My name is Tiffani and I’m a grateful woman in sustained recovery from addiction.
Growing up people always ask that one big question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Many kids answer “an astronaut”, a “movie star” or other endless possibilities. My will to do and become something more was the greatest strength I believe I ever had. Never knowing that the same will that pushed me to want to strive for much more would also be what would lead me to my demise.
From the beginning, I always felt uncomfortable, less then, different than others. I moved around more times than one could count and remembered living in this constant state of anxiety and deepening doom. My parents and I never saw eye-to-eye. They divorced when I was young and one was an addict himself, the other was a nursing student who barely had time to eat or drink coffee. So, I took initiative and began distracting myself and suppressing my feelings to prove my worth to my teachers, my peers, my parents, but most of all to myself.
As the years went on I started experimenting with other ways to fill the abyss that laid deep within my core. When sports and school activities didn’t work anymore, I began more drastic forms of experimentation. From middle through high school, I began hanging out with older people. Endless nights of staying up late, drinking to other forms of recreational drugs became a daily incentive for me.
Things took a turn for the worst when I was 19. I got into a car accident and shattered my entire collar bone. I had surgery and they placed two metal plates with rods into my chest. I remember feeling like my life was over, that life had been a waste of time to end up this useless being who couldn’t even lift her left arm. I took my pain medicine as prescribed only to find myself wanting more, when the pills weren’t enough I found the love of my life and my soul. Finally, I didn’t have to hide this pain that I tried to cover for so long. It became my lover, my best friend, my numbing medication to the world around me – or so I thought. Heroin became not my lover, but my master ending me in countless trips to the hospital, multiple jail trips, not to mention thirteen different attempts at rehab, countless overdoses, and the loss of every bridge I had ever made and family member I had ever loved. My life became a tornado of destruction and despair. I wanted to stop so bad. I remember crying and begging to the heavens to take this away. I didn’t want to live anymore. The very substance I used to hide my pain became the very thing that created it.
The last time I used I went out for twenty-four hours and overdosed because I needed it one more time. After being dark inside for so many years, and 6 years of battling addiction, a light turned on and I realized I needed help. After being in a program for nearly five months along with other self-help groups, my obsession finally ceased to exist. I was given the second chance at life I needed. In exchange for a needle and a spoon, I was given the keys to a life worth living. No longer did I feel the need to hide my emotions, but instead embrace them for what they were and learn how to live with them as life played out. Recovery not only gave me my family back and the ability to rebuild and create new relationships, but for me to finally love who I am and look at myself in the mirror with pride and not some ninety-two-pound junky with no life behind their eyes. I have a new sense of purpose and feeling of serenity no drug or drink could ever possibly give me.
After nearly a year of sobriety my life is beyond anything of my wildest dreams. I’m eight months pregnant and get to put an end to a cycle, having my son never see his mom loaded. I’m going to school to become a drug and alcohol counselor to help other addicts achieve sustainable recovery. If you asked me if I would be where I am now a year ago, I would have laughed in your face. I was the one counselors say that would never ever make it, that people expected dead within the next six months. And here I am before you today clean and sober. And a life that has depth and weight and not frothy emotional appeal. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world. Living in recovery has made me find the pathway to a life I want to be present for today. I am now free of the bondage of self and free of my own captivity. Life’s possibilities remain endless as they once were when I was a child. Not only do I get to share my experience with my fellow recovering addicts, but I get to show my son the endless possibilities this life can offer. The greatest gift I could have ever been given is this new relationship with myself today. I am a grateful and hopeful woman in sustained recovery.