I remember that night so vividly. I hope that I never forget it, because forgetting means losing sight of where I’ve been & how far I’ve come. I was on my way to a year long rehab & I was terrified. My bags were packed neatly beside me, my little girl in the backseat, my mother driving. I remember the way my hands shook when I got out of the car, the cold winter air hitting my cheeks. I remember the sound of the snow underneath my boots & the way my daughter’s hand felt clamped tightly to mine as I approached the back door. The old brick building loomed over me. I wanted to go home. I can still hear my mother’s voice behind me, her lips breathing out words of freedom and “becoming a new me.”
The people there greeted me with smiles of hope & encouragement, the director of the program ushering us in as she introduced herself. I took a seat in her office & closed my eyes. I didn’t want to be there. I looked down at my little girl, mustering up the energy to smile at her. Her face was twisted into an uneasy stare. “I’ve let her down too many times, I need to do this for her. If not for me, then for her. I can’t be scared.” I told myself this over & over again until my lips stopped quivering.
After I had been checked in & every inch of my belongings had been searched, I was shown the room that I was supposed to be staying in. A staff member introduced me to the other women who were going to be in the program with me. Every part of my innermost being urged me to run away, but I had been running away for far too long. It needed to stop.
I was told to say my goodbyes to my daughter, that I was not going to see her for another two weeks. My knees began to buckle as I knelt down to her level. Nothing could have prepared me for the pain that came when the word goodbye left my lips. Nothing could have prepared me for the way her little face looked after she realized I was leaving again. But I had to do this. I had to stay at this place for a year & I had to stay sober. This was my last chance & it terrified the hell out of me. Her cries echoed behind me as I walked away. I walked away because if I didn’t, I would not have stayed.
Now I sit here typing this, almost three years later. I have my own apartment with a man that loves me unconditionally, has loved me despite all of my faults and wrongdoings, & his little boy. My daughter is sleeping peacefully in the next room & you have no idea how grateful I am. I got her back. I got my life back. That program that I dreaded, the one that I wanted nothing to do with, gave me a solid foundation on which I am now building my life. The people at the program that surrounded me on daily basis showed me God’s love in countless numbers of ways. Every single one of them were a blessing that changed my world forever.
I don’t ever regret going. Not anymore. It was painfully difficult. There were moments when I found my strength fading away. In the beginning of my recovery, I spent periods of time locked in a bathroom sobbing, scribbling my daughter’s name over & over again in a notebook. The dread & regret from all of the things I’ve done to her & my family came rushing into my body on days like that. And then the withdrawal set in. But I sat there & I took it. I let it flood in & drown me until I could no longer catch my breath. I would bite my lip and count down the days I had left until I would be with her fully, tears rolling down my cheeks.
Why did I do it? Because I had to. Because it was the only option left. I had burned all of my bridges and I was alone. I was alone & I was addicted to heroin & I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I was on the verge of losing my precious baby girl. I had caused too many people unbearable amounts of pain & I don’t think that they could have taken anymore of it.
The point of all of this is that you do the things that hurt you most because you have to. You do them for the people that you love. You suck it up & you walk through the darkness & the journey ends up changing you forever. But only if you let it.