Being a woman in long-term recovery from a Substance Use Disorder since May 27, 2007, means I have been drug and alcohol-free for over ten years.
Recovery has awarded me an amazing life that I never even dreamed. Starting to use drugs at the age of twelve, I thought I was just fitting in and was doing what everyone around me was doing. My drug use progressed at age seventeen when I fell in love with heroin. Everything about that drug made me a different person. It helped me cope with feelings, it made me feel like I didn’t have a care in the world.
But, when I overdosed, that is when my family found out I was using drugs. You can’t really hide that fact anymore when you end up in the emergency room underage.
After that experience, my parents tried a few types of treatments for me. That didn’t work. I kept using until I was twenty-six years old. Years and years of constant lies, manipulation, stealing—just misery for my family in general. I was a mess and I didn’t care. All I cared about was using, getting money, and figuring out how to do both on a day-to-day basis. My life was just a continuing cycle of a nightmare.
In this nightmare of an existence, I got pregnant with my daughter.
I truly thought, “OK. This is it. I know I will be able to stay drug-free now.” NOPE. Being a mom was all new to me, and I didn’t even care about it. My drug use was so far gone that I used my whole pregnancy. This drug addiction took over my mind, body, and my soul. A child just got in the way of my addiction. God knows I tried, but it just wasn’t enough.
She was born addicted to heroin, and I felt horrible about myself. The nurses treated me like crap, and at the time, I felt like I deserved it. The shame and guilt took me to another level of addiction. After five more years of using and trying to get into recovery and using again, I finally stopped using. I walked through the doors of The McShin Foundation.
McShin took me in with nothing but some clothes and a miserable existence.
My mother had my five-year-old daughter because I was incapable of even feeding her let alone being her mommy. Something finally clicked with me living in McShin’s female recovery housing. I was living with other women that were getting their lives back. That peer-to-peer connection of lived experience with addiction and recovery is what saved my life.
After five months in the housing, I got my daughter back and started the journey to be a drug-free mommy. WOW, what a concept. For years, I had no idea what life was about, and I really lost the desire to live. Recovery gave me something to live for, and the people I surrounded myself with showed me how to be a mom in recovery.
Now, after ten years of active recovery, I’m able to be an amazing mom.
My daughter is now 15 years old, and our relationship is something I never thought possible. She sees my recovery and is around it every day of her life. My husband is in recovery as well, and we have an eight-year-old son. Our kids are around McShin all the time. My daughter knows the realness of addiction and has seen first-hand what it can do to people—how it can change someone—but also how recovery can change them for the better. She has been to funerals with me; she knows what drugs can do to you and your family.
“Just Say No” is NEVER used in our household. It didn’t work in the eighties and it isn’t going to work now. My husband and I are open with our children about drugs and alcohol. We have conversations about peer pressure, their friends, and we answer all of their questions. Having an open dialogue with my kids is our prevention. They can talk to us about anything, and there will be no judgment.
The relationship I have with my children today is what life is all about. Being able to be present in their lives is a gift, and I strive every day to keep our love for one another strong!
From the McShin Foundation site:
Honesty Liller is a woman in long-term recovery from a Substance Use Disorder since May 27, 2007. She is the Chief Executive Officer of The McShin Foundation, a non-profit peer-to-peer Recovery Community Organization (RCO), that serves individuals and families with Substance Use Disorders. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of McShin as well as community and advocacy events. Honesty serves as a personal guide and mentor for people seeking recovery from addiction, works with participants to develop individual and personalized plans for recovery, and provides problem-solving and life skills as well.