When my oldest daughter was five our car broke down in the middle of town. We lived 20 miles away in the canyons outside of Redlands, California. I had no money or cell phone back then so I told her to stick out her thumb and we’d get a ride. Being the bright child that she was, my daughter was not okay with this idea. I told her it was safe because I had a loaded gun in my purse.
A few weeks later, I told that same daughter to grab me a soda, bring her sister’s diaper bag, and several other things to which she replied, “Mommy, you’re going too fast.” And I was going too fast because I had done about a half an 8 ball of meth already that day. It was 10 am. I was an abusive and unpredictable parent. I was not much better at being a wife, daughter or friend either.
We had lots of guns back then. Meth addicts are paranoid. We were no exception. I lived in Redlands with my two kids and my husband. We had an open marriage because neither one of us could keep a commitment. I had uncontrollable sexual desires. In addition to the kids and the husband, my boyfriend lived with us too.
I had been using drugs and drinking since age 11 or 12 and the last seven years using mostly meth. I never used occasionally, it was daily from the get-go. I was completely out of my mind. My days were full of anger, rage, and delusions. I was sure someone was watching us and I would stare out of the windows for hours. We lived in the desert…nothing was out there and I can see that we were not that important. We were dealing and were certainly eligible for the attention of law enforcement, but as far as I know, we were not on their radar at that time.
In the end, I kicked my husband out because he was useless, and two weeks later kicked the boyfriend out because he was doing something wrong. I have no idea what that was—I just knew he had to go. Being the mature adult that I was, I packed up my two kids in six boxes and called my parents to see if I could come back home to St. Louis, Missouri. The parents said yes and we flew home a week later. Thank God for denial! I had been a horrible daughter. I stole, lied, was abusive, and ungrateful for most of my teens and twenties. I married at 20 just to get away from them. We divorced 10 years later in my first year of recovery and I moved back home.
I moved into the basement I had occupied before my marriage where the walls were painted black and the black light posters remained. We did our best to make things work but I continued to drink and use meth for about six more months. We lived on my kids’ SSI money and food stamps.
My parents, who adopted me at birth, knew something was up and suggested I go to counseling. I had no other options as I was unable to work or find care for my kids. Both my daughters are special needs kids. Back then no treatment centers were taking women with kids. I could not remember to give my youngest her seizure medicine and could not remember when they last ate, because I was not eating much at the time.
In January of 1989, I met my future ex-husband on New Year’s Eve. We partied and hung out and fought again. He told me I would never change and he never wanted to see me again. I was a mess, I just didn’t realize how bad off I was. Amphetamine psychosis, neglecting my kids, shooting guns, screwing everyone, and breaking all the doors and windows in our trailer were the high points of my life at that time. I needed something, I was not sure what that was.
I started to see a counselor in 1988. He suggested I go to a 12 Step group—AA, NA, OA, Alanon, CA, AcoA, or whatever. Today I qualify for all of these and then some. CMA wasn’t around then. That would have been my first choice. I attended my first 12 Step meeting in October of 1988 and ended up at an Alanon meeting. I listened to the wives talk about the unreliable husbands they were married to and how they never knew who was going to come through the door at night. Would it be the jolly party man or the angry abusive wall puncher?
After a few weeks I realized that I was living with an addict…it was me! I started going to AA because the recovery was good and it gave me hope. AA was good but there were a lot of things that I could not share with the blue-haired ladies in the AA meetings.
I enrolled in school at a Community College and attended eight meetings a week for my first four years, had a sponsor, home group, and was involved with District and Area Service work. I stayed clean and sober for six months! It seemed like forever!
My mom had been sick with cancer off and on for years. She had bone cancer and it was not looking good. My mom and I did not get along at all. We fought constantly. My sponsor kept telling me to say the Resentment Prayer. I did. I set some boundaries and we were able to talk more without arguing. She wasn’t eating and was having trouble walking. I was concerned that she was not getting any help from her doctor or hospice, or anyone. She and my dad were lying to them saying they were doing okay.
I called everyone on the phone list but no one was home. I asked God to help me talk to someone who was familiar with my family situation that might be able to help. As I was ready to get some sleep, having failed to reach anyone, the phone rang. It was my cousin Barry who lived in Vegas. His wife had a brain tumor and was dying. We talked for about 10 minutes and then he asked if I was attending any kind of support group. Barry and I once shared a bridal suite at his brother’s wedding because I was drunk and he had done too many Quaaludes. I was not ready to tell him I was in recovery. He pressed me as to what kind of meetings I was attending and finally I revealed I was attending recovery meetings. He then revealed he had been in recovery for ten years! The perfect person to talk to. Thanks. HP.
My mom passed away during that call. The funeral was a few days later and my sponsor was there with me. We sat down under the tent and she asked me why I picked that spot? It was under a tree and to the left. I really didn’t know why. Turns out her son, a member of the fellowship for about a year, had committed suicide and was buried right next to the spot I picked.
In my recovery, I finished an Associates, Bachelors, and Master’s degree. I’ve hiked the Grand Canyon, been on a cruise, and went skydiving…nine times because I am still an addict. I learned how to be a mother, daughter, and friend.
I have also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I have doctors in charge of this part of my recovery. I tell my sponsor and my close friends what’s going on with me, honestly. I have good relationships with my daughters and my oldest has 14 years clean. I have the best friends in the whole world.
Since I was adopted at birth, I always wondered if I had any other family. My family has grown in the last year and a half, as I submitted a DNA test and found that this once only child has six siblings! Two of my sisters live less than two miles from me and one lives off the same street as me. I had a brother who lived across the street less than five blocks away. My sister Mary and I are so much alike it’s weird. She is not in recovery but I’m going to save her a seat.
I recently retired and have a full life with service work in CMA. My life has not been perfect but it has been way better. I still attend about six meetings a week. I started going to CMA about six years ago. It’s great to have a place to tell my whole story and talk about some of the things that only tweakers can relate to. I have reworked the Steps and feel so much more relief than ever before in my recovery.
The recovery of others is my greatest inspiration. Last week I celebrated 32 years of clean and sober recovery in a row, including weekends and holidays. I hope this will inspire others to keep on keeping on. Don’t quit until the miracle happens! I learn something new at almost every meeting. The other day someone said they were relapsing until it was fun again. I suggested staying clean until it’s fun. It will be fun. It will be challenging. It will be worth it.