A Brighter Future Can Be Yours
Path to Recovery
I was asked to “give my story” and I want to also say that not one thing, is in justification, or glorifying the negative I’ve done.
I was born into a family where my 2 younger siblings and I went to church every Wednesday night, Sunday morning of course, and Sunday night. We were very involved in our church and the friends that I can remember coming over, were of the church fellowship. I belonged to the youth group, and was “en fuego” for the life I had created for myself. My parents have always installed in us great morals, work ethics and standards to exceed our potential. I never witnessed my parents drink, and there was never a drop of alcohol or drugs in our home.
Since I have been able to talk, I’ve been in love with music and singing. I have recorded in the Barbara Mandrell recording studio, won the Jimmy Dean Country Showdown, opened for John Anderson (show of hands for who knows him please!) auditioned for American Idol, countless weddings, Relay for Life, and wound up at West Shore Community College fresh out of high school with a full scholarship singing with the Collegiates.
In college I was introduced to a lifestyle, even though it was community college and I was still living at home with my parents, that intrigued me. It was filled with nights of drinking and barely making it to class.
When I turned 18 years old, I met someone that I thought would change my life. I was right. He changed my life. In a way that I never thought would be possible. He walked into the doors of the Collegiate room, where we were practicing, and my life was changed from that moment on.
There’s a lot of things that I share that are personal to me, this is a part that I will just sum up in two words.
That’s what I felt from that point on.
I did everything in my power to numb whatever pain I was feeling. I quit school. I retreated into my room, in the home I still shared with my parents. Whom had no idea what was going on with me. I refused to talk with my friends. I went to church because it was “required” of me to go. I no longer felt that I had any worth. I absolutely despised what I saw when I looked in the mirror.
I worked at a little bar in Manistee, my hometown, and became the head bartender there, making more money than I knew what to do with. The casino had also opened, so I’ll let your mind wander to what you think I did after every shift I closed at the bar with cash in my hand. I became VIP, a Gold Member out at the casino.
While working at this bar, I would run up tabs that exceeded my paychecks. One night while doing this strategy of never getting a paycheck, I was introduced to a girl who was very well liked and popular in our community. “S” and I became the best of friends. So much so that she was in the delivery room with my son. We were like Thelma and Louise. Peanut butter and jelly. Coffee and creamer…
S introduced me to people that I thought were important. To things that I thought mattered. She taught me how to make money. She was my partner in crime. In all literal senses.
I found myself pregnant at 26 after a one night stand following the closing of the bar. I remember thinking “there’s no way that I can take care of a baby, I can’t even take care of myself!”. I called my mother who told me the harsh reality that I needed to shape myself up and get my life back into “order”.
I quit the bar, started working for my parents at their store, as a DOT Drug and Alcohol Collector. I also got qualified for Hair follicle testing. I poured myself into this new “life”. I was still hanging out with S, and remember her being in the delivery room with me, in labor, and her stepping out for a moment, and coming back in, reeking of pot and a sweet smell at the time I wasn’t familiar with.
Mason was born on 2/25/2005, in room 225, at 2:25 am. Our little miracle baby.
You would think that a newly single mother would have only one priority in mind. I had the best intentions of taking care of Mason and being the mom that he would be proud of. Heck, that I would be proud of.
I was once told that my addiction wants me dead, but will settle for miserable. Addiction waits. It has all the time in the world to wait for a moment of weakness and to come crawling back. Addiction will ALWAYS take you back in a heartbeat.
That moment of weakness followed soon after having Mason. I thought I was doing well because I had a Maintenance program. I only drank on certain days at certain times. And I always shut the bedroom door of Mason’s room while smoking. I thought I was the world’s greatest mother.
S had a daughter who was 6 the first time I saw S hand her a joint. I remember thinking to myself “I will never be that kind of mom”. I watched her put a needle in that little girl’s arm. I watched as she went to rehab at the ripe age of 12 after she stabbed her mother with a knife over a dispute of a pill.
I ignored every warning from my mother, thinking that she didn’t know her like I know her. And I would NEVER be that bad.
My house that I rented conveniently from S’s parents, was turned into “party central”. I began using cocaine, and of course crack followed right behind. I had found heaven and hell on earth. I loved and hated that drug more than everything in my life.
I also found that people wanted to be around me while I was using, because I was fun. Happy. Social. I never took into effect that I was also their dealer. Addicts love you when you’re providing them with something.
I watched people have seizures on my living room floor. Throwing up in my bathroom. Searching my house for more of what I had just sold them. I lost one of my best friends to a cocaine overdose and never mourned his death the proper way. My way of “dealing” with his death, was to take my addiction to the next level. That moment of seeing him lying there on the floor, being brought back by the pads, you would think, would bring some awareness of what I was doing with my life, but I continued. I “mourned” him that night, by throwing a party and drinking myself into a stupor, and dangerously going to a cliff to throw his favorite pair of Carhart’s over. I also found the rest of his stash in my ceiling panels. And finished the rest of what killed him that night.
I was working still as a D & A collector, and would go get high on my lunch break, come back and test State employee’s, police officers, Correction Officer’s, People trying to get their license’s back, and many more, for the same substance that I just did.
In 2007, S introduced me to a gentleman that I married in 2008. He was a sargent at the oaks correctional facility (prison). He and I were the most toxic couple I believe, known to man. There were so many fights, arguments, and physical altercations between us.
Within our first month of marriage, I became ill. I was in and out of hospitals and not sure what was going on with me. I was sick and had no explanation. The solution at most emergency departments I went to, was to give me pain medications and to send me home with fluids. One of these visits to the hospital found me transported to Munson Medical Center, where they admitted me for 5 days. There, I was introduced to the Dilaudid/Morphine pump. Every 7 seconds, I found the greatest high of my life. I had found what would keep my pain away. It actually kept everything away. Emotions, anything that would make me feel like a person, it took away.
I was diagnosed at U of M shortly after this stay, with Addison’s disease and had to begin a regimen of following up with a Doctor.
I found Dr. Feelgood.
Dr. Feelgood gave me literally anything that I asked for. I was learning things from S on what to ask for, and how to ask for it without sounding like I was drug seeking.
I would go in for menstrual cramps, and would walk out with a script of 280 Norco’s, a script for Dilaudid, (which is 10x the strength of morphine), and Soma’s.
I began a routine. I knew what to take to make me feel better at ALL hours of every day. I had mastered how to self medicate.
I set my alarm on my phone or watch to make sure that every 19 minutes I took something, to avoid the physical withdrawals.
On August 3rd, 2012, I put my son, Mason, 7 at the time, to bed.
I was dying my hair, and took my nightly ritual of handful of pills that night.
I woke up several hours later in the bathtub with the water running. I watched my son with tears in his eyes and fear written all over his face as he shut the water off. Mason saved my life physically that night.
In and out of consciousness, I told him, “do not call the police”. Not for my benefit, but for his. Mason’s biological father has not been involved in his life, therefore there’s no name on his birth certificate, and he would have been placed in the care of the State immediately. I knew that much.
Mason instead speed dialed my in laws accidentally, and they then got ahold of my parents, and threatened CPS if they didn’t remove him immediately.
My parents came on August 4th and took him from my home. I had fractured my femur during my fall in the bathtub and was in major pain and knew only one thing to help my pain, so I was not in the right frame of mind when they took him. Still, I was okay with it. I remember thinking to myself the night that I took that handful of pills, the thought actually ran through my head, that if something were to ever happen to me, Mason would be loved so much better by my parents and that I wasn’t worthy to be his mother.
My Dad called August 5th, 2012 and told my husband at the time, to pack up everything I was taking and to bring me to him. He took me to hospital in Cadillac, where we met Ed and Phyllis Gilbert.
It took us 3.5 hours to make a 45 minute trip to Cadillac, due to how sick I was, I was in the detox stage seeing as my Dad had all my “stuff” on him in a brown paper bag. I was so angry that he could clearly see how sick I was and wouldn’t listen to me on what I needed to NOT be sick. He just kept pulling over for me to be sick.
When we arrived there, a male nurse took us into a room and he started taking pill bottles out of the brown paper bag. Each one, I claimed “it wasn’t mine”. It wasn’t until I looked over at my Dad, who was sitting there with his head down and hands held together. For the first time in 34 years, I watched my father sob.
I looked at the nurse and said “I think I have a problem”.
I’ll never forget his next words. “honey, you’ve taken the first step into your new life”.
He then gave me a shot of morphine, and sent us on our way to Traverse City, where they had set up a detox facility for me there.
I spent 6 GOD AWFUL days there. Detox is not something you can put into words. To explain. It’s pure agony. And knowing that I had done it to myself, made it worse.
Following detox, I went to Munson Behavioral Health Center, for their 14 day rehab program.
There, I found out my first day that I had 8 felony warrants out for my arrest. I contacted the sheriff back home, and they allowed me to finish my program with the intent of turning myself in when I completed rehab.
I spent the next 14 days with a group of 12 fellow rehabber’s who were also lawyers! I had NO idea what was going to happen to me.
My husband at the time, asked for a divorce over the phone, which I quickly agreed to, knowing that we were so insanely toxic for each other.
I never did anything small. I always went big or went home. I never smoked half a joint. I never drank half a drink. I never snorted half a line. While I was in rehab, I decided that my recovery was going to be the same. I couldn’t do it half. I had to go big, or I was going home.
I completed rehab and returned to my hometown, Manistee, and turned myself in. I bonded out and awaited my sentencing.
I went to court on what they call “rocket docket Wednesday”. Where EVERYBODY and their brothers show up. I was humiliated as the judge stated my charges and the things I had done. I had completely “shamed the name”.
I was sentenced to 14 days of jail. Served 11 with good time.
That doesn’t sound like a lot, but for somebody that’s never been in trouble, that’s a long time. I was cleaning one night in the cell with the other inmates when one of the guards who was supervising us, asked “why’d you go to rehab before you came here?” I did NOT hesitate with my reply “why do people come HERE before they go to jail”.
It was then that it clicked.
I had a disease.
I had an addiction that wanted to take my life from me.
And I realized at that moment that I was worth something.
That my life DID matter.
And I could stay sober.
After my release from jail, I had 2 years of probation, 3 meetings a week, an incredible amount of fines, and random drug tests at my probation officer’s discretion.
I started working a program. I went to meetings 5 days a week. I obtained a sponsor. I started a FB Recovery page that has over 10,000 likes, and reaches over 212,000 people daily. That’s a lot of recovery!
I paid back people I owed money to. I started paying on debts that I had racked up during my active addiction. I had a $50 copay for an ER visit, and used the ER as a means to get my substances when the streets didn’t work for me that day. I am still paying monthly 5 years later on a $17,000 bill of copayments. That’s a lot of ER visits!
When I was almost a year sober, I was sitting in an AA meeting at noon. In came walking this blue eyed, cutest boy I’ve ever seen in my whole entire life. I literally told the girl who was sitting next to me, that I was going to marry him. She laughed it off… she obviously didn’t know me very well!
My sponsor was completely against the two of us being together until I had one year of sobriety under my belt. I was angry at this decision she decided to make FOR me! She wasn’t the boss of me, in fact, told her that many times!
Whatever her reason, I listened to her. We started dating when I was a year clean.
Soon after dating, he lost his brother to a heroin overdose. I was there while I watched him agonize over this passing, and I was there when he relapsed because of not knowing how to “handle” his emotions like I once did. Not for one minute did I give up on him or our relationship. There’s been many bumps and trials on our journey together, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Today this man is my best friend. He’s the one that I cry out to when I am struggling. He’s the one that holds me up when I cannot pick myself up from the day. He’s the man that is adopting Mason as his own. He’s the man who made a name in this community and turned it around and rose from the ashes. He’s my recovery partner.
And he is also my husband of 6 years.
I started as a Peer Recovery Advocate at WMCMH on the Recovery Management Services team on February 1st, 2017.
One year later, I am now the Certified Peer Recovery Coach. I have the opportunity to walk with somebody in their Recovery journey and to meet them where they’re at. Whether they’re walking the straight and narrow path of Recovery, or whether they’re not even considering it at this time, I have the joy of being able to come up beside them, and to walk with them.
To believe in them until they begin to believe in themselves.
To gain their trust by sharing my personal story.
To let them know that they’re not alone and they have somebody in their corner.
To help them when they come in and say “I want to get sober, but cannot imagine a life where I stay that way”.
My motto is this…. I don’t know how to do much, but I do know how to live life sober.