On December 13, 1983, 33 years ago today, I walked into Gateway rehabilitation center in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. Well let me rephrase that…..I “stumbled” into Gateway Rehabilitation Center…… December 13, 1983 is the last day that I used any mind altering mood changing chemicals including alcohol. As I look back 33 years ago I can still remember very clearly what the weather was like, it was snowy and cold, and what I was wearing. I had on a very old old pair of black sweatpants and a very old beat up sweatshirt; I barely had a winter coat.
I woke up that morning bound and determined to talk my mother out of sending me to rehab. She was in the basement doing laundry and it was 7 o’clock in the morning. I walked down the basement steps and I said, “Mom can I please go tomorrow instead of today?” She looked up at me while folding clothes and put her hand on the iron which was on the ironing board and she threw the iron aiming at my head and I ran up the basement steps. She said, “I Will kill you if you are not in that car going to Gateway within the hour”. At 8:00 AM the driver from Gateway pulled in front of my mothers house and we (Dante & I) got in the car and left for what was about to be the greatest thing that ever happened to me in my life.
While driving, we were beginning to go into withdrawal. We were using at least 20 bags each (at the time a bag came in a balloon) and we were getting sick. I took 30 Librium and gave Dante 10 Ha ha ha. We then stumbled in the door of Gateway and each met with the therapist to do our intake. Because we were married Gateway had a brilliant idea and put Dante and I into a five-day family program with all family members of Addicts who were in treatment. We were sitting in group with a bunch of family members who hated drug addicts. Worst experience of our lives. On the third day we were very sick, kicking heroin cold turkey and wondering how the hell we were going to get out of there. We were in a bedroom together, we had pulled the mattresses off the bed and pulled all the bedding off of the mattresses and we were sicker than shit. In the middle of the night on the third night Gateway staff came into our room and told Dante to pack his clothes because he was being taken to Cove Forge. I became hysterical. I was crying, “you took my dope and now you are taking my husband!” Bob P. and Larry S. BOTH said “SAME THING!” I had no idea what they meant by that until 30 days later.
The next 30 days were extremely enlightening, painful and rewarding all at the same time. I had met Dante seven years prior and he was one of my drugs of choice. My whole world centered around him and I spent every day trying to make him love me. I went to any length. I made a fool of myself. I chased him. I did not care if he was with other women right in front of me. I told myself lies. I told myself that regardless of who he was with he really loved me. I bought him. I literally bought him. I gave him money, I bought him clothes, we were in college together and I literally took care of him. I wanted him to love me more than I wanted anything in my life. Eventually we got married and our addiction took off. I started realizing all of this while he was in Cove Forge and I was in Gateway. This was the first time we were separated for any period of time since we met 10 years prior. When someone asked Dante a question I answered it for him. I dressed him. I bought his clothes, I cooked for him and I did his laundry. I set out determined to make him love me. As time went on while I was in Gateway, I started to become angry at him and at me. At the end of 45 days the therapist told me that they were bringing Dante back to Gateway for five days so we could do a family program together. They thought I would be happy. I told them I did not want him to come back to Gateway but that I wanted a divorce. They were shocked. I let them talk me into bringing Dante back and try to begin to work things out. I knew right away after seeing him that our marriage was over.
We went back to my mothers to begin our recovery. Living in Washington PA was a nightmare. We were going to meetings in Pittsburgh so we moved to Pittsburgh. We started our recovery in Pittsburgh and I tried to work on the marriage. It did not work. We separated after one year and I then fell in love with Dantes sponsor. What a disaster! Fortunately we had sponsors and friends and a WE, a support group and people that could help us get through this very difficult time. We all managed somehow to stay clean.
My journey for the next 33 years has been a series of ups and downs and ups again and downs again. Sean and I got married and we had four absolutely beautiful children. We continued on a journey that God paved for us. We were given one blessing after another.
I’m not going to be able to blog about the past 33 years because it would be impossible! All I know is this:
“IF YOU ARE USING OPIATES AND YOU WANT TO STOP, YOU CAN!!!” I can show you how. If I stopped, you can stop.
Heroin was the love of my life and it RUINED me. It ruined any job I ever had, it ruined my relationship with my mother and with my brothers, with my aunts and my uncles, with ANYONE I tried having a friendship with; it ruined everything I ever touched.
And HEROIN is here TO STAY. It is not going anywhere. It is killing people every day. It’s killing kids it’s killing adults it’s killing men women children grandchildren everybody. It is one of the worst epidemics that has ever hit the country. Think about it. Those of you who have loved ones who are battling the disease of addiction. Think about how they were raised. Think about whether or not they are good people or bad people. I have a question for you? Do you get angry at people who are dying of cancer? Can you look at your loved one and honestly believe that they are using heroin or drinking alcohol only to make you angry? Do you believe that your drug addict is hurting you intentionally????? Answer this question honestly, if your drug addict could stop using don’t you think they would?
When I look back to when I first got clean I remember feeling empty. I remember feeling so conflicted. I remember looking at my family and wanting to believe so badly that I was going to be able to get through life without using a drug. I was so afraid. Each day I did not use I got stronger. Every day I woke up and I got on my knees and I asked God to please give me another day clean. I was worried. I never thoug I could do it……but I did. And so can you or your loved one. You just have to listen to someone who did it before you.
Narcotics Anonymous is FULL of cliches. Some of them sound ridiculous. Some of them hit home like a ton of bricks. Some of them I have hung my life on such as “we can only keep what we have by giving it away.” This means that if we got clean in Narcotics Anonymous that we can only STAY CLEAN if we give away what was so freely given to us by others.
My heart goes out to all addicts who are suffering from this disease AND to their families.
God, please watch over all using, suffering addicts. Please keep them safe and please keep them ALIVE. Things are worse now than ever God. Every addict who is caught in the grips of using heroin while this epidemic is going on is in danger of dying every time they shoot a bag of heroin. Please watch over them and their families and please keep them all safe.
December 13, 2016