Patti grew up around Alcohol and weekend-long parties.
“My parents used to have tattoo parties and weekend parties and they lasted all weekend. So growing up I thought this was normal,” she said.
But it wasn’t normal, looking back on it now Patti sees that these actions were the actions of active addiction.
While she was younger alcohol played a big role in her life; When she and her siblings were sick her mother wouldn’t give them store bought medications, she’d give them Hot Totties.
As she got older she started to see more of a problem with her parent’s actions.
“There was a lot of beatings and violence and police involvement, I swore to myself that I was not going to be like these people. Even though I was raised in this I didn’t feel like I fit into it.”
“When I was 8 years old my father had stolen me and my brother and put us underground.”
Her mother had detectives searching for them and when they finally located her and the brother they had been missing for two years.
Those years are crucial education and development years.
When Patti’s mother put her back into school she was put into the grade for her age bracket, which was now 2 years over her education level.
“I struggled, I struggled big time and because she had been into alcohol and drugs herself she couldn’t be a very good advocate for me.”
Patti got tired of struggling in class and dropped out in the eighth grade.
She and her brother were in and out of foster care constantly. Their mother would drop them off when she knew that she couldn’t take proper care of them, then when she felt she could she would come back and get them.
This happened on a month to month basis.
“CPS would let her do this, it went on for years.”
Patti said that as long as their mother was trying to take care of them that was all CPS looked at.
In one of the bouts where Patti and her brother were living with their mother, her fiancé molested Patti. Sadly, this put a strain on her relationship with her.
“Our relationship was very estranged. She hated me for that.”
Patti continually told herself that when she had kids, she would not act this way, she wouldn’t be this kind of parent. But she had no Idea how to get out of the type of life she was living.
She was a runway, and she did what she could to take care of herself, as a teenager that meant being with older men so she would have a place to stay.
“I was with a man who was 14 years older than I was at that age of 14 until I turned 18 because I had nowhere else to go. Nobody else was there for me.”
Patti got married to her first husband when she was 19, and he was in and out of prison.
“I was married to a man who was never around and I was trying to raise a child by myself.”
One of the first times she got clean was after her husband absconded, them being drug-free was the only way be would be able to get back into the good graces of the parole department.
They joined NA, went on recovery retreats and they stayed in recovery for two years.
“He ended up going back to prison, when he got out we moved to Utah, the marriage ended there.”
However, their split didn’t last. Patti had a daughter while there were separated and upon their reconciliation he took guardianship of her.
Patti and her husband relapsed together and got into legal trouble.
“He ended up taking the rap for everything, he did 3 years in San Quentin and I did 18 months of an outpatient rehab.”
The same case worker who was there to take Patti’s middle daughter, who was in the car when they got arrested, was there at the end of everything.
“Her question to me was ‘How did you beat the system?’ and I was kind of mortified.”
He main focus was no longer her addiction, her focus was now on getting her kids back. She and her husband broke things off while he was still in prison, she knew she needed a better life for her and her kids.
“I stayed sober for 7 years, and those first 18 months I met my [third] husband.”
For the first time in her life, she could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Around 5 years in he decides that he wants to start to drink socially. Patti told him that drinking socially isn’t a good idea for her, she can’t just drink socially.
“A lot of people have pot as a gateway, a lot of people have other substances as their gateway, mines alcohol if I start drinking I’m going to start slamming dope again. And I don’t want to do that.”
Life is Good
She and her husband had built a beautiful life together, they bought a house, a car, and had all five of their kids together.
She was finally the attentive mother that she wanted to be.
“We had a good family going, and so my addiction told me ‘you can drink, it’s okay’ and I trusted his words. I told [my husband] if I drink you’re not going to like me, and he said no it’s okay I can help manage this.”
And for the first 4 or 5 years, he did do a good job helping her to manage it, they would only drink social while they were out with friends. It started with a glass of wine at dinner or a couple shots while they were out, but then she started to hide it.
“I was filling bottles up with water, putting it in the freezer so he wouldn’t that I had been drinking during the day while he was gone.”
Patti started to rely on her blackouts, she wouldn’t have to remember anything. To her, when she did something she shouldn’t have not remembering made it better, it was like it never happened.
At a certain point in her addiction, she was no longer able to blackout, her body had built up such a tolerance to alcohol that she couldn’t get drunk enough.
The Turning Point
Patti and a group of people were drinking and tubing down the river. Her daughter squirted her with a water gun and Patti became angry.
“I got pissed off at my 13-year-old daughter … I got pissed off because she was trying to have fun and I was in a mindset of drinking and drugging and I wasn’t nice to her, it reminded me of the way my mom was.”
Soon after, one of her good friend who was tubing with them called and invited her over for coffee, but Patti knew that it was more than just coffee, her friend wanted to talk about what happened at the river.
“I wasn’t ready so I kept pushing it off and pushing it off, finally I went over there. I walked back into the meetings of AA.”
She had come back to the point where she knew that she needed a better life, she knew she needed to make a change or she was going to lose everything.
However, it wasn’t until around 18 months into her recovery that everything came down on her all at once.
He mother had just passed away, Patti and her husband were at the hospital because their daughter had been admitted for cutting herself, and her husband turns to her and says he wants a divorce.
“At 18 months sober I said you better mean it because I’m walking out the door.”
And she did.
“I walked because I needed something different. I needed judgment different, I needed me to be different, I needed life to be different. I needed to feel like my whole life wasn’t a waste anymore.”
She needed the ability to just jump down the rabbit hole.
“Once I was free of judgment and was free of the shame and was free of the guilt, my recovery and the promises of this program took off.”
For once in her life she wasn’t worried about taking care of her siblings, her husband, anyone but herself. For once she was able to be selfish and talk care of herself.
She traded in the car they had bought together for the car that she always wanted, and was able to save up to move from a one-bedroom apartment into a two-bedroom house.
“I can look into the mirror today and say that I have grown into the woman that God wants me to be.”
Recovery has helped her to overcome her fears and be happy joyous and free. For those who are out there struggling with addiction, Patti wants you to know that there is hope.
“There are meeting that you can go into, there are places that want you to come and join them. Let them love you until you can love yourself.”