Thank you for allowing me to share my experience and perspective on ‘Addiction & Persevering Over Addiction’.
Was I predestined to be an Addict? What did I want to escape? What was I afraid of? Addiction was created in my life by many different factors.
I lived in an unstable environment as a child. My grandfather drank, was loud and sexually abusive to my father and myself. My father also was a drinker who also abused my mother and me. My world, for the first seven years of my life, was a mess of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, damaged confidence, damaged self esteem, and damaged self worth.
Completely drained of all positive ideals, when all else failed me, I turned to drugs. My mind became closed to the wonders of the world! I became totally disconnected to anyone or anything in the world. The world, to me, was unsafe and untrustworthy.
Why drugs? I did not know where else to turn to relieve the pain, shame, guilt & confusion that grew inside of me. I had no idea what this turmoil was, or how to deal with it. I did not even know feelings had names until later in my life. I was led to believe I was the crazy one, and everyone else was ok. I was allowed to lie, cheat, steal, hurt, manipulate and it felt as long as I was kept sick, it would make others look good. It was Gayle that was crazy, not anyone else! I was the scapegoat in my world. This allowed me to be irresponsible, to not take responsibility for my life or anyone in it, to live in denial, and live a lie. I was always looking outside myself for answers. I was living in complete self-‐deception and I didn’t know it.
Addiction had its claws in me so deep. The power of the addiction took over and took me into very dangerous situations that would not have happened had I had a clear mind and clear direction of what life was about. It led me to jails, bikers, guns, drugs, needles, alcohol, thefts, loss of my family, and any friends or acquaintances. No one wanted any part of my life and / or activities.
I came to believe that I must be a pretty awful person to always be on the other end of abuse. All I knew was with the drugs I didn’t feel that pain and turmoil. Thus: developed a 30-‐year relationship with addiction that nearly destroyed my life completely.
I have three beautiful daughters who grew up in a house of addiction. The legacy of addiction has been passed on through generations with its characteristic traits -‐ chaos, uncertainty, confusion, distance, mistrust-‐what people call “dysfunction”.
Addiction is a generational disease. The addiction has affected my Grandfather, Father, My Self, and is spilling over to a Child and Grandchild. This is just MY! immediate family.
How many more families are experiencing this? If we as a community do not find some avenues to help and heal our community it will continue to be passed on. Pause
What can be done to support an addict in staying clean?
My family and friends did the best they could, loving me the only way they knew how – by bailing me out! Bailing me out of paying my bills, bailing me out of jail, bailing me out of trouble whenever it happened – and it happened a lot! I grew to know someone! would bail me out, never making me take responsibility for my actions and behaviors. It kept the addiction alive, kept me in denial. Why would I change what seemed to be working? Pause
On New Year’s Day 1998, I hit an emotional, spiritual, and mental bottom. I was living in Waterford, Ontario. That day, I was beaten, my life was threatened when a large knife was held to my throat, and then I set the house on fire with me in it. I did not care if I lived or died. I was hoping for the latter. I was completely empty of all life!
In Aug. of that same year, my eldest daughter found a treatment center, in the area, called ‘Native Horizons’. I had no idea what recovery entailed, or what it was like to live without the use of substances. I had very little left inside. I found just enough fire and desire to live, so I filled out the forms and went to treatment.
A life saving / turning point in my life, at the treatment center, was when I learned that I was not alone and that other people in the world have also endured many painful issues in life. I began to learn some things about my culture. I learned about feelings and being honest with MYSELF. I was able to share my experiences, and there were people who would listen, and support and help me understand how to understand myself. For the first time, in a long time, I felt hope!
Another major turning point in my treatment was the moment I was re introduced to myself through meditation and visualization. I saw this little girl about four years of age, hiding behind a tree and afraid to come out into the world. That day, I made a commitment to that little girl. I gave her my word – since it meant so much on the street to give your word it had to mean that much to me. I gave myself my word, that I would take care of me, keep me safe, learn about me, find my journey, and begin to emotionally, spiritually, and mentally grow up no matter what it takes. This is the connection I was searching for, a connection to my spirit within - a higher power. This leads the way for me. Faith and grace are why I am alive! I have a purpose. I have a choice and I choose to do my part in creating a healthy community.
What does it mean to live without the use of drugs?
I had to re-‐think and re-‐plan my life. I accepted that I did not know anything about living with feelings, about healthy relationships, nor did I understand that everything I touch in life is a relationship of some sort. It matters how I relate!! How I think, how I feel, how I react, and what I say! I had to re-‐teach my children about trusting people, communicating with people. Let them know it was okay to work and live outside the world of addictions. Today, we are still working on that toward their healing and understanding. It was not easy for me to see how one addict, me, created so much disharmony within so many lives. I want to share my truth so others can see there is hope and if we choose to empower each other in positive ways, we can and will have the most beautiful and loving community, in the world.
I did what people with experience suggested to me, for the first time! I opened my mind to new and different ideas. Very slowly, I started to trust people. The biggest thing for me was, and still is to trust myself, to believe in myself!, to walk through the fear of failure, and the fear of success! Not to let other people control me. I am no longer a victim of any circumstance. It is very important to continue to empower myself. Empowerment allows me to see there are no limits to what I, or we can do. We, together, can empower each other to improve and create safe loving spaces to grow.
I have surrounded myself with people who I see as living a healthy life style. I have gone to many Narcotics Anonymous meetings, every day for years, till my thinking became more positive, and I started to feel maybe, just maybe, I have a place in this world. I attend Al-‐Anon meetings to help me learn how to deal with myself, and others, who live with addiction. I went and continue to go to workshops, conferences, school, training, sweats, ceremonies, volunteer, pray, and keep my mind as positive as possible. It takes a desire to live, to help, to love and be vigilant every day to persevere over addiction. IT TAKES A COMMUNITY OF HEALTHY PEOPLE, PEOPLE WHO WILL SPEAK THE TRUTH TO SUPPORT THE ADDICT, TO GET CLEAN AND STAY CLEAN.
I have positive people who support me and encourage me in things I choose to do in my life today. It truly takes a community to raise a child and I am one of these children that this community is supporting and guiding to grow up. It has taken 15 years for me to get where I am today.
My daughters are amazing young women whose lives have been turned upside down and inside out by living with addiction. It has caused them to invite addiction into their lives. It was what was familiar to them. Today, they are challenged with new ways of thinking, behaving, communicating and learning to live without addiction in their lives.
The most amazing part of it all, is that I can truly love people today. I don’t have to run away, walk out, or pretend. I am real!!
My life is like a roller coaster. Just like everyone else’s! How cool is that!?
Life brings each of us situations to learn from. I have learned a universal lesson. You do not have to be an addict, to have experienced feeling alone and disconnected with everyone and everything, at some time or another. What matters is how you deal with it. You can do it alone or with others! Not to be driven by shame, fear or guilt is critical! That is what feeds addiction and separates us. It’s the lies and secrets that will keep the spirit sick.
I am a free spirit. I am a creative space for change to happen! I love who I am today! I have things to offer, things to share, things to say, and lots of love to give.
All human beings have the right to integrity and dignity. All humans have a right to be loved, guided, and protected, to feel safe, to belong and feel a part of a family, a community, a nation, and the world.
A local detox would be a valuable place to initiate and re build these rights.
Was I pre destined to be an Addict? Maybe. But I didn’t have to remain one. It was my choice and still is my choice, to stay clean. I was able to conquer my addiction because of this community’s support and my connection to my spirit.