This is a story of my addiction and how The Watershed and A.A helped me change my life entirely.
My name is Bonnie. In hindsight, I always knew something was a bit off with me, mentally. Middle school was when I first realized how difficult life seemed to be. Emotions were just too intense. Every crush I had was overwhelming. Every friend I had, I wanted to be around all the time. Everything I did was in excess.
Let me break down to you that while I’m writing this; there are two perspectives. One of which is when I was in active addiction. When I say “active addiction”, I’m also describing a thought process that started long before my actual drug use. The other perspective is a fairly new perspective; a perspective of positivity and enjoyment of life. In the program of A.A, this perspective is known as a result of a “spiritual awakening”. My mindset now is one that I never thought was possible. I never thought I could be a genuinely happy person.
I felt alone. I could be in a room full of people and just not feel connected. How could I socialize without being awkward? How could I have friends and be too nervous to have conversations? I became attracted to the “outcasts”. People older than me that seemed to figure out how to not care what people thought about them. They were artsy. They enjoyed bizarre music and strange clothes. I related to them. They also smoked weed and drank alcohol. I never felt pressured. I was all about the experience. It was how I learned to free my mind.
High School. My relationship was everything. When it was failing, I was failing. When I was failing, I found Xanax. That was my crutch. If school was especially difficult that day, if I got in an argument with my girlfriend, if I had to do anything out of my comfort zone Xanax was my go-to. Coping skills were non-existent. Plus, it was High School, partying was normal, right? I never looked at anything too closely. I thought drinking was normal. My sophomore year of High School, I was mixing my morning soda with Captain Morgan. Every weekend of these years I either found a house party, or made a house party. By my senior year of school, I already had two D.U.I’s, and multiple underage drinking tickets. However, in my mind, it was all a series of unfortunate events. I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. The city cops didn’t have anything better to do. People didn’t understand me. If only I could find a way to be happy, it would be okay. I was a victim of life. I had to move out of my hometown. I did.
I moved with one of my best friends, Hailey. She was different than me. She played sports, worked hard all through school, she was responsible. She loved alcohol all the same as I did. However, she was against drugs. We thought we were going to live in Asheville, NC and learn to be happy. Only a couple months into it did we find opiates. It turned both of our lives around. I tried to quit. She tried to quit. We couldn’t. This is the first realization I had that something had a grip on me. I was addicted. I went to my first treatment center at 19. I wasn’t an alcoholic, though. I was only addicted to opiates. If I could quit those, I would be fine. The treatment center introduced me to N.A and A.A. I wanted to be put on Subutex. I hated the way I felt without opiates. So, I found another crutch. I was on them for over two years. In those two years things escalated to an entire different level.
I do not exactly want to get into the details of all the horrible things that happened while in active addiction. I will tell you that in these two years I convinced my doctor to prescribe me Xanax, Seroquel, Adderall, Anti-depressants, and Subutex. I could go up in energy or down in energy with the help of my medications. It was still not enough. I was also doing cocaine, smoking crack, and dabbling in heroin and various other opiates. No matter what I did, I was not happy. I could never maintain a stable life. I tried to fix myself. I did this by finding different places to live, new people to be friends with. I tried just smoking weed, just drinking beer, staying at home, living with my mom, living with friends that didn’t accept hard drugs. Eventually, my mother couldn’t handle my lifestyle. I was not allowed to even stay there. It was very hard. When reflecting, my mother kicking me out was a vital part of my story. She had been my biggest support system, financially & emotionally. I never saw that in active addiction.
Finally when I was 23, I was broken. I was living with someone just as unstable as I was. There is not a drug that I didn’t do almost daily. I had gotten my third D.U.I and while I was in jail, my best friend, Hailey had died of an overdose. When I got out of my week in the county jail, I vowed to myself to stay sober. It was the night of Hailey’s funeral. I still couldn’t stay sober. I found my prescriptions two hours after being home. I was miserable. A few months later, I got a phone call from one of my best friends that I had grown up with since 3rd grade. He was also someone that I used with regularly throughout the years. He was 3 months clean and in The Watershed Addiction Center. It was hard to imagine that he was actually doing well. I was so numb at the time and just wanted something different. I was a drug addict and drugs didn’t even affect me anymore. He asked if I would want to come down to Florida, to The Watershed. I didn’t know what to expect but I got on a plane the next day.
It actually makes me pretty emotional to think about the transition that was about to take place for me. On the plane, I ordered a Jack and Coke and never thought it would actually be my last drink for almost two years now.
The facility in Boynton Beach, Florida was very nice. I was used to living in a place with no air conditioning and living off of tuna and ramen noodles. I had an air conditioner in my bedroom and three meals a day. I slept for about my first week. That was probably due to being awake for weeks at a time prior to being admitted. Everyone was very nice. The staff really cared about me and my well-being. Most of the staff was actually in recovery themselves. That was very appealing because they were functioning people and I was not. I didn’t know how to imagine life with a stable job and responsibilities. The thought overwhelmed me. I genuinely had no plan at all on what was about to happen in my life. I think that anything and anywhere was better than I had been. I just embraced everything that was around me. One of the staff members at The Watershed (while I was in detox) helped save my life. She told me that if I didn’t find God (or any higher power as I understood it), I was screwed. She told me I would not get rid of my fear and anxiety, much less stay sober, if I wasn’t willing to at least try to pray. So, I did.
I got a sponsor. I have worked the steps twice. I have had multiple sponsors. I have created crazy, fun memories. Sobriety for me has been a lot of ups and a lot of downs. However, the amount of good is insanely more common than any bad experiences. I am a genuinely happy person. That alone is crazy to me. I have maintained a stable job that I enjoy for over a year. I have maintained healthy relationships. I have gained friendships that will last a lifetime. I love myself. I know that my future holds anything I can imagine. It is honestly a limitless life that is ahead of me and in front of me, presently. The Watershed Facility was the beginning of a journey for me that I am actually excited about. My sobriety date is September 5th, 2015. Life has a new meaning. I am eternally grateful for every staff member and fellow drug addict or alcoholic that I have encountered while on my journey. They will forever leave an imprint on my heart.