My name is Jenna Tate and I grew up in Tonganoxie, Kansas, and now I live in Valley Falls, Kansas. Today, my life is very full. I have an amazing boyfriend and a beautiful son (he’s two and a half!). I work for a software company and do a little bit of waitressing on the side while finishing up my sociology degree. My boyfriend, parents, and brothers are always there when I need them.
If it was not for their love, I wouldn’t be here today, and neither would my son.
Spinning Out of Control
I started drinking in high school when I discovered it helped me feel super social. Quickly, I became dependent on drugs and alcohol to help me deal with social anxiety and to have fun… but it spiraled out of control when my use pulled me into unhealthy relationships with guys who both used and sold drugs.
From the age of 18 to 24, I was in and out of jail and the hospital from overdoses and suicide attempts. I did not have one healthy relationship. No job. No house. Nothing. I tried going to college, but couldn’t make it to finals week. It was an ugly cycle.
When I was using my mom would track me down and drag me home. She told me to go to get help over and over and finally decided to just let me do what I wanted to do and live with the consequences. She said, “I can’t fix you and I’m just going to pray for you and let you do what you’re doing.”
I remember seeing people living their lives and doing cool things like going to work and getting married and having kids. I wondered what my purpose was, and if I was going to be a junkie forever. At least ‘I was cool’, I rationalized. But deep down, I was desperate to be loved and have a real life. It had all spun out of hand really fast… From one drink to living in my car. I often wondered how I had gotten there.
A New Life
One time my mom picked me up after a really bad car accident caused by drinking and driving and she asked as we drove away from the hospital, “Where do you want to be buried? Because the route you’re going I’m going to bury my only daughter.”
One month after the accident, November 15, 2015, I woke up feeling a little worse than usual. I took a pregnancy test on a whim. It was positive. Immediately I started bawling, not knowing what to do, in complete shock.
At the same time, something clicked inside of me – I realized I couldn’t keep drinking and doing drugs.
Related: Paula’s Story: Numb No More
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to recovery – not everyone goes to rehab and gets fixed. For me, I knew what I had to do, and I just did it. That meant immediately cutting off contact with any of my friends who were doing drugs or drinking, or going to places where that sort of stuff was taking place.
In the meantime, my mom let me live with her and helped me get my life back together. Her prayers were answered. She had her daughter back, and a grandson on the way.
Surrounded by Love
A big thing in my using days was “I just want somebody to love me.” I wanted the feeling of being loved and loving someone else. But every relationship I had was centered on drugs or was simply negative or toxic.
Looking back, the root of my addiction was based on the fact that I loved the idea of love, but was looking for it in all the wrong places with all the wrong people.
For people struggling with addiction, know that you are not alone, and there’s plenty of people who are cheering you on. You don’t have to hit rock bottom to get help the way I did. When I started drinking, I couldn’t stop. It led me to jail and ruined my relationships. I wish I had recognized where I was before it got so bad. I wish I had known what true love was.
Thankfully, since then I’ve discovered real love. I have the unconditional love that is my son, my pride and joy. I also met a great guy. Our relationship is different, it’s the best. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. I have my parents, my brother, my family. I am surrounded by love.
Life is so much better than you can imagine. It’s unbelievable! If you can just make it through the bad times, you will discover that there is so much more on the other side. Life and love are waiting, and it is worth it to make the journey to reach them.
Taking OneStep Forward
You are only one step away from finding help. Take one of these 5 steps towards freedom:
1. Change your playmates and playgrounds: You have to cut off people who are using and quit going to places where using is taking place.
2. Be open to change: Your body, emotions, and relationships are all going to go through some changes. Learning how to cope with these changes in a healthy manner is important.
3. Lean on those who support you: Whether it is a friend or family member, the people who want you to get better are going to have your best interest in mind. You might not always like what they have to say, but they are your people and that is who you should lean on in times of need. Let community in.
4. Recovery is not one-size-fits-all: I know for most people just quitting can be hard. I love the Alcoholics Anonymous program and completely support the use of recovery and rehabilitation centers. Recovery is not a one-size-fits-all, and it is important to do what is going to work for you.
5. Fall in love with you again: Read books, write, sit in the quiet. Find out the things that make you passionate about life and do those things. Self-care comes with a whole lot of self-awareness and that is what leads to self-love.