A Celebration of Women - Our Authors Story

addiction hope new beginnings women Oct 23, 2020

Welcome to week two of Celebrating Women!

We have so many amazing women lined up to talk about their lives and careers and passions and I just can’t wait to share their stories with you! For this week, I’m going to do something I’ve never done and share a bit about myself. This is terrifying for me because I still struggle with insecurities, especially when it comes to acceptance from my peers and people I’ve never met. But I feel like some of the things I’ve struggled through can bring awareness and hope to those that are struggling. So I’m taking a leap. This particular post will be a little different from the previous and next interviews we will be doing, as its more life centered instead of career centered. Regardless, I hope you enjoy and find the message that I’m trying to portray. Let’s dive in!


 

*TRIGGER WARNING*

Talk of addiction & Drug use.

 


I want to tell my story. I’ve written bits and pieces over the years but they become dramatized and cheesy and I lose the authenticity that I’m trying to portray. In my eyes, my life isn’t that interesting. I’ve had a lot of fuckups and I’ve had to adapt and rise above. I realize more and more, however, that a lot of what I’ve gone through is more common than not. Even if someone who hears what I’ve gone through hasn’t experienced it personally, a friend or family member has, and it needs to be addressed and brought out into the open. I think as human beings we try to hide the flaws and the imperfections from others for fear that we will disappoint and scare away each other. It is my firm belief that it is our imperfections and our mistakes that make us who we are, and if anything, more relatable to the people we are trying to connect with. So I won’t stay silent. Hiding this part of me would do a disservice to the incredible amount of growth I have had to go through in the past 6 years, and would continue to silence the people continually suffering from this. I’m going to be brutally honest, and expose some secrets that I’ve held onto for a long time. My intention for this story and this message is to bring hope, perspective, and support to those who need it. So with that, let’s dive in. 

Hi, my name is Kirstie and I’m an addict

I was born into an incredibly loving, Christian family, and grew up with three younger siblings. I’ve always been shamelessly outspoken, and love people deeply, sometimes to my downfall. I started drinking when I was 14, secretly of course, and though alcohol has never been problematic for me, it quickly stemmed into a thirst for something stronger. You could say I had an identity crisis at a young age. I didn’t know what to believe, despite my parent’s religious guidance, and I yearned for answers that a child of that age shouldn’t be worried about. I couldn’t understand discrimination, child hunger, war, political power. I couldn’t understand hate. I quickly became a very angry kid, and became somewhat of a burden on a lot of my friends and my family. I was a bully to some, and a clingy, attention seeking girl to others. I craved acceptance and love on a deeper level than most kids my age could offer. They were too busy being interested in the newest flip phone, or the new cute boy in school to pay any mind to bigger, deeper issues. When I got to high school these internal frustrations followed me, and I carried those into my more intimate relationships. I craved attention and love so badly that I lost my virginity at 14, and while most can agree that it was a relationship that never could have lasted, I tried so hard. I dumped my emotional baggage on my then boyfriend and demanded affection and love in ways that I don’t think he could provide. We of course inevitably went our separate ways and I attached myself to another boy, a boy with similar issues, internal destruction, and a whole lot of anger. In his defense, he had suffered a lot of loss, and struggled with finding who he was amidst family who just couldn’t understand. Mix all of that with all of what I was going through internally and we found a kinship that I thought was inseparable. I’d known him for years prior and thought of him as my best friend. But intimacy always brings out darker pieces of you because you’ve connected, and you feel a certain amount of safety and trust so you spill all of your darkness hoping that they can carry some of the weight. Looking back, we were too heavy, too weighed down for each other; another relationship that never would have worked. But we ended up being connected for life because at fifteen I became pregnant. I was slowly morphing into that stereotypical “pastors kid” that does everything wrong and makes a fool out of her family. I hid my pregnancy from almost everyone, including my parents for the first 6 months. I was smaller then okay? It was easy to hide. I had planned on having an abortion, but that part of me inside thought that maybe this baby would be my cure. I would have unconditional love constantly; I would have that affection and that connection because they would be mine. As soon as I told my parents, though, it seemed that that wouldn’t be an option. We weren’t well off, we didn’t have the space for another mouth to feed, and of course, I was fifteen. My parents would inevitably be raising my child while I finished school and tried to become an adult. So I gave him up for adoption. He is being raised by the most wonderful family, whom I still connect with, and has turned into the most incredible kid. It was the best decision I ever could have made; the hardest, but the best. The hard part, however, really tore me down. During my pregnancy I coped with food, binging when no one was around, “eating for two” as I called it. I became co-dependent on a diet of excessive carbs and fats and inevitably ended up gaining almost 100 pounds in the 9 months. Postpartum, the binging continued, and though I continued being active and going back into sports, my weight gain stuck with me, and it took me years to get back to what I thought was a “respectable” weight. After I graduated that thirst for a stronger substance also followed me, and weed became my “drug” of choice. I say “drug” in quotations because I still very much believe in the benefits and healing properties of marijuana. However in this time of my life, I was abusing it, using it to numb and ignore the pain I experienced. It became a ritual escape that grew and grew until I got to the point of smoking an ounce in a weekend. (For all you non-smokers, that’s quite a bit.) After months of living this way, weed just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I had built a tolerance and I still craved that mind numbing feeling I had had when I first started smoking. I turned to other drugs. Hallucinogen’s was my second attempt at escape. They brought me back to earth, but focused my mind on more obtainable thoughts, and gave me this happy, thoughtful demeanor that I loved. However, in excess, it can take a lot out of you, and they weren’t necessarily the easiest to get, so I kept searching. That’s when I met him. He was handsome, a little intimidating, and had this look in his eye that made me crave his attention. I became infatuated with him. It turned out, he lived in my apartment complex at the time and had been the one supplying my weed, through my friends, for months. I finally met the man behind the proverbial curtain, and I fell for him. HARD. I would get butterflies every time he came to smoke with us, and I would scrounge for money just to be able to buy the tiniest amount from him, even when I didn’t need it. Somehow, he ended up liking me too. We texted constantly, and I would sneak over in the evenings just to talk to him. We ended up spending one night together and that was it, the beginning of the end. Like I said before, intimacy can often times bring out the dark in others. The trust had been earned in one way or another, and now I was in for more darkness than I had ever intended.

I remember texting him asking if I could come over. He seemed hesitant but he said to come by. I remember walking through the door of his apartment and there he was, sitting on the couch with his back to me, holding something that I couldn’t see. I went to him, joining him on the couch and finally saw what was in his hands. A small sheet of tinfoil, a dark ball of what looked like ear wax or something, and a dollar bill rolled into a tube. I had no idea what he was doing, but he looked sad. He pleaded with me not to judge him, he begged me to understand why he was doing this, that he needed this escape and that it wasn’t a problem for him. He could quit whenever he wanted, he just needed it sometimes. Still not knowing what it was, I quickly assured him that I could never judge him, that I would always be there to care and support him and he didn’t have to hide things from me. I know I can’t change what happened next, but the following events haunt me to this day. I had seen the before and after pictures in health class, I knew what the charges were if you were caught with it, I knew. But my longing to connect with this guy and my longing to numb myself from feeling at all trumped the cons and I did it anyway. You see that stuff he was holding was black tar heroin. One of the most addictive substances known to man, and instead of just sitting by watching him ruin his own life, I asked to try some. And instead of him protecting me, like someone who cares about you would, he desperately wanted someone to understand his own suffering, so he let me. From that moment on, my life crashed down harder than I ever thought it would. I already thought I was at rock bottom, but there are levels to it apparently, and I hit the bottom harder than I intended. I am missing an entire YEAR of my life. I can’t remember most of it. The things I do remember send me into full blown anxiety attacks when I’m vulnerable because I can’t believe I would do some of the things I did. Like showing my boobs to a guy at a gas station, in god knows where, for change for cigarettes. Stealing money from my parents or my friends so that I could get another fix. Driving on the highway high and not remembering how I got home. Getting involved with this guy who wasn’t mine to get involved with. Just a few things that really traumatized me that I can remember. And there was so much more, so much that I am guilty for and so much damage that I did. Not just to me either, to the people around me, the relationships that I lost, the people that I hurt; I was a wrecking ball. It also gave me this invincibility complex; I basically thought that because I was doing heroin, there was no way any other drug could hurt me or be any worse than what I was already doing so I binged on everything. I should also include that I was in college at the time, a private Christian college in Portland and I managed to ruin my college experience by shutting myself in my room and getting high. I remember hiding in the bathroom one night as I was coming down and going through withdrawals. I looked in the mirror and was so terrified of my reflection, because I didn’t recognize who I was looking at. I had gone from this chubby, binge eating depressed girl, to 115 pounds with no recollection of the last time I ate. I sobbed on the floor for hours, and nobody was there to comfort me or tell me that it was going to be okay. I had no support system. The few friends I had close to me were in deep just like I was, and I was continuously bringing them down with me. This is where a lot of my bad eating habits started taking over again. What I saw in the mirror that night scared me so much that I convinced myself I had to overeat to compensate for the unhealthy amount of weight I had lost. But my eating habits were all dictated by my drug addiction. Every time I used, I would get sick. I would vomit almost instantly, so eating became a “what will be the easiest to puke up later.” I used heroin for almost a year and a half, mixing it with other drugs when I couldn’t get it. I began referring to it as “medicine” because if I didn’t use, I would get so sick I couldn’t move. My muscles would constrict, my nerve endings felt like they were on fire, my head would pulse so badly that I sometimes wouldn’t sleep for days when I was coming down. I was a nightmare of a friend, a sister, a partner, and the relationship I was in was so toxic it was eating up my insides. I held on to that one night that he and I had had, where he sat me on the end of his bed, wrapped his arms around me and pointed us out in the mirror. He called me strong, he called me beautiful, he professed his love for me and I believed every word of it. Through our addiction I would see glimmers of his past self, and convinced myself that I could bring him back, I could fix him. But our addictions battled each other and took over what little of a relationship we had. Eventually, either by the will of god or the universe, I left that relationship. I can’t even remember how it ended, I just remember one night, going into his room at our mutual friend’s apartment and sitting at the foot of the bed while he slept. I told him that I loved him, but I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t bear this suffering and I couldn’t watch him ruin his life and ultimately take me down with him, and I said goodbye. Shortly after I started dating my now fiancé, and we helped each other get clean. We played around with drugs together for a while, but in learning about each other’s traumas and past relationships and addictions, we knew it was time to move on and get serious about life. I got lucky. I was able to quit without going to rehab, without going to meetings, and that was that. I can’t express how lucky I was to get out of that part of my life. Without my fiancé, I guarantee you I would still be using. I didn’t want to face my dark emotions; I didn’t want to face my trauma or my anxieties. I wanted something or someone to fix it for me and it has taken me years to work through all of that on my own. Now six years later, I have seen a therapist, something I was super against for a long time, I have repaired the relationship with my parents and most of the friendships that I lost, I have a beautiful two year old son and a fiancé that loves me regardless of my neurotic tendencies and I am the most emotionally healthy I have ever been. I have this amazing opportunity to write for this blog, I have finally taken steps to focus on my physical health, and most importantly, I’m happy. If I have learned anything from my life, it’s that it is fragile. It is not to be taken for granted. We often come to crossroads in our lives that will define who we are. I wouldn’t change anything that happened to me, I know that those things are what make me who I am today. I know that my addiction gave me the strength and the will to live a fulfilled life, because after several close calls, death was and is closer than I thought. I am not invincible. It gave me the opportunity to empathize with others struggling with addiction and be able to talk about it with people who just can’t understand. I will always struggle with temptation and the ever haunting ghost of my past addiction, but I have been blessed with family and friends that look out for me and are there when I need them the most. Pick your people wisely, let them lift you up when you need it and be there for them when they need you. And most of all, love people. You never know what someone has gone through, what struggles they have faced, and when you have the opportunity to love someone, do it. Now I could add much more to this story, more details that I left out, but the main point is clear: I’m here. I survived. I chose and will always chose love, and I hope if anything, my story gives you hope to keep pushing, to keep working harder, and to never give up on yourself.

You’re worth it.

 

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