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Addiction Recovery Research Center

Fralin Biomedical Research Institute

2 Riverside Circle

Roanoke, VA  24016

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Phone: 540-315-0205

Email: iqrr@vtc.vt.edu

Media Inquiries:

John Pastor, FBRI Director of Communications

Phone: 540-526-2222

Email: jdpastor@vt.edu

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Stephen’s Story

“June 1st, 2001, I woke up angry, oh, so very very angry. I was still alive and I didn’t want to be. I hated life. Hated waking up breathing. Hated myself. My heart hurt because I was still here and I didn’t want to be. Nearly a week before, I had plotted a trip to the Bahamas’s on a cruise, not so I could have fun, but so I could wait until the ship was far out to sea, get blasted drunk after dark and slip off the ship into the waters and drown. Anyone who really knows me, knows of my fear of drowning, but that’s how badly I wanted out. Everything was set and ready to go, all my bills caught up that were important so I didn’t leave a burden on my adult children, and all I needed was the upcoming paycheck on Friday. It was Monday and I was almost giddy at the prospect of being able to finally put closure to my life. I had tried so many times before. Overdoses, overdoses and more overdoses, walking over 100 ft of sewer pipe running over a river in the sleet & rain in platform 5″ high heels hoping to fall off so it couldn’t be called a suicide and coming back over it twice when that didn’t work…walking in the middle of the night in the worst neighborhoods in the city alone (they must have just thought I was some crazy lunatic), jumping out of moving vehicles, jumping in front of traffic, and the list goes on…but this time? This was fool proof… wasn’t it? As I got in the car to go to work the car wouldn’t start. Darn car…I’ll bet it needs a new distributor cap…or plugs…or plug wires. I bought all three. That wasn’t it. Finally I had to take it to a shop. On Friday when I went to get it, I found that the repair had ate up all my upcoming check. I was crushed. Devastated.

I went out and got drunker faster than I normally did. I somehow made it home much much later in a blackout, and woke up the next morning wondering again, where am I? Where all I had gone? Where was my car? Did I kill anyone? Did I have their blood on me? I looked to see how I was dressed, was there blood on my clothes? Where were my dogs? Where they in the yard? I got up and checked on those things, finding all to be okay, except me. Now that I was sure they were okay, I relaxed enough to return to self hate and misery. I hurt in my soul so badly that it hurt throughout my entire being. I was sick inside through and through. What was I going to do? I couldn’t stand living another day. I hated who I was, what I had become, the things I did & didn’t do, the way I swore I’d stop drinking & drugging- even on my children’s lives and then didn’t. I hated everything about me… and this thing called life. Was THAT what this was? Life??? It seemed more like punishment. Purgatory.

My ex-husband called me and asked if I wanted to ride with him to the auto parts store. We had remained friends and there was no reason not to go. I agreed but told him I wasn’t feeling well. I figured he wanted to talk about something going on in his life. He came and picked me up and I had forgotten what a pain it was to get in his van. Someone had hit him recently and it had caved in the doors on the passenger side, so the only way to get in the van was on the driver’s side and then you had to crawl around the hump in the middle of the van that was something to do with the engine or the transmission? I climbed up in and over…and sat on the seat feeling like I wanted to be anywhere else…or rather no where else…In fact, no where sounded pretty darn good.

On the way to the auto parts store, he talked and then he stopped at a local convenience market. He pulled up to the front of the store. “Need anything?” He asked as he got out of his van. “No”, I answered. He shut the door and as he did, in that split second, the realization that he ALWAYS carried a Luger under his seat came to my mind. My mind quickly said, “three steps… give him three steps and he can’t come back and stop you. Put the gun to the roof of your mouth and pull the trigger.”

No longer did I care if I left a body for someone to find. No longer did I care who I hurt or if the insurance would pay. All I thought about or cared about was checking out. This was it. I leaned forward. He stepped the first step. I moved my knees toward the hump and began to lean in toward it. He took that second step and swiveled and turned. My face must have looked incredulous. He was coming back…”sit back!!!” I told myself and then did. He opened the van door and leaned under the seat and took the Luger.

“WHAT????? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! HE NEVER TAKES THE LUGER WITH HIM!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” my insides screamed at me…

He put the Luger in the back of his pants and pulled his shirt over it. He was licensed to carry it but didn’t have a holder for it yet. “NOOOOOOoooooooo!!!” Tears began streaming down my face.

“Are you that sick?” he asked…

“OH, you don’t know the HALF of it…” I said to him with tears pouring.

“I’m sorry…we can go if you want?” he offered.

“No, I’ll be okay…” I told him but doubted it sincerely.

He continued to the auto parts store. When he came out and I don’t know what we talked about, I had gone numb. When we got back I went into the kitchen and stood at the sink, looking out the window and up at the sky. I began crying, then sobbing and then from every cell of my being screaming up desperately at my HP. “YOU’VE GOT TO HELP ME. I HATE THIS LIFE… I HAVE ALWAYS HATED THIS LIFE. YOU’VE ALWAYS MADE ME STAY. I DON’T KNOW WHY YOU WANT ME HERE BUT I HATE IT. IF YOU WANT ME TO STAY HERE YOU’VE GOT TO HELP ME…I CAN’T DO THIS…I CAN’T LIVE THIS LIFE WITH OR WITHOUT A DRINK OR A DRUG AND I CAN’T DO THIS ALONE…PLEASE…PLEASE…HELP ME!!!!!!!!!” I called out to him and sobbed for about 20 minutes then went and sat down on the couch in the living room and fell into a stupor for two hours. Just as I was coming out of the stupor, I heard a still quiet voice say, “Why don’t you call AA?”

I didn’t know what AA was. Didn’t know anyone who had ever gone to it, didn’t know what they did or what it was for. I didn’t know where they were or how to find them, but I thought to myself, what did I have to loose? Nothing.

I called directory assistance and the woman on the line gave me the number to AA. I called it. When they told me they were to help someone stop drinking and that they held support meetings, I asked where the meetings where but asked for some out of my area. I didn’t want anyone to know that I had a problem with drinking as if everyone didn’t already know. But, “I” didn’t know I had a problem with drinking and drugging… and…and…., and I SURE didn’t think I could stop…and didn’t know if I wanted to even try.

I went to my first meeting June 4th, 2001. I was sober but had no attention span. Little by little I heard and I tried to take the suggestions… they offered me hope and encouragement. I bought the van that I rode in from my ex-husband…the van I was going to check out in. I didn’t tell my ex that I nearly committed suicide with his Luger for a longggggggggggggggg longggggggggg time…I wasn’t sure I wanted him to know about it in case I wanted another opportunity to use it. When my suicidal thoughts were long gone, I told him the truth. He said that as he took that second step something in his brain screamed at him, “You better go get your gun!” He said it was so out of the ordinary that he thought maybe something was going to happen in the store that day. He never dreamed that I was going to try to use it on myself.

Had I checked out that day I would have sold myself short. I have had so many wonderful things happen in recovery that I would have missed. The marriage of my children…birth of grandchildren…trips to a castle (yes, a real castle)…trips out of the country…trips to the birthplace of AA/NA…trips with friends camping…horseback riding…playing cards…and so many many other things.

There has been some tough stuff too, but I wouldn’t trade it in for anything in the world.

So grateful for that little still quiet voice…and a HP that loves us even when we don’t.

This girl has recovered from Alcoholism, Drug Addictions, Sexual Addictions, Food Addictions (okay, I still struggle on Chocolate & sweets), and more…

(I count my sobriety date as June 4, 2001 not June 2nd, because I had so much alcohol and chemicals in me that I am sure beyond sure that I was NOT sober until June 4th.)”