Every story is the same in some aspect. Mine started in a good home. My mother worked for the State Department, which meant I was always traveling as a child. It was great in that I got to see a lot of the world, but not so good in that I lacked a sense of stability.
I thought I found that stability with my second boyfriend when I was 21. Unfortunately, he was a dealer and introduced me to drugs. It wasn’t long before I was addicted.
Eventually he got arrested and I was rid of him, but getting rid of my addiction wasn’t so easy. I continued to use until a guy I didn’t even know literally pulled a needle out of my arm and told me, “I’m going to get you out of this lifestyle.” I detoxed at his house, without any medical help or oversight. While I was there, I called my mom to ask for money, but she told me she wouldn’t give it to me. She said her friends had told her that would be enabling and “I have to close this chapter.”
I don’t really know why I did it—I think because I was so shocked that she wouldn’t help me—but I got in my car and drove from where I was in Massachusetts to my mom in northern Virginia. I just showed up at her door and told her I needed help. She told me that the only way she could help me was if I helped myself. I told her I would.
She took me to the ER first because I looked really sick. She told the staff that I was still withdrawing—but the nurse told her there were no drugs in my system. At first my mom didn’t believe it, but then she began to understand it was true.
That’s when they took me to the sonogram room, and my life changed forever: I found out I was pregnant. My mom researched places I could go for treatment while pregnant, and she found Demeter House. I went the next day.
I’ll be honest: Even though I knew I needed help, I did not want to be there. My mom and I went to talk to Jane Nevins, and I literally went kicking and screaming. I just had this attitude like, “I’m not talking to you, I am so much better than this.”
Jane asked my mom to leave and talked to me privately. She said, “Look, you need help, and if you don’t get it, you will lose your son.” She talked sense to me and helped me get into reality. I owe her my life. Without her, I would’ve ended up dead or in jail.
Instead, I decided to give Demeter House a chance. In the beginning, every day I would say to myself, “I’m not staying here one more day.” But by the time I had to leave, I didn’t want to go.
I enjoyed the interaction of the meetings and hearing people’s stories. It’s so nice to be able to bond with people who can understand you and what you’re going through. Like I said in the beginning, our stories were all the same in some aspect, and it really helped to know that. You can tell that both counselors and clients genuinely care for each other, and I felt like I was a part of something bigger; I still do. I opened up my heart to the other girls there, which wasn’t easy for me—I never liked to talk about my feelings—but I began to see that you’ve got to express your emotions healthily.
I graduated from the program in June of last year and now have a healthy 9-month-old son and a boyfriend who is also in recovery. The relationship I had with my previous boyfriend doesn’t even compare to this one. My relationship now is open and honest, and we support each other. We are thinking of moving down to South Carolina, and I’m a little nervous, but I know that the coping skills I learned at Phoenix House and the networks they worked with me to set up will help me through. Phoenix House taught me how to deal with situations I feel like I can’t handle, and how to get the support I need.
Wherever I am, I’ll continue to do the things I enjoy, like drawing, which Phoenix House helped me rediscover, and I’ll continue to be the best mom I can for my son. I’m sure I’ll be full of different feelings if we move, some good, some not so good, but that’s one of the best parts of recovery—being able to feel happy, sad, mad, and every other feeling in the book. In active addiction, you can’t really feel anything. So in a way, even when I’m sad or mad now, I’m kind of happy, too.