Recovery Has Not Been a Quick Road to Nirvana by Tracey W.
“In recovery I have been able to get vulnerable and have cried like a baby, albeit it took time for me to thaw out from the ravages of the drugs. It has been a long and at times arduous journey. Eventually I was able to dismantle brick, by brick, the wall I had built around myself.”
On June 9th 1998 I walked through the doors of a detoxification unit, this one step changed my life forever. Let me be clear it has not been a straight road, an easy one or necessarily a quick road to nirvana. But what I will tell you is… it is the best thing I have ever done, and the only thing I ever followed through with, up until this point.
Only Other People Get Addicted
Just like every other addict that has gone before me, I was quite convinced that it was only other people that got addicted, that I was smarter than that and it was not going to happen to me. So entrenched was my addiction that I had told myself and anyone else that would listen, that I did not have a problem I could stop at any time, it is just that I did not choose to stop.
This was denial and I was steeped in it from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I had been using drugs since the age of 12 in one form or another. It all started off with cannabis and cough mixture and soon it was speed, cocaine, and barbiturates, all before I was 15. I also used prescription drugs DF118s , Tenuate Dopan, Mandrax and Quaaludes, closely followed by heroin & freebase.
First Signs of Trouble
I kept my addiction going and the only time I knew I was in trouble was sometime in my late teens or early 20’s when I had an epiphany after walking into my kitchen and seeing three men jacking up. I knew that if I did not get out of here, that that was going to be my future, and if it were, I would be die.
At this time my sister was a registered heroin addict who was currently residing @ HMP Holloway and I was all but too aware of the consequences of her addiction, however I told myself I was different, because I only snorted heroin therefore I was not an addict… the fact that I had a methadone script and would get sick without it, seemed to escape me.
I knew what I had to do, I had to leave my boyfriend, because it had to be his fault and if I was not with him I would not use. I left and went to hospital to do an unofficial detox. I stayed with my family and within weeks I was back at the dealer. Nothing worked I tried changing cities, lovers, I bought new clothes and added more makeup but still I was left with me. At the time I was modelling so on the outside I looked like a glamorous woman but deep inside there was this little girl crying… dying who did not know how to ask for help.
I carried on in the same vain going from one rock bottom to another, I got arrested and they tried to charge me for attempted murder, I was surrounded by people that were a part of the underworld of crime and I liked the power, respect and drugs that came with it. Meanwhile my sister had died at the tender age of 23 on her release from prison… but my family had no idea I had a drug problem I hid it well and by now I did not have heroin habit, I had swapped it for free-base & powdered cocaine.
I got married, I got divorced hoping this would make the difference, but still I carried on… each partner I sought out used. Eventually the hole got bigger and the pain would not go away, the drugs had stopped working long ago, I knew I needed help.
At aged 11 I had been gang-raped, not something that was ever mentioned or talked about back then in the very early 70’s. It was from this heinous act that I was pregnant. No one knew because I had been threatened and I was too frightened to tell anyone… and during the time of when this happened and giving birth I had been sent to off to a boarding school, but eventually I had to tell my parents and they sent me a way to live a great aunt, who I really did not know.
I felt abandoned and unlovable and I was so frightened that each time I thought of this event I would have a panic attack. I tried desperately for so long to push it down with drugs and it worked but now it no longer did.
The Journey of Recovery
Starting this journey of recovery was alien to me, I had not lived without a substance in my body for over 27 years. I did not understand when they told me I should not drink, drugs were my problem not alcohol, so I found it necessary to go out there to prove this… and to my shock and horror they were right. Because not once did I ever use cocaine with out alcohol or alcohol without cocaine, so inevitably it led me straight back to drugs.
On November 4th after slipping and sliding for several months I decided enough was enough and I am grateful to say that I have not chosen to pick up a drink or a drug in any form, form that day forward. I lost my home several months into my recovery and had to go and reside in a homeless woman’s hostel. I spent the first 5 years going to meetings, at least 1 or 2 some days, anything not to pick up. I got a sponsor, I started working the steps, I started to sponsor and became of service. My life started to change slowly by putting one foot in front of the other and not picking up one day at a time. In time I came to believe in a power greater.
Some days were magical, others were very painful but I kept on going regardless. I was riddled with shame and self-loathing, which I never thought would leave me, but as I progressed and continued doing lots of work on myself it eventually changed. In recovery I have been able to get vulnerable and have cried like a baby, albeit it took time for me to thaw out from the ravages of the drugs. It has been a long and at times arduous journey. Eventually I was able to dismantle brick, by brick, the wall I had built around myself. In time my relationships with family began to heal and I began to feel whole. The desire to stop using has certainly left me… it did not happen overnight. I got euphoric recall for many years, but did not act on it, I learnt to play the tape forward and do what I needed to do to protect myself.
I started off doing voluntary work and as time went on I trained to become a professional, helping others to overcome trauma, abuse and PTSD, so today my life is all about making a difference. I am very grateful. Would I change it… No, not a thing, each experience has made me who I am today. My only regret is I wish I had got clean years earlier.
Recovery Has Not Been a Quick Road to Nirvana – Guest Post