Saturday, August 12, 2017

Stripped of Their Childhood Innocence: How Two Recovering Addicts Moved On from a Dark Past

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Stripped of Their Childhood Innocence: How Two Recovering Addicts Moved On from a Dark Past

Children are small and innocent. Their biggest life choices are whether they want chocolate or strawberry ice cream, cheese or pepperoni pizza. Unfortunately, some children aren’t that lucky. They deal with childhood traumas that set the course for their adult lives. We spoke with two recovering addicts about how their sexual molestation led them to seek solace in the arms of drugs, and how they broke free from that embrace and found help.

Harold’s Story

Some of us were fortunate enough to grow up with loving and supportive parents. Harold’s were the opposite, and the one person he thought he could turn to for help violated him in the most unimaginable way.

“I grew up in a home with domestic violence: I was verbally and physically abused. I was sexually molested when I was 8 to 10 by our family’s priest,” Harold said, adding, “At the time, I couldn’t process it. I started drinking at a very early age, probably my early teens. It helped me to bury the pain.”

Harold felt like the odd man out. He was bullied in high school for being different. Harold was gay, but felt like he had to hide from the world.

“I was bullied and tried to be someone I wasn’t — I dated women, drank heavily, smoked pot and took ecstasy,” Harold said.

To deal with the pain, Harold turned to harder drugs such as meth and cocaine. Thinking a move would fix his problems, Harold crossed state lines but found himself homeless and selling his body for drugs — until he was diagnosed with HIV and paranoia. It was at this point Harold sought help.

“I realized that when I was younger, I hadn’t processed the trauma and pain that I had experienced. Instead of processing it, I had numbed it with the drugs and drinking,” Harold said. “It took time to work through it, but it was so important for me to do that in the process of my recovery.”

Overcoming his past and his addiction was hard, but Harold has some helpful advice for anyone who may be walking a similar path to his.

“I’d tell them to hang in there. You’re about to go through one of the hardest times of your life. It is going to be painful, it is going to hurt, but it’s going to be worth it,” Harold said.

Angie’s Story

Like Harold, someone Angie should have been able to depend on to protect her robbed her of her innocence.

“I had a major trauma in my life when I was 11 years old: I was raped by my step-father. After it happened, I told my mother, and she made me promise not to tell a soul,” Angie said.

Like every child, Angie grew up. She married and had two daughters, both of whom tested her patience. With everything going on, she began having flashbacks to her trauma, and nightmares kept her awake at night. She found rest with a prescription from her doctor — or so she thought.

“I would take my Ambien and go to sleep and I didn’t have to think, I didn’t have to remember, I didn’t have to feel, and I didn’t have to worry. When I took the pills, I didn’t have to be a mom or a wife. I would just go to sleep,” Angie said.

Eventually, Angie began taking pills morning and night. Despite pleadings from her husband to go get help, Angie continued, convinced that she wasn’t addicted. One morning, she had a wake up call.

“Finally, I woke up one morning — it was a Wednesday — and I only had two more pills left. I started having anxiety about not having enough. When I wasn’t taking the pills, everything would come rushing back to me,” Angie said.

Angie called her husband and told him she was ready to go to rehab. She found the help she needed at the Treehouse in Texas, and faced her past head on.

“I learned I was a very brave person. I dealt with my trauma the best way I could deal with it, and I asked for help. I denied help for so long, but in asking for help, I was brave,” Angie said.

Angie says that the key to moving forward after any sort of betrayal is forgiveness.

“You don’t have to forgive the person that did it to you. But you can forgive yourself. And you need to let someone in to help you with it, because you can’t do it all on your own. And that’s OK,” Angie said.

For Harold and Angie, addiction wasn’t a choice. They became addicted in an effort to block out the pain. The truth is, there are other positive, healthy methods to deal with past trauma. With help, you can break free from the negative embrace, and find yourself a better person for it.

Constance Ray started with the goal of creating a safe place for people to share how addiction has affected them, whether they are combating it themselves or watching someone they care about work to overcome it.

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