- Friends & Family
Submitted by: Jamie Thompson
I grew up in a typical Southern home where everything looked good from the outside but was quite abnormal on the inside. We had the big house, expensive cars, weekend houses, and we were completely dysfunctional. Both my parents were addicts. My dad used to beat and abuse my mom. I watched my dad die of a cocaine overdose when I was nine. My mom lost it and my sister took over custody of me and my brother.
I tried to be a normal child as best I could without parents.
I got really involved in school and dance. I knew I never wanted to be like my parents. I hated my mother and I didn’t want to die like my dad. I had a lot of anger and resentment and I did not want to use drugs or alcohol. Obviously, that didn’t stop me.
I started dating someone older than me when I was young and I began using drugs by the time I was 12. The drug use progressed rapidly and I am glad for that. I don’t have any illusions of believing it was just a phase. Normal people don’t stick needles in their arms, ever. Normal people don’t ever think that it’s a good idea. When I started using, I instantly began lying, manipulating, and stealing because I had no ways or means.
The last night I used, I brought drugs home and my girlfriend was already home before me. I wasn’t in the mood to share, so I started a fight. I locked myself in the bathroom and woke up seven hours later with the needle dangling from my arm. The bathroom door was still closed. I looked at my phone and there were no calls. I had never felt so alone before. A moment of clarity come over me. I realized it was my fault. I had hit the reject button on my phone so many times that no one wanted to talk to me or be around me anymore. There were people that would have beaten down that door, but I had stopped talking to them. I realized that if it was my fault, then it was my responsibility to fix it.
I knew they would take care of me in rehab, listen to me complain and whine, and tell me I would be okay. I knew the consequences of my use would begin to diminish in rehab and my family would start to talk to me again. Rehab was like a get-out-of-jail-free card for me. I didn’t know what else to do and I wasn’t sure I wanted to stop using, but I went to see what would happen.
A part of me didn’t want to be there but I was mostly relieved. I didn’t want to play the game anymore. I remember going to a 12-Step meeting where there was an old man I thought I didn’t want to listen to. I felt like he and I could have nothing in common—but as I sat there, I saw that he was happy. He was really happy. He didn’t have a great life… but he was happy.
I kept going back because of that man and other people like him in the meetings. I didn’t understand the steps or anything anyone talked about. I just knew that the people were nice to me. They didn’t judge me. I didn’t feel different anymore.
With about four months clean, I started to understand some of 12-Step philosophy, but I was miserable. I knew that step one taught me that I couldn’t do drugs again and I hated that drugs were no longer the answer. When that was taken away from me, I learned that I had no way to cope with life. I was close to suicide. My skin crawled at every meeting. At five months clean, I decided to work with a sponsor. I took a step back and looked around me. I saw people coming in miserable and then a week or two later they were smiling and happy. I decided I could find whatever I was looking for. I could look for hope and find it, or I could look for hopelessness and find it.
After two and a half years, I had a job, an apartment, and I was back in school. These are all things I didn’t even want in the beginning, but suddenly they were all very important to me. All I wanted in the beginning was to stop using, sit still, and not rip my hair out.
I now have five years clean. My thinking can still get the best of me, but I have a “pause” button that allows me to step out of my own way and to let my Higher Power take the lead. My life is more than I’ve ever dreamed of. I can sit still and be by myself. People call me and ask me how I’m doing and I call others and ask the same. I make a difference in the world. Today, I love who I am and what I have become.