A year after we started using again, I told my husband, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ We walked into the Methadone clinic and we have not picked up a pill since. That was December 15, 2015.
There are so many ways I have seen God working in our lives since we got clean. Jason was hired and worked his way up to assistant manager. Getting a job as a convicted felon is hard, but men can get jobs in construction and labor. My husband is lucky to work for a company that is located in a state that interviews you before they pull up your record. Alabama is not one of those states. It is hard to not let it define you as a person when there are so many companies that judge you before seeing your face.
Getting a job for a woman with a felony is much harder. Most women will wait tables or bartend and get back in the environment where it is easy to use again. So many people feel defeated that they can’t feed their family or they start using again to numb themselves. I wouldn’t have gone back to prison the second time if I could have found a good job.
Today we both have cars and a house. We can pay for my kids’ field trips and our light bill. We have our life back. I remember the first day we could buy our kids their own Happy Meals. There was a time when we told them they couldn’t get fries or a milkshake. Don’t ask for the toys. All of the money we had went to using. The first time we bought our kids a Happy Meal and a milkshake to go with it, I lost it.
I had to forgive myself for everything I done. I had to make amends with my family and prove I am not that same person. It took work. People and families would tell us at parties that we weren’t welcome and wouldn’t allow us in their house. People used to tell us ‘If you loved your kids, you would stop using’ or ‘you love the dope more than your kids. So many people think addiction is a choice. And it is the first time you decide to use, but once you’re hooked, it’s so incredibly hard to quit. Changing is hard, you have to want it for yourself.
Alicia, the teacher I met in jail, set up a closet at her church for women who just got out of prison to get the necessities and things they need. When we got out of jail, the people at that church loved us and hugged us. When we got our first house, they had the house warming. They taught us that we were more than convicted felons.
Someone told me in rehab that other people’s opinions of me are none of my business. That stuck with me. If I worry about me and what everyone thinks of my past, I would be in my grave because I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. My past and other people’s opinions do not define me.
My husband and I now love doing for others. We share what God has done for us and how he helped us get clean and stay that way. Sometimes we live paycheck to paycheck but we know if weren’t for people willing to do for us when we couldn’t do for ourselves, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I would like to go to school for alcohol/addiction counseling, but I am not sure I could get a job with a felony conviction.
If there are two things I could advocate for, it would be for insurance companies to pay for chiropractic services and physical therapy. They spent much more money covering my rehab and psychiatry appointments than it would have cost for a chiropractor or PT. I found a chiropractor now who has worked wonders for me. I wish I had never started taking the pain pills.
The other is making it easier for people with felonies to get a good job. This is the only way they can get back on their feet.
God put me in the cell in Mobile with Morgan, who killed her boyfriend in the car crash. She served five years of the 20. Six months after she got out, she was hit on her motorcycle and killed. She and I used staples one night in jail to give ourselves an elephant tattoo on our wrists. They say an elephant never forgets. We gave ourselves those tattoos to remind us of where we have been and what brought us here so we would never go back.
I never want to go back.”
(Thank you to the woman who shared her story and opened my eyes. If you are or someone you know is battling addiction or needs someone to talk with, she said she would be glad to help. Message me and I will connect you with her.)