Every so often, life has a funny way of reminding me where I came from or what got me to where I am today. It is often disguised as a smell… you know, just walking into a room and being driven to memory by the scent of whatever lingers in the air, or it can be as simple as seeing a coffee mug with a cracked handle that reminds me of a favorite person. Other times, it’s as annoying as Facebook wanting me to take a walk down memory lane and look at what I shared years ago. Most often I don’t choose to share what I see because it’s really not that important. Some days its pictures that make me laugh, or some that make me cry. And every now and then, I have to ask myself, “What were you thinking”? when I look at the words on the screen before me. We live in a world where we document every foolish decision we make and seem proud of our anger, greed and heartache. Or at least I did. I used to tell myself, “Others will learn from your decisions”. The truth: I wanted your attention. Good or bad. That’s not what this is about anymore. Not for me. I like to look and share and see what’s happening… but I don’t want your attention. I want your connection. And so I write…
One of the memories that popped up today was a quick little post about moving. I was getting ready to board a plane from my home town, back to Vegas, where I had been living for the last few months, pretty miserably. Apparently, that was seven years ago. What this tells me, is that I had a heart that was not afraid of adventure. I was ready to do big things and go big places… but I was an alcoholic who had relapsed just months before moving to Vegas and couldn’t keep myself put together long enough to make it through the day without a liter of vodka and often some sort of pill that found its way into my system. I had forgotten about this part. I had forgotten that I was a scared little girl with a brave face, fighting the demons that told me I was a worthless human being with no reason for existence. I don’t remember that trip back to Vegas, but I know I was sober. I don’t even remember how I had made the decision to leave once I got there. I just knew that was the plan.
Let me back up… I was back home so I could go to treatment, for the second (but far from last) time. I hadn’t really figured out what I was going to do after that, but I knew I didn’t want to stay where I had grown up, where most of my family was and where I knew every thing and every body. I wanted a different life. I wanted a new start. And I knew I couldn’t survive another six months in Vegas. When I went to treatment, I met a man within the first week… somehow, even though men and women are in different sleeping quarters and didn’t attend many meetings together, we managed to talk and get to know each other. Without divulging too much of his story, I knew I liked him and I had a trust in my heart for him. So, some how, we had made the decision that I would move to Kansas.
Moving on… after packing up my belongings in Vegas and stopping in California to see my sister, I drove to Kansas over the period of the next two days. My car was filled with what would fit and I would never return for the rest. The first week I lived in a hotel where my boyfriend’s sister worked. I had cashed out my 401K so I figured I had enough money to get me by. Within a few days, we found an apartment and moved in what we could. My dad would bring eventually bring my furniture from home when we were settled. And that was that. I had a job within the first couple of weeks and life was going fairly well. I was living with a boy I loved (yep, we got to that part pretty quickly), and I was able to put together our home, with his help. We cut down our first Christmas tree, went to ball games and spent time with his family. Our routine was simply filled with work, family and church. We didn’t attend meetings and our recovery was not great, but we managed… for awhile.
Six months in, things changed. Cocaine was introduced and it was like saying hello to a long lost love. As the bag filled with white powder sat on my coffee table, I just stared. In my gut, I knew it was a bad idea, but addiction doesn’t care what your gut tells you. Addiction says, “You’ve got this. You can manage. Don’t be afraid”. Three days into a cocaine binge, we needed to sleep and I needed to work. Enter heroin. The first day that I used heroin, I sat on the corner of my bed, wearing blue Jayhawks pants and a t-shirt. I had no idea what I was in for. I was immediately covered in sweat, pulled up by my arms to walk around and thrown in a shower. At least, that’s what I remember. The next day, I asked to do it again and I didn’t stop for another two years. All of these memories, everything described, was some how thrown into a dark corner in my brain that I had forgotten about. How do you forget that? How do you forget what your life was like not so long ago? And how are some memories still in tact… Is it just what seemed more important? Because they don’t seem important now.
I remember losing everything, slowly pawning or selling anything that had any value. Walking away from a job before I got fired. Losing my apartment and eventually my car. When I came home, I had two suitcases full of ratty clothes that weren’t good enough to sell and a laundry basket filled with shoes and pictures. I was a shell of girl… I was underweight, trying to hide the track marks on my neck and arms and my hair was falling out. I came home for what I thought would be a 30 day stay in treatment and haven’t left.
Next month, another memory will come up, telling me I’ve been home for five years. There is a whole lot of life that has happened between then and now. In December, I will get another reminder that I’ve lived in my current home for four years. It is the longest I have lived any one place since I was 18 years old. These memories are things that will fade, they will be forgotten. But, some how, somewhere, I am going to be reminded of the little girl that once was and the woman that now is. I will be reminded that I have family that loved me all along but wouldn’t watch me die. I will be thrown into an alternate world, for just long enough to remember what it was like to smell the heroin that almost killed me. I will be shown what it’s like to have God’s grace save my soul. And I will remember, what it’s like to forget.
-Kylee Christoffels unveiledrecovery.wordpress.com