Ignorance is Bliss?

They say ignorance is bliss.  I don’t find this to be true.

Ignorance in my case, was the catalyst to my self destruction.

I remember the very first time I experienced my drug of choice.  I was sitting in a computer chair at my best friends house, and burning a Dave Matthews C.D. to play in my Honda Civic.

I dabbled in uppers and downers, rolled on Ecstasy and played strip poker with random guys on a regular basis.  I was having fun and enjoying my early 20’s, just like every other girl my age. The only consequences I was aware of included waking up in a strange bed with no recollection of the night before, and massive hangovers.  I was ignorant.

The day I took my drug of choice for the first time was an ordinary day, nothing special about it.  I wasn’t feeling sad, angry, happy or depressed, I was just… Bored.

“Do you want a blue?” Brandon asked, taking a drag of his cigarette.  “A what?” I asked curiously.

“A blue.  Roxy.  It’s a pain killer.” He said.

“Oh, um. Sure, what the hell.” I replied.

“Fifteen bucks.” He said, popping open the lid of the pill bottle, his cigarette hanging loosely from his lips.

“Fifteen dollars, what? It costs fifteen dollars?” I asked.

“Yep.”

“Holy shit, are you serious? That thing better knock me the f*** out for that kinda money, Jesus.” I said.

“Nah, it won’t knock you out.  If you don’t have the money you can get it to me later.” He said holding out his hand.  I looked at the tiny pill resting in his palm.  Fifteen dollars was an outrageous amount of money to spend on such a little pill.

It intrigued me.  For that kind of money, it must have some kind of magical powers.

“Have you taken it? Is it good?” I asked.

“Oh yeah, you’ll love it.  Here.” He nudged my closed hand and I reluctantly opened it to catch the pill.

That moment, that tiny insignificant moment, would alter the course of my entire life, indefinitely. 

Had Brandon instead handed me that pill and said, “Here, take this.  It’s $15.  This little pill will turn you into a liar, a manipulator, a thief and a convicted felon.  It will cause you to whither away until you are only a shell of the person you are today.  You will spend countless hours twisting in agony and screaming as the unbearable pain of withdrawal ravages your body. By the time this pill is finished with you, you will have no family, no friends, no home, no money… no life.  You will die inside everyday until eventually you will beg God to actually let you die.  And eventually, this pill probably will be the thing that takes your life long before your time. It will destroy you and everything you love. “ I may have reconsidered.

But that’s not what he said.

He said, “You’ll love it, here.”

I had no idea about addiction and withdrawal.  I had no idea that there was something wrong with my brain, that it was different than others.  I didn’t know I was an addict. 

I was ignorant.

I had taken D.A.R.E. classes in kindergarten, and I had always heard that drugs were bad.  But I always thought that was just something old people said because they were “buzzkills” who didn’t understand the definition of a “good time.”

Part of me wishes I knew back then, what I know now.  That I had said, “No, thank you.” and grabbed my Dave Matthews CD and hit the road.

I would have missed out on so much pain, so much heartbreak and despair.

But it took me taking that wrong turn, to end up where I am today, typing this for you.

It took me being dragged down to the depths of hell, and spit out onto the cold floor of a jail cell, to be where I am now- preparing a speech for my presentation at a high school where I am going to educate the kids about the dangers of addiction.

I am here, today, to tell you that our trials and tribulations are not the end, and in most cases, they are the spring-board propelling us into our beautiful purpose.

My higher power used me, so that I can be an example to others and the choices and mistakes I made will not be in vain.  I will work until my dying breath to show that every life is worth something, and addicts are not lost causes.  I owe it to the universe to put as much good out as I can, because I have been given so much..

People question my decision to talk so openly and honestly about my past.  They ask if I worry about how it will affect my children, and my ability to secure a career in the future.

These are completely valid questions, and my answer is this: I have been to places and seen things that most people would have trouble imagining, I have experienced evils that normal people aren’t aware even exist.  I have danced on the welcome mat of deaths door, and yet somehow, managed to make it out alive. I followed a map written by others who have found the way out, and I’ve emerged from the darkness and back into the light.

There are millions of people still trapped down in the darkness, and I’ll be damned if I’m keeping that map to myself.

Addiction is real, and it’s running rampant in our country.

Ignorant – are the people saying all addicts should die.

Ignorant – are the people acting like addicts are rabid dogs unworthy of love.

Ignorant – are the people blindly spewing hate towards addicts without taking the time to understand addiction.

Ignorance – is our fellow man turning his back to someone drowning in their addiction.

Ignorance is not bliss, it’s a tragedy.

Knowledge, love and compassion, now that’s bliss.

Why Did I Start Using Drugs?

The smell of freshly baked cookies greeted me as I entered our tiny, two bedroom apartment.  My mother often slept during the day, so the delicious aroma was a bit perplexing.  My mother was a bartender and worked nights, usually staying out until the wee hours of the morning.  She slept during the day and most times was still asleep upstairs by the time my sister and I got home from school.

“Hello my beautiful girls!” My mother exclaimed as she emerged from the kitchen.  My sister and I excitedly ran to embrace her and I noticed the table had been set with 2 glasses of milk and a plate of cookies.  “Mom! You’re awake.” I said, lunging for a seat at the table.

I remember looking up at my mother as I gleefully dipped my cookie into the cold glass of milk, even at 7 years old, I could tell something was off.  “Why are you awake, Mom?” I asked, as she turned to head back into the kitchen.  No answer.

I looked across the table at my little sister and we both started to giggle.  The excitement of having our mom there to greet us, combined with the wonderfully surprising treats was too much to contain.  We were so used to fending for ourselves upon arriving home, that this moment felt like Christmas morning.

My sister picked two cookies up and placed them over her eyes while singing a silly little tune about being blind.  I will never forget her face as the police officers burst through the front door.

A look of terror immediately crossed her face, causing her to drop one of the cookies onto the table. “Where is he?” An officer barked, his gun drawn.

My sister began screaming and I saw my mother rushing to comfort her. Why is mom crying? I thought to myself, feeling confused.  I began to cry too, not necessarily because I was sad, I was crying because my mom and sister were, and they both looked terrified.

My mother pointed upstairs and I could hear the boots of the officers as they quickly made their way up to the second floor. I tried to open my mouth to ask my mom where they were going, but I couldn’t speak.  Just then I heard my father’s voice from upstairs, but I couldn’t make out what he said.

“Dad’s home?” I asked my mother, feeling more confused that before.  He was supposed to be at work.  Instead of answering, she put her finger up to her lips to quiet me, her eyes pleading.

I could hear multiple footsteps stomping down the stairs, and I stared at the entryway, anxious for them to emerge so I could piece together what was happening.  The first officer came into view and without saying a word, walked out the front door.  He was closely followed by my dad, and before I could call out to him, I realized his arms were handcuffed behind his back.

My sister must have noticed too, because she let out an ear-piercing scream while trying to rip away from mom. “Daddy!” She cried as my mother held her tightly.  My eyes grew wide when I realized they were taking him away. Where were they going? My vision was clouded with tears, and I was having trouble breathing between sobs.

“Daddy!” My sister screamed again.  My heart fell as I witnessed them shoving him angrily out onto the front stoop.  “I love you girls!” My father yelled over his shoulder, as the officer slammed the door behind them.

 

I remember this so vividly in my mind, as if it just happened yesterday.  I’m still unsure to this day what occurred, but whatever it was must have been the breaking point, because my mother and father divorced shortly after this. As a child, I had an incredibly difficult time processing the idea that my daddy wasn’t going to live with us anymore.

My father was my best friend.  He had made childhood an extraordinary place for my sister and I to be.  Our dad was the kind of guy to take all of the recyclables from the house and fashion them into a life-sized human body.  He called him “Plastic Man” and Plastic Man was part of the family for many years.

My father decided he wasn’t happy with his truck, so he super-glued astro-turf to the outside of it and adorned it with little plastic farm animals.  My dad was goofy, hilarious and insanely creative.  The thought of him no longer being in the same home, putting the mattresses on the wall for us to slide down or giving us piggy-back rides around the house was earth-shattering.

My father battled with his own demons, but as young children with no concept of adult problems, my sister and I were clueless.

In hindsight, I can see it all.  I see the glaring signs of his alcoholism and the effect it had on us, but at the time, it was all we ever knew.

My mother would drop my sister and I off at visitations with my father, and we would immediately head to his favorite bar.  We would play the jukebox and roll the little balls to each other across the pool table while waving over to our father as he chugged beer on a stool with his friends.  He loved us, he wanted to see us, he just loved the drink, and had a difficult time separating the two.

With my mother being a bartender, and my father spending all of his time at bars, my sister and I grew up feeling like the smoky rooms and loud music playing over the excited and aggressive conversations of the bar patrons – was our home.

 

When my dad began dating another woman, things started to change drastically.  Jan was a drinker, and her and my father would often get into physical altercations resulting in the police banging down the door and whisking my father away.  I can recall one of those times when my father was taken, leaving us with Jan.

I cried to Jan that night, asking when my father would be back, and I’ll never forget the way her face twisted in disgust, almost as if she wanted to spit in response to my question.  “Never, your father is a piece of s**t and can burn in hell for all I care.” She replied angrily before stomping up the stairs.

I was around 8 years old at the time and I remember sitting on the couch alone in her apartment, crying in the dark.  She would occasionally yell for me to “shut the hell up” from the top of the stairs, but never came down to check on me.  I felt like an abandoned puppy that nobody wanted.  I wanted my Mommy, but Jan spitefully refused to allow me to call her saying; “my father could sort it out in the morning.”

Jan and my dad made up the next day after sobering up and pretended like nothing ever happened.  They sat me down and explained it was all a joke and they loved each other very much.  I was so confused, and never spoke a word of it to anyone.

It’s funny, because when you are a child, you don’t have any expectations or ideas of the way things should be.  You have nothing to compare your childhood to, because it’s the only childhood you’ve ever had.

When people ask me why I started using drugs, it’s a hard question to answer because there are a thousands of fleeting thoughts that occurred in my mind over the course of my life. Thoughts that contributed to the way I carried myself, the way I perceived things and the way I dealt with situations.  Hundreds of these situations added up over the course of my life that shaped my character. These thoughts and situations combined with the environment I found myself in, and the people I surrounded myself with, created the perfect recipe for experimental drugs use.

I felt lost, I had little stability and structure and I had an unbearably difficult time fitting in because my mind was a prison harboring self-doubt and insecurity.  The moment I took that first pill, the moment it made me feel absolutely… nothing, was the moment the darkness sleeping within me jolted awake and latched onto my soul. By the time I realized it had coiled around my mind and weaved it’s way into my bones, it was too late, I was powerless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Made It On The News, Guys!

Hello friends! And a big fat hello to all my new friends that just joined in on the craziness today!

Whew. Speaking of today.  I don’t want to braaaaaggggg…..buttttt….. We made it onto the news guys! A real live news channel with reporters and teleprompters and fancy business clothes! whaaaat?!?!

In case you missed it, WAFF 48 news in Huntsville, AL did a story about my blog. I am so grateful to Steffany, a producer of the news program who follows my blog and proposed the idea to cover it on her station.  I am also grateful to the reporter, Jake Berent for focusing on the NOW, instead of exploiting the “then” part of my life. He did a really wonderful job ensuring it was a positive message. (Unlike, ahem…rhymes with “The Maily Dail.”

If you missed Jake’s story, check it out HERE.

I can’t begin to express how incredible I feel after the outpouring of love I received all day from friends, as well as people I’ve never met.  The fact that the news station was willing to run a story like this in hopes of inspiring those who are currently battling addiction, as well as offering resources after the segment–speaks volumes about the hearts of those running the program. WAFF 48 you rock!

I have also had a few people from Charlotte, NC messaging me saying they saw me on the local news there, so I’m assuming they showed it here too? (Anyone from Charlotte here? Fill me in!)

To answer a few questions I’ve been getting in my inbox:

*If you have started reading my latest series, before you get any further I recommend starting with the first series, 120 Days In- My Time In Jail.  ALL the chapters can be found on the actual blog @ http://www.Jugglingthejenkins.com. Or you can scroll down the Facebook page and find them! (But that’s a lot of work.)

*I don’t have a set schedule for videos/ live videos.  The only thing scheduled is the series chapters, and they come out on Wednesdays.  The rest of the stuff is posted shortly after it pops into this crazy brain of mine.

*I can’t answer any personal questions about my story, or the people involved because — spoilers.  And also I don’t want to incriminate anyone other than myself.

*If you are struggling or you know someone who is, please reach out to me if you need someone to listen — I will try my best to respond as quickly as possible!

*Some people have asked if I would be willing to host a sale/ share their blog/ mention there business, etc.  As much as I admire your courage in asking and desire to grow and support your business, I want this to remain a safe, pressure free environment.  If you want to offer my friends here a chance to win one of your products, I am happy to mention your business.  But if it requires them to do anything other than enter, than I would have to pass.  I like to give them the option to check out your stuff, (example: For 5 bonus entries, look at this page/ join this group/ share this blah blah blah) as oppose to forcing them. Ya know what I’m sayyyyyyyyin?

*If you want to receive an email when I publish a new post, hit the “Follow” button on the actual blog website and enter your email! Make sure you “follow” the Facebook page as well as “liking” it, that way I show up on your newsfeed! Boom.

Anyway I’ve had a long day of swimming, receiving loving text messages and eating an obscene amount of food, so I’m gonna get outta here. I just want you to know I love and appreciate each and every one of you and look forward to getting to know each of you better!

Goodnight friends!!!!!!

 

 

My Drug Of Choice Is More – A Confession.

Hey buds!

I’m sitting here with a fancy avocado mask on my face, trying my best to stay looking like I’m 21 for as long as possible.  But I need to get something off my chest. I have always believed in being completely transparent with you all, ‘cuz you’re my peoples.  So I need to make a confession.

If you are a recovering addict, chances are you have heard the expression “my drug of choice is more“.  Listen.  It’s a real thing.  My addiction has been manifesting itself in sneaky ways, and it took me a minute to realize it.

While I’m not shooting dope in an alley and stealing from my loved ones; I am still acting like an active addict, making spontaneous and compulsive decisions, without considering the consequences.

For a little (long) while there,  I was scrolling through countless “Online clothing company” albums, wide-eyed and licking my lips, making purchases I couldn’t afford.

Gah, I really need gas in the car but holy s**t, would you look at the floral pattern on those leggings.  I better buy them before anyone else does“.

Then for the next couple of days I’m stalking my mailbox like a crackhead, waiting for my delivery.

I felt guilty every time I paid an invoice, but the guilt was overshadowed by the excitement of my new arrival. I was acting out compulsively – just like I did while using. “But Tiffany it’s not the same, these are leggings not drugs-” trust me, it’s the same. I know my mind and the way it works, it was becoming a problem.

But it didn’t stop there.

I was buying jewelry, face creams, hand creams, lotions, fancy shampoos and make-up. I justified it by telling myself  “girl, you deserve it! You work so hard for your family and you never do anything for yourself“. While it’s true, I do deserve a lil sumthin’ sumthin’ from time to time, this was more than that. I was being carelessly frivolous with my funds, and not playing the tape all the way through.

I am a huge fan of helping local moms support their families, but in turn, I need to ensure I am contributing as much as possible to my own.

I was buying things to make me feel good.

To make me feel good temporarily.  I was spending money I don’t have, on material things to make me feel different, and the moment I got something in the mail, I was already looking forward to buying something else to match it – even though it wasn’t necessary.  If that isn’t my bastard addiction trying to inch his way back into my life  – I don’t know what is.

It’s not just purchasing things, I over-eat, and I under-eat, I have short bursts of motivation and low moments of laziness.  Up until my revelation about how wonderful my shape is just the way it is, I was battling with my self-confidence. If you saw my post about my Facebook memory of when I was thin, than you know that the way I felt about my body completely changed in that instant, and it truly has made a difference in the way I view myself in the mirror.

I am nowhere near perfect, and this is why I always tell you guys to “take the things I say with a grain of salt”. I’m not a recovered addict, I am a recovering addict. I am a work in progress and until my last day on earth, I will never stop trying to better myself.

I am grateful to the program for equipping me with the tools that allow me to recognize when I am acting out on my addiction.  The only way to fix a problem is to acknowledge it and I certainly have.

I have left almost all of my “Clothing” groups, I have spoken with my husband about how I feel, that way there is some accountability and I am prepared to start searching inward to discover what it is that caused me to try and make myself feel better with new things.

When a phone runs out of battery and dies, the only way to get it to work again is to plug it in.  I need to plug back in to my connection with God.  I have allowed life to get in the way of the relationship I’d created with him, and I can feel it. I have begun rebuilding it and I know that he will give me everything I need to feel complete.

Thank you all for allowing me this outlet to vent and process my emotions.  Being able to get honest, and get my thoughts out of my head and onto “paper” has been incredibly therapeutic. I love you all more than you know and appreciate your unwavering support of my journey.

XOXO

 

To Love An Addict…

To love an addict is one of the heartbreaking positions anyone could be in.  You spend years building a bond with this person, and in the blink of an eye, they are someone else.

Someone you no longer recognize.  It’s their face, their voice, their hands and their smile; but the person they used to be is long gone.  It’s as if that person has been taken over by an invisible force. A force that is dragging them down dark paths that you know your loved one would never dare to venture.

To love an addict is feeling both dread and relief when they show up at your door.  You know that for a moment they are safe, because they are here with you; but you are also aware that they are probably there because they need something from you.  You subconsciously  clutch your purse tightly and tread lightly, for fear of setting them off.

To love an addict is handing them a $20 bill for “cigarettes”, despite the fact that you know all to well what the money is really for.  You now have an internal struggle with yourself, because you know you shouldn’t be contributing to their habit, but in your eyes it’s better than them selling their body or stealing to get the money.

To love an addict is having your heart drop to your knees every time the phone rings, because you know at any moment you will receive the call. The call that they are gone.

To love an addict is a rollercoaster of emotions. Hopeful elation when they enter a rehab program and heartbreaking disappointment when they run from it and relapse.

To love an addict is to spend countless nights staring at the ceiling, wondering if there was something more you could have said, or done, to keep them from going down this path, blaming yourself for them being where they are.

To love an addict is to watch a person who used to laugh, sing, dance and be filled with joy, stumble through life like an emotionless zombie.

To love an addict is trying your hardest to love them from a distance, but having your heart melt the moment you hear their voice.

To love an addict is the constant desire to grab them by the shoulders and shake some sense into them, but knowing in your heart that you are absolutely powerless over their choices.

To love an addict is feeling a pang of sadness and shame whenever someone asks you how they are doing.

To love an addict is constantly walking on eggshells, because you know that if you say the wrong thing they may storm off, never to be seen again.

To love an addict is hugging them as tightly as you possibly can – when you can – because you never know if you will have the opportunity to feel them in your arms again.

To love an addict is to stare at them from across the room and pray for a glimpse of the old them to show through; so you know that somewhere inside this stranger, that person still exists.

Every single addict on the face of this earth, has someone, somewhere, who loves them. Every. Single. One.

I am an addict, and was actively addicted to opiates, (and alcohol, food, money – anything that made me feel different) for over 10 years.

I put my loved ones through hell.  I forced them to feel emotions they never deserved to feel. I lied to them, manipulated them and guilted them into enabling me endless times.

I can’t imagine how incredibly difficult it must be for a parent or family member of an addict to give them “tough love”, but I can tell you from experience, it could very well be the difference between life and death.

If you constantly provide an addict with a safety net to catch them, you are robbing them of the chance to hit their bottom and pay for the consequences of their actions.

It took me hitting rock bottom without a penny to my name, and nowhere to call home to finally arrive at the conclusion that no one was coming to save me.

This next part is probably going to sting a little, but I’ve always believed honesty is the best policy.  So I am going to say this from a place of love and experience, and hope it will be taken as such.

Think for a moment, about the reason you are giving them (us) money, rides, shelter, and bailing us out of jail .  If you really take a moment and ask yourself why, the answer may surprise you.  You are not actually doing it for usYou are doing it for yourself.

You are doing it so you don’t have to worry.  You are doing it because it makes you feel better to know we are safe.  You are doing it because it brings you peace to know we won’t have to sleep on the street, beg for food, or experience the pain that comes along with withdrawl.

I am not saying this to hurt anyone’s feelings or make them feel guilty.  I am saying it because something I feel many people don’t realize is – us addicts can be pretty damn convincing when we want to be.

We are professional manipulators.  If f shedding a few tears and dramatizing our current situation will cause you to open your wallet – we will put on the performance of a lifetime.

Someone who is uncertain of how to love an addict must recognize that by temporarily bringing yourself relief, making yourself feel better for the night, you are jeopardizing our chance of recovery.  Running around following us holding out a little pillow for us to land on in case we fall is not the answer, and most times proves to be ineffective.

Giving us money, helps us stay on the carousel of addiction for longer.  Bailing us out of jail-where we are safe– puts us back on the streets to use again.  Giving us rides, makes it easier for us to complete our mission of getting high.  Providing us a safe place to sleep – tells us that we can do what we want and there will be no consequences.

There’s a saying that “If an addict is happy with you, than you’re probably enabling.  If an addict is mad at you – you are probably trying to save their life”.  When I think back to my life during active addiction, this couldn’t be more accurate. If you weren’t helping me to score, there was no place for you in my life.

Making an addict as uncomfortable as possible in their addiction is a step in the right direction.  I’m sure it made my family members incredibly uncomfortable to watch me struggle until I had enough, but I believe their choice to love me from a distance is the reason that I am alive and present at this very moment.

To love an addict is recognizing your own behavior and making some changes that may be hard now, but will pay off later.

To love an addict is to let go if you have to, but keeping hope alive in your heart.

To love an addict is…Never giving up on them. There is no such thing as a lost cause, and it’s never to late for someone to make a change. Loving them from a distance if you must, but waiting with arms wide open when they are ready to make the decision to come home…

5 Support Resources For Loved Ones Of Addicts

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You Don’t Want To Forgive, Do It Anyway.

Forgive. It is a powerful word. To forgive basically means to accept, and move past what you feel was an injustice to your sensibilities. The word forgive is terrifying at times, because it means letting our guard down – letting someone off the hook for something we feel is unforgivable. We feel that if we refuse to let this person off the hook, they will continue suffering. The trouble is, this way of thinking is completely backwards.

By holding a grudge – we only hurt ourselves. Period.

When I was 8 months pregnant with Chloe, I was shopping at Target. Kaiden was sitting in the cart and I was looking at some Christmas gifts in one of the aisles. Some crazy lady decided I was in her way, and instead of asking me to move, she proceeded to ram her cart into the back of my ankles.

I wish I could tell you that this was a made up story – it’s not. I turned around in shock and the woman avoided eye contact and pushed her way past my cart, scraping up against the side of it as she did. Now at this point – I am 8 months pregnant and a woman of God, not to mention I have my 1 year old in my cart. She is lucky, because had she pulled this crap prior to my new way of life; I would have tackled her like an NFL player and choked her out with Christmas lights.

But I don’t live like that anymore. So what did I do? Nothing – abso-freakin-lutely nothing.

Wanting to avoid confrontation, I bit my tongue and continued my shopping. Within minutes I found myself stewing about this woman’s brazenness. I’d pick up a coffee cup with reindeer on it and say under my breath to no one in particular, “You believe this b****?” “No she didn’t” “She’s lucky I’m pregnant I’ll tell you that”.

I was literally walking around this store plotting this ladies death, meanwhile she was probably picking out denture adhesive not even giving me a second thought.

Would I have felt better if I had stood up for myself and cussed her out? Perhaps. But opening that door might have taken me to a place I didn’t want to be. I could see it now: “Next up on the 5 o’clock news, a pregnant woman attacks an old woman at Target sending her into premature labor – and it’s all caught on film.”

This obviously wasn’t an option for me, and replaying it over and over in my head growing angrier each time wasn’t helping either. So you know what I did?

I accepted an apology that I never received.

That’s right, I accepted an apology that she never gave me and I forgave her for what she did. I have a choice, and I chose to control my emotions, as oppose to letting them control me.

Sometimes, people are unaware of the emotional havoc the may have wreaked within me, there will be times when I don’t receive an apology I deserve.

An apology is not a requirement for forgiveness.

We can forgive whoever we want, whenever we want, even if the person is completely oblivious to the fact that they have been pardoned.

Now this is just a small example of a situation. There are many times where people do unspeakable, and seemingly unforgivable things. I am not trying to minimize the other persons actions nor am I suggesting we run around and forgive every jerkface who has crossed us.

What I am saying is; when I find myself obsessing about a person I feel has hurt, cheated, deceived or angered me, and when it gets to a point where it is robbing me of my peace – I then evaluate the importance of the resentment I am harboring, and decide whether or not holding onto that hate is helping, or hindering me on my journey.

I truly believe that when you forgive someone (whether you feel they deserve it or not), you are releasing at least 10 pounds of dead weight.

It is our job to keep our minds healthy, and I don’t know about you, but I function much better when I keep the negative energy out, and invite happiness and positivity in. In order to do this, I have to choose to let go of things that no longer serve a purpose, for there is limited space in my mind and I would much rather use that space for something beneficial.

Someone once told me that ” resentment is the equivalent of lighting yourself on fire, so the other person dies of smoke inhalation” and I had to stop for a second and process this.  I had never thought about it that way and it ended up changing everything.

I have to remind myself that while I’m stewing about that ex-boyfriend who cheated on me, he is probably having the time of his life somewhere, not giving me a second thought. So screw him! Just kidding. I forgave him, and I carried on.

My point is, the ability to let go of something that feels really important to me is hard, but so is lugging around a backpack full of hate everywhere I go. I know now that forgiveness will never change the past; but it will absolutely, positively change the future. I have a choice of how I react and respond today, and I choose love – every time.

Now, having said all this I would just like to get something of my chest.  Hey lady at Target, if you’re reading this –  I’m not pregnant anymore. Cash me ousside how bah dah?!

My Top 5 Favorite Meditations For When My Brain Needs A Vacation.

In 2009 I had my first stint in rehab.  I have a very vivid memory of a time when our counselor gathered us all into a room and had us sit in chairs that were placed in various places throughout the space.

He dimmed the lights, asked us to close our eyes, and began talking us through a “guided meditation”. His goal was to have us envision the scenes he was describing in an attempt to help us find tranquility.  I wanted to punch him in his stupid face.

I was withdrawing from opiates at the time, and my mother had passed away a month before; so envisioning myself walking down a golden path of cobblestone into a field of friggin lilies was the very last thing I wanted to do.

I inevitably ended up storming out of the room in frustration.  What the hell was the point of this? I wasn’t going to spend another minute humming and woosahing in a room full of addicts.

(I ended up relapsing the night I left rehab, perhaps I should have, in fact, taken that cobblestone path)

When I found recovery again in 2012, I would always hear people in the rooms speak of mediation and it’s benefits, however I still had a sour taste in my mouth from my first experience, so I was hesitant to try again.

One night after a particularly exhausting day with the kids, I decided to try and listen to something relaxing to calm my nerves.  I stumbled across a guided mediation on YouTube and figured ‘what the hell’.  I put my headphones in, closed my eyes – and 20 minutes later I was in a different world, separate from this one.  A world where it was just me, and nature – it was so…Peaceful.

I know this probably sounds crazy to you, and that’s okay, mediation isn’t for everyone. I personally suffer from anxiety and insomnia,  and have found these meditations to be invaluable.

As humans, our minds are constantly in overdrive.  Technology has made everything so fast, so instantaneous.  Doing a guided meditation allows you to slllloooooowwww dddooooowwwwn, and give your brain a break.

It takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, it can be life changing.  It’s like treating your mind to a much needed vacation.

I have made a list (with links) of my top 5 favorite guided mediations below.  After the kids go to sleep, first thing in the morning, mid-day; whenever you have some spare time to rest-and just be present-do yourself a favor; pop some headphones in and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy world around you.

2) Jason Stephenson – Floating Amongst The Stars.

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Listen to me people. I almost fell asleep just thinking about this video.  It is my #1 all time favorite because: It is literally like you are escaping this world and exploring another dimension. (Okay, I’m sounding crazier and crazier by the minute. But trust me, just try it)

 

2) Jason Stephenson – Sleep Guided Meditation – Fireplaceok

This is one of my go-to meditation when I just need to decompress. It features the sounds of a crackling fire, and when the rain starts to pour down onto the roof of the cabin – It’s magical.

3) TheHonestGuys – Blissful Deep Relaxation.

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This was the very first meditation I listened to when I tried again and I was asleep before the 18 minute video was over. The sound of the waves crashing combined with his soothing voice is enough to make even the busiest brains slow down.

4) Sleep Ezy Tonight-Floating Clouds.

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After an exhausting day, press play on this one.  It is perfect for pausing all of the thoughts you have buzzing through your brain. It completely relaxes you until you feel like you are floating out of your bed and into the clouds.

5) Michael Sealey – Detachment From Over-Thinking.

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I am an anxious worry wart and this meditation has helped reel me back in, center me, and allowed me to focus on the present – more times than I can count. (This one doesn’t have any music – it’s voice only. If that isn’t your thing you might wanna skip it)

There’s hundreds and thousands of free meditations that can be found on YouTube.  They have morning meditations to motivate you for a successful day as well.  I wanted to share this in hopes of helping someone out there who may be struggling with insomnia, anxiety, or someone who just needs a damn chill pill.  Let me know if you try any of these and what you think!

XOXO

Diversity Is A Beautiful Thing.

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Hey friends! As some of you may know, The Daily Mail contacted me.  They had seen one of my blog posts on Bluntmoms.com and wanted to do a story about my recovery from addiction, and motherhood.  I debated for awhile about whether or not to do it, as I had mixed emotions.

Part of me was worried what people might say about me, I haven’t always managed to accept criticism gracefully (I’m working on it.) However, the other part of me felt like it would be a great opportunity to show those who may still be struggling, that a life after addiction is possible.

I chose to do the interview, and it went live the next day.

I swore I wasn’t going to read the comments people wrote about me on the website featuring the article, and I actually held out for awhile.  However while re-reading the article, there was a button on the side that read “14 comments”. and I couldn’t resist. It was almost as if my hand was moving without my brain’s permission. I began reading what strangers had written…….

This was a BIG mistake.

Lots of people apparently ate a big bowl of righteousness that morning and decided to be a bunch of Hateful Harriets.  I immediately felt obligated to defend myself, as the majority of rude comments were based off of things left out of the article, somewhat important things that explain more of the “after” addiction. People chose to focus on my skanky drunken before pictures and the things I had done while using, completely missing the point of the story.

I popped in and left a tasteful

comment, clearing a few things up that these strangers seemed to be confused about, and I haven’t been back to the comment section since, and the reason is simple…

What others think about me, is none of my business.

I put myself out there to be judged, and the results were as expected. If someone didn’t get something positive out of the article, than the article probably wasn’t meant for them.

It was meant for the person alone in their room, with a needle in their arm, and sadness in their heart.  The person who feels as if there is no hope for them, that they are a lost cause incapable of escaping the grip of addiction.  The person who needed to see just one story of hope, one person willing to put themselves out there with their truth about hitting rock bottom, and climbing their way out into the light.

That was who my story was for, not the judgmental woman who has never lost a loved one to drugs, or experienced the desperation that comes along with addiction, therefore, her comments are irrelevant to me.

I searched for the most wholesome story on that website, and found one about a boy and a puppy.  I went to the “comments section” and my suspicions were confirmed; even a story about a boy and his dog, had hundreds of negative comments written by toxic people with nothing better to do than sit behind their keyboards and release hateful energy into the universe.

One of the “12 Traditions” in the program of NA refers to how we must remain anonymous, and for good reason.  I completely understand the need for anonymity for some people; in my case, I find it difficult to remain anonymous.  It was such a large part of my past, and has shaped me into the woman I am today, so it’s important for me to be able to share my journey with others, so that they know they are not alone.

The amount of messages I have received from people reaching out for help for themselves and their loved ones is overwhelming and reiterates the importance of being honest about my journey. I think that one of the main problems today, is the amount of active users, far outweighs the stories of success being shared, which makes it difficult for those who are struggling to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I want my story to be that light.

I am no better than anyone, in fact there are people in the recovery community who are much more involved with service work, recovery and helping others than I will ever be.  These people are unable to talk about the wonderful things they have overcome and accomplished due to work obligations and the stigma that comes along with addiction, but there a hundreds of people among us who are true miracles and making a real difference in this world, yet remain anonymous.

I will close with this: I am never, ever, ever going to be able to please everyone, and no matter what I do, there will always be those who don’t agree with my perspective, but this is what makes our worlds such a wonderful place. Different opinions bring fresh ideas, and encourage others to branch out from their normal way of thinking. Two people can look at the exact same thing and see something completely different, so I have chosen to embrace the diversity that exists and continue on in my journey without looking back for approval.

Any adversity I will be forced to face by choosing to share my story, will be well worth it to me if just one person sees it and feels inspired to make a change.

 

 

 

10 Life Changing Pieces of Advice I Learned From Recovering Addicts-That Apply To Anyone.

As most of you know, I have been in recovery from addiction for 4 years.  What you may not know, is that I didn’t stay clean all that time, by myself.  There is a community of people just like me, that knew the secret of staying clean.  I leaned on these people as I began learning to navigate the unknown territory of sobriety.  The world is different when you are only accustomed to seeing it through a foggy haze, and if you don’t know your way around, you will most likely end up back on the path that is comfortable to you – the path of getting high.

These people were my lifelines, and they had something I wanted, they knew how to live clean. So I observed them intently, I listened to things they had to say and I watched how happy they were without the use of drugs. While listening, I have overhead countless clichés, advice and tips.  Some of it went in one ear, and right out the other when I realized it didn’t apply to me, however some advice – struck me like a lightening bolt, and it changed my life.

I am going to share some incredible advice from some of the wisest people I have met. People who have been to hell, and risen from the ashes into a beautiful new creation. This knowledge has helped me to overcome countless obstacles,  setbacks, and disappointments. These don’t only apply to addicts or alcoholics, I believe the following list can help anyone who is looking to evolve and better themselves.

 

 

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Be gentle with yourself – We are often times our own harshest critics, we tend to beat ourselves up over something, before anyone else has a chance to.  If I make a mistake, I don’t let my inner thoughts allow to me to believe you are a failure.  Mistakes and accidents can and will happen.  Embrace them, learn from them…and move on.

 

 

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Look down at your feet– Someone in recovery told me this at one point and it has stuck with me ever since.  He said “Look down at your feet, that is where you are at this moment in time.  You are not in the past, you are not in the future – you are right here, right now, in this moment, the next moment is not promised. Focus on where you are at this point, and stop worrying about where you will be 10 minutes from now.” This changed me.

 

 

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“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know.  But if you listen you may learn something new.” – The Dalai Lama said this originally, and obviously he didn’t say this directly to me.  A counselor at my old rehab center quoted him and it made a huge impact on me.  In a conversation, I used to anxiously wait for the other person to finish speaking so that I could say my piece, which means I wasn’t listening to a word they said, just waiting for my turn to talk. I wonder how many important things I missed in doing so?

 

 

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You can’t pour from an empty cup – Self care is so important. You can’t expect to be any good to anyone, if you are drained mentally, physically and spiritually.  This is also why on airplanes they say to “First put your on your oxygen mask before helping others.” Because if I run out of oxygen, I can’t continue to help anyone else.

 

 

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Learn to let things go that you cannot control- This one is huge, and while I truly understand the significance and truth to this statement, I regularly find myself having to verbally remind myself of this in certain situations.  Trying to control things beyond your control does nothing but create relentless inner turmoil.  I must Recognize I am powerless, take a deep breathe, and exhale the responsibility of fixing the situation, releasing it into the universe where a power greater than myself can bear the burden of sorting it out.  I am always amazed at the weight that is lifted during that exhale.

 

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“If you fuel your journey on the opinions of others, you are going to run out of gas” – Steve Marable – This author and behavioral scientist said this originally, but someone in the rooms shared it with me during a personal bout with low self esteem.  This one took a lot of practice,  because the need to be liked by others is ingrained in my DNA. I regularly need to remind myself that “my value doesn’t decrease based on others inability to see my worth.” (Another favorite of mine, although I’m not sure who originally said it, as there are conflicting reports.)

 

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Resentments are like setting yourself on fire, and expecting the other person to die of smoke inhalation – This one really hit home with me as I am the queen of holding grudges. After hearing this I realized “my enemy” was probably going about their daily life, not thinking twice about me – meanwhile I was stewing in anger and hatred for the person. It was destroying my inner peace and achieving nothing.

 

 

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The only difference between good days and bad days, is your attitude – They say life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. This is so true.  If I get a flat tire, I can either allow myself to fill with rage, calling the tire company to curse them out and tell them how incompetent they are, spending the remainder of the day reflecting on my bad fortune – or – I can take a breathe, laugh at this misfortune and realize the tire has popped and that is now in the past. Then I can begin to calmly come up with a plan to amend the situation. One of these choices will result in a ruined day – and it is all up to me.

 

 

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Play the tape all the way through – If you are in recovery, you have probably heard this saying countless times. What this basically means is “Before making the decision to use, don’t just think about the part that seems fun then shut the tape off, play it all the way through to see how it ends – usually in jails, institutions and death.”  However this doesn’t only have to apply to using, it can apply any time we find ourselves on the brink of making an impulsive decision. What does the end of the tape look like, and will we be happy with the results.

 

 

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Stop projecting! – This one is my favorite, because it is so important.  So many of us spend our days looking toward the future, worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. The dreaded “but what if” causes fantasies of imaginary situations that are purely hypothetical and result in nothing but stress. We are projecting.  We are looking ahead, instead of being present and we are meeting our problems halfway, instead of waiting for them to come to us.  This advice has allowed me to spend less time worrying, and more time living.

I believe that I am a better person today, than I ever was, even before addiction.  The reason being that today I live by a specific set principals, principals that I was taught through the program of Narcotics Anonymous.  In the program, we don’t just learn how to stay clean, we learn to live a meaningful and purposeful life.  We learn how to be the best version of ourselves possible.  I believe that if we as people – addict or not – remain teachable, than there is no limit to the ways that we can grow, and the things we can  achieve.

 

 

 

A Letter To The Teen Who’s Experimenting With Drugs.

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Hey there you little rebel you. How’s it going? So listen – I know you don’t know me, which probably makes it super creepy that I’m writing to you, but I’ve got some pretty important stuff to tell you, so you gotta hear me out.

I can tell you – from experience – that being a teen is tough.  School, relationships, mid term tests, and your naggy, annoying parents (ugh-parents are the worst aren’t they?). Right now you are in the process of trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in, and you are probably learning that it is much more fun to be rebellious, than to be a goody two -shoes and follow all the rules, (boooooooring.)

Peer pressure is a powerful force at your age, and the desire to be liked and fit in with the “cool kids” has led you to experiment with drugs. (How do I know? I’m a mom-we know everything)

This is why I’m writing to you. 

I know that you have been smoking some grass, (Gonja? Green? What are you kids calling it these days?), and chances are – you enjoy it.  It makes you laugh uncontrollably and have the appetite of an NFL player. You are probably stuffing your face with Cheetos and watching a documentary about Zebras in amazement, as we speak. I get it, your peers are doing it, and it sure as hell beats sitting at home listening to your Mom complain about how dirty your freakin bedroom is.  But I’m here to drop a knowledge bomb on you real quick. And if you are wondering just who the hell I think I am to lecture you – let’s just say, I’m an expert in the field of…Ahem…your newfound “hobby”.

See I know something you are unaware of.  I know what comes next. The part that no one thinks of when they make the decision to try a drug for the first time.

If you do a drug, there is a very good chance that your body -your physical body – will get addicted to it.  You are probably saying to yourself “No way stranger lady, you don’t even know me, I’m strong-I would never let that happen.” And I am here to tell you – You. Are. Wrong.  I know, because it happened to me. (Also, it’s a scientific fact that if you do a drug enough your body will become addicted so…… booyah)

Once your body becomes addicted, it will rely on that drug to function properly, if your body doesn’t continue to receive doses of that drug, it will rebel in ways you can’t even begin to comprehend.  Imagine the worst flu you’ve ever experienced.  Your mommy was probably sitting at the edge of your bed, petting your head and hand feeding you soup with a spoon.  You probably had to stay home from school because you felt terrible and couldn’t “bear” to sit in class feeling the way you did.

Now multiply that feeling by 300, and while your at it-go ahead and hit yourself in your arms and legs with a hammer a few times.  Now imagine being drenched in sweat, your body temp 104 degrees, yet you are freezing as if standing in an igloo.  Now picture sitting on the toilet for hours with a bucket in front of you as your body attempts to empty the poison from within it – you still aren’t even close to imagining what withdrawal feels like.

This feeling of withdrawal is so powerful, that you will do just about anything to avoid it.  This means, that you will need money to buy more of the drugs to avoid feeling sick.  What happens if you don’t have the money? Good question – you have a few options here.  But the 2 quickest and most common ways are: 1) Lie to and con your loved ones into giving you the money or 2) Taking it without their knowledge.

You are probably shaking your head as you read this saying “No way, I would never do that to my family.” But guess what? You have never experienced withdrawal. You can’t possible have an idea of what you would do in that amount of physical and mental anguish.

Aside from the physical pain – the drug also affects your brain.  Basically what happens is – the addiction climbs up into your mind and hi-jacks it. It grabs on to the steering wheel and starts controlling your every thought, and your every move.  Addiction makes you do unimaginable things, things you never knew you were capable of.  It will turn you into a liar, a thief, and a criminal.  Contrary to popular belief – being a criminal sucks. It makes it incredibly difficult to get a job or own a home, as employers and realtors generally frown upon criminal history.

Anyway, listen, If someone had written me a letter similar to this, I might have taken a different path.  I may have avoided going to jail, living at a rehab facility, losing countless jobs, and destroying relationships with my loved ones .  I might have gone to college, I would most likely have a career by now -making money, owning a home, and going on vacations- but I didn’t know. I am a 31 year old waitress who is only just beginning to live her life. I spent 10 years lost in the fog of addiction, 10 years I can never get back.  It seemed fun, I wanted to feel different, I wanted to fit in and temporarily escape. I had no idea what I was getting into, and It cost my everything.

I pray you will take my advice (which, you may not, because sometimes we have to learn thing the hard way) however if you chose not to, I want you to at least take a break from googling cat videos on Youtube for a second, and spend some time educating yourself about the realities of drug use and addiction……  It may just save your life.

Sincerely,

The girl who learned the hard way.

P.s. Be nice to your parents, they aren’t going to be around forever….

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“Attitude of Bratitude”

Today was one of those days. You know the days-where the universe is conspiring against you, and you decide to throw a party, of the pity variety. It’s only 9:30, and everything that could go wrong, has.

I woke up to find that my sweet baby girl had turned her crib into a life sized toilet bowl. The smell is what initially awoke me from my delightful slumber. The aroma of baby poo wafted about the room until it reached my nostrils, engaging my mom brain into the ‘on’ position. I jumped out of bed and was met with the sight I can only describe as a crime scene. I wanted to cry, however since that would only prolong this experience, further spreading the mess as she twisted and cried, I sprung into action. I ran to the bathtub and tossed her in.  Well, I set her in it. I got her all cleaned up and changed. It’s now 8:00 am. My son heard the commotion and woke up screaming, demanding to be held. I however now needed a shower before I could touch him.

I showered quickly and held him for a split second, until the realization that my landlord was coming in 3 hours to show our house suddenly popped into my head-at which point panic took over. I yelled “Aubrey!” at the top of my lungs and she came running out of her room with a look of terror on her face. “What?!” she said to me, surveying the room for blood, a choking baby, or whatever else could have caused my random outburst. I just stared at her for a second. I honestly have no clue why I screamed her name. Apparently my brain decided she needed to be present for my panic attack for some reason.

I quickly dressed everyone, poured some dry cereal into ziplock baggies and loaded everyone into the car. I had plans to make pancakes this morning, however due to unforeseen circumstances, that s**t was not happening.

On the drive to take Kaiden to school, I hit every red light. I am fairly certain that those lights had a meeting that morning and were like “Okay guys, Tiffs gonna be leaving her house in about 20 mins.  We gotta make sure we all turn red the minute she approaches, its gonna be hilarious, she’s gonna be all ‘ahhh, eff my life’-pounding the steering wheel and stuff, its gonna be great, lets go.”

Anyway I dropped Kaiden off and headed home, I realized I needed gas or else Aubrey and I were gonna have to push the car down the road while Chloe steered. I put my credit card into the machine at the pump and the words I dreaded most appeared across the across the screen- “Please see cashier.” Had my children not been in the car I would have set that place on fire.  Instead I unloaded both of them and hauled them inside. Apparently that machine was broken, so I moved my car,  I got the gas and headed home.

I put the T.V. on for Aub and set Chloe down for a nap so that I could begin the daunting task of getting this place spotless in under an hour. All Aubrey saw was flashes of brown hair and pajamas as I whipped past her. I ran the length of the living room with my finger on the trigger as I emptied an entire bottle of Febreeze into the air. 45 minutes, 2 cups of coffee and a few curse words later, I finished the job.

I collapsed on the coach and pulled out my phone to check the time. I had received a new message, it had been sent 30 minutes before. It was from my landlord. “The guy cancelled on me Tiff, sorry about that.”

My first thought was to drive to his house, ring the doorbell, and throat punch him.  My second thought was to throw myself on the floor and cry. I ended up laughing-it started quietly at first, then escalated into a weird cackle. I had officially lost my mind. Suddenly, I had an “Ah-Ha” moment.

It was as if the universe slapped me back into reality.  I had forgotten all about my rusty toolbox of tips and tricks that had been bestowed upon me once I choose this new way of life in recovery. I would periodically add new tools to the box to use as time progressed, pulling them out during times of conflict as a means to resolve my problems. Evidently however, I have been under the impression that I didn’t need the tools I possessed, that I could just use my own hands to fix my life. This is a big mistake.

I mentally rifled through my Tool Box and located a tool that had saved my life a thousand times over….

Having an “Attitude of Gratitude” is one of the most important things someone like me needs to possess. It is easy in the hustle and bustle of my daily life to lose sight of how wonderful things actually are. At times, after prolonged sobriety, we begin to forget where we came from, and the stepping stones we passed over during the journey of reaching our goals.  I decided to make a gratitude list right then and there, and to say the results were humbling was an understatement. I realized I was in fact grateful, for ALL of the things I had been complaining about just this morning.

Once I changed my attitude from “Bratitude”  to “Gratitude”,  I was able to see things from a completely different perspective.

My daughter invited me to an unwanted morning poop party – I have been blessed with a daughter with whom I love and cherish.

My son was screaming and annoying me with his need for attention at an inconvenient time-I have a son who will be grown before I know it.

I hit every red light on my morning drive- In my own vehicle that I am lucky to own.  I used to gladly take the Scat bus everywhere, now I’m whining about having to sit in my air conditioned car for a few extra seconds.

The machine didn’t accept my card at the gas station-I had money, on a card, to afford gas-to put in the car I own.

I had to clean my messy house – I have a house, and it is messy because my loved ones have fun and I am able to afford toys for them to leave around.

My landlord cancelled on me- okay I’m still a little bitter about this one. But, I am now free to take my girls to the park to meet up with an old friend that I haven’t seen since high school.

My higher power has a plan for me each and every day, I need to remember to stay out of his way and allow that plan to unfold.  When I try to control everything around me, and place expectations on people and situations, I am setting myself up for anxiety and resentments. All of the problems I experience each day are created in my own mind-based on how I view a certain situation. Happiness is a choice I have to continue to make. I can either stomp around loathing my current situation, or I can switch my perspective and focus on the positive aspect of it. My attitude has the ability to affect all of those around me, especially my children – therefore, I must continually strive for happiness and content with what I have, and never forget where I came from- and how much worse it could be.

Today- I am grateful for the mess, the unforeseen obstacles, the inconvenient setbacks and the surprises I am met with throughout the course of my day, for all of these things mean one thing…I am alive…and that in itself is a beautiful gift.

 

I’m Tiffany, & I’m an addict.

Hey you! I plan on writing many blogs detailing the dark, filthy trainwreck my life had become once the disease of addiction took ahold of my soul, however since this is my first post in this category, I thought I would take this opportunity to give you the 411 on my specific addiction….

I have a very vivid memory of setting my stuffed animals up in a row and teaching them about turtles. I explained about their shell, the way their heads ducked inside when they were scared, and the way they either lived on land or in the water. My treasure trolls never paid attention in class, so I usually had them in detention writing they were “sorry” over and over for interrupting my class. I had a passion for teaching and knew that when I grew up I was going to be the greatest teacher this town had ever known.

My dream, was to become a teacher, and at NO point, upon being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up did I EVER respond: A lying, thieving drug addict.

I didn’t want to be that. I don’t think anyone does, so HOW does this happen over and over to countless friends and loved ones? How do people who were straight ‘A’ students, or like myself, Captain of the High School cheerleading squad, ultimately end up in a trap house shaking uncontrollably while the dope man takes his time gathering the drugs I’ve just purchased with money I’ve just stolen out of my sisters wallet after she invited me over to hang out?

How come the girl next to me can take a pill for the first time, and never have the desire to try another, but when I take a pill, I am immediately thinking about the next time I can try one again.

Apparently there is something in our brains called a “reward system“. Evidently, back in the day, this came in handy when people were new to the earth. When they ate food, or had sex, the dopamine in their “reward system” spiked, that caused feelings of wanting to do these things again. I believe the “reward system” was put in our brains to continue procreation and encourage the human race to feed themselves on a consistent basis. After all if people were repulsed by sex, no one would have done it and humans would eventually fizzle out right?? This is the same reason that when you see a big a** delicious piece of chocolatey cake you get friggin excited, and when you eat that bad boy your “reward system” is like HELL to the YES….

The thing about our “reward system” is, it also releases dopamine when drugs travel through it, record levels of dopamine in fact. For someone like myself, when my “reward system” starts pumping that dopamine out, I never want it to stop.

Imagine you go to get a professional massage. You are on the table, waiting for the massuese to begin rubbing the warm oil between her hands. You know that at any moment, she is going to place her gifted hands onto your tired, achy, sore muscles and gently knead the stress you have been carrying away until you are completely relaxed. You are waiting with anticipation for her to begin….THAT feeling, is what it was like when I first started using…

The anticipation of knowing that the minute I took that pill, my days of stress and worry would disappear and I would become completely relaxed. If you could get a professional massage everyday, you probably would. I wanted that feeling everyday. I had a choice between feeling bored, annoyed, anxious and stressed, or feeling happy, relaxed, careless and free. Once I realized I could feel that way all the time, I never wanted to stop.

Eventually my “reward system” responded by lowering the amount of dopamine it produced, the only way I could feel that wonderful feeling I initially experienced was to do more than usual. My body built a tolerance. So I doubled the amount of pills I did to show my body who was boss…..

I didn’t know about withdrawl when I first began taking these magical pills. I was unaware of the consequences at that time, hence, my continued use. One night I was lying in bed and I got a feeling similar to that of growing pains. Remember when you were little and your muscles and bones were growing and that shit hurt?! That’s how I felt. I called my best friend and she told me it was most likely because I hadn’t taken a pill that day, and if I took one, she is sure I’d be fine. So I did. And she was right.

That was the night….. That night I stopped using because I wanted to, and started using because I HAD to.  I found, that when I stopped taking a pill for an extended period of time, my body revolted.

Imagine laying in bed, and all of a sudden it felt as though your bones were breaking out of your skin. Your muscles were twisting in on themselves as your body became drenched with perspiration. Despite feeling as though you were sitting in an oven, your body was prickled with goosebumps. Your nose begins running and your eyes watering. You clench up into the tightest ball you can make and begin rocking to help alleviate the pain, to no avail. You attempt to sleep, in hopes of time passing without you being conscious, but the severe physical pain your body is in doesn’t allow it. You have diarrhea and vomit leaving your body at the same time, but you dread having to get out from under the covers to use the restroom because the cold air feels as though someone is repeatedly stabbing you with thousands of microscopic needles all over every single inch of your body. You are forced to be awake every second and feel every ounce of this torture. Seconds seem like centuries…….and this feeling will last for weeks, even months, until the drugs are completely out of your system…

Or. …….You can feel better within seconds…..all you have to do ….is take one pill and all that pain and anguish instantly……disappears………

It’s as if you are underwater, the remaining air you had in your lungs just dissipated, so you begin hiccupping on whatever miniscule traces of oxygen you have left. The surface of the water is a mere inches from your face, all you have to do is stand up and you can inhale fresh, clean air into your empty tired lungs….

That is how it feels during withdrawl…..the pills, in essence, are my water surface….

I know it was my choice to begin taking the pills. I know it was ignorant of me to not fully research the consequences of my actions…but once I began, it became virtually, impossible….to stop….

If you know someone who is suffering from addiction and you are thinking to yourself “why the f*** don’t they just stop?” ….Try walking up to someone on an oxygen tank and saying to them “hey, why don’t you just turn that damn thing off?”….

That’s how it feels to be an addict. If an addict has a job, a family, a home, a vehicle and they have the choice of going through weeks and months of physical and mental agony, or taking just one more pill and postponing the pain for another day.  They will most likely choose the pill, every time.

Don’t be judgemental, be empathetic. Don’t be hateful, be emotionally supportive. Don’t lose hope for them, pray for them, and don’t write them off as a lost cause, because change is always possible. You cannot talk a drug addict into getting clean. They must experience enough pain, desperation and heartbreak to decide to fight with all their might to beat it. No one on this earth, including children and judges, can make an addict become willing to stop if the journey of getting clean seems harder than continuing on the dark path of addiction. This is why many of us have to hit rock bottom in order to stop. If things haven’t gotten bad enough, why would we? It’s torture.

If you are a parent,spouse or child of an addict,….you have to know this isn’t your fault. Its ours, and theres nothing you could have done differently aside from chaining us up in a closet, (and even then we would most likely eat paint chips off the wall…jk…kinda). Don’t give us money, give us love and support and please believe me when I tell you this……that this is ALL you can do.  There are no “right” words to say to us..no “right” things to do or not to do…love us from a distance if you must but please, don’t stop loving us.

I am grateful that no one wrote me off as a lost cause…It was the love and emotional support of my family that kept the hope in my heart alive as I fought the demons permanently residing in my head, that so desperately attempted to take my life from me.

I will never be able to be a school teacher (damn felonies) , but when I got clean I made a promise to God that I would take every opportunity I was given to teach others about how recovery and the program worked for me, and that it can for them too…. My life isn’t where I expected it to be, but I believe in my heart of hearts, that its exactly where it was always meant to be…..