Born in Athens, I grew up in Greece, not knowing what my father did for a living. It would not be until several years after we had moved to the United States that he would tell us that he worked for the CIA, and that he had moved us from Europe when political turmoil threatened our safety.
Moving was a constant in my life. At school I would end up in the principal’s office. I got involved with a crowd that liked to skip school, get high and drink. I would go and drink whiskey with the janitors. It was my way to cope with the discomfort of adolescence and transition to the States. My parents put me in a psychiatric ward when I was fifteen. Everyone else was an adult.
My mother and father tried to discipline me, but it made me more angry and rebellious. I eventually started running away from home. I just wanted to get high and drink. The police would pick me up and take me home. I would just run again. I slept in cars, the woods, abandoned houses and hung out with a motorcycle gang. It didn’t take long for me to pile up some serious legal charges and I became incarcerated in Baltimore for almost a year.
I went from one detention center to another. The judge tried to get me in to a long term therapeutic group home but I was unwilling to accept help at the time. I drank hard liquor, snorted cocaine and smoked weed for 20 years. I ended up in relationships with abusive men. My parents had divorced and I became estranged from my sisters. One of my boyfriends started dealing cocaine which became deadly for both of us. I had no aspirations or goals. I placed no value on myself or those around me. I felt worthless.
My family did an intervention when I was in my early twenties. I was willing to give up drugs, but not the booze. Then my black out drinking started. I would constantly put myself in dangerous and precarious situations. One of the positives was that I was going to college. Unfortunately the drugs called me back. I met the man that became my husband. We liked to drink, smoke weed and do cocaine.
I became pregnant and was able to stay sober. My husband wanted to drink so he left. Emotionally I was not well without drugs and alcohol. This happened with my second pregnancy as well. I had two beautiful sons. After each of them was born, I returned to alcohol and drugs. It was not until the end of my marriage when my boys were still very young that I decided to completely give up drugs and alcohol.
My mother threatened to take my boys away if I didn’t get clean and sober. My sons were 1 and 4 years old. I went to outpatient rehab. My house was in foreclosure. I became a single mother. I returned to work full time and took in renters. That was July 10, 1995. Things didn’t get better right away. But I was able to practice acceptance and gratitude, slowly.
I have an incredible, abundant life today. I have reconnected with my family. My friends are people I have deep, genuine relationships with. I returned to school and finished my degree, then got my professional addiction certification in Maryland. I have a Higher Power that has always watched over me.
The future is bright even on dark days. I cannot experience joy if I don’t know pain as well. I have learned that through the growth of recovery my life can be rich and fulfilling. I went from being a rebellious, out of control teenager who had no sign of going anywhere in life, to a loving, nurturing mother, whose whole focus was raising two boys in a healthy way to be incredible young men.