By Amanda Bartow,
I’ve always admired single parents. To me, they are an inspiring symbol of independence: they work tirelessly, don’t rely on others for empowerment, and still manage to impart dynamic values to the families they raise.
I’m also awe-struck by recovering addicts and their tenacity in overcoming the unthinkable challenges life has thrown at them. So I’m very honored that Sally, a survivor who fits both of these bills, shared her story with me.
Sally was with the father of her children, her high school sweetheart, for 17 years. So as difficult as it was to start a life of her own with her kids, her journey was made more difficult by the fact that she was also setting sail on her path to sobriety. If there is one thing we can all learn from Sally’s story, it’s that single parents can overcome any obstacle to forge a path to a better life for themselves — and their families.
‘I came to the realization that I was really screwing up my life.’
Unfortunately, there are many people struggling with addiction issues who can relate to where Sally was in her life for many years: Relying on drugs and alcohol to get her through the day had become so habitual for her that it was hard for her to imagine them not being a part of her daily routine. But while many addicts realize they’ve lost control of their addiction when their career begins to flail, Sally had her lifesaving epiphany only after hitting a major career milestone.
“When you’re in your addiction, you’re fine going to work messed up. That’s how you live your life, so you don’t mind going to work that way,” she admitted. “But winning an award knowing that I had won it while I was screwed up felt terrible. I was conscious of my addiction, and I was embarrassed. And that started the spiral.”
Her addiction was also affecting her family life in a devastating way. “I missed my child’s fifth birthday. I didn’t have control over anything anymore,” she told me.
Reaching out for help
Sally decided she was ready to make a change — both for her own sake and the well-being of her loved ones. “I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. My kids were suffering, my friends were suffering, my family was suffering,” she said in an interview with Addiction Campuses, the organization that helped her find her sobriety at Turning Point Recovery, their Mississippi location.
She reached out to her best friend, who had already spoken with Sally’s mom to devise a plan to find Sally the support she needed to get her life back on track. “It’s something I’ll never forget,” she confessed. “Support is one of the greatest things you can get throughout the recovery journey.” The unwavering support of two of her most trusted confidantes meant the world to her — and saved her life. “I couldn’t get by without having the support that I do,” she said.
Life in recovery
Sally, now over a year sober, says her life has never been better. “The cliche thing to say is that treatment is probably going to be the hardest thing you ever do in your life,” she laughed. “But it will all be worth it tomorrow. Everything you do today to surrender yourself will all be worth it.” Not only is she thriving at work, she also enjoys a wonderful relationship with her children, bonds for which she is extremely grateful.
“When you’re an addict, you feel like a horrible person, that you’ve done terrible things and people aren’t going to be able to forgive you,” she said. “But when you work really hard to make yourself healthy and make amends, you find out that people actually have a different view of it.” And she’s proud to share her story to help others, including her fellow single parents who may be struggling with addiction. “I wish more people were comfortable sharing their story and sharing their journey — it would help a lot of people! There might be someone one day who just needs to hear your story,” she told me. “You learn at some point during recovery that there’s nothing to be ashamed of — we’re just like everyone else.”
Sally’s is a wonderful story not just for single-parent families to hear, but everyone. It demonstrates that no matter what challenges you’re facing, no matter what mountains you have to climb, that you can still come out on the other side stronger and happier not only for yourself, but for your family, too.