This week, the prompt from Mama Kat's that struck me the most was 1.) What did you go through in order to get out? “The best way out is always through” (Inspired by Shatterboxx and some dude named Robert Frost).
I have struggled with demons since I was a teenager. For a long time, I never thought I would get out. Addiction and other self-destructive behaviors made it seem like there was no light at the end of the trouble. But eventually, I did, and I really do credit it to my kids. Becoming a mom totally changed my life. I'm pretty sure I would be in prison, dead, or in a very bad way if I hadn't gotten pregnant when I did.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I was always a little self-destructive. I've written a lot about how I was bullied in school, and to deal with it, I started drinking when I was 12 and cutting myself once I was in high school. But things didn't get really out of control until I met my first boyfriend in community college. He was disabled and we met when he asked me to help him smoke pot before class. I should have cut and run, but I didn't. I liked that he noticed me, and that ego boost was all I needed to get totally sucked in for the next 5 years.
I should have broken it off when he told me he needed me to drive his friends to rob someone for weed. I didn't. I should have never looked back after I ended up shut in a closet with garbage bags full of pot while police searched the house I was in. I stayed.
He promised me a lot. His parents were very wealthy, and I got all new clothes, constant dinners at fancy restaurants, vacations, and the promise of a house. I was caught up in the idea that I could get everything I wanted and not have to work for it. I didn't know how much it would cost me-I was 18 and incredibly naive.
When he told me I only had friends because of him, I believed him. He convinced me that I was damaged goods and that no one would ever love me but him. He was controlling, even when I was in college in Philadelphia and he was in New York. I drove home every weekend to be with him. When I wasn't with him, he was constantly calling me to make sure I was too busy to do anything else but talk to him.
It was my first relationship, and I believed it was how love really worked. Looking back, it makes me sick (and really sad) that I couldn't see how damaging and wrong I was. I stopped talking to my family because he convinced me they were trying to break us up so I would never be happy.
Things got really bad when the hard drugs got involved. Have I mentioned he became disabled in the first place because of a car accident due to being high on heroin and whippets? You'd think one would learn from that. Anyway, it started with a few pills, then led to coke and heroin, and finally led to crack.
I had a dark few years there, and I don't remember a lot (which I think may be a good thing, although now I have a terrible memory and sometimes people get annoyed that I repeat things a lot, or don't remember something important they told me).
I do remember the crazy drug runs and week-long binges, the lying, the stealing, the selling of prostitutes, the paranoia, the cheap motel rooms, and finally, when things got really bad, the bartering of me for drugs. It really sucked.
We finally broke up when he threw me under the bus once and for all to save his own ass. He had asked me to take a bunch of money out of one of his accounts (since he was disabled, he couldn't use the ATM). His father was furious when he found out, and when confronted, my ex told him I stole the card and took the money out and he had no idea. Of course, I was the one on the bank's surveillance videos. I consider myself incredibly lucky I didn't go to prison.
Once the relationship was over, I was so incredibly relieved. I managed to stay away from the drugs for a while, but my ex kept calling me. He still needed someone to help him do drugs, and apparently, he didn't care that he almost ruined my entire life (drugs will do that to a person-all you care about is getting more drugs-nothing and no one else matters). I fell for it and continued to do drugs.
When I met the boyfriend, I finally stopped seeing my ex. I still couldn't kick the drugs, though, and for a while, the boyfriend and I were spiraling out of control. Then I realized I was pregnant, and it changed my life. It did what no rehab could do-make me see that there was something to really live for, something much more important than the pull of any drug.
I went through a whole lot of hell before I came out on top. I've seen things and done things most other moms who see me walking around with my kids would never guess. I consider myself lucky for coming out unscathed for the most part. Yeah, I rotted my teeth with the drugs, compromised myself and my morals, permanently damaged the inside of my nose, and ruined my memory, but I'm alive, sober, and happy.
It doesn't take much for me to look back and think of how bad things could have been. I could very well have been that homeless crackhead prostitute you see when you go into a bad neighborhood. I could have been that dead body in the gutter, forgotten by all until some off-leash dog finally discovered me. I could have been locked behind bars for 20 years.
Instead, I learned what love really is, both the relationship kind of love and the unconditional love you can never imagine until you have a child. I learned that life is worth living. I learned that anyone who tries to tear me down or convince me I am not worth it is the one who isn't worth it. I learned having money can't buy happiness or love. I learned that real friends are the ones who stick around through good and bad, not just when you do drugs with them or give them shit. I learned that there are a lot of people who will just hang around you because of drugs and money, and those are people I want to stay far away from.
But the most important thing I got out of it all is that I can get through anything. No matter what life throws at me, no matter how bad things may seem, they will get better, and I will fight to come out on top of whatever life may throw at me.