by Mindi V.
Growing up I always felt like an outsider. If only I was prettier, if my parents had more money, if I had nicer clothes, then everyone would like me. I craved to be liked, to be seen. But I never got that recognition I was looking for. I never quite fit in. I always say attention was my first drug of choice. It filled me up and made me feel better. When I was 13 my innocence was taken from me by an older boy. I thought he liked me, but it turns out he was after one thing and when I wouldn’t give it to him, he took it. This changed the way I saw sex. I saw it as a tool to get the attention I so desperately craved. I couldn’t have nice clothes or the perfect body, but I could offer something that girls my age were not offering yet. Now news boys wanted to talk to me, they invited me over. I felt… wanted. Looking back, I know this is where my addiction began.
I wasn’t into drugs very much when I was younger; I got what I needed in other ways. I watched my dad and brother struggle with drugs for most of my life and I was sure I would never turn out like them. But once I graduated high school, I met a new friend that struggled with addiction as well. She was so different and intoxicating. I was drawn to her like a magnet. After my first real encounter with drugs, we decided to move. We packed up all of our stuff and just started driving. We ended up in a small city in New York where we got an apartment. Not long after arriving I met my new love, opiates. My friend was an experienced addict, I however, had no idea what this new drug would do to me. After using opiates for the first time, I was hooked. I felt so comfortable when I got high, like the whole world was right, which is something I had never felt before. It became the solution to all my problems. Life was great, until we lost our jobs and we couldn’t afford our new lifestyle anymore. The pink cloud was slowly turning grey and my life began to spin out of control, so I decided to move home.
When I got back to Florida I started buying pills from a family member. I got a job, started school and everything was going well, my life was manageable again. Then I got news that would change the way I viewed life. My dad died. I remember after my mom told me I took every pill I had and thought forget this, screw this life, I’m done.” I quit school, I lost my job and I needed more pills to numb the pain. My life began to spiral, again. This time I didn’t care though, I was ok with living my life this way. What was the point in trying if this was my fate? In some sick way I thought I was doing my father’s memory justice. He lived his life addicted, so I would too. The pain I felt inside was too much to bare, and I would drown it out as much as I could.
I struggled like this for years until my family had an intervention. To satisfy them I told them I would get on methadone. That only worked for so long. I got kicked out of the methadone clinic for positive drug tests and ended up living on the streets in Tampa with a man I barely knew. This guy was abusive and aggressive, but at the same time, he was the only person that made me feel safe. Weird, I know. He had a way of making me believe I was lucky to have him, like he was doing me a favor being with me. Meanwhile, I was the one making the money to feed our habit. This was his way of keeping me dependent on him; I believed the things he told me, that I was unworthy of real love.
This is where my higher power started to change my life. That abusive man got arrested and sentenced to 6 months in jail and I finally got the courage to leave him. Not long after, I started dating another man and got pregnant. I wish I could say my addiction stopped there, but it didn’t. I ended up in the ICU with endocarditis at 7 months pregnant. I was in the hospital receiving antibiotics for 8 weeks and when I was discharged, I was prescribed methadone. Luckily, my baby survived, but DCF got involved, and once I was released from the hospital she was removed from my custody and I was sent to treatment.
People use to always tell me “it’s all a part of God’s plan.” I never understood that statement until my daughter arrived. God knew exactly what I needed: the only way to save me was to give me a child, and not just give me a child, but also take that child away. The pain of losing her made me cherish having her that much more. I believe God knew my self-worth was so low that I would never get clean on my own but I was broken down to my lowest point and built my life back up from scratch. My daughter became that light at the end of the tunnel and I ran straight for that light.
Today my life looks totally different. When I had been off drugs for one year, I was able to wean off methadone. I made this decision because I no longer wanted to be a slave to drugs, of any kind. I didn’t do it for my family, or for my daughter, I did it because I was done! I also chose to restart my clean time. To me it was the first time I chose me over drugs and it was on my own accord. I started attending NA meetings, I asked a woman to be my sponsor and I started to build a support network. The women I have met in recovery have taught me so much about who I am and I who I can become. The bonds we have formed are irreplaceable. I can not only hold a job, but someone actually trusts me enough to run their business. I work hard to financially support my family. For the first time in my life, I have my own apartment, a car loan and I pay all my bills on time. I am a friend people can count on, I am a woman my daughter can look up to, I am an employee that is reliable and productive and at 35 years old, I am a student again.
I wish I could tell you that at 3.5 years clean I love everything about myself and that I fully know my worth, but it’s something I still struggle with. However, everyday I learn new things about myself, and I am seeing qualities emerge that I am proud to have. I know that I am a good person today, and I am trying to put love out into this world. I’m growing as a woman and as mom, and I love the direction my life is going. Today I am a woman of integrity. These are all things I could have never said about myself 3 years ago. My relationship with my higher power is growing the longer I stay clean. Every day I wake up grateful and I look at my life and think “how is this possible? How did I get here?” Hard work and perseverance got me to this point, and God willing, my life will keep getting better. As long as I stay clean, the possibilities are endless.