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This article was written by Emily Tilley, owner of the blog Finding Emily, for Parents Doodle. All names in the article below, aside from that of the writers’ direct family, have been changed for confidentiality. An empowering story of escaping drugs and addiction and the road to recovery.

Falling for drugs: and how did it begin?

My life used to be simple. I went to work, took care of my two beautiful boys, Aiden and Gavin, and mostly kept to myself. I wasn’t much of a party person, and I didn’t have any friends. Every day went by just like the last. It was a mundane life, and I craved friendship. I longed for someone to share my interest with. For the longest time, I was sure that it just wasn’t in the cards for me. That was until I met Michael.

Michael came into my life unexpectedly. We had been friends on Facebook for a little over a year, but we never said anything to each other. He came off as a mysterious, but eloquent man, far from anything like myself. One night he had sent me a message asking if I’d like to meet up downtown and go for a walk. I was starved for anything outside of my regular routine, so I took him up on offer without a second thought.

My grandmother agreed to watch the boys, and I headed out to meet him. Michael was a tall, red-headed, brawny man. Much different than myself. I dressed in dirty combat boots, fishnets, and band t-shirts, while he was wearing a button-down, a tie, and nice dress pants. Even though we looked very different, we ended up having a lot in common.

The night went on, and we walked along the sidewalk and laughed, shared stories, and got to know each other better. After that, we were stuck like glue. I was coming to his house daily to watch TV or go for a walk. I felt like I finally had the life I longed for. I was happier than I had ever been.

Michael was a great friend and all, but he could be rough around the edges sometimes. There would be times when he would make rude comments about my appearance or even my thoughts and opinions. He could be controlling to the point that it became scary. He was the only friend I had made in my adult life, so I chose to ignore all the red flags, no matter how bad it got between us. I kept telling myself that he was a good guy, and he would never hurt me or put me in danger. I held on to that belief for a long time.

A few months later, on a hot August night, I was staying over at his house. Although we had no romantic relationship, I felt safe staying over there and sleeping on his couch every once in a while. Honestly, it was a nice break from having to wake up early every morning with the boys.

We had stayed up until midnight watching reruns of Tosh.0. I was ready to go to bed, but he begged me to stay up a little longer. He was expecting a friend over any minute that he wanted me to meet. Against my better judgment, I stayed up. Little did I know, this choice would change my life forever.

Just a few minutes after midnight, there was a knock at his door. A dark-haired young man walked in and immediately headed to his couch. Michael introduced me to Matt. He said he had just been released from jail for fraud. I know I should have left then and there, but I didn’t. They talked for a while, and then Matt pulled something out of his pocket.

It looked like a wad of paper towels, but as he unwrapped it, I saw what it was. He had a small glass pipe with some white residue at the bottom. Nothing like I had seen before. I had no idea what it was, but I was intrigued. Matt asked Michael if he wanted to smoke, and he agreed. Matt looked over at me with a worried look and questioned who I was. Michael vouched for me, saying that I was cool and won’t tell anyone anything. Reluctantly, he asked if I wanted to join.

I said, yes.

Living in darkness – and I was lost

Michael proceeded to argue with Matt, telling him that I had never done it before. What “it” was, I still didn’t know. I was 23, I was young, and I wanted to try everything at least once. That’s the mindset I had anyways. What could it hurt? Matt looked over at me and told me to join them.

He showed me how to work the pipe and how to smoke. It wasn’t anything like I had done before, then again, I’ve only ever smoked a little weed and cigarettes. After a while, I felt energized and full of life. I had never felt happier. We all stayed up and sang, talked, and played games until the sun came up. I was confused as to why I wasn’t tired, but what mattered most was that I was finally living. I was out of my mundane day to day task. I had friends. I didn’t know what this incredible drug was, but I was finally happy.

A few days later, I found out what I had done. I was smoking meth. I was shocked, disgusted, and upset with myself, but what I felt that night had me going back for more.

Days and nights started to blend together. Without even fully comprehending what was happening, my priorities changed. I no longer cared about work, and sadly, I began to not care about my family. I was chasing a high, and that was all that mattered.

Matt introduced me to people who took advantage of me for having a car that wasn’t stolen. I ended up taking them for drug deals just for free dope. Later on, I would meet more people who would teach me how to steal, how to break into places, how to “hit a liq”. Basically, how to become a criminal.

Just in a few short months, I went from a loving, dedicated mother, to a monster. I felt like I wasn’t in control anymore. I wasn’t Emily. I moved out of my grandmother’s house overnight without telling anyone goodbye. I left my children with her and dedicated myself to finding my next high. Meth had killed my emotions. It had taken over me.

I moved in with a man who had committed capital murder and his wife, who was absconded for fraud, just like Matt was. They were the first ones to show me how to shoot up instead of smoke. It changed my world. I thought I was terrible already, but this just intensified everything. I would look in the mirror and not know who was looking back. I was hanging out with horrible, vile people. I hated who I had become, but I felt as if there was nothing I could do. I felt hopeless against the drug.

Eventually, I had a group of people coming after me. They stole my car, and to get back at them, and I turned them in. I lived my life in fear. I hid from doors and windows. I would crawl on the ground for fear of being seen. I was terrified that they would show up and kill me.

The day finally came where I did meet them face to face but without fear. I had a gun in my face, but I was so high that I didn’t care. I just smiled. No one pulled the trigger. Instead, I was met with sadness. It was one of my “friends” I had made along the way who had his gun in my face. He told me never to shoot up because I would never come back from it. I promised him that I wouldn’t, but he knew that promise was broken.

He had lowered his gun, and all he could say was that he was disappointed in me. The following day, New Years 2015, he would be hunted down by police in a city-wide search for stealing a truck and running it through several yards, destroying one person’s home. I never heard from him again.

Escaping drugs – and finding the love that led to my road to recovery

All this time, through everything that happened, I was in a relationship with a man named Mason. We started dating back in October. We had met briefly back in March while we worked together, but he moved to Wisconsin shortly after and I didn’t get back in touch until later that year. He was over 1,000 miles away from me, but he was there through it all. He wasn’t an addict, though. He never even picked up a cigarette in his life. He watched me from afar as I spiraled downward. He was there when I left my children behind. He was there when I was hiding from a police raid. He saw everything.

He was tired of feeling helpless as the woman he loved continued to lose everything, and he left it all behind to come to be with me. He left his job, friends, and family and packed up all of his belongings in a few bags and took a Greyhound to Arkansas.

Having him with me was a dream come true, but my dream quickly faded once he was here. Mason was staying with me in the house we were making and dealing drugs in. I don’t know what finally clicked, but I took a good look around and realized that I couldn’t have him live like this. He left behind all he knew for me, and I had nothing to give in return.

Two weeks went by, and we finally moved out of the trap house we stayed in, and we went back to my grandmother’s house. What hurt me the most was that my children couldn’t get me to come home; it took someone else. My 3-year-old son yelling “Mommy!” and crying out the back of my grandmother’s window, reaching for me as she drove away couldn’t bring me home, but Mason somehow made me see my reality for what it was. I felt guilty and ashamed, but I was thankful, nonetheless.

I believe that I was able to leave my children so quickly because I knew my grandma could be a better mother than I could, even when I wasn’t using. She had raised me anyways. I always felt like I wasn’t good enough as a mother. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, and I knew she could be everything I never was. Mason, on the other hand, had no one. No mother, no father, and no other family left. I was all he had.

Empowering decision – that changed my life

It was almost Valentine’s day when we moved into my grandmother’s. Honestly, I had no intentions to quit using for good, but that’s what ended up happening. February 12th, 2015 I told myself that I didn’t want to be high for our first Valentine’s day. I knew by the 14th that I would be entirely down from my last high and we could celebrate as a normal couple would. The day came, and we had a wonderful time with my children and family. It was better than any drugs I had – I was on my road to recovery.

From that day forward, I remained clean. It wasn’t anything I had decided on; it just happened. Seeing my children smile, laugh, and play again was an incredible blessing. Although I struggled with withdrawals, guilt, and shame, I stayed on the straight and narrow. With Mason by my side, I had faith in myself that I could do it. I prayed every day to stay clean. I prayed for a miracle to keep me from using it again.

A month later, I found out I was pregnant with twins! I knew that this was the universe’s way of holding me down.

My love and family – that’s what matters in the end

Fast forward to today, I have been clean for over 4 ½ years, and Mason and I have been married for two years. I am now the proud mother of four beautiful children. Harley and Finn were born on November 25th, 2015, and were healthy, happy babies. I currently run a blog on my story through drugs addiction, recovery, and finding yourself again.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I just decided to go to sleep that night. I’ll never know, but I do know that because of the path I chose, I have been blessed with an incredible family and a wonderful life.

The last thing I have to say is to please educate your children on drugs. Don’t just rely on your school’s D.A.R.E. program. It can be hard, but please teach them. Educate them. Show them what to look for. Also, if you know someone struggling, let them know that the road to recovery from drugs is possible. Had someone done this for me, I would have never tried it in the first place. It’s not a gateway. It can save their life.

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