I had a good childhood. My mom worked 3 jobs to raise my siblings and me while my dad was suffering from his addictions. She loved us and gave us the world.

One thing I do remember was the united resentment towards him for leaving us for drugs. He ended up dying from an overdose. Drugs were taboo, mysterious, and “bad”. So naturally, that’s exactly what I wanted to do. Not out of spite, but because I thought my outcome would be different than my dad’s. I was very wrong, as most of us are when it comes to this disease.

As awkward teens, most of us turn to friends and family for consolation and comfort. Maybe even church.

I, on the other hand just wanted to escape the feelings I had and have fun with instant gratification. So I chose to seek out people who would provide me with the distraction I was looking for.

This resulted in years of abuse, sexual trauma through being trafficked, and a full-blown heroin addiction before I even hit high school.

My mom tried her absolute best with the tools she had. But I went 0-100 so quickly that I was completely out of control. Every time someone reached out a helping hand, I’d distance myself even further. With me, it was a “get with me or get lost” kind of attitude. I’d be gone in the blink of an eye.

I was a runaway teenager addicted to opiates by the time I was 13 years old.

I dropped out of high school at 15.

At 17, I had overdosed for the 3rd time and knocked out my front tooth. This injury also caused a huge gash in my lip which needed stitches. Because of prior possession charges, the court system gave me an ultimatum to check myself into treatment.

The week before I was due to commit myself, I met a man who offered me all the drugs I could want. So I then came up with the bright idea of leaving a suicide note on a bridge over strong currents that led out to the sea so that the court system would just “forget” about me.

THIS was my solution.

THIS is what my addiction told me would fix my problems. THIS is the perfect example of my utter powerlessness over my disease. I was willing to ditch my family, and any life I could dream of beyond drugs just to stay loaded. The wreckage I caused in my addiction was irreparable, and I wasn’t willing to even try anymore.

After a year or so I was finally caught and brought to the attention of the authorities. However, it took a few more years to get honest with myself or with anyone else. I kept lying to keep my addiction safe.

At 22 I was facing a year in prison if I didn’t take rehab seriously.

I was transported from jail, exhausted. I was so tired of keeping up with my lies. Tired of running. Tired of the chaos. Tired of the fear of withdrawals. I didn’t know what was the right thing to do, but I knew my way wasn’t working anymore. That much was clear to me.

Photo Credit: Shannon

So I went in with the slightest bit of open-mindedness. And that opened a door to enlightenment. What I found was that I wasn’t alone in my struggle, and there were other people around me who felt the same way. After years of alienation, this was shocking news.

I took so much pride in my strength to handle my problems by myself. What I learned was that the courage to get vulnerable and honest with myself was the greatest example of strength.

I found out that the whole time I thought I was being “fearless,” all my actions were, in fact, fear-driven.

They gave me the opportunity to see the true motives behind my actions, and I was able to then take off my beloved “victim cloak”.

After 3 months of rehab, I got out and immediately engulfed myself in AA. This is where I began putting in the work that still keeps me sober today after being in the rooms for 4 years.

I’ve been given the chance to make things right with my family, and wake up every day with the goal to show up for them as the best daughter, sister, aunt, and cousin that my HP (higher power) wants me to be.

I’m able to connect with other women in a way I’ve never been able to before.

I’m able to trust, and I am trustworthy too. I’m selfish by nature, so I get to be of service today. I’ve learned that the only way I can keep what I have is by giving it away and helping others. Service is the healthy distraction I need from my stinkin’ thinking.

I’m getting married in June. I’m learning to love without attachment while loving myself too. I have the best dog and he has taught me so much. The way my dog shows up for me is the way I want to show up for my HP.

I have a great career and get to dress up for work. Because of this, I was able to buy myself a car. Miracles!

I get to laugh at myself today. I get to do things I love and enjoy. My whole idea of “fun” has evolved and changed. I no longer crave the chaos and need for escape because I’ve created a safe haven in my head and my heart.

Photo Credit: Shannon

I get to accept my wrongs and face my fears.

This isn’t always pretty but I’m so grateful to sit with my feelings today. I know recovery isn’t linear, and I’m far from perfect. I know it’s about what I’m doing in the present moment to cope that matters now.

I wouldn’t have any of these things if I wasn’t in recovery. In fact, I’m sure I’d be dead.

It’s because of people just like me and because of the consequences I faced that today I am celebrating 4 years sober from all mind-altering substances.

If anyone is struggling, I want you to know that you ARE worthy of a better life, and there IS a solution. I’m here if you need support. Recovery is POSSIBLE.

***DISCLAIMER: This website, jugglingthejenkins.com, is not affiliated with any specific recovery program. Different avenues work for different people.***