- Mental Health
I grew up as an Army brat in what seemed to be a normal family of five. Our family was normal on the outside but very sick and dysfunctional on the inside. I am the oldest of three siblings in my family. Neither my mother nor my father used drugs and alcohol. Sometimes I wished that they had used drugs and alcohol – then it would have made sense why they were so sick.
My father physically, mentally and sexually abused us throughout our childhoods. My mother has an eating disorder, and my father had sexually abused her too. These are my earliest memories from age two. As a result of the sexual abuse, I had never felt good enough and did not learn how to love myself.
Drugs and Alcohol Were My Life
I started smoking pot and drinking alcohol with a close family member at the age of 13, which was about the same time that I had enough courage to reach out and stop the sick cycle of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. I escaped to the family member’s house on a regular basis and I finally told the truth about the abuse. This family member had also been raped by my father as an adult during a drug and alcohol-induced blackout and never told anyone. By using, I could become another person and escape from the pain of life. I grew up in fear of my father, which resulted in me fearing everyone I came in contact with. I always worried that they knew my sick family secrets by looking at me.
I struggled with suicidal ideations and thoughts throughout my teenage years. Even though I finally had the courage to get help from others, I felt like I destroyed my family. My mother did not want to leave my father. She said she would stand beside him through sickness and health. My father went to jail and then was on probation so he could not come within a certain number of miles of his family. Soon after talking about what was happening in our family, my sister and I were removed from our home by children’s services. First, we were in shelters. Then I became a ward of the state and was in and out of foster homes until I turned 18. My mother wanted to reunite the family including my father, but I rebelled against life.
I Tried to Escape
I ran away from home and foster homes numerous times. I attempted suicide four times as a teenager. I was forced to attend therapy with my father present. We were assigned by the judge to a specialist that dealt with both the victims of physical, mental, and sexual abuse and the perpetrators who caused the abuse in the family. This psychologist first had my sister and I move in with him and his girlfriend (who was a former patient) and then convinced my family to have me committed after my suicide attempts and running away from home. As it turns out, this same psychologist was molesting children in the victims’ group that my sister and I were attending. I had a guardian ad litem that fought for our rights in court and helped to convince my mother how sick my psychologist and my father really were. The psychologist disappeared from the state and lost his license after a patient confessed to what he was doing.
At the age of 17, I met my husband. He was a recovering addict and alcoholic in the program since the age of 15. At the age of 21, I completely sobered up out of respect for him, without the help of any 12 step program. I was in complete denial of any alcohol and drug problems on my part. The key problem was that I sobered up for him. I struggled with severe depression throughout our marriage from not dealing with my childhood abuse properly. I lived my life as a victim.
About 10 years into our marriage, my husband decided to give up his recovery. I willingly gave up my sobriety with him. I struggled with self-esteem and confidence issues. The depression that I fought my entire life was amplified when I was drunk and high.
My Marriage Began to Fall Apart
I gained a lot of weight after having children. At my peak weight in 2004, while pregnant with my second child, I weighed 189 lbs. By 2007, I weighed approximately 165 lbs and I discovered my husband of 15 years was having an affair. I then dropped to 105 lbs in less than a year. It was the heartbreak diet. I just could not eat. I could not bear to look at myself in the mirror. I was a train wreck. The sexual and physical abuse from my childhood was creeping into my thoughts on a regular basis. I did not feel that I was good enough or even worthy of living.
I attempted to put my marriage back together with a combination of marriage counseling, individual counseling, antidepressants, Xanax and Klonopin for the anxiety attacks and lots of alcohol. I thought my husband was the person I was going to be with forever and my true love. How could he not be in love with me? How could he choose someone else over me? My life became so unmanageable that I was on the brink of insanity.
I Wanted to Die
When I finally had enough pain, suffering and consequences, I gave up the fight with my disease and gave up on my life. I attempted to end my life again and was forced into recovery.
On March 25, 2008, I was really drunk and had taken all of my prescription antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs at once. There was no plan. I just did it to end my miserable life. I remember looking up after swallowing all the pills and seeing a picture of my two small children on my refrigerator. I could not leave them, abandon them and do this to them. I ran outside to expel the pills, but it was too late. My husband called the police, and I was Baker acted on the spot. Thank God! I chose recovery from alcohol and drugs. I chose life. My husband filed for divorce while I was in treatment. He was completely immersed in the affair and his own addictions. The treatment center I went to saved my life! It was a Dual Diagnosis center for women that specialized in treating PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
First Sign of Hope
While in recovery, I focused on not using drugs and alcohol and dealing with my PTSD that resulted from the years of abuse in my childhood. Today, I am very aware of where the pain comes from. It comes from inside my head, my distorted thoughts of self and my self-worth. I did not know how to love myself or care for myself. My focus was on my husband, my children and my job of 22 years. Today, I am no longer a victim of my disease nor a victim of my past. It’s not happening anymore. I know today that I do not ever have to be the train wreck of a woman that I used to be. Yes, I am an alcoholic and addict. My disease took me to a point of giving up my life, but my past does not define me. Because of this program and because of divine intervention from God, I am alive today and I have a purpose. My purpose is to not waste away in addiction, but to give back, help others and to take care of myself and my kids. I want to live life to its fullest and to not give up no matter what. I want to choose well and live well. I have been given by God a chance to start over and live by the principles of the program and I believe in the promises.
“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is a chance to work hard at work worth doing” – Teddy Roosevelt
My work is myself. I AM WORTH IT and so are you! You deserve a good life!