I have been blessed getting to know the hearts of the youth in the community this past year and recently have had more one on one time with some. I hear too often the needs in the community, homes and schools. I think back on my testimony often while hearing them express how sick and tired they are of watching their peers overdose. They ask questions like, “why doesn’t anyone care or do anything.”
While it breaks my heart for them to hear and see these traumatic events and be expected to go back to school the next day as if nothing happened and no time for grief or guidance… I am also encouraged that I am being used as a tool to help and advocate for them. I have seen a glimpse of hope in their eyes and that is motivating in itself to continue what we do. My passion is to give them a voice in the community and provide resources to improve their mental health during such a tragic time right now in the world.
If you aren’t experiencing these reports, then wait until your younger kids are more grown. I often share safe pieces of my testimony to engage and let them know I am not just an authority but a person with experience and remind them that in my younger years drugs were very different, and times were extremely different. Today, you can not experiment for the first time with any type of drug as at they are all very likely to be laced with fentanyl. I don’t share my testimony often, but feel led to share the whole thing here. I know that with vulnerability, and transparency, my sharing opens a door of opportunity for others to learn and grow. It’s not really about me at all…Often times we are called by God to do many things we’re afraid of, but He will always provide us with His power and there’s power in our testimonies.
So, it is written…
“They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; for they did not love their lives to the point of death.” - Revelation 12:11
I have not always had a relationship with God. My teenage years were very lonely and full of addiction starting at the age of 13. Around 16, my addiction evolved to harder drugs and alcohol. If I made it to school, it was usually with a coffee cup of hard liquor mixed in juice that I would sneak out of the house to get through my day. It was my medicine. When I was home, I would seclude myself in my bedroom and find myself praying to ‘a God’ I didn’t know or even fully believe in, mostly out of boredom. Most of my prayers sounded like, “If you help me stay alive and not overdose tonight, I promise I will get clean,” only to go out the next day to continue taking whatever I could get my hands on, but grateful I wasn’t dead. Or, “If you do this, then I will do that.” You know, “the let’s make a deal prayers.”
I only prayed when I needed something but I did feel a presence of something higher all around me during my younger years while praying. It was when I was mad at God for something, that I would pray to the stars and not directly to the one protecting me. I prayed to stay alive when I was really dying on the inside. I soon turned into a slave acting on my suicidal thoughts that the substances were feeding and no longer prayed to stay alive. I couldn’t bring hard drugs into my parent’s house so in my so called desperation days to not feel when I wasn’t high, I started cutting myself. This didn’t last to long as I didn’t enjoy looking at the cuts…they were just a reminder of my delusional failures. So, when I couldn’t get high, I popped Advil, sometimes a handful here and there. It was ok to me if I didn’t wake up, but I always did. Of course growing up I knew nothing about substance use disorder, and that it’s a genetic disease.
“Substance use disorder describes a problematic pattern of using alcohol or another substance that results in impairment in daily life or noticeable distress.”
Today, I do understand SUD, and understand now my root cause was my triggering relationship with my biological mom. She had years of addiction and was an alcoholic from a young age too. She was in active addiction from the time I was born and I lived with her until the age of 6. She lost legal rights to me due to her addiction and I met my dad for the first time that same year as he took me into his and my stepmother’s home. He was a very good father, and they were both loving parents and did what they could. He was a good protector and I believe he put a stop to my visitations with my mom at some point for she was rarely sober with me in her care. I spent my time tucking her in, wiping up her vomit and pouring out alcohol bottles. Unfortunately, when I was much younger, during some overnight stays with my mom, I was molested by men who were staying over or dating my mom.
As a young and confused girl I aways acted out causing my father and I to struggle. When I got word that my mom left for good and I didn’t know where she went, I was 11. I was relieved to not have to take care of her and clean up her actions anymore, but at the same time crushed that she chose the alcohol, men and drugs over me instead of getting help. Today, I understand more and have sought out therapy over the years to overcome the sexual abuse, and PTSD from the trauma. I worked on forgiving my mom, her addiction and the sexual abusers allowing me to continue to have the strength to pursue sobriety for myself and continue in my freedom today. I also sought out therapy for my addictions through the years, because I wanted to show my kids I could get sober for them. I truly believe if those steps were not made, I would still struggle in my recovery…
Let’s talk about recovery. What motivated me, was focusing on mending my relationships with my children, my husband and presently, coming out of hiding and mending relationships with my overall family, who I distanced myself from for years while walking through my recovery. I personally had to move away from my hometown to leave behind triggers and start over fresh to build a sober life and how that looked to me. I know I turn completly into a different person when I take that first drink and even now understand that if I pick up a drink, SUD will lead me to a dark place, It’s not about, “if I can practice self control,” or practicing the mentality, “to just have one.” I often recite this scripture when I have a thought come in that I want to drink, still to this day.
"As a dog returns to its vomit, so also a fool repeats his foolishness.” - Proverbs 26:11
With all the work I put in to mend the repercussions of my past addictions that I had put on my family for years, why would I partake in an action that led me astray for so long before? I have opened my heart and hands to receiving my healing and know what that looks like for me. I was so tired of watching myself and my mental health deplete so quickly when I was in active addiction, and while it has been a very long road to my recovery what motivates me now is mending my relationship with God. I know longer pray to the stars, but directly to the Creator of the stars, I no longer cry out to want to live…I am alive and living and learning to let go of the old coping mechanisms I learned to survive in exchange for the true peace within myself. Knowing I am free and can help those seeking recovery, I find myself more confident sharing in order to bring light to others, that there is freedom.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30
Today, by the grace of God, I have been lifted for a long time now from my addictions. God has been very faithful in my healing and all He did was ask me to follow him, I am not ashamed to praise him for that. I’m thankful for the restoration that has been provided in my marriage and relationships today.
Jesus turned and saw her. “Have courage, daughter,” he said. “Your faith has saved you.” And the woman was made well from that moment.” - Matthew 9:22
Remember, to speak truth and affirmations over yourself, even if you don’t believe them at first. Eventually you will. We are born over-comers and know that when you line yourself up with your healing it will be given to you. We are called to put in the work, and at times this can be very overwhelming. From one overcomer to another, get help, mend relationships, forgive and allow God to surpass your own understanding of your life to move into action in your recovery. No one can tell you how or what your own personal recovery looks like for you…If you’re lost, desperate and feel like you don’t have strength reach out. It can often be the hardest first step but you don’t have to walk it alone.
Let’s build a stronger self and heal together.