I would like to introduce you to my sister Madison. Here is her story of struggle and strength.
So I’ve probably started and stopped this 15 times trying to figure out how to tell everyone my story. And I guess I need to begin with where I am now. Today I am 30, on parole, have a 10 yr old daughter, remarried, manage a Jimmy Johns in this shithole town of Sioux Falls, and spend my good weather weekends in the sky jumping out of airplanes. Now, you notice that I said I am currently on parole? Well almost 4 years ago I was released from prison for trafficking in drugs. Heroin, bath salts, and oxycodone. All of which I was also very addicted too.
You know, I can’t say that I had a terrible childhood or that I was abused or anything that led me to end up in any fucked up situation that I found myself in. It was all me. I’ve always had a wild side, and if I had to tell you every detail of my life story it would end up being a book series each the size of the Harry Potter novels before I got done. And who has any time to read all that anyway? But I can tell you how I felt during it all.
I didn’t mean to get addicted to drugs and alcohol, but honestly before I knew it, it was already too late. I remember I started drinking early on, around the age of 13, and I smoked some weed here and there, but that was never really my thing. I never ended up finishing school because I was always so bored with it and I felt like I never really fit in. (And I thought being with my friends and drinking was way more fun.) This went on until I was 18 and in legal trouble because of my drinking.
I remember wanting to not be drunk all the time, but I had been doing what I wanted whenever I wanted for so long it was so hard to break that cycle. I think the only thing that kept me sober during this period of my life was finding out I was pregnant with my daughter. And honestly, being pregnant, incarcerated, or on an alcohol monitor have really been the only times I have stayed completely sober since I was 13.
I knew I felt guilty before when I was by myself and addicted to alcohol and wanted to stop and didn’t quite know how, but becoming a mother and being addicted carries a whole different kind of guilt. One that will fucking eat you alive. Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter very much. I just don’t think I was ever supposed to be a mom. I never saw it in my cards and I was as reckless as ever. It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t an addict how hard it is to stop, and I can admit I was probably a really shitty mom at times. I wanted to go out and party and trying to change my ways seemed impossible.
It wasn’t until I was about 21 that I met someone who would turn my world upside down. He wasn’t much of drinker and didn’t go out every weekend like I had been used to, but he was a well known motorcycle stunt rider. I was happy and for once was having a good change of pace from the partying. It wasn’t until a month or two into the relationship that I realized he was addicted to prescription pain meds. I never once thought about trying them with him, (I’d had a bad experience with taking my own when I had broke my hand in one of my many drunken fight nights) but one day during our stunt practices we had had a pretty good spill and I was in pain so he gave me one. I remember feeling great and not in any pain, so for the next weeks I would take them just to help.
It was when I decided I didn’t need them anymore that I started feeling sick. I didn’t know why I felt that way and I remember lying on the bed and telling him how shitty I felt and he said, “You’re withdrawing, I’ll get you another one to make you feel better.” And that was the end. After that point it was over for me, I was addicted to prescription pain meds. Being an addict made do things I never thought possible. I once even went into a pain clinic to see a doctor with some bullshit fucking story and walked out of his office with a prescription for 180 30mg oxy and 180 15mg oxy a month….. and that is fucking insane. At first it was great I was getting so many scripts I could maintain, sell, and keep from being sick, and could buy my kid whatever she wanted. But like any other drug story it all came to a screeching fucking halt. I got so deep into using I couldn’t focus on giving my kid everything she needed because I was passed out most of the time. It was putting stress on my mom and I couldn’t see any way out, so I had to send my daughter with her dad.
Now I’ve been torn about this since the day it happened. To this day, it still fucking rips me apart inside that I let her go, but I know she is and was much better off with her dad than with me. But the guilt of a mother not being able to care for her child spiraled me out of control. I was done, and I gave up. The consuming thoughts a mother has when she has given up her child is so intense you can’t breathe. Everyday I felt like I was suffocating. I couldn’t go without being high because the only thing I could think about is how bad I had fucked up and I couldn’t do anything about it. I tried on my own going to a methadone clinic, but when you are so used to a lifestyle of using and when you’re not using you’re trying to use or find a way to make money to use is what’s hard to stop.
My life was pure chaos and had been for quite some time that just the thought of being sober and doing “normal” things was fucking terrifying. I mean, my addiction literally had me homeless, and that still wasn’t enough to help me change. My family had reached out so many times and each time my addiction came rearing it’s ugly head and pulling me back in.
Finally, fucking finally an answer came from the universe and my ass ended up in jail and with a bond so high I was never getting out. But let me tell you, the withdrawals I went through in jail…. holy fuck. You’re delirious, throwing up, shitting yourself, shaking, unable to control your body temps, dehydrated, exhausted, your anxiety is through the roof, and the voices in your head do not slow down. I probably would of ended my life if I had the means to do so.
It wasn’t until I got transferred from jail to prison that I remember being able to say I was starting to feel normal again. After being in prison for a while, being sober, taking treatment classes, and getting my GED I felt like I was going to be able to get out and get my life back on track and everything would be so much better. As soon I walked out of the gates of prison I had an instant fucking anxiety attack with a gnawing thought in the back of my head that I could now get my hands on any drugs I wanted, and I did.
I wasn’t even out two days and managed to overdose and skip out of my halfway house while waiting for my interstate compact (transferring parole from Idaho to South Dakota) to go through. I know, right… what in the fuck. I had just thrown away my sobriety and every skill I had just learned. My dad fought tooth and nail and threatened to leave my ass in Idaho if I didn’t come back and leave with him the next day. So in fear of going back to prison after only three days of being out I left. When we hit the Idaho Montana border I remember crying because I couldn’t use anymore and I was leaving the only place I wanted to be. (And I was coming down from drugs after overdosing so that didn’t help.)
Since I have been here in South Dakota it hasn’t been easy. I still struggle to this day not to use and maintain being sober-ish. I can say it’s been a quite some time since I have used any hard drugs like heroin or prescription meds, but I still struggle with alcohol everyday. And it doesn’t stop. It’s taken me many years, countless treatment centers, and different programs to get where I am now, but I can say I’m a better mom. The guilt that I had when I was using and without my kid used to be so intense, but now I can control my urges and I am able to tell myself that with the circumstances I was in, letting her go was the right thing and I believe it.
I now spend summers with my kid and make sure I get the most out of my time with her and let her know how much she is loved and I try hard everyday for her because I want to give her everything that I couldn’t before. I bust my ass everyday at work which got me into a management position with the potential to become the GM and part owner in my company. I mean I never made it past 9th grade, or went to college and now I make more then a lot of people who have college degrees. I even took up skydiving as a hobby! What!!!
I guess the biggest part I’ve realized about all of this is how crippling it all can be, the hold that heroin had over me was crazy. It will make you think, feel, and do the most insane things. And it hasn’t been until recently with hard fucking work at telling myself I don’t want it that I’ve realize how strong I actually am without it.
I have literally moved mountains since being sober and done things I didn’t even know were possible. I no longer feel guilty about the things I have been through because they have taught me a lot about being a better mom for her now. And I must admit being a mom spending time with my kid and taking her with me while jumping out of planes every weekend definitely takes the cake over being some passed out homeless junkie with a needle in my arm.