To Love Her is To Help Her

My name is Kitty and I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict. I was born in rural Louisiana. We moved to New Orleans when I was 3. I’m the youngest of 3 girls and my mom ducked out of our lives when I was a young child, around 3. It was my two sisters and I and my dad. I had a great childhood, I really did. I went to a really great school. It was all girls and I loved it and really thrived there. My sisters and I were extremely close, extremely close to my dad and I was a pretty good kid. I was a great kid in high school. Did really well in school, loved school, worked really hard, and had a really good time. When I was a very young child, about 5, I experienced some abuse in my family and that stuck with me for a long time. I didn’t tell anyone, I didn’t talk about it, but it very much informed who I was. All of the doing really well in school and being the perfect kid was a way to distract from what I knew and the feelings that it made me feel about who I was and what that meant.

On the outside I had to be this cheerleader perfect, not really a cheerleader. I was not a cheerleader but this perfect kid that never did anything wrong and the savior of my family for a long time. Then when I was in college I was having some health problems with my stomach and I got prescribed pain pills. Up until that point I didn’t really do drugs. I didn’t experiment all that much as a adolescent or young adult. But the minute I found pain pills and they were prescribed to me I was like, this is the answer to all of my problems because all of the emotions that I was keeping inside and not talking about, the pain pills made that go away. I could be this, what I felt like, very high functioning person who could just … it made the emotions easier to swallow and easier to deal with. I fell in love from day one and it got pretty bad. I started over taking them very quickly. It wasn’t a long progression. It was bam and it was off to the races. I became a very heavy pain pill addict and I hid it. I pulled off hiding it for not very long because my downhill spiral was really pretty fast.

I went to treatment for the first time at age 23. I won’t mention the name of the place out of whatever but it wasn’t founded in AA. It was this, I don’t even know what it was, but I learned nothing. I had a great month long vacation, got out, stayed sober for like 2 weeks, and went back to using pain pills really heavily. That ended pretty much the same way. My family came to and was like, Kitty it’s time for you to go get some help again. I did and that was the first time that I was exposed to AA. Gratefully I wasn’t really ready to hear the message but the treatment center that I went to did share it with me. I tried again to get help and that didn’t last long. Then my dad died which was really hard because he was kind of the one really stable thing in my life. He got really sick and it was a really traumatic time for my family and myself. Unfortunately where I was in my addiction at that time, I wasn’t able to be there to help them and I was just a mess. Just a disaster.

After he died I got pretty bad again, went back to treatment. I’ve been to a lot of treatment centers and some of which are the best in the country supposedly but I didn’t stay sober after I went for the third time. I just wasn’t ready to do what I needed to do and things hadn’t gotten bad enough for me. After that treatment center I started using heroine and that was the first time my pain pills escalated into heroine as it often does with people. That’s when things started to get just horrific. I was isolated from my friends and family. I had no friends. I wasn’t talking to my family. My sisters who were my truest and deepest friends in this world, I had no relationship with them and I was dating this guy and it was just all bad. We ended up living out of hotels and just things that I never thought that would happen to me or that I was capable of doing. I never thought my life would look like that and it very much did. I heard people say all the time like you haven’t done that yet or those things haven’t happened yet. I never believed that they would for me but they certainly did in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined or dreamt of.

What brought me to New Directions for Women was God certainly. It wasn’t me and I found myself in a hotel room just left with really two options I thought. One was I’m going to kill myself and this is all going to be over because it’s too painful and too lonely. That sounded like a pretty good option but then something inside of me was like I need to call for help one more time. I need to give this a shot or me, myself a shot one more time. I did. I called my mom and I said I need to go, I’m ready to go. I randomly Googled treatment centers in Southern California and found New Direction’s website. I loved the fact that it was all women. I went to an all girls school like I said and I just think that truly beautiful things can happen when women come together to help each other. That really attracted me to it and I was in this daze really but I was like, okay there. That’s where I’m going. I’m just going to do it. A couple days later I was on a plane and then I was here.

I can’t even express how my life has changed since that happened. I really can’t. I’m so grateful that this is where I ended up. That was certainly a God thing. I mean, I would’ve gone really anywhere I was so desperate but this sort of met some of the criteria that I wanted and just something about it I was like, this is it. It certainly was. My life has changed dramatically since I walked in those doors. I’m employed, I have a bed and a closet full of clothes. Not that many but enough to get through. My relationship with my family are just dramatically better and I’m going to see my sister for Thanksgiving and her 3 year old little boy and I haven’t seen them in a really long time. I talk to my mom everyday and I have friends today. I have a community. I have a program. I have an amazing sponsor and I think that it was just a combination of things why it has worked for me this time. One of which is just where I was in my journey certainly. You have to get to this place of willingness and that usually takes some pretty deep beat downs and I certainly had that.

It was also, and I think the God part of it was that I ended up in New Directions for Women. The amazing things that happened to me there that I saw happen there and the healing and the love in that place, and again I’ve been to many treatment center in my journey. This one I’ve never felt more truly cared about than I did here and still do. I go back every week for alumni, I won’t miss it. I’m still very much friends with and in touch with the women that I went through treatment with and every time I walk back on that property it’s with a sense of deep gratitude and true humility and just wonder at … that place is sacred ground to me, it really is. It saved my life. It saved the lives of my family. It saved my relationships with myself, with God, with the people that I love and I wouldn’t … I would do anything for that place and I hope to continue to go back there for as long as I live really. I’m just tremendously grateful for the people, for the program, and for what this place enabled me to do for myself.

My mom and dad got divorced when I was 3 and she was decided that we would live with my dad. She was always in my life but sort of from the outskirts and she wasn’t a part of my daily existence really. That was the way it was for quite some time. It’s kind of hard to explain how it all has worked out the way that it did. It’s kind of a beautiful story really but I had to over time come to place where I was willing to accept what she had to offer which turns out to be a tremendous amount. She has been on this journey, especially my journey of addiction through the whole process, every step of the way in healthy ways and in unhealthy ways. She’s enabled me a lot. She will say so herself and I took advantage of that for a long time. As I’ve gotten healthier and out relationship has gotten healthier it’s just this … and my willingness to forgive her and to go through that process of understanding that she and so am I are very much just human and we make mistakes and we hurt the people that we love the most. That’s often the way that this works.

Through this healing process of mine, our relationship has taken turns that I really never thought was possible. We talk on the phone every morning at the same time. Some of that is because she still needs to know that I’m alive and okay everyday and that’s fine. I will happily do that considering what I put that poor women through. It’s less about that now as just, how was your day yesterday? This is what I did, very mother daughter in healthy, fun, friendly way that is beautiful. She is one of my best friends today by far. I don’t call her for money and I don’t call her for her to save me out of the latest disaster that I’ve self created but I talk to her everyday just about her life, about mine, and when I saw her, I don’t know when that was about a couple of months ago, it was just beautiful because she wasn’t worried, I wasn’t worried. It was just we could be together and enjoy each other for the people that we are and nurture this new relationship that we have now and I never thought that would ever happen if you asked me when I was 10 years old.

If I had the ability to conjure up such a scenario which I didn’t, but if someone had asked me if my relationship with my mother would ever look the way that it does today I would never have been able to even believe or hope that it would be as good and as rewarding as it is.

What makes this time different is again, I think some of it was just where I was in my life and in my addiction and the places that that took me. But also just I guess I got to a point where finally I was actually willing to do what people suggested that I do. This isn’t the first time that I’ve gotten these suggestions like get a sponsor, go to … you know all of that stuff. I’ve heard that before but what feels different to me is that there hasn’t been a single thing that someone suggested that I wasn’t like, yes I will absolutely do it. Some of that is because I’m afraid. In the beginning it started out as fear of going back to what my life looked like then or when I was in my active addiction I just didn’t want to go back there and I’d do anything. Finally I got to that place I’ll do anything you tell me I swear I will, I will, I will. Now as time has progressed it’s less about fear and more about joy of what those things have brought into my life that they say don’t quit before the miracle happens and usually I’d be like, what are you talking about?

That doesn’t make any sense. I don’t know what you mean but now I know what everyone means by that because I wouldn’t trade the things that I have in my life now for anything in the world. It’s not tangible things. I still don’t have a car, it’s like my life is still a little bit arrested I guess. My development into adulthood is a little stinted but those aren’t the things that matter. The things that matter are the community of women that I have around me, my family, the just willingness to be able to sit in my own skin and be at complete peace and not afraid of what I might do or afraid of who I am. I’m not afraid of who I am today. I am actually enjoying who that is and learning who that is for the first time. That is a tremendous thing to be able to say, that I never thought that I could feel the way that I feel about who I am and what my life looks like and just the contentment at what it is and just how it is and not be wanting more and not be wishing that things were different.

I don’t wish that anything was different today. It is so beautiful in the small things and in the just serenity that I have, that I just I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I really wouldn’t. I think that it was very difficult for me to believe that I was worth a better life or that that was even possible for me. When I asked for help it was out of just complete and utter desperation and I had to just take a leap of faith that maybe one day I would believe that I was worth it. That was really hard but I think that for people who are out there still struggling the important thing is you don’t have to do this by yourself. You have other people that will love and care about you until you are able to do it on your own. We’re never really capable to do it on our own, right? We need the love and support of people in our life but I know that for me, in my active addiction that paralyzing just absolute terrifying loneliness that I experienced, I don’t have to feel that way today and I think for people still struggling what I would say would be, you don’t have to do it by yourself. We are here. People are here to lift you up and that is the beauty of this program and the people in it.

You never have to be alone ever again for the rest of your life if you just take that small risk to say I can’t. I can’t do it. I can’t do it by myself because I definitely couldn’t.