I was fortunate enough to have one of my dear friends share a very powerful story with me. Through a message, she delivered such a raw, and emotion packed account of her life; where she’d been since I’d last seen her in high school, how she was now and how she got there. I asked her if she wanted to put it into words and allow me to share it with you all. Lara has made is abundantly clear to me that if her words, her experience, her heart-wide-open, reaches just one person and touches their life, it is worth it ten thousand times over. So, friends, meet my friend Lara…
I’m a drug addict. That’s the best way to start this post. Because it’s the truth. And I imagine this brings up all sorts of pre-conceived notions about what a drug addict is. And what a drug addict is not.
The majority of people who don’t know me or my story assume I’m from a broken home or I had some sort of traumatic event or tragedy that caused me to seek out drugs. But, I didn’t. I’m just like you. And I’m just like them.
In the summer of 2011, my father flew from Texas to Los Angeles, with a picture of me. He held this picture close as he walked up and down the streets of Hollywood Boulevard. From seedy hotel to dirty motel, asking people if he’d seen this girl. His daughter. The Pepperdine MBA. Now, a drug addict, on the brink of death.
This was at least the 12th or 13th time, that one of my parents, who resided in Texas, had flown to Los Angeles, to “save me.” But, they could never save me from myself and the desperate obsession I had to just get “one more.”
I wasn’t supposed to be an addict. I was raised in a loving home, in an upper-middle class suburban neighborhood. I excelled in school. I was involved in extra curricular activities. I was well-liked. I received scholarships to college. I worked two jobs. I graduated Summa Cum Laude, with a 3.84 GPA, and I was on the Dean’s List every semester. I rarely drank. I saw my family twice a week for family gatherings. I had a yellow lab. I loved animals. This was not supposed to be my story.
And by all accounts, if you knew me from the ages of 0 to 25, you’d be pretty shocked to find out, that at age 27, I was living on the streets of Los Angeles. Lost in drug-induced psychosis, caused by a hardcore addiction to amphetamines and pills.
The reason I started using is irrelevant to this post. The problem was that I was always searching outside myself for happiness. First, I needed to do well in school so I could get a scholarship to college. Then I needed to do well in college so I could get accepted to a good graduate program. Then, I needed to excel in grad school, so I could get a good job, which would provide me with a good salary, so I could raise a good family.
I always aimed higher, ultimately defining my happiness by how successful I was in my career. And of course, how successful you thought I was.
Being this authentic and genuine about my addiction has not come easy. For the four years I struggled, in and out of treatment centers and psychiatric wards, I rarely opened up about my truth. I was scared of what you would think of me. Especially those of you who knew me as the ambitious, motivated, “good” girl.
But the fact is, I’m an addict. And I’m grateful to be a recovered addict. And I know this sounds kind of lame and cliché, but I truly am. And I’m willing to be open, honest, and upfront about my addiction. Because I’m no longer ashamed of my truth.
There’s a Garth Brooks song that I love called: “She’s Every Woman.” It’s not written about any woman in particular, but it can accurately describe the majority of women.
I’m drawn to these lyrics for this particular story, because me, being an addict, is just as much a part of me as every other unique characteristic that makes up me. I don’t want you to have pre-conceived notions about who I am. I want you to get to know me and then, make up your mind about me.
My definition and understanding of an addict is likely very different than yours. This especially being true if you are not an addict, or do not personally know an addict.
However, it’s difficult to imagine you don’t know someone suffering from an addiction. They are all around us. Most of them are just too fearful to share their truth. Likely because of the “what ifs’?”
What if I lose my job?
What if the PTA finds out?
What if society rejects me?
There is a long list of “what ifs’?”
And I was certainly scared of them. But as I got further in my recovery, and after building an incredible relationship with God, I discovered my purpose: to help people.
If I’m unwilling to talk about my past out of fear of how you would perceive me, and the social stigma that is attached to drug addiction, then how in the world would I ever have the ability to pass on the hope to others that are walking in the painful steps I’ve once traveled? The hope that it’s possible to recover, to be reborn, and to live a completely different life; that you can change your story, not be a slave to addiction, and live happy, joyous, and free.
So, I had to answer to a new set of “what ifs’?”
“What if” I stopped worrying about what you thought of me and realized all that truly mattered was what God knew about me?
“What if” just by sharing my story of hope, of truth, and authenticity, I’m able to save an addict? A human – living in a hopeless state of mind and body, fearing they have no way out.
What if I was not an addict?
Ah, how much easier life would be.
But, what if, life was never this beautiful?
What if I was never given this chance?
There is hope. And freedom. And joy. There is peace. And love. And I just want you to know it’s possible.
If you are facing addiction and need help, call 1-800-662-HELP
If anyone would like to talk to Lara, you can reach her at: ReachLaraF@gmail.com
**This e-mail is not intended for emergency situations. Lara is not a medical professional. If you are facing an emergency situation, call 911**
I hope you enjoyed this post. I thank Lara for her candor, her openness, and her willingness to share her amazing story.
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