As Published in The Tennessean Sunday, 01/12/2020
Hello, my name is Patricia, and I have the disease of addiction.
Unlike other diseases, mine is a parasite that speaks to me. It lies to me and leads me to believe that I cannot live without any substance it decides to use against me. It makes me act in ways that are completely outside of my character, turning me into a thief, a neglectful mother, and a victim. It will stop at nothing until I am lost, gone into nothingness and just another sad statistic.
However, I have made the decision to fight this living voice inside of me. That is why I am grateful to be a part of the Renewal House program.
Like so many women who suffer from this disease, my life became a series of traumas, insecurities, mental health disorders and unhealthy or abusive relationships.
Having lived an extremely sheltered existence, I spent most of my childhood terrified of everyone outside of a close family circle. When I was 17, pain medication I took following an operation woke up this parasite inside me. The drugs gave me such numb comfort that, although I still struggled socially, I could to talk to other people. I became an addict.
In the years that followed, there were periods of time when I was able to live sober; but an abusive relationship with my children’s father, who was also an addict, and the death of my mother, who suffered an overdose, left me unable to sustain a life in recovery. I didn’t want to feel the hurt anymore and I didn’t care what I had to do to get relief.
At five months pregnant with my third child, I made the hardest phone call of my life, asking my sister to take my two older kids. After signing over custody, I fell into a dark and dangerous depression and ended up getting arrested. Instead of seeking release from jail, I asked to be sent to a rehabilitation program.
Coming to Renewal House has been a great blessing for me. My youngest son was born completely healthy, with no drugs in his system, after my admission to Renewal House. The Renewal House staff helped me begin the process of regaining custody of my older kids.
They referred me to programs that have helped me gain a career, not just another job. And most importantly, they have given me hope that I can be more than I ever was before. They have given me hope that my children will not have to make the same mistakes I have made, and they have given me tools to help my children through this life.
I actually feel like I have a future now, and I feel like I deserve to live and be happy. These are things I have never felt before. I have safety, security, and stability to move closer to my dreams – dreams I had forgotten I ever had. I also have faith that I am strong enough to drown out the voice of this parasite inside me.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. My name is Patricia and I have the disease of addiction, but I now have the strength to not be an addict.