an attempt to fill the growing void in me. I followed these vices, especially the partying, through my late teens, eventually finding pills. It was a summer day, I woke up late in the afternoon, something that was happening more and more often lately.  I remembered that someone had given me a pill the night before. “It’s a Perc 15,” they had told me. Just like any other day, I took a shower, had coffee, and on this day, I took this Percocet, like it was Tylenol... like it was no big deal, like it didn’t hold the power to change the course of my entire life.

Instantly - it felt like a flash of lighting, or a scene change in a movie.

I soon found myself waking up in the morning and thinking about pills before anything else. I would look at my phone to figure out where I could get them, debate on whether or not I'd have time before work or if I had enough money to get some. It happened so quickly. My family members had struggled with alcoholism before, but this was something I didn’t recognize. I remember telling myself, “This has to be the last time. This has to be it,” about a million times. I wasn’t this person. I was from a small town, a town where you could get grains for your chickens, breakfast, and stop at the pharmacy, and still be within the same mile. Only people raised in cities were like this. This didn’t happen here. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I got caught in a time where pills had just started their true surge into our small town. My downward spiral from that ordinary day when I took my first pill happened quickly. For as many times as I thought I had control, or that everything was fine, there were twice as many times that I couldn’t get out of bed, thought I would die from this sickness, and thought that I would be alone when they did eventually take me. In a two year span—I stole, destroyed relationships with people I loved, ruined trust, ruined essential facets of my life, sold possessions, and lost everything else. The amount of pills I needed to function multiplied, day after day, until I hit a wall, and nothing helped the sick feeling that came with the morning sun. I made bad choice after bad choice. I found myself in a hole that took two years to make—but that five years later, I'm still seeing the affects of. Then came that cold morning in November, when everything changed. My first, and only love came back into my life through a simple text message. He came to my apartment to pick my daughter and I up and take us out. After strapping her car seat into his car, he buckled her in, shut her door, and looked up at me with a concerned look on his face, "You look exhausted." I was. I was so tired... I was so worn out. I spent so much time getting ready for him to see me - and he saw right through it.  He saw the pain, and the exhaustion, the life that I had tried build out of nothing. He also saw past that, to the person he knew years before. It was that day—in the driveway of my old apartment—that I decided enough was enough. Within a few months, he and my father moved me out of that apartment and over the next year, two of the greatest men I’ve ever known stood by me while I slowly put the basic pieces of my life together. Being a veteran of the Army, my fiance was tough, and he taught me how to toughen up. He called me out on every excuse that I made, and helped me rewire the part of my brain that I thought I would never change—my impulse to live by lying. I would love to say that was all it took, a miracle meeting of two hearts to change my path, and that this was how it ended, but it wouldn't be that easy, and there was much more work left to do. I started on a maintenance program, and through the next year, learned how to be accountable again. I found local Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and slowly worked the steps on my own. I never really found a sponsor, but instead I found a job that I loved working with my future husband. My boss happened to be an amazing and understanding man, who saw my potential, expected a lot from me, and yelled at me when I needed it like I was his daughter. I made amends to people around me, but instead of using words to do this, I let my actions speak for me. I woke up in the morning and got my daughter to school on time; I made plans with people, and I kept those plans. I went to meetings, I kept my house clean, and I learned how to be an adult. It took a while, but eventually people saw the change in me and I had an overwhelming sense of responsibility to never disappoint them again. Around the same time I was going through my journey, my brother was on a parallel path. Together, we fought separate but equal battles to make it to the other side alive and well...by the grace of a power greater than ourselves, and the support of our loving family, both of us made it. It’s been three years since I first felt the feeling of a healthy, mind, body, and spirit again. In these three years, I’ve had a second beautiful daughter, and married the only love my life ever knew. We got married on top of a mountain, with our two daughters by our side, surrounded by everyone we love and on that day, it was pouring rain.  We took that as a sign of good luck. Each and every morning when I wake up, I think about how lucky I am. My life could have been so different. Sometimes, my husband still struggles with my past, with a battle he thinks I shouldn't have had to fight, but I’ve learned to live without regretting mistakes, despite the struggles that we still face because of them. If it wasn't for that battle, I wouldn't be here today. I wouldn't have the strength and understanding I need to get through the day and I wouldn't have the compassion or direction I need to pursue my dream of being an addiction counselor. Without that battle, I wouldn't have the gratitude to know that every day holds a gift. And that gratitude—the idea of being grateful, always in all ways—makes every moment worth it, and gives me joy that comes each and every day with the morning sun...   Untitled design


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12 replies to Jessica’s Story – Recovering Beautifully.
  1. Congrats Jessica!
    Your story is amazing and speaks volumes to me. I have been clean from pills (norco and percs) for 3 months. I was an addict for almost 5 years. After losing everything and being tired of going through the miserable withdrawals I to decided to start a matinence program. It has been one of the best desicions for me and my family. It has and still is a long road ahead, but your story comforts me in knowing that it will get better. Thank you so much for sharing!


  2. Sister….you ….are…..AMAZING!!!! What a journey you have had. What a beautiful life you have now. You my dear are an inspiration and a beautiful soul.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story… The struggles are real.. I have been totally clean for two months now .. never
    never thought I could do it.. I am 58 and have been an addict since the age of 15 .. I have totally surrender.. I also was on a methadone program years ago for three years.. 10 years ago was on subboxen program for 5 years… I suggest that you do what you need to do to stay clean.. I have two daughters that both are on programs.. don’t beat yourself up.. one day at a time.. you have a beautiful story… my best wishes to you and your family!?

  4. It’s a horrible epidemic affecting so many. I come from a long line of addicts including myself and I pray everyday that my children never have to experience the horrors of this disease. It is people like you who share honestly that bring this out of the dark and into the light… where lies can’t live. Every time we come together to fight we are winning. To those struggling I hope you have people in your life that don’t shame you. This is a disease and there is no sense in kicking someone that is already on the ground. Thank you for your story… it’s very much like mine!

  5. Jessica. Your story is amazing. I have a beautiful little girl and a wonderful husband. He is sober going on 4 years and I’m not anymore. I’m working on it. But your story is giving me hope. I don’t know what I would do without my baby girl.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story with the world. It was an inspiration to me and my recovery. Keep doing what you are doing!

  7. I loved watching you before I knew you were a recovering addict! I too am a recovering addict. I was addicted to every drug out there and alcohol. All over 36 years of my 49 years here on earth. My last addiction was heroine and I lost everything and everyone, I fell from a 4 story apartment window and broke my feet and ankles. I was never to walk again. I did and got clean. A year later I relapsed and had another accident and broke my foot again in 3 different places. I also have been in 2 abusive marriages for a total of 25 years. I have 6 children and 3 of them I lost into foster care. The judge said my case was a miracle case because I went from a homeless, disabled, battered woman, addict, lost my children and my grandmother that raised me to cancer, my sister passed away from Aids and Hepatitis from using Herion. I fought and I got my kids back and totally changed my life! If I can go almost my entire life of addiction and abuse and get clean and break free from those men then anyone can do it. I do believe if I hadn’t lost my kids to foster care I would have died using drugs. I loved my kids more than anything and I never saw the hell I had them living in, I thought my love was enough. Thank you for inspiring so many and you need to proud of you!!!

  8. You said it was 3 years ago when you first felt normal again energy and body wise…. I’ve been sober awhile and still am not feeling that way still tired alot. Any suggestions?

  9. I am sitting here crying my eyes out! As I read this I felt like it was me. Everything, minus my husband not being a military man. I could go on, but I won’t. Thank you for sharing. Its been a VERY hard year for me and I am at the beginning. Trying to remember every second what great blessings I do have.

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