From a promising adolescent with great athletic abilities, a charismatic personality, and intelligence, no one saw it coming. At the age of fourteen I consumed my first alcoholic beverage which produced a rapid snowball-like effect. I began a downhill descent; ultimately, I spiraled wickedly out of control and came to that ever-so-scary fork in the road. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to do something different, which became my turning point, and it forever affected my life.
Whenever I think back and remember my childhood, even as great as it was, I felt as if something was missing. If I hung out with those people, if I had those clothes, if only I looked like that, everything would be all right. At the beginning of freshman year, this insistent voice I constantly heard in my head grew so loud, to such a volume I could not ignore. I made a choice to sneak out of the house, to go out with an older group of friends and have a drink.
Soon, after a few beers had been put back, I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom. All feelings of worry and wonder vanished. I no longer questioned my appearance or jokes; the little girl I was suddenly became the life of the party. But little did I know what a major façade this induced state of mind would become. Eventually the lifestyle of finding ways and means to get more would gain complete control over my life.
My drinking started off slowly, but when I drank, it was a binge. It was anything and everything I could throw back, resulting in a blackout. I progressively got deeper into experimenting with other drugs. My selfishness and self-centeredness devoured all morals and values I was raised with. It was as if no one even recognized me any longer. I jumped at extremely dangerous ideas that were beginning to harm myself and others. Extreme risk-taking behavior was more than noticeable at this point.
I was no longer a sweet, innocent young lady, as I reverted back to an animalistic level. The degradation I thought would never happen to me turned into a sadly-mistaken daily occurrence. I could not be trusted for a single second, and the lies were becoming a reflex, with no consideration for anyone around me, nor for my own life. I reached a new low. Over the course of four short years, my reality became a sick delusion. A seventeen-year-old child, on the verge of becoming a recognized legal adult, had now racked up two charges on her juvenile record, lost scholarship offers, and had multiple stays on psychiatric units.
Luckily my loving, caring parents resorted to seeking residential treatment for me. Believing this would be my only hope, days before my eighteenth birthday my parents approached their daughter with her only option. By this point, I had turned into a full-blown alcoholic, drinking daily, using what I could, in between drinks, to get by.
I was beginning to come to the realization that I honestly had no other choice but to accept the help being offered. On July 24, 2008, the day I turned eighteen, without an ounce of hope in sight, just months after barely graduating high school, after yet another blackout night, I willingly showed up in the waiting room at Turning Point of Tampa. Due to my decisions leading up to when I checked in, I was miserable and in a tremendous amount of pain. I finally surrendered, at least I thought I had.
Essentially, my higher power worked miraculously in my life, without me even having the awareness. I began the trek on a journey that would become the ride of my life. I was finally introduced to 12-Step programs that would change my life forever.
While I took in all that was offered through treatment, I had difficulty completely surrendering without having experienced any desperation. I still had to experience my bottom in order to truly want recovery for myself. After continually approaching one disaster after another, I realized by this point, in a gifted moment of clarity, that it was insanity to repeatedly “hit my head against the wall,” and it was time to do something different.
I reached my ultimate bottom on March 11, 2009. The morning of March 12, I received the gift of desperation. I was privileged at this point to have had the seed of Narcotics Anonymous planted and a belief in all it had to offer. My immediate reaction was to attend a meeting in search of help and relief. I went to the Thursday night group that met at 8:00 p.m. When it came time for key tags, I assumed complete defeat and surrendered to a new way of life. By picking up a white key tag, this girl opened the door to a promise of freedom from active addiction, and the hope that this addict could lose the desire to use and find a new way to live. I was astounded by the love I was given.
Since that day, I have not used. Through working the program as laid out, my life was dramatically affected. I am now an honest, open-minded, and willing individual. My actions have proven me to be a trusted, responsible, and productive member of society. Gaining my family’s trust and faith in my recovery has restored an overwhelming sense of self-worth and self-esteem, which was absent for so long. Relationships, including those of my newfound friends and family members, have a meaningful importance behind them. I have been able to show up and be present in others’ lives.
I work very hard at my recovery because I have been shown that what I put into it comes back tenfold. Today I possess integrity, in addition to a serene peacefulness. Many, including myself, believed these gifts would never exist. Lost dreams were awoken and new possibilities arise each day in this girl’s world. A life beyond my wildest dreams came true. I would have sold myself short if I were asked five years ago what I might be and have today, and therefore I will be forever grateful to Narcotics Anonymous for the life it has given me.
Although it has not always been the easiest, living life on life’s terms, it is far easier then living through active addiction. Oh, yeah, and that insistent voice is now the quietest it has ever been; the majority of the time I don’t hear it at all! Freedom and the ability to have a choice became the result of complete acceptance.