My first experience with an illegal substance was marijuana. I never actually liked it, but I smoked because my friends did. However false it was, smoking created a connection. As time progressed, I found something I did like: ecstasy. I was introduced to this lethal little party pill during my senior year of high school. I was on top of the world; cheerleader, popular, older college boyfriend, and I had an escape from all the pain stored deep within me. I felt love. I felt warmth. I felt I could trust people for the first time in my life. But it was fake. I floated through the rest of high school and into my early twenties on that artificial high. 

A couple of years later I found the world of bartending. Cocaine became accessible. I used it every day, and my life was a party. Go to work, drink, and do cocaine with my customers until 4am. Wake up at 2pm, and do it again. I kept that up for about three years. While many of my peers were going to college and starting their careers, I was floating through nothingness. It was a terrifying place to be. 

One night, while I was hanging out at home doing some lines with my boyfriend, I got a call from my grandmother, my father had been missing for days – reality set in. Was this it? Was this the time he vanished completely from our lives? I was still tweaking from the cocaine, and also a bit drunk. I felt the world open up and swallow me whole. 

My father has suffered from addiction for as long as I can remember. He has gone from heroin, to pills, to methadone. As I regained my sobriety, and the drugs flowed out of my system, clear consciousness helped me to realize that I was heading down the same path. I didn’t want to be him. I love my father, but what if I too went missing or worse, ended up dead? I started to see the past couple of years of my life flash before my eyes. It was a montage of all of my shitty choices, all of the shitty situations, and the people around me who affected me negatively. Somehow, in that moment I found my limit. I was done. My father ended up being alive. He resurfaced a couple of days later, released from jail. He was too messed up to realize what a scene he had created. I knew during that moment my sisters’ experiences were much different. They wanted to save dad, but I wanted and needed to save myself.