My Story - Jill
Like any good movie, I’ll start at the present and then jump around and tell you a few pieces about my recovery journey. I feel like the college kid at the end of a teen movie who’s packing their things for college. The main difference is that I’m in my 30s and I’ve two teenage boys who themselves are getting ready to head to college. But right now, doing something I never expected, I’m preparing for college too. Full time college girl. Not bad for the class clown who was expelled from school at 13 years of age…
I was the class clown. I needed the attention. It was attention that I wasn’t getting at home. My childhood and upbringing was not the best. I’d lie in bed at night and fear the worst, waiting on the bang on my bedroom window with a high-heel or a fist. One night, as I lay there, I felt the window come in on top of me. Still to this day that sticks with me. I remember one night hearing a knock, so I got up to answer the door and, half asleep, I felt a hard slap on my face. My mam hit me for thinking she was locked out and I was just trying to help. I got the blame on so much when I was young and I’m still learning of the trauma I experienced during those years. I never felt loved. I never ever got hugs. I was never told that I was loved.
So, we can stop the sad music and the dark dreary shots of rain on the window-sill! I’m not telling you this to make you sad or to excuse my addiction. My addiction is my responsibility, so, no excuses. But I’ve discovered that my recovery is only possible if I own the full truth of what happened to me and accept why drugs became part of my life, not as an excuse but as a freeing explanation.
So bad start led to troubles in school and because of being the comedian attention seeker, I didn’t get to finish school. I was expelled in my second year. I’ve always regretted not finishing school as if it was my fault that I didn’t finish; I’m so sad that I didn’t have a ‘debs’ either; I’d have loved to be dressed in a fancy gown and have a boy bring me a corsage. I did try to get back into school and went and had a meeting with the school principal. She was willing to give me another chance, but my mother was having none of it. She wasn’t willing to spend or ‘waste more money’ on school, so I didn’t get the second chance I wanted and now realise, I deserved.
The only other option was a programme called FAS. Now, when I look back, I think I was allowed to do this because I got paid and I could then pay rent to my mother. I was 13. I did ok there and my life continued along the same path it was on before. Just that now I had a wage to hand to my mother.
I’m the proud mother of 2 boys and 1 girl. I should have 2 girls, but I’ll tell you about that in a moment. My boys are amazing. They lived away from me for many years, but we stayed in contact, and they are now back living with me. Addiction caused our separation. It’s hard to say that there was a time when I wasn’t able to be their full time ma but unfortunately it is true. I worked hard with social workers and their foster families and now they are back. My two big men! They are finishing their schooling properly and I am so proud of them. So what happened that meant that I would risk losing them? Let me tell you about when I lost my little girl.
A few years went past and I met someone. I’m not going to tell you about him but he is the boys’ dad. So, I had two beautiful sons and, soon I was pregnant again. Did I not say that I am a good, Irish girl! On my third child, I found out that I was to have a baby girl. I can’t tell you what this meant to me. I was desperate to have a girl. My two princes are glorious, but I was so looking forward to having my princess. I was elated.
One day when, at 5 months pregnant, my waters broke. I didn’t know what was happening. I was rushed to hospital and was kept there. It was bad; I had a high chance of getting an infection in my womb. I stayed in the maternity hospital for 3 months. All that time I was anxious and confused, yet also hopeful and excited. There was to be no happy ending. My little girl passed away. I was broken.
I was so lost and hurt that the hospital hadn’t saved her; that they hadn’t given us the care that they promised to. I was angry that God had let this happen. I stared at all the mothers with their baby girls wondering what I’d done that was so bad that my girl wasn’t with me. That my little princess had died.
That’s when my life got crazy, and I was introduced to drugs. They helped to numb everything I was feeling; I couldn’t believe that the pain would stop, even for just a short time. I couldn’t walk away from them. I was heartbroken and the drugs glued my heart together for a few short minutes and that made all the difference.
I started taking methadone to help me to sleep and then that progressed to smoking heroin, crystal meth, crack cocaine and pills. It was madness, I know, but my world was madness anyway. And the drugs were helping me cope.
Then a new miracle happened: I became pregnant again, so I stopped.
I was scared and excited, full of fear and full of happiness. I don’t know how I coped but at 5 months pregnant I discovered I was having a girl and I knew she was my second chance. I was taking it with both hands. I was so anxious to have her and to hold her and have her safe in my arms.
To prepare for her coming I went into Cuan Dara (a residential stabilisation service) and came off all street tablets. I’m six and a half years off them now and I would never look back. I swore for my second chance that I’d never go back. It wasn’t easy but I knew my daughter would change my world, that she was giving me a new meaning and I stepped out of the madness and into her little arms. She held me as much as I ever held her!
I’m so blessed and lucky to have my little girl who is already 6 years old. She is my saviour. Without having her, I don’t think I would be here right now.
It’s hard, deciding to change your story. It’s not easy stepping off the train you’re on and admit that it’s going in the wrong direction. But standing at a new station isn’t enough. You have to get on a new train and go somewhere new.
For the past four and a half years I have been coming to SAOL. They have helped me turn my life around so much. I really couldn’t have found the beauty inside me without them. I’ve so much confidence now and I have had the chance to be me, myself. I am human. I am important. I do matter. I can do it and I am doing it.
So, I’m at another new station and this one scares the bejaysus out of me! It’s like I’m back in the principal’s office and this time I’m able to accept the offer to go back to school. I’m going forward, studying something new. I’m off to college now. That’s something I never imagined doing. My recovery continues yet my recovery is really just beginning. I am so grateful.
My Story - Sharon
Recovery is many things and everyone has recovered something in their lives. What helped me most was when I was made homeless. I got my service dog and she was allowed to be with me and help my child (so he didn't have to worry about me taking seizures). I was out of work and sick with epilepsy and depression but with the help of my dog, Mimi, she got me up everyday, and put a smile on my face even when I was sad.
I believe that making calls to the right people, to get the right guidance and correct information is essential. And I believe music is a great key to being happy and getting you focused. A member of staff said to me, 'Don't worry about what people think, think instead about now, today and tomorrow'. That really lifted my spirits.
These are the things that have me on the road to recovery.