MY ROAD TO ADDICTION
by Patricia Ann Fennessey Hole
At twenty three years old, I heard certain medical terms….fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrom, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, mono arthritis. I am 53 now. I started using when I was 17. When I was twenty three years old, single and the mother of two young infants under the age of three, working full time as a restaurant manager in Anchorage, Alaska I felt heavy in my mind. Deep down inside, I had been self medicating, with alcohol trying to manage the pain….it wasn’t working. But like all true alcoholics I was hell bent on finding the right combination to help me with my lack of energy and pain. Maybe if I only drink beer, maybe only wine, maybe I should try one shot of whiskey, followed by……GOD only knows what else I tried…. I certainly don’t remember….I believe those moments and time lost were called blackouts.
The year was 1984, my brother had been convicted of murder, down in Texas, he was under the influence of crystal methamphetamine at the time. My brother had just turned 18, Returning home was not an option, as undefined hurt and rage from family dynamics were unresolved….deeply rooted and festering. I came from a large Irish/Polish family, that was loud and full of false merriment….the bottle was a primary family member at our house. I can’t remember there ever being a time that a bottle wasn’t present. Matter of fact there was normally two, one vodka and one whiskey….both were gallons purchased on post at the PX. The consumption of the bottles increased….it served to alienate me and motivated me to strike out on my own….to find something better in life. I wanted quiet most of all, as in my family harsh words and loud fighting was the only way to communicate.
Off, off and away I went as far as I could with a second marriage under my belt at the age of 19, I married a military man, my best friend and went to Anchorage, Alaska. I tell you all this because background is important. Later in recovery I learned what made me self medicate and why I became a legal addict that had progressed to illicit drug use with a felony conviction charge for possession at 50 years old.
Its 1987, I am new married, for the third and final time, with three children still living in Anchorage, Alaska. By now pain was my constant companion, stalking me, robbing me of my energy. I allowed twisted thinking to convince me that there had to be an alternative. I always had a jar of vicodine, which took the edge off of the pain, but dulled my thinking, and really stripped what energy I did have. I lived in a constant fear of discovery…afraid others could smell or perhaps see my perceived weakness. I was a perfectionist, a highly functional alcoholic, but never a drug addict…or so I thought as I had prescriptions. I never doctor shopped, nor did I ask questions about the prescriptions, I didn’t want to hear about, fibromyolgia, the lazy person’s disease, or bone hurting disases’s that I could not control. I was in control of everything and I managed everything in my life.
I was the oldest sibling out of four children….a girl….raised as a military child in a dysfunctional household. My mother was Polish, my father was Irish…talk about "Saturday Nite Live"….Oh boy. Our house was always filled with strangers, both of my parents loved to party and loved to entertain. Typical of Irish/Polish households I attended church regulary…I prayed every day for something to change at home….it never did. Being the eldest of four kids, I was strong-willed, a perfectionist. I had been trained since birth to always make daddy and mommy proud. My mother was left alone with us for extended periods of time, it was very hard on her to have four kids under the age of 9. Never fear, I was mommy’s biggest helper and as such I would never do anything to bring shame, or unwanted attention upon us. It was very hard for my mom as most of the time we spent overseas…saw many great places….saw many an angry fight between my parents…and never once felt emotional support. As a perfectionist no matter what I did or accomplished it was never good enough. As a functioning alcoholic, adult I heard…..extremely smart, well-adjusted, bright, star, learns so quickly, self-starter, accomplished….they didn’t know a thing about me.
Feelings were never talked about in our house…I knew that my mother cried a lot and that my dad was always gone…and that I wanted to die. My first suicide attempt was at 18 and there were several of them…the hatred of self became stronger and stronger over the years….more and more deeply ingrained…I hid it so well…like a dark dirty secret. I never, ever told a soul about our family. I was afraid of my mother, her temper and her hands. Dirty secrets led me to a few stays in friendly but secure mental institutions, gained me new medicine….it made me feel even worse no matter how many times they changed it. Stays at institutions taught me about labels and mental disorders….taught me the shame…manic depressive…even sounds bad….bipolar disorder….what me….just one more thing to hide deep down inside of me.
I struggled with drinking and medication for the next ten years….trying every possible combination of drug therapy that was offered by physicians my mental state was deteorating. A fourth child, more pressure, a college degree and a struggle with mental demons, that was so dark. I dreaded the start of the day as upon arising I would not know if the HOLE would appear. Yes, the "Big Black Whole" , so deep that no light penetrated, so cold and chilly that no human response helped, the walls of the hole were so slick….it took so much…and oh so very long to feel the whole start to disappear, it was so difficult to crawl out of that hole. The hole terrified me as I could never predict its start or end, and the amount of energy it took to hide it was unbelievable. My only close friend died from alcohol, I missed him terribly. Another friend died, and then another all neighbors, all my age. My father in law died, I started hiding vodka bottles thru out the house…..forgetting which were empty which were full….always buying more just to make sure I had my vodka. I was NOT like my mother….I often heard myself say…why I went to work every day, working 80 hours a week, trying to let no one near me, no one close to me….making sure that no one observed anything wrong with me. I had it, the death of my father, the consumption of my liquor, and the pleas of my parents to return home worked….we packed up and came back to Texas, after being gone for 23 years. The guilt of my parents not knowing my children, the weather in Alaska, my health, my drinking had all become too much. New home, new slate.
The year is 2000. I’m home….no I left home….no this is my new home. We left Alaska and returned home to Texas. Arriving with my children and husband in Texas in a confused state of mind the descent into my own private hell began to escalete. My health from the chronic disases of being a diabetic with CFS, Fibromyoglia, Arthritis, RAS had me heavily medicated, fentenyl patches, oxycotin, norcos, and Klonpin on top of 18 other non narcotic pain meds, had left me bed ridden a good portion of time. Working outside the home ever again became a taunting dream. My mother-in-law died, my mother died and then my father all within 4 years of our arrival back to Texas. I was lonely….so depressed so lost. Every morning I would awake in terror not knowing if the “HOLE” would return, the black hole….so dark, so cold, so deep it offered no hope only destruction, it taunted me begging me to crawl. The black hole of depression had walls that were so slick, it took so much to climb out of the hole and it took so long. The hole was never far away, no sunlight ever reached it and I never knew when it would return I only knew that it would. I suffered in silence as I was not sure how to even begin to explain how I felt, I just knew when it was dark, I didn’t hurt physically just mentally. There seemed no way out, no way to change things, I was overwhelmed….I wanted to die. My future seemed so bleak ….offering me continual pain. I longed to be active again…I wanted to be back in charge of my life again. I thirsted for levels of activity again to the point where I fantasized about it all the time. Here is where my thinking became so very twisted and thus began my nightmare of methamphetamine addiction.
Before reading any farther I once again want to remind you….Ever since I was little people told me I needed to learn finesse, it’s a skill I never learned. I didn’t care to….sugar coating things caused a lot of confusion. My postings are very direct and bar no holds….they lack finesse! If you are faint of heart and do not care to read about or understand addiction my blogs are not for you. I am telling my story not for shock value but in the sincere hope that some addict out there still suffering, or some family member of an addict, will gain some insight, courage, or comfort from my words….. I am telling my story, and that’s exactly what it is…the truth about a woman’s journey to the darkest side of the world.
One day there was a knock at the door…I was so excited…company. I eagerly opened the door and we went to my back bedroom, this is normal, for in bed is where due to the effects of prescribed pain meds, I normally was. I was dressed, but my mind was dull, it lacked any form of exercise. As the visit wore on a pipe was introduced, scary…foreign…however, it held a promise….it would give me energy. That day for the first time in many years, I moved about the house….I cooked a dinner, I dusted, I felt no pain…I felt alive. My son, had given me a wonderful gift….so I thought at the time….the gift of energy. Yes, my son, an adult who was 25 years old. I say this with great shame…..it was hard on my family seeing me decline …they wanted their old mom back.
From this point…over the next five years…my life spun quickly out of control…nothing could stop me now. I went from a law-abiding citizen who never even had a speeding ticket to the lowest scum filled abyss of my life. At first just once a day…but it quickly escalated…soon I was selling my assets, anything…to get money for the methamphetamine. I protested that it should be legal, after all it got me out of bed….I was free. In reality I became a slave to the drug, I lied, manipulated, did illegal things to obtain my new devil, methamphetamine. I lost weight people commented on it….they also asked if I was okay. I guess my sleep deprived eyes showed the guilt, and shame. People were now coming over, felons, drug users, I always had a full house….and the only reason they were there is drugs.
I became addicted to methamphetamine the first time, I tried it….reality I was already addicted to alcohol which I gave up for legal prescriptions, and now exchanged that for the methamphetamine. I started having extreme paranoia, I heard things, my thinking no longer dull….was shattered as I couldn’t focus on anything. I had a million projects going on….I completed nothing. My hair grew long, I used it to hide my face, as I ran in the trenches of gangs, felons, and scum, chasing the drug. I stayed up for two to three days….afraid to sleep….afraid I would miss an opportunity. I lied to myself, family, and became the most irresponsible person. I couldn’t be trusted to pay a bill. I cried and tried suicide when I sobered up from lack of the drug. The family was destroyed, one son in a federal prison, another son in a state prison. The shame at even saying that I still feel today. I was the role model and although none of my children were minors at home when the methamphetamine use started, they knew. Most of all I knew…I couldn’t stop. I tried and tried, I knew I was destroying my life, I seen so much. At 51 years old my life was centered around illicit drugs, gangs and the worst black hole I had ever fallen into. I had visual and auditory halucinations, my bipolar condition escalated to the point where coherent sentences were not used. At 51 years old I had become….scum. My brothers and sister wanted nothing to do with me….I wanted nothing to do with myself. I hid every feeling I had…I was good at that. I hid everything I did…as nothing productive or good was done. The needle quickly followed…there is no lower…place on this earth….at the time…I could see that but not acknowledge it. I prayed for death every day....every single day.
One day, I got pulled over, the officers were none to happy to find a methamphetamine pipe in my purse. Handcuffs….I remeber the cold steel to this day. The officers talking as three cop cars descended, my car impounded. The jail was cold…I was scared…the cells were in an underground small facility….I don't like closed in areas. I spent the night as soon as I got out I got high. My court date came I plead guilty to a felony drug possession charge, was given an attorney who addressed the court. Five years probation.
What….probation….felony probation….UA tests….classes….jail program for sobriety? Everyone of them, the next night I was determined to quit. Three days later I was still vomiting….I begged for a rehab center placement. I got my wish and my life back at "The Recovery Place" in Florida. It was a thirty-day program I stayed 45, I suffered a stay in another friendly mental institution after entering rehab. I had to be medically detox for two weeks, before I entered the Recovery Place. I entered their program Dec. 10, 2010 and have been clean and sober ever since.
My immediate family is now all sober, we are back as a family. My health is the best it has ever been, I take no narcotic medications. My medications are down from 21 to 10. Today, every day that I take a breath I am so grateful for. My goal in life is to once again become a productive citizen, to continue living in a positive recovery orientated environment.
I maintain my sobriety with active attendance three to four times a week in a recovery group. I am like a new-born baby learning how to live….clean, sober….after all I haven't been that since I was sixteen years old. Every day I meditate, I thank my higher power, I pray. I have suffered a major widow maker heart attack since becoming sober and have had a stint placed in my heart, God saved me my chance of survival thru that experience was 1%. The doctors and nurses said I should be dead. There is something more God wants me to do. They say to maintain sobriety you have to give it away…and this is my way of giving it away.
I have given my name to my story freely, their is no anonymnity when it comes to a human life....one addict helping another addict is unparralled. I share this with a heavy heart as it has druged up the past, reminding me of self hatred and shame...but I must confess after telling you this story I feel a strange sense of freedom envoloping me, as the power has been removed from my past by voicing my past to you. ....One addict helping another. May I never forget...My name is Patricia Hole, and I am an addict.
May you walk your journey in peace, harmony & light. ¸.•´¯`♥Love Patricia~
Feel free to leave comments or ask questions, or share this with a friend, may it help someone, somewhere, so some other person can be saved.