It was one year ago today that I finally surrendered to a 6 year addiction to prescription opiates.
To read that Blog Entry from June 2018: “The Agony & The Esctasy”
Photo Taken: June 22 – 2018
Last year, I was so close to either dying or going out completely because of my addiction to prescription Opiates. My cover had been long blown and I had reached that stage where you absolutely lose yourself to your drug.
From October 2017 until September 2018, I kept a blog about my life as a Mom who works in Banking.
I was hiding such a secret for most of that time but ultimately went semi-public to my friends and extended family about my battle with Addiction. My post announced that I was going to In-Patient Drug Treatment for 3 months at 4.5 months pregnant with my 3rd daughter.
Reading that post now is hard because I left out so much. Being open and honest about the basics felt right at the time because it seemed wrong to be writing a blog about my life but not giving any real insight into this situation.
At the time of that post, I had no idea my life would become what it is today. I had resigned myself to living in shame forever; believing I’d never be anything but an Addict.
I never imagined a whole year of opiate-free living. I would look at people; green with envy that they could get out of bed each morning without having to reach for a pill.
My Addiction to pills and subsequent remission had taken me right down to my studs last year. There is nothing more demoralizing than being a failure when you were once a success.
Bigger than that; there is nothing more shameful than being a mother(and pregnant again) who continually chose pills over her kids. That is the true insanity of addiction however, and until you’ve been there you can not judge.
My persona online as “Mommy, The Banker” had been successful for the year I published my stories. I shut it down in September 2018; shortly after my return home from treatment.
For the first time in my life, I had run out of things to write about because I wasn’t ready to be fully honest.
My stay at the House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ontario had the most profound impact on my life.
Nine women; from all walks of life enter this place of community together As extremely ill individuals. We are not trusted to do the right things any longer and many of us felt dead inside.
At 4.5 months pregnant, I felt more full of shame than I could ever imagine. I had gone from the highest level of trust and fiduciary responsibility to having my family speak for me and make decisions.
Day-by-day, we all begin doing the work and start to get better. We would sit and talk for hours, sharing our war stories but laughing because it felt so good to share them. Most of us began talking about being better Mothers; getting jobs or going back to school. Some would talk about getting their kids back and becoming self-sufficient; off Benefit Payments and ODSP.
I When we Graduate after 10 weeks; there is a big party for those who finish the program. Together, we all laugh, cry and talk about each other and the changes we’ve made. We promise to always keep in touch and remain friends.
After spending 10 weeks connecting on this extreme emotional, spiritual and physical level through making meals together, sitting down and talking about our day or attending Group Therapy – we go our separate ways and hope for the best.
When I got home in September 2018; I was weeks away from giving birth in November.
At home with my kids; I felt so grateful to be free from the crippling addiction I once had.
I remained in contact with the ladies I had met despite being all over the Province. However, one by one, texts are ignored and numbers go dead. People just go back out because they go home, it’s the same bullshit. They cannot escape their past and with no opportunities in their grasp – they go back out.
I realize now how traumatized and ill I really was. By September when I returned home to my routine, I truly believed everything would coast on smoothly from that point forward. I once again believed as long as I remained chemically sober from Opiates, everything would be ok.
My beautiful baby girl was born November 4, 2018 after 1.5 hours of labour and a swift, unmedicated entry into this world. With our family complete now; my rapid fire child bearing of 3 happened in 4.5 years start to finish.
By December, I felt a familiar fog come over me, like something just doesn’t feel right in my world. It wasn’t my kids. If anything; addiction and recovery allowed me to actually believe I loved being a mother. I never wanted kids growing up and held that position for a long time.
There was a familiar emptiness creeping in so I started eating junk. I gained a shitload of weight post-baby. I now realize I had probably become addicted to the sugar.
I also started playing games on my I-Phone almost obsessively. Now I realize I was still very much behaving like an Addict whose drug has been taken away. I compulsively sought new things to keep myself occupied as I became more isolated.
My marriage was falling apart. Whether it was him or I; our character defects and the stress from all the above, we completely drifted apart.
My husband and I never resumed a Conventional Marriage after I came home. Obviously an Addiction will place serious stress on any relationship however it is also a symptom of a bigger problem.
By January; my beautiful 12 year old dog was ready to die. My husband had an ice fishing trip to prepare for so I took my precious boy that I had adopted as a single 24 year old in 2008.
I threw myself over his body when the Vet told me to euthanize him. I wept harder than I had in months and promised him I would be good. He had held on for me for a year; probably knowing how fucked up I was but he never let on.
Something changed after that day he died. I woke up the next morning feeling like something inside of me was waking up. My brain felt like it was exploding with emotion over my dog but this intense feeling of freedom and ambition.
A dog and an addiction can be similar in that they geographically commit you to a certain area. You cannot just take off on vacation if you have a dog or an addiction for example. It takes ample planning.
Throughout this time; I had resumed my 20 year use of Cannabis to manage Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms; Post-Partum exhaustion and anxiety etc. By this point, I wasn’t sleeping and my anxiety was so intense; I would throw up almost every morning.
I began losing the weight I gained (40 lbs!) by cutting out all of the junk. I had started smoking weed again in December because Cannabis has been a huge part of my life since 15. I discovered back then the role it played in treating severe anxiety which other medications made worse.
However, it was never just the effects from the weed itself but how it connected me to friends and new people. How I could sit and share a joint while talking about my day. If I hadn’t done this in December with my neighbour and connect with someone; I don’t know if I’d still be sober today.
In February, I started doing some Sales Strategizing and Marketing for Legacy/Craft/Artisan Cannabis brands. This led to creating my own company in the Cannabis industry, revolving around Cannabis 2.0, Women and ending the stigma of using it as an alternative.
Becoming a full-blown Entrepreneur changed my life in so many ways. Being my own boss led into a new confidence, acceptance and an entire community that embraces harm reduction.
Recovery does happen in stages as the brain begins to heal. Truthfully, I did not start to feel like my real self again until February 2019. Then it all happened so quickly, it was almost surreal. Day by day, these amazing things kept happening and I started to feel more like myself.
In the early days of Recovery while I attended treatment; I did 90 NA meetings in 90 days. I was encouraged to change things up so I took a break until February. I began going back to NA again after a few months off which took me from a state of complacency into something insanely life changing.
It was through NA that I realized I needed to end my marriage and start over. The damage my addiction had caused created a very serious situation.
Going through a Separation right now has been difficult of course but ultimately proved to me I can do this. Ending a 10 plus year relationship and 6 years of marriage was not an easy decision.
In March I returned to the House of Friendship for Aftercare but decided to pursue becoming a Doula for Women in Recovery, specializing in Neonatal Abstinance Syndrome. I also support Women who consume Cannabis during pregnancy if the benefit outweighs the risk.
One of the girls who I attended treatment with had called me up one day after 7 months of not hearing from her. I knew she had relapsed briefly but she called at the end of March to apologize. She had asked for my support because she was 20 weeks pregnant, due in August.
She had made the right decision to go back to Kitchener for another 10 weeks. Since April; I meet with her once a week for a few hours to get her ready for Birth and Recovery.
There is a good chance her baby will have to be treated for NAS once she is born as her mother has been on Methadone for her pregnancy as a safe-guard.
Nothing sent me down a death spiral the way Opiates did.
My drive, ambition and personality were all swept into drug seeking and financing. I used all of my skill to become the most high functioning Opiate Addict ever. I did this so well it took years before anyone knew and forever before anything was ever done about it.
I’ve had to own this in many ways and face severe consequences: it destroyed my Banking career, my marriage, the trust people had in me but most of all; I caused trauma and heartache for my kids.
However the biggest tragedy would have been my inability to receive this gift of recovery. I don’t think many people even realize the true impact Addiction has on its victims and their families. The economic cost is great but the personal cost; priceless.
I called all of my clients, family and friends who I wanted to make amends to or share my story with in March. This led to an intense spiritual awakening in April where I knew I had to run my company as a single mother; leaving behind my shame.
Walking away from my Banking career meant leaving behind a client base of $60 million and over a decades worth of relationships.
Today I am 365 days Sober but in a real recovery; one I have never experienced in my life. Thank you to all of the people who really have had my back, supporting this journey as I went from hardcore addiction and back.
Going really public with my story has changed my life and I only want it to help people because we are losing people everyday to mental health issues.
Being myself is the best way to be and I plan to use this as my platform to promote Recovery for anyone.
Until next time…