Tiffany "Today I Want to Live"

I was born in Kentucky to a young mother and drug addicted father on March of 1985. My parents did the best they could with what they had. My father battled demons of his own and was in-and-out of my life. I can often remember feeling like something was missing but I wasn't sure what it was.

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Around the age of 13, I started drinking with my friends on the weekends. We would go through my parent’s medicine cabinet and we would take anything that said “may cause drowsiness do not operate heavy machinery”. I can remember many weekends being extremely extremely hung over come Sunday.

I smoked weed for the 1st time around the age of 15. I somehow managed my way through high school and graduated with a 3.8 GPA. When I turned 18 I became a dancer at an adult club. I started smoking methamphetamine for about 3 months until I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter

When I was younger and people would ask me what I want to be when I grew up, my answer was never lawyer, doctor, or veterinarian like other kids. I always wanted to be a mommy. When my oldest child was born she was the light of my life. My partying ways were quickly a thing of the past and I engulfed myself in being the best mother I could be.

By the time I was 23 I had 3 beautiful babies ages 4, 3 to a newborn. Those 3 were my entire world. When my oldest was 5 my kids father and I separated and I became a single mother. In order to support my 3 children at the age of 25, I went back into what I knew best would care for them, dancing. While working in Gentlemen's clubs, I would drink and take percocet. I can remember thinking how the percocet would give me energy. Being a single mother, working 3rd shift I justified my use by saying they helped me be a better mother.

Around the age of 27 I was introduced to Roxys, which were a much stronger and more expensive percocet. Then I was quickly introduced to Opanas- and I found my first real love.

I quit dancing around the age of 28 and found a job at a collection company making good money. I got married, bought a house and somewhat had control of my life. At least from the outside I did. I coached my daughter's cheer team, was always there to cheer my son on during baseball and basketball. I maintained my job, house and life, all the while hiding a dirty little secret.

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By this time in my life I was extremely addicted and would be deathly sick in bed if I didn't have the pills. I found a doctor and had a legal prescription. When I first started using pills I took them by mouth, then discovered they hit you harder, faster and longer if you broke them down and snorted them. Eventually snorting them was not enough and I began shooting them around the age of 30. I somehow managed to somewhat hold my life together for the next year. I thought no one around me could really see the change, I was wrong. Things began falling apart around me but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't stop.

On December 9th, 2016 I got a phone call from my aunt saying that my biological dad had taken his life. My dad had battled with alcohol and addiction his entire life and eventually everything became too much and he decided that he could no longer carry on in this world.

Two days later I found myself sitting in a hotel room, 30 minutes before my dad's funeral was to start, staring at a shot of methamphetamine. I just wanted to numb the pain. I can't remember what my dad was buried in, I can't remember who all was at that funeral, but the one thing I do remember from that night was the rush I got taking my first shot of ice.

I watched 3 beautiful babies take their first breaths and that shot of dope put that to shame.

When I got to my dad's funeral all I could think about was leaving so we could get back to the hotel and take another shot.

December 11th 2016 rewrote my entire life. A couple days later when we were on our way back home I remember thinking to myself this is what I've been missing my entire life. I vividly remember telling myself I didn't want to be a mom anymore, I knew that day that eventually I would lose custody of my children because the only thing that mattered to me was feeling the rush from a shot of dope.

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Within 10 months by October 2017 the bank had foreclosed on my house, I'd given my mom power of attorney over my children, I’d taking loans out on both of my vehicles and sold or traded everything I had to get high. In October I got into some legal trouble and had to go to Jail. As a part of my plea deal I agreed to go to treatment. I did 21 days in house treatment. It was at this treatment center that it was confirmed that I was hep C positive.

When my family came to pick me up after 21 days I remember assuring them that I was no longer going to get high but I knew in the back of my head I was only biding time until I would have a needle in my arm again. I had no doubt that I wasn't done getting high yet. Within 2 weeks of leaving the treatment center I was shooting up again. Within 6 months I was completely homeless, living in the back of a 96 Ford Explorer at truck stops. I weighed about 89 lbs. I was absolutely miserable. I hated myself and anyone I came into contact with. I was extremely paranoid of everyone. I was so disgusted with the person I became I brushed my teeth in the shower so I didn't have to look at myself in the mirror. I welcomed death. I wanted to die butI was just too afraid to actually kill myself. I knew eventually addiction in one form or another would take my life. When my family and kids called I didn't answer the phone.

I went from an amazing mother to an absolute junkie. Before addiction grabbed a hold of me, I went from making sure my kids were always protected to putting my children into some very compromising situations. I went from cooking dinner nightly to only buying things that were microwavable. We went from having family game night and watching movies cuddled up on the couch to me locking myself in my room for 16, 18 hours at a time. I went from my kids best friend to their biggest nightmare. I had no clue how to stop. The only thing that was important to me was my next high.

In October of 2018 my boyfriend, who was homeless and living in a truck with me went to jail and wasn't going to be getting out anytime soon. This was the first time I was left on my own for any amount of time. I was scared to be on the streets by myself. I reached out to my mother and stepfather who were raising my 3 children. They allowed me to put a tent up in stay on their extra piece of property until I could get into treatment.

When I went into treatment was not because I thought I was going to stay sober. Don't get me wrong I wanted to, I was tired of that way of life, but I didn't think that it was possible. The thought of never getting high again terrified me. I went to treatment to satisfy those around me, so that I wouldn't be on my own on the streets. So I could finally sleep in a bed. Slowly as the days went on in treatment I begin to listen. The people who came in to tell their stories were just like me. They were able to overcome their demons and were actually living a normal life.

I will never forget the time that I was listening to a man tell his story and it finally happened, something clicked inside of my head in for the 1st time in a very long time... I finally had some hope. Is like a million pounds had been lifted off my chest and I could finally breathe again. I went straight to the phone after the meeting and called my mom crying I told her I was really going to do it; I was going to change. I spilled my heart out to her and apologized and for once...I truly meant what I was saying. I was gonna do this. I was going to give my everything to work the program. I was going to stay sober.

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I did 35 days inhouse treatment. In those 35 days I was able find a small connection to God which has grown so much over the last 9 months. After 35 days I went to a recovery center where I graduated IOP (intensive out patient). I eventually got my license back, bought a car, worked 2 jobs and got my own apartment. I currently have custody of my son back and go next month to regain joint custody of my girls.

Every day is not easy, some days are worse than others but today I have a purpose. I now work in recovery, I reach out to the addict still suffering. I share my story and everyday I have someone who reaches out to ask for help or give words of encouragement.

Today my connection with God is amazing. I pray daily. I try to do the next right thing and i am blessed. I'm not perfect but I'm so much better than I was. It is by the grace of God I am alive today, sharing my story with those around me. Someone asked me if I could change being an addict would I? My answer is no, I went through my battle because God knew I could make it out. He knew he could use me to help other people find their way out and for that I am gratefully blessed. Today I feel whole again. Today I want to live.

Poem by Tiffany

Poem by Tiffany