Starting this upcoming year the TINHIH blog will be doing something new. Occasionally, in lieu of an article, a chapter of a first person narrative will be posted. This first person narrative will be based on actual experiences from people in recovery from addiction. It will include information about sober living, the healthcare system, poverty, abuse, mental health treatment, and other realities of being a person in recovery. While this is a first person narrative, it includes the stories and voices of many people, and is not an autobiography of one individual.
“This can’t be real.”
I had woken up in a random bed, in a random room, in a random state that I had never lived in before. I was 26 years old and sharing a bedroom with another full grown adult. I had no family to call. No loved ones on this side of the country. I was in a house full of complete strangers.
I tried to roll over, but a pain in my pelvis that had been recurring for the past few weeks distracted me. I pushed the thought of it out of my brain and tried to force myself back into sleep. I did not know if I had health insurance any more, and even if I did, I had no money for copays or deductibles. There weren’t any resources to help me get medical treatment, so I would just have to stop thinking about needing medical treatment.
I didn’t want to be awake. Every time that I woke up the first thought was, “This reality is too much and I need to go back to sleep.” Everything felt flipped upside down. A woman who had picked me up from the airport and dropped me off in this room had brought us to a fast food restaurant the night before. I was so grateful to be helped, I remember I bought her dinner. But I had such little money maybe buying her dinner was stupid? How could I do something normal when I didn’t have a real home? What do I talk about now? What do I think about now? Am I still a college educated woman? Can I still dream of the future? Will my parents ever treat me like they’re my parents again? How do I pretend there isn’t a mountain of variables working against me and just… continue living?
I remember reading stories about people at war. Even those tough, hardened soldiers would cry out for their mom as they were laying on their deathbeds. As I sat there in that strange bed, worrying if my body was sick, knowing that my brain was sick, desperate to stop drinking and unable to comprehend why I couldn’t…
All I wanted was my mom.
I wanted my family. My parents.
I wanted my bed in my old home.
I wanted the hurt on the inside to not be amplified by fear of the unknown on the outside.
It’s pain from such a deep, primal, internal place when your immediate health is compromised and you do not know if you’re going to get better. In those moments all you want is your external world to have some semblance of peace. You become desperate for your home, you become desperate for your family.
I rolled over onto my back in a new attempt to alleviate some of the pain in my pelvis. ‘Maybe it’s just an infection that will heal itself?’ I lied in my thoughts over and over because there wasn’t any other choice. Before today I had never known the reality of poverty. I had never even feared poverty. Before today I lived in a home with a family and a yard and golden retriever and good grades. Before all of this… I had siblings, and school graduations, and blue ribbons from competing in equestrian shows. Before this horrible day poverty felt like another world that I could never be a part of, it was something that happened to other people, but not to me. Except it did happen to me. Now it was around every corner in the forseeable future. That reality swallowed me and was sharper than any pain in my pelvis.
All I wanted was my mom. All I wanted was my family.
But addicts are told they don’t deserve their family.
So I wrapped my internal pain in a blanket of aloneness. It couldn’t be real, but it was in fact real. I was across the country in a sober living preparing to go up against the monster of addiction. And my starting point was with no family, no car, no job, questionable health, barely any money, and a house full of strangers.