God waits every day with every answer we need, every comfort we crave, every affection we’re desperate for, while we look everywhere else but at Him. And oh, how that must absolutely break His heart.
The world entices our flesh but never embraces our soul.
So, we must look to God to fill us today. Turn to Him. Sit with Him. Be with Him. And soak in the abundant love He has for us. ~ Lysa TerKeurst
I never really know where to start or how much detail to give when telling my story. Over time my perspective of my own story changes because more healing and self-realization occurs. I will start with my name, Theresa, I am an addict with just 31 days shy of being 3 years clean. Three years ago, if you would have asked me if this was possible, I probably would have cried and said that I sure hope so, but I doubt it.
Unlike a lot of other horror stories, you hear from other people struggling with addiction, I did not have a terrible childhood. I grew up in a family who loved me to the absolute best of their ability. The problem was that I was unable to see how much I was loved when it mattered most. I couldn't see that my parents were doing their absolute best, all I could see were their faults. I suffered from clinical depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety for most of my life, but it was left un-diagnosed and untreated. I had major self-esteem issues and struggled with severe social anxiety. This led me to try to fix myself with anything that made me feel normal.
As a teenager and young adult this looked like experimenting with alcohol, marijuana and boys. By the time I was in my early 20's I had a mortgage, a nice home, a solid career as a Correctional Officer and newborn son. On the outside it looked like I had my life together but on the inside I felt alone. I felt like a failure because I had put myself in a position to raise a child alone, I felt a fear so deep that I would never be what my son needed me to be. That fear was almost crippling. Instead of talking to anyone about my feelings, I continued to push them further and further down and isolated myself from friends and family.
Then came cervical cancer and a hysterectomy, right at the time my mental health was at its worst. With that surgery came pain medication. I had been on pain medication before, but this was different. This time I paid attention to the fact that it made EVERYTHING in my life feel normal. It made me feel normal. It made me feel like maybe, just maybe I wasn't so socially awkward, like I was the same as everyone else. Then I noticed the energy I had. When you're a single mother with a child under two who is working 16-hour shifts to make ends meet, you reach a level of tiredness that no amount of coffee can fix. The pain medication gave me energy to live life, be a mom and work as many hours at they would let me work and still feel great.
Fast forward a few years to when I met a man who would end up becoming my ex-husband. In the early part of our relationship he was in a motorcycle accident that left his body very broken for a very long time. We were fire and gasoline. He had grown up in the worst conditions imaginable, witnessed things no person should witness and was abused in ways unimaginable to most of us. Two broken people cannot fix each other, and we found that out the hard way. With every pain medication imaginable in our home due to his accident, we also found out that drugs and relationships just adds more fuel to an already deadly fire. We abused his medication together, when it ran out, we bought more, until there wasn't any more to buy and someone offered us heroin. I felt better than I could have ever imagined, until I didn't. We fought all the time over drugs and money. Eventually we both realized we didn't want to live like this anymore, so we started taking Suboxone, but we didn't fix any of our real problems. Our marriage didn't survive, and I managed to ween myself off the Suboxone and was clean on my own for about 6 months.
I turned to another man to fix me, not realizing this new relationship couldn't repair the years of the things I had been doing to myself and allowing others to do to me. I didn't change, I couldn't see that I was the problem. It was still everyone else. This new man lived in Fayette county and even though he was on parole I just knew he was a good man. I started driving the three-hour long drive from Harrison county to Edmond, WV to see him. That started to cost more money than I was making so I stole checks from my father’s business and forged his name. Seven checks totaling almost $1700. It didn't take long for me to get caught. I had already relapsed on Suboxone at this point and was an all-time low in my life. I had burnt all my bridges and had nowhere to go but to run to this man to save me after I got arrested. It took several years for all the legal ducks to get in a row for me to be prosecuted and sentenced. During this time, I learned that what I had previously thought was rock bottom wasn't even close. I had gotten to the point where Suboxone was an everyday part of my life, so was Xanax, occasionally crack and anything else we could get our hands on. Then the meth. Meth has a way of getting a hold of you that is so very different from all the other drugs. It isn't something I could ever describe to others but if you have experienced it you know what I am talking about. It consumes every part of your life. When you are on it, you love it. You think you love you. Your life seems perfect. When you come down from a meth high, it's like feeling every bad feeling, every heart ache, every disappointment, every bad thing you have ever felt in your entire life and you feel it all at once. It is impossible to go from the best feeling imaginable to the worst feeling imaginable and not want to feel good again, so you get high.... again. You cycle through this over and over and every time you feel the bad feelings, you tell yourself you should just end your life, you can't ever go through this again. Then you get high again and you tell yourself you're done and you won’t every get high again, you're fine, you can stop on your own but you come down and feel everything all over again. Again, and again and again the cycle continues, you are on a roller coaster that you can't get off.
In February of 2017 I was sentenced to 2 years at the day report center and 2 years of probation. I was supposed to report to the DRC for the first time on the 20th of February. On the 16th of February I decided I wanted to get high one last time, that gave me plenty of time to get the meth out of my system. No, it didn't. I failed my first drug screen. I was disgusted with myself. I prayed that night for the first time in 20 years and asked God to fix my life. I begged him to do whatever it took to undo the damage that I had caused. I couldn't live like this anymore and I asked God to give me the strength to do whatever was necessary to get my life back. I had no idea what I had just promised at the time, I had no idea what I would face in the years to come but I meant it.
I began the adult drug court program in Fayette county in March of 2017 and began taking the steps to fix my life. I worked on me, on the things in me that were broken and then I was tested with how much I really wanted this. It started to become very clear that I was going to have to make a choice between the man that I loved and myself. I put off making the decision for months. He would get better right? He would see how much my life was changing for the better, and he would get on board. I was wrong. He continued to spiral further out of control and I was backed into a corner and had no choice other than to stick with the promise I had made 8 months before that I was really willing to do whatever it took to stay clean. So, I left. I left my home and the man I loved more than life itself. I chose me. I chose my recovery. I chose a better life.
It's been a little over 2 years since I made that choice and I have continued to grow. I found love within myself. I gained a support system that I could never praise or thank enough for all they have done for me. When I felt weak, they reminded me of how far I have come. Now these people are more than just my support system, they are more than my cheerleaders, they are my coworkers and friends. Three years ago, I was strung out, jobless and hopeless. Today I work as a Recovery Coach for the public defender corporation. I facilitate 2 different groups at the Day Report Center, and I serve on the treatment team for Adult Drug Court. My son and I have lived in the same apartment for 2 years. I have paid all my own bills. I have stood on my own 2 feet and I have learned to love me so much more than any love I could have ever received from another person. Because of that I am finally capable of having healthy relationships.
My journey is far from over, but I am not scared anymore. I don't worry anymore. I know that I am capable of anything. I am reminded daily that I am important, that helping others is important, that loving and caring for one another, being kind, being encouraging and believing in each other is important. Those things saved my life, strangers believing in me when I didn't have the strength to believe in myself, saved my life. Those strangers are now the same people I feel blessed to be able to make proud. To show them that they have made a difference, that all the days they are struggling, and they tell themselves, if I can just help 1 person it will all be worth it. I want them to know that I am 1 person. I was worth it. You are saving lives. You are changing our community. You are making a difference.