Some have turned an old adage into a familiar saying, “What does not break me, makes me stronger”. The following is story of Dee and her resilience to overcome the worst of situations to come out on the other side standing with dignity and a love for herself.
Born in a rural part of Maryland, Dee comes from a family that was separated before she turned one year old. At the age of 12, her father surrendered full custody and she went to live with her grandparents. Dee remembers being totally unaware of her father’s decision and her mother said it was the only time she ever saw Dee cry. While the move was unexpected, Dee grew very close to her grandmother and felt love she never felt with her parents. By the time she was in 8th grade, Dee started to drink alcohol, smoke weed and dabble in various other recreational drugs. Looking back, Dee remembers feeling accepted and was no longer bullied by the other kids in school.
At the age of 15, her grandmother passed away after a long illness further fueling Dee’s increase in substance abuse. Her using continued through high school and after she graduated, she was able to get her own apartment. This time of independence was short lived due to financial issues from her using and Dee soon found herself moving in with some old friends. For the next year, she was basically living in a ‘trap house’ that included more and more drugs, gang affiliations and ultimately a raid on the house by a police task force. Dee did not go to jail and instead a friend took the wrap for her crimes. Soon after this, she got sober for a relationship and was able to stay clean for around 3 years. Dee ultimately got married, and she and her wife had a child together. Soon after things turned bad in her marriage and Dee’s wife abruptly left her. Again, emotionally abandoned, Dee turned to the comfort she knew in alcohol and drugs.
Her subsequent relapse is described by Dee as the worst 6-7 month run she ever had using.
Dee was in contact with her mother over the years, but it was through a phone call from her older brother that she agreed to go to treatment. Dee came to California and spent 12 months in a program that included detox, residential, intensive outpatient (IOP) and sober living. Dee managed to stay clean for about a year but her disease once again had its powerful control that resulted in a heroin overdose and suicide attempt. After being discharged from the psychiatric hospital, Dee made a decision to return to treatment. Things were good for a while as Dee was working and was active in her 12 step program. While at her sober living home, Dee was the victim of violent assault that nearly took her life. Dee’s injuries included frontal lobe damage, loss of hearing in one ear and permanent impaired vision. Her attack was so violent that the paramedics were surprised that she was even able to stand.
Dee thinks back to that attack as an experience with her higher power. Even though she may have felt that her higher power left her so many years earlier, she realized it never left here
The day after the assault she received a phone call from her estranged father. The call turned negative very quickly and Dee was again emotionally cut off when her father verbally threatened her in a follow up text message. With 7 staples above her eye and feeling once again abandoned, Dee went on 3 week binge on alcohol and smoking marijuana. Her best friend found out that she was sneaking out to bars to drink and he confronted Dee about her drinking. This friend did not leave her side until Dee agreed to go back to rehab. Dee spent 30 days in detox and was transferred to the aftercare program at Coastline Behavioral Health for Women. When Dee walked through our doors, she was suffering from extreme trauma, dissociation and depersonalization. Dee remembers how the staff was patient, tolerant and supportive through her entire 72 days in our care. She says that if it had not been for the unconditional support and acceptance, she would not have made it and would have never successfully completed the program.
Today, Dee is strong in her sobriety with daily readings, prayers, calls with her sponsor and 12-step meetings. She is working on her steps and says that her work with her sponsor is the most thorough and honest she has ever been in her life. Dee is slowly mending the relationship with her mother. She currently works in the treatment industry and says that she is so blessed to be able to give back what was so freely given to her. The past 7 months have not been easy and even through the devastating loss of her two year old Godson, Dee has stayed sober.
“We can stay sober no matter what. We don’t have to manipulate the things that happen to us in life as an excuse to drink and use. Instead we can turn these experiences into an opportunity to grow.” Dee