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A FACE OF HOPE

Nicole

michael pic for phone

The best day of my life is the day I became a mother. Becoming a mother ultimately saved me, from myself, from this world, from my disease.

The instant my daughter was placed on my chest, I felt my own re-birth. An identity shift. I previously existed as a woman, but never as a mother. Examining her tiny little toes and fingers, I marvelled at her loveliness and my new sense of purpose. An overwhelming feeling of love washed over me, a feeling I never knew until that very moment, and yet at the same time, I felt lost.

I had a deep, dark secret – one I was immensely ashamed of — it consumed my thoughts, my thinking, my soul. I was severely addicted to Oxycodone, affectionately referred to as “blues,” for two years prior to my pregnancy. I was a full blown opioid addict.

I quietly tapered myself off oxy after seeing those two pink lines on the pregnancy test. I suffered in silence, but I did it successfully by the third month of pregnancy. I thought I was in the clear for good. Unfortunately, a difficult birth often makes for a more difficult physical recovery. Two days in the hospital and a handful of 5mg percs later is all it took for me to get back on the wagon. A few pills catapulted me back to the addiction merry-go-round. As my appetite for pills grew, my inability to live life as a functioning drug addict depleted. I was faced with a choice: get honest with myself and get help, or resign myself to the fact that my daughter is being deprived of my undivided attention. How could I ever give 100 percent of myself to her if the bulk of my day was spent on scheduling my next pick up?

There was a greater issue at hand, I am a police officer’s wife. Cops wives don’t have drug problems. Cops wives aren’t junkies.

Despite being a mom to a healthy baby girl, despite my well- paying Wall Street job, despite all of my blessings, I fell deeper and deeper into drug use. I considered telling my husband what was happening, but my pride wouldn’t let me. I was so ashamed of my actions. I stopped being able to look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t recognize the person looking back at me. When I first started using, way back in 2007, I limited myself to being a weekend-warrior. I only took 10mg percs, never the blues. As time wore on and my tolerance grew, my habit started bleeding into the work week. I felt great: no pain, tons of energy, and happy. By 2011, I was averaging 5-6 10mg percs per day. I had a fantastic well-paying job. Financing my habit was not a problem. I’d leave money in my mailbox for my dealer before I left for work in the morning. At some point during the day, she would stop by and swap it out with the pills. My husband had no clue (and obviously never took up the mail.) There were no shady street transactions. It was a perfect situation.

In 2013 the regulations were tightened surrounding narcotic pill prescriptions. It was getting harder and harder to find percs. One day my dealer offered me 30mg blues in place of the percs. $25 a pop. My curiosity got the best of me, unfortunately. They produced a high greater than the percs ever had. My friend’s girlfriend then convinced me to try snorting the pills. She claimed it was a better high at a quarter of the cost. In hindsight, that day marked a turning point in my drug use. I was now a hard core addict with an insatiable appetite for oxy. I walked around with a pill crusher in my purse at all times. My habit ballooned to $150 every other day. Less than a year later, it grew to $150 per day.
By August 2016, I was picking up every day, sometimes even twice. My habit had evolved to $250 per day. I even went as far as to drive to SI to pick up on my lunch hour. One day I met a fellow user while waiting for my dealer. I ignored my intuition, something felt off about this person. Against all logic and reason, I began using with this individual, often into the wee hours of the night. I started going into work on two hours of sleep. I was always late. Naturally, I eventually lost my job. 10 years of service down the drain. I prioritized drugs over motherhood. My skin crawls just thinking about my appalling behavior.

One month later, my husband served me with divorce papers, complete with a limited order of protection. My erratic behavior, reckless spending, and emotional instability thrust our household into utter chaos.

ACS became involved. I was rapidly circling the drain…fast. He refused to speak to me about the impending court case. Although he was severely hurt by my actions, the stonewalling escalated things. He took me to court for full custody. Despite all my begging and pleading, the clock had run out on his patience: even if I attended treatment, he would not drop the case. Everything came to a head in May 2017. He walked out with our two year old daughter in the early hours of the morning. He refused to answer my texts and calls. The next day I was hauled off to jail for violating the limited order of protection. My life had fallen apart. The order turned into a full stay away. I was no longer allowed to enter my home. I was no longer allowed to see my daughter whenever I wanted. I could not contact him. And I was homeless and totally broke. I don’t know how I did it, my heart was so broken that it hurt to breathe, but I somehow mandated myself to a program. Don’t poke the mama bear. My baby needed me healthy.

One of the casualties of a battle with addiction is the trail of damaged relationships it leaves in its wake.

It was difficult to accept responsibility for all of the horribly selfish things I did while using drugs. Even more difficult was coming to terms with the fact that my life wasn’t going to get immediately better. I had destroyed my marriage, my husband’s trust. Oh, and that clown I had spent so much time using with? His true colors came out once my bank account ran dry, then came the public acts of degradation, spitting in my face, calling me all sorts of names, and of course, outright physical abuse. Life came full circle because I then took out my own restraining order against him.
My husband and I began attending marriage counseling shortly after, and our relationship improved with each session. We eventually reconciled. Two plus years later, we are still together. I officially made two years sober in May.
Understanding my addiction has been the most valuable aspect of sobriety. Each new day I remind myself that I am making the choice to be happy and present, no matter what life throws at me. I remind myself that setbacks are a part of life, but the realm of positive advancement is always within my grasp. I'm grateful for the events that led me to my turning point, and I'm proud of my emotional growth and maturity that has come from living a life without using substances as a crutch. That's what matters most. It's not about the opinions of my friends or my family. It's about what I contemplate... what I feel... how I'm holding up. I finally have the confidence to openly say I’m not perfect, but that’s just fine. My voice matters. I'm not ‘lesser than’ anyone else. I'm plenty. And I arrived at this place all thanks to sobriety.

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