From: Seattle, WA
Virginia V's Humans in recovery story
I am a mother of three children. My oldest boy is a 20-year-old junior in college and plays semi-professional soccer. I have another son who is nine years old and a daughter who is six. I enjoy running, meditating; I am very spiritual and enjoy crystal energy healing, sound bowl therapy, yoga, and astrology (my zodiac sign is Capricorn).
As a child, I was energetic and, for the most part, happy. I had an opinion about everything and I loved animals and playing outside. I enjoyed working in the garden with my grandmother (which I've carried with me today). I was a good kid. I was involved in afterschool activities. I was on the student council and a part of the multicultural dance program. I was in the choir, and I also played the clarinet.
My journey to addiction began when I was about 13 years old. I started smoking weed to fit in. I had switched schools for middle school, and it was difficult for me to make friends because I was mixed; my mother is black and my dad is a Spaniard. I was bullied for having light skin, my hair was a different texture and I spoke differently. I was trying to fit in so I kept smoking weed and drinking.
I found my drug of choice when I was 15 and I thought it was the solution to all my problems. I had also developed an eating disorder, and using felt good and kept me skinny. Using seemed to fix everything that was bothering me, including my strained relationship with my mother, my absentee father, my eating disorder, and being bisexual in a family that wouldn't accept me because of their Christianity. I had many secrets that I was keeping, and these secrets kept me sick.
My rock-bottom moment came when I lost custody of my two youngest children. Nothing mattered to me anymore because my marriage had failed, I had failed as a mom; I had given up on myself. When I got married and had my two little ones, I really thought I had found the cure; that the marriage, the home, the car, going to church every Sunday, and the husband would fix me; it didn't. I became trapped again and became somebody who I was not. I pretended to be who I thought everyone wanted me to be; I wasn't myself. When I decided to leave my ex-husband, he called Child Protective Services. They took away my little ones, and I felt alone, like a failure, and I gave up on living a "normal life.”
I fell deep into an unhealthy lifestyle for two more years. In the meantime, I had gone to treatment; that's how I was introduced to recovery. I was physically and mentally sick and spiritually dead. I could see the worry and concern in my children's eyes...they looked so innocent; I didn't want to hurt them anymore.
Being in recovery is peaceful; I can be myself. I'm learning what I enjoy. I never knew that I liked making art, but one of my new hobbies is taking old pieces of furniture and refurbishing them. To me, it's very symbolic because the rundown furniture on the side of the road illustrates me in active addiction. I pick it up, take it home, and make it beautiful. That is what recovery has done for me, from the inside out.
Today I have real friendships with people who actually care about me. I have fun without substances, which is something I never thought would be possible. I am currently getting partial custody of my children. It's a process, but I am ready and eager to go through it. I have a great relationship with my older son; I'm proud of him and to hear him say he is proud of me means the world.
I would encourage anyone struggling with addiction to give themselves a break. Take some time to get to know yourself without substances. Don't wait till that moment of desperation; start now before it’s too late because, unfortunately, some of us don't make it. Be the person you were created to be.
For families handling a loved one who is using, I’d say be supportive without enabling. Let them know you love them, no matter what, and that you're waiting for them to make the decision for a better life. The biggest lesson I've learned from recovery is that it's never too late to start fresh and new. Life is full of possibilities; why say the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon?
As a receptionist and administrative assistant at Recovery Unplugged. I get to greet all of our clients and assist the clinical, medical, and human resources teams. It's fulfilling, meaningful, and gives me purpose. You can make life your favorite song; you just have to play it. You decide what your life looks like, claim your power, focus on yourself because comparison is the thief of joy.