2017-10-25 / Health

Off limits!

Woman tells about battle with drugs

Letcher County woman addresses her drug addiction in open letter. Letcher County woman addresses her drug addiction in open letter. Editor’s Note: The following letter addressed to “Addiction” was written by an anonymous Letcher County mother and is based on true events. “The facts are real,” said Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation CEO L.M. “Mike” Caudill, who is working with a group of physicians and others to address substance abuse disorder in the county. “She is a recovering addict who has gotten her life back on track. There is light at the end of the tunnel for those suffering from substance abuse disorder. We are working to make that light shine brightly for everyone who wants it to shine on them.”

Dear Addiction,

From age 17, getting a buzz was not only more fun than receiving an education, but the realization now is that I relied on it to make a socially anxious girl into the life of the party.

Grades never falling below a B-minus and going through the motions of a normal teenager, I graduated high school without issue. So why be worried?

Awkwardly enough, you were the guiding force of my meeting my husband, who was blindly drowning in his alcoholism. The young and naive me, with your grip growing tighter around my soul, saw it as a challenge and a competition to keep up.

As you know, you made us careless and a year later we discovered we would be parents. In our active time together, Addiction, that was sadly one of longest amounts of time I spent away from you, though it was short lived.

Excitement outgrew how terrified we were — two kids bringing a life into the world. Still, no amount of elation or love could’ve saved our boy or he’d be in our arms today. During a medical appointment, an ultrasound tech wordlessly fled the room and a doctor entered, after which I was presented with these words of comfort: “We don’t know why babies die.”

If that wasn’t devastating enough, our baby was too big to let my body attempt to “dispose” of my child and the safest option would be an operation known as a “D and C.”

Addiction, you quietly met me at the hospital the next morning. I know, because the moment the nurse gave me my prescription I began aching to try to fill the emptiness that rang hollow in my heart with every last tablet of Lortab. For the next few days, as my mother kept a watchful eye over me, you hid in the shadows of my mind. When I convinced my mother I was well enough to stay with Jay you were awaiting my arrival, right by the door.

I convinced Jay to get us beer, knowing I was still recovering from all I had been through. Now I know — maybe I even knew then — I didn’t want you to let me wake up, Addiction.

Soaked in blood and my own urine the next morning, I did wake up — hung over, heartbroken and hurting with every breath. It took a little less than 48 hours to get through a prescription of 30 hydrocodone tablets, but the bottle never emptied on my quest to be numb or be dead.

How intimate we became during that time — close enough to find it difficult to recall much other than sobbing and hating my “defective” body that couldn’t carry our boy. When it was too overwhelming, you’d take my hand and hold so tight to it.

The following April, while staring at a positive pregnancy test, I thought we had parted ways forever, knowing there was no surviving another loss. I turned my back on you in any and every form (no caffeine or nicotine even) and delivered a chunky, healthy, perfect baby girl in January.

It didn’t take long for the depression to catch up and consume me. It took even less time for you, Addiction, to find our new address and come knocking at the door. This time you presented yourself in a whole new way: “I will make you Supermom! Baby, husband, PPD, a household to run? No problem!” You became one of the family and such a big part of every family event. You were energy, patience, and evenness in the chaos and dense fogs of postpartum depression. Soon, not only could you no longer be afforded, but also the guilt of spending so much money to feel normal was ridiculous.

In attempts to shake you on my own, I merely traded in old versions of you to newer ones. Struggling to juggle motherhood, a husband, and a home, I desperately clung to any semblance of normalcy and stability. Saying the word “stability” back then would be like talking of being stable on the edge of a cliff that’s being chipped away, piece by piece, by the very person standing on it. Addiction still ran the show.

Three weeks after getting married we discovered our honeymoon baby was due on Valentine’s Day. Wading knee-deep in your murky waters, I dove into reading, trying to find if you would ultimately take my baby away. I could either risk miscarriage or early labor due to withdrawing from the longest relationship of my life, you Addiction, or risk the same for continuing our affair. I had never been so filled with self-loathing, been so terrified of the unknown and the unanswered questions.

Selfishly I didn’t walk away. I continuously decreased my use in hopes of sparing our second daughter the misery I have feared since the second I realized I belonged to YOU. On Friday the 13th, and at a little over 40 weeks, another HEALTHY and gorgeous daughter made her debut. All my obsessive calculations of milligrams, milligrams absorbed, etc., had paid off. Thankfully she had no withdrawals and needed no intervention.

Still, I had to carry my sin, suffering through the withdrawals that could’ve so easily afflicted my child, to prove that I wanted to be a mother, that I could be a mother. All of the hateful thoughts towards me — then, after, and current — cannot hold a candle to the amount of guilt I deservingly carry on my back everyday.

My new baby girl didn’t spend her first week in this world at home adjusting to life outside the womb. She spent it on the bottom bunk of my little sister’s bed with me apologizing over and over that it was I who was her mother.

Remember that, Addiction? Whispering in my ear every time I had to sprint to the bathroom or assumed death would be more merciful? You kept reminding me how much better I would feel if I would’ve chosen you.

“I took the chance of my child feeling this way … I deserve it.” Those are the words that automatically flashed to mind with any consideration of you. I just wanted to recall our accounts together for this singular reason:

Despite all the time you have spent in my life, beating out my husband for the title of “longest relationship,” it’s over between you and me, Addiction. For the first time in years, I feel like I am now part of a normal family. The mask I wore to be perceived as Mrs. Cleaver has been retired. Most of all, I’m blessed enough to wake up to the beautiful faces of my children that you very nearly took from me. Now, my fuel and motivation are little arms around my neck, sloppy kisses, and hearing “I love you.”

Next year, I will graduate college and begin my search for a dream career, no thanks to you Addiction!

Finding happiness in all the right things and becoming the best mother and wife I can be has made me see how much time has truly been wasted letting you orchestrate life. None of the amazing things in life would be happening today if you were still part of it. Go ruin someone else’s life, because mine is officially off limits! Sincerely, A.R.

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