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SCARS: Taylor Ward
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Tuesday, March 17, 2020
By Amanda Reed Photography

You turn mourning to dancing
You give beauty for ashes
You turn shame into glory
You're the only one who can

You turn graves into gardens....

 

Taylor Rae Ward

Age 26

 

Hello, my name is Taylor and I am an addict.  For the longest time I never wanted to admit or say these words. Bondage kept me from ever admitting to myself or let alone anyone else how dark my life had become. I will start off with my clean date which is September 2, 2017. This was the day that I decided I want my life back. This is it…

 

So, I will start from the beginning.

 

I was born on August 10, 1993. I grew up mostly in Rupert, West Virginia until I was about 5 years of age. My childhood is hard to explain because I don’t remember a lot. It hurts to even say this because I know I was loved but so much heartache seems to repress my good memories.  I don’t really remember my biological dad being there a lot, I just know he came and went at his leisure. I was about 5 years old when my mother met the man who I call “dad”.  For the next 10 years of my life I was a happy and spoiled child. I was diagnosed with ADHD by a local doctor who no longer practices. He had me prescribed daily to take Adderall in the morning and Clonidine at night to calm my fast-acting brain. I think this was the beginning of it all.  For those 10 years daily, I was drugged because I wasn’t “a normal kid”. If that makes sense, right? I wasn’t like the other kids at school. My brain was always on 100. Going non-stop. This left me unable to communicate and have social skills that any normal elementary kid would. I was a target for bullies. Yup, the start of self-esteem issues… So, at the age of 15, my parents decided to split, and it really did a number on me. Of course, I stayed with mom. Mom was the “cool” mom. I got to stay out late and basically do whatever I pleased if I worked and went to school. Little did I know that my mother was going through one of the worst heartbreaks of all time. Losing the love of her life and his family turning their back on her. She was on a downward spiral, just like me.  I started experimenting with boys/girls, marijuana, and alcohol. This all started in high school. I had the I don’t give a f*** attitude. My life can’t get any worse right?

 

So, I’m going to directly jump into the hardcore stuff. So, after high school mom decided to move the family to Hampton, Va. I mean it was an exciting time in my life.  I was going to live at the beach. What teenager about to turn 18 doesn’t want to live 5 minutes from the ocean? So yeah, cocaine. I’ll go ahead and put that out there.  I never associated with “rich kids” until Hampton Va. That’s when I met cocaine. I took a position at Hooters in Hampton. I remember being so scared on my first shift only because these girls were like pretty… Then you have me from West Virginia… I made my first friend there. She was a lot like me. We ended up clicking and I eventually went to a house party. When I tell you, I have never seen anything like this. Kids everywhere. Underage drinking and drugs. It was heaven for me. I was so happy. People so carefree and offering you whatever. That’s when I met my one of many mistakes. He was handsome and charming. Of course, he drove a very expensive SUV. I was intrigued. He told me “I was sweet, beautiful and not like the other girls around here.” He was an older guy at the party though. I didn’t understand. Then after he offered me my first drug of choice... Cocaine. I realized why he was there. After that night months of abuse got worse. I ended up leaving my mothers and crashing on different people's couches at this point. I got fired from hooters. So here I am jobless and strolling craigslist trying to find a job. I came across an ad. Strange but it seemed legit and I decided to check it out. My friend and I got dolled up and we made the trip across the HRBT. We pull into the parking lot and it’s a nightclub. Adult nightclub. I had never seen anything like this before. The ad was looking for cocktail-dancers. So of course, hesitant we walk in. First thing I see. A stage and two poles. It was kind of like love at first sight. If that makes any sense. I watched in awe as the girl on stage twirled around and did acrobatic splits on the pole. This brings me to the next chapter of my life.

 

It’s 2012 at this point. I got kicked out and moved myself back to West Virginia and found myself struggling. It wasn’t until I met my best friend Fahn that I was back on the road to Virginia Beach. We shared the same occupation apparently. Of course, I knew some clubs willing to let us start immediately. When we first arrived in Virginia Beach, we stayed in a house with 8 guys. It was a fun time in my life. I was tripping acid and DMT almost every day. We started working at a local club on Oceana Blvd. It was the place to be. That’s when I met the irresistible club owner. From there life got worse. I was in a “swinger” relationship. Meeting random people through the club my drug connections got stronger. It was at that club that I discovered opiates. A girl’s best friend is what I called it. I remember that pole dancing took a toll on the body and I was in constant pain. Bruised knees and legs were a part of the job. Snorting my first line was like a breath of fresh air. I could dance hard, and when I tell you hard, I mean hard. I couldn’t feel anything at all. Also, who wants to dance sober in front of men? Not me. It gave me this incredibly strong feeling of I am a vixen. I had so much self-esteem, I was unstoppable at this point.

 

The relationship ended and I met my son’s father at this club. He swept me off my feet.  At this point I was highly addicted to opiates. I was sick if I didn’t have them. I told my son’s father the problem and for a week he took care of me. I got off the opiates because that’s something he was not okay with. I was in love with this man. So, for next year before my beautiful son was born, I lived a happy semi sober life. I did continue to smoke pot and drink. Adam- my son’s father and I were so toxic for each other. We loved each other so much that it killed us both inside. I really don’t know how to explain our relationship to anyone. He was an alcoholic and I was a drug addict. We were destined for destruction. We ended up splitting when Hayden was about 3 months old. I decided to move back to West Virginia. I was sober, like sober for about 2 months when I first moved back.  Then all this pain of not having Adam and our family together came down on me at once. I relapsed. Opiates was back and she was full force this time. She was ready to kill me. So here I am alone with a 5-month-old. No job. No money. So, I went back to what I know works for me. I started dancing full nude at a local West Virginia club. Dancing fully nude was new for me but I loved it. I could make triple here compared to other clubs. So, my drug use progressed even further. I was making so much money I didn’t even know what to do with it.

 

The first time I got arrested was in Va. My second arrest was leaving the West Virginia club. I had been up all night, drinking and high on opiates. I was just trying to get home to go to sleep. I received my first DUI. Of course, I called my mother and I posted bond. I was living in Bluefield, West Virginia. My mother refused to let me return home. I ended up staying in Greenbrier County for the weekend. I returned and continued to my heavy drug use. Months go by I end up losing our home to live in and I was forced to make a decision. Return to mother’s house or go to Florida and live with basically a stranger? Well the addict in me thought it would be a wonderful idea to pick up all my belongings and move 900 miles away from my family. Drugs, drugs and more drugs. That’s all Florida did for me. I was sexually assaulted while in a Xanax induced high. I was also arrested for my third time in Volusia County, FL. Possession of cocaine. It’s crazy how god works because, I remember this night. I remember working at a club that night and buying supposedly what I thought was heroin. Well, if it wasn’t for the two cops that pulled me over that night, I would be dead. Vaguely, the cops told me while I was in handcuffs that it was the purest cocaine they had ever seen. At this point my mother drove almost 14 hours straight to Florida to pick me up and take me back to West Virginia. Rehab was not one of the first priorities on my list.

 

This was the beginning of many rehabs. I spent time in two rehabs. I felt like during my time in those rehabs that I did want to get clean, but it wasn’t really an option for me because I didn’t know how to live clean without the use of drugs. I felt that I could not use the “hard stuff” but still smoke pot. Little did I know I was the walking definition of insanity.  It wasn’t until the summer of 2017 when I got arrested once again for robbery, I knew enough was enough. I was tired of living this lifestyle. Being a drug addict was a full-time job for me. It was exhausting. I remember walking into the church inside Sullivan county jail and hitting the ground and asking god. “God, please help me. God, please help me”. I repeated this over and over till I got a sense of relief or a feeling that he finally heard my cries. I eventually was let out on home incarceration on September 12, 2017. This was the start of a new way of life for me.  I was so adamant about staying clean and learning to live life clean. I no longer spoke to the people I used drugs with, got a minimum wage job and did what normal people do. I was finally excited to wake up and be happy about life. I attended meetings with addicts like me. I was shown that I could become a productive member of society. The not so pretty side to sobriety is having to deal with death and real-life problems. During my recovery I have lost numerous friends and family members. It’s hard but I now I understand how to deal with it instead of coping in ways that are self-harming for myself. It’s been a long road, but I still have many more days to go. God willing.

 

It’s been a long road, but I still have many more days to go. God willing. Today as I speak, I am 892 days clean. Only months shy from my 3-year mark. I cannot help but thank my higher power, my family, especially my mother. Without my support system I don’t know where I would be. I am not only clean, but I am a wife, a mother, and a daughter. My life has changed tremendously these past 3 years. I attend college full time and work a part time job on the weekends! God has blessed me beyond measure. If you know anyone who is struggling with addiction or you are please don’t ever hesitate to reach out.  I have been there, and I understand how dark it can be. Thank you for allowing to share my story with you. I hope it helps. 

 

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