I’ve always been on the discreet side in talking about what I’m about to talk about. For whatever reason, I’m not feeling so discreet now so I’m biting the bullet and taking a huge chance. It’s been my experience that when I feel moved to talk (or write) about certain things, it’s because there is someone that needs to hear or read it.
There’s a motto that I live by, “no matter how far down the scale you have gone, you will see how your experience, strength and hope can benefit others”
So here I go..sharing my experience, strength and hope…
Allow me to formally introduce myself first…
My name is Tiffany and I’m an alcoholic and drug addict. Dec 13th 1988 is my sobriety date (29 years ago today). I was 17 years old and in the middle of my high school Senior year when I got sober.
I grew up in a very small town in south Louisiana. My mom had me after she dropped out of high school and married my biological father when she was 17. The marriage didn’t last and my bio dad was (and is) essentially a deadbeat father. I have no relationship with him, nor his large “very Catholic” family.
When I was 2, my mom married my step dad and he took me and raised me as his own. He also owned a several “dive” bars, that I basically grew up in. I remember being very very young sitting on the bar of these places with the customers giving me sips of their drinks. I guessestimate I was around 3 ish when I had my first sip of alcohol.
My parents loved me but they both had drinking problems. As well as my entire family. Alcoholism, drug addiction, abuse and mental illness were all things I experienced on a daily basis as a child.
In the course of my childhood, I also experienced all the different forms of abuse and I grew up being told that “I was a lazy good for nothing kid that would never amount too anything”. Almost every day, I witnessed episodes of alcoholic rages from close family members.
That was my norm and the only way of life that I knew.
On the inside, I always knew something was wrong but couldn’t understand what it was. I remember going to friends houses for sleepovers etc and their families were never like mine.
When I was around 7-8, I realized that my prescription allergy medicine made me sleepy (it had codeine) . I loved to sleep because it was an escape. It didn’t take me long to make that connection so I started becoming sick very often so I could have my medicine. Around 9-10, I started getting high on nail polish and various other things that I could get.
One of my relatives, had (and still has) a prescription drug addiction. She would come “visit” for several days at a time and would stash her “medicine bag” in my dresser drawers of my room. I started helping myself to it all. Sometimes, she’d forget that she hid them and would leave to go back home without them. I’d lie and tell her that I couldnt find them.
My brother was 5 years younger then me. I was the one that taught him to walk, play ball and I did his homework with him. I was also responsible for cleaning the entire house starting around ages 8-9. I vividily remember having to clean up after all the “drunken suppers” that my parents held at home, while they laid on the couches sleeping it off. God forbid if they’d wake up and find that I didn’t clean. If I didn’t, that’s when the rages would start.
I walked on egg shells dodging flying objects my entire childhood.
Around 12, I experienced my first real drunk. For the first time in my life, I felt beautiful and important and that I was “somebody”. I had my first blackout when I was 13. By the time I was 14-15, I was in full binge mode between drinking and whatever kind of mood altering substance I could find. I didn’t care what I used, I just could not deal with reality and did whatever I could to not feel it.
There is no doubt that I was born an alcoholic. Despite all that I did, I never ever once passed out, threw up or even really had a hang over. I could just keep going and going and going. I outdrank everyone I knew and eventually started drinking with the “good ol boys” because they were the only ones that could keep up with me.
Some nights, I’d intentionally OD to kill myself but I always woke up the next morning. No one ever knew until many years later when I admitted to it.
By the time I was 15, I was majorily depressed (even though I didnt know it at the time) It was around this time that I started hiding in my closet and drinking in the dark alone. The summer that I turned 17, I had resorted to drinking straight whiskey from the bottle. As a matter of fact, I could not get up and face the world without having at least a sip every morning. I needed to feel that burn going down to give me courage to face the world.
Getting the alcohol was not an issue despite my age. My parents always had it. I also frequented all the local dive bars that were more then happy to serve me and my underaged friends. I stole money all the time to pay for it.
Since I was 17 when I got sober, I have never drank legally.
In between my Junior and Senior year, my relative with the bag of pills, had to be committed into treatment because she almost killed herself. From that, my mom started going to 12 step meetings and getting involved in the “recovery community”
In Dec of 1988, she told me and my brother that she was leaving my step dad because of his drinking and that she wanted a better way of life for us. She brought us to talk to this elderly couple that had many years of sobriety and a lot of involment in Al-Anon.
The minute I realized that there was a better way to live, I desperately wanted it.It was also a validation for me because I always knew deep inside that something was not right about how we lived. I also knew that my family wouldn’t get better unless I got better.
By that time, I was sick of it all. Not just of my own addictions but of the entire craziness and sickness that went along with it. I was tired of being embarassed by family members that continued to get DWI’s, catching them in marital affairs and just the all around public humilation they caused.
I wanted out and I wanted a better life. I also wanted to be the ONE person in the family to break that dysfuntional chain because I didnt want to raise my future children in the same way that I was raised.
So when we got back home, after meeting with that couple that night,I went to my mom and told her that I needed help. She was shocked because she was so caught up in her own self that she had absolutely no idea that her own daughter was slowly killing herself under her own nose.
A few days later, I was in treatment. While I was in, I was told that only 1/14 of us that were there, would still be clean and sober in 10 years.
Here I am 29 years later, still clean and sober.
Remember I was raised in a small town in the late 80’s. Young people in recovery was a very rare thing in those days. After rehab, I went back to school and had very little support from the kids that I grew up with and knew all my life. For my night of my high school graduation, I was basically shunned by my class mates. Everyone was all grouped together and no one included me and basically pretended like I wasn’t even there. I remember going to the bathroom and gripping my 5 month sobriety chip in my hand as if my life depended on it. In many ways, it did.
My life after getting clean was far from being rosey and perfect. Even though, I wasn’t drinking, I made a lot of mistakes. A lot of huge life mistakes. I hurt a lot of people and did a lot of damage. I had to figure out how to live and how to grow. I didn’t have great examples when I was growing up so I had to figure things out on my own.
It also took me many years to understand that alcoholism is more then just the physical addiction. It’s also a spiritual and living problem. I eventually was able to figure it out throught the 12 steps, therapy and countless meetings.
Gradually, it all came together for me and I was able to get myself together per say. My life has been filled with nothing but “showing them I can, when they didn’t believe that I could”
While sober, I ve gone though family suicides, lost close recovery friends to addictions after they relapsed, lost my step father in a horrific accident, went through a divorce and countless other major life events. I stayed sober through them all by staying close to God.
So I’m sitting here right now, typing all this out on a MAC that I bought myself while sitting in a house that I own that is full of nice things–all paid for by my high titled job position that I earned by working my way from the bottom on up.
There was a time, I was essentially living out of a 500 dollar car with no AC and worked 3 jobs to just be able to survive. I always knew that I could do better then the cards that were dealt to me so I never gave up. I NEVER gave up and I refused to fall into the “victim trap”, make excuses for myself and have people pity me in any kind of way.
My only child has never seen me drunk and she did not go through what I experienced growing up. I became a single mom when she was three. She’s an amazing talented artist that goes to a selective admissions high school for the states “brightest and high achieving” students. I look at her and think ” Wow, I did that…ME, I did that, with God on my side. I broke that f en dysfunctional family chain.
I’m in the place that I am now because of God, the steps and never giving up on myself. It has never been easy, especially when I began battling the depression battles later in my life. With God’s help, I made it through it all one day at a time.
There were many days that I didn’t want to get up off the floor, literally. However, I went against the grain and just did what was in front of me, one thing after another. It’s just what you have to do.
Thankfully, I am no longer surviving. I am actually LIVING now. I’m in great awe of how far God has taken me.
If anyone reading this is struggling please don’t give up!! You can contact me though the contact form on here if you need someone to talk to. If I can do this and come this far, you certainely can too! With God, all things are possible!!!
If you have lost all hope, I will have enough hope for you to get you through. If you hate God and/or don’t believe in Him now, that’s ok too. Just keep doing the next right thing and this too shall pass. You WILL make it through to the other end in the same way that I did.
I am a miracle-a living, walking, breathing miracle- that was never supposed to amount to anything.
Thanks for reading,