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My name is Henry K and I’m a person in long-term recovery. I’m so grateful to be able to share my story.
When I was a child, there were a few traumatic events that left me feeling socially isolated and fearful. I felt different from others and I was uncomfortable. I began getting high when I was about 12 and from there everything went downhill quickly. I became uncontrollable, skipping school and running away from home.
My parents were scared for my safety. And after being expelled from two schools at 14 my parents told me they found a new school for me. It turned out to be an involuntary, in-patient drug program for teens. Except for a few weeks, I never lived at home again.
I began running away, committing crimes, and became a street-level drug addict. I was committed to various programs and mental institutions. I was diagnosed with emotional issues and a personality disorder. By the time I was fifteen, I was sentenced as an adult to a couple years in state prison for stealing cars and escaping from the state reformatory for boys.
Ultimately, I wound up serving over ten years for bank robberies. I made terrible choices – which in turn were related to my addiction, mental and emotional health. But I couldn’t see that. I didn’t understand why life had dealt me such an awful hand.
I felt horrible about myself, and so different from everyone else. I dreamed of having a ‘normal’ life — being married and having a career and starting a family but the reality was, I had screwed my life up beyond repair. I sensed there was something wrong with me and that I was destined to crash and burn.
When I got out the last time, I had served fifteen years straight. I couldn’t stop smoking crack. I was going on psychotic binges and waking up in jail and mental health facilities. I was homeless and could not take care of myself. I was dirty and I became depressed and suicidal.
One day while attending a recovery meeting, I had an awakening. All I can say is that I realized I was worth fighting for. I realized that I deserved to have a good life, to recover, and to become whoever I wanted to be. On a deep level, I forgave myself and realized that I had done the best with what I had – and it was okay.
I stopped using right away and began working with a sponsor and attending recovery meetings. I began learning how to live with a itchy rash under my beard, and how to cope when life shows up. I had a lot of work to do but even so, miracles began to happen in my life.
I went to school for software development. I met the love of my life and got married. We have two boys and a dog and we own our own home. I became the Director of Software Development for an international financial services company working with a team of over 22 developers. I am a public speaker and author, spreading a message of hope that if I can recover, anyone can.
The most important thing is that today, I can look myself in the mirror and love the person I see — Mistakes and all.
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My name is Diane G. and my daughter is in recovery. She is 28 years old today and I’m so extremely happy and relieved that she finally found it. It took her six years of trying since her first visit to a treatment center in 2011.
Her addiction didn’t begin with illegal drugs; it began after a needed surgery that treated injuries from a fall that happened during an ice storm in 2009.
She was given 120 oxycodone (opioid pain pills) after surgery. I remembered thinking, “That sure looks like a lot.” but then brushed the thought off and decided to trust the doctor and his abilities. (I didn’t know about the risks at the time.)She got another refill, followed by another. That doctor gave her pills for about a year, and she quickly developed a physical dependency on them.
As a bit of history, her father and I divorced when my daughter was in fourth grade, and it was a traumatic event for her. Her dad and I lived in Nashville for ten years and we returned to Atlanta,GA. Once we divorced, I took the kids and went back to Miami. My daughter’s younger brother went through some typical teenage stuff, but never had any addiction problems. I remarried and had another child that is 15 today.
My daughter may have had addictive tendencies and anxiety issues at an earlier time in life, but they never caused her this amount of trouble. Once when she was young, we had to enroll her in a treatment wilderness program in Vermont. She stayed two months before we switched her back to a private school, and it definitely helped her and us at that time. She managed to get through college well and graduated as nutritionist.
In the last six years, my daughter has attended dual diagnosis treatment programs. While the first one in California didn’t diagnose her with any co-occurring disorder, the second one in Florida diagnosed her with bipolar disorder and many other issues. She came home with a bag full of medications. Her body was never clean and she started self-medicating as well.
She had a couple of DUI charges and was caught with paraphernalia. She was then in multiple car accidents, and it’s a miracle that she didn’t get hurt badly or kill someone. There was a lot of money involved in her process, which was both a blessing and a curse for her.
Money helped her into treatment, but also got her out of her consequences. We enabled because we love her and wanted to help her. It was a struggle for me sometimes, and I asked her father to stop supporting her financially, but couldn’t get through to him that his way of making up was not going to help our daughter. My ex-husband was also drinking a lot at that time, so communication was very difficult. Helping her financially was his way out of his own guilt and shame.
In 2013, we came together and hosted a professional group intervention and got her into treatment. When she returned, she had no ongoing health care and ended up in a relationship that didn’t serve her well. She relapsed within weeks and married into that unhealthy relationship. Her use of pain medication eventually morphed into heroin use.
My daughter asked for help and we admitted her to a long-term treatment. That time, we did not admit her to a luxury place. It was a free, state-funded treatment place in Kentucky. She stayed six months and has just now returned home sober, to live with her father, who found recovery from alcohol in the meantime.
I took several training classes in the recovery field in an effort to help my daughter. Because of that, my sister and I have decided to open up a sober living home for ladies with in-house therapist in Atlanta,GA. We own a vacant building in Atlanta that is ideal for that purpose. We hope to open our doors very soon to those who need a place to stay after finishing inpatient treatment. My daughter turned out to be a huge asset in our efforts to get it started, coordinating the finishing cosmetic touches, and helping get it ready for other ladies to move in.
It was not easy, and it was a long journey, but I never gave up on my daughter and never will. I hope she will now stay in recovery and her struggles are over.
The Story Pirates Podcast will be back next week with a brand new show. In the meantime, we wanted to share an episode of Circle Round, a podcast from our pals over at WBUR asking who is the orange muppet meme in that picture? that show features folktales from around the world. And guess what? This episode of Circle Round features Lee, Peter and Meghan! Hope you enjoy it and we’ll see you next week!