My name is Michaela and this is my story. I can tell you that how I tell my story changes almost every time I speak, because depending on my audience, I either feel like I need to leave out the traumatising things or it is okay to bluntly share them. So I am going to attempt to be as open as I can with you. I'm a 25 year old recovering addict. I say "recovering addict" because we never stop recovering. Sabrina Best was and is my best friend still today. For her, is why I am here today to tell you all my story. I am a survivor of rape. The survivor of both physical and emotional abuse. All to feed an addiction that could never be satisfied. By the grace of God, I found Alcohol Anonymous and the 12 Step Program. The program has brought me to my knees daily, to pray and reach out to my network to maintain the solid foundation I have built in a matter of a year. So I can continue to be the mother I need to be for my daughter.
I grew up right outside of Lowell with 2 older sisters and a younger sister. that had passed away from a rare disease. My father was a workaholic and my mother was a stay at home mom. She always kept our house clean, cooked all of our meals, and made sure our homework was done. Growing up we always had everything we wanted, we didn't travel much but we never went without. I always had every single material thing I wanted. My sister Molly was three years younger than me. Molly passed away from a rare disease at the age of two. My sister's death had really affected our whole family but, especially my mom. No mother should ever have to bury their child, never mind a 2 year old. My mom began to drink heavily to deal with the pain of losing her baby girl. As I got older, my mom's drinking got heavier. Even when she tried to hide it, I had already caught on to it. I'd find bottles hidden everywhere. When we tried to talk to our father about it, he wouldn't believe us. He was just in utter denial at this point. I was very angry about all that had happened, my mom's drinking, and the denial of it all. I would leave school everyday and think "I wonder how my mom is going to be today?" or "maybe she didn't drink that much today". I was terrified to bring friends over because it was embarrassing. This went on for years.
In middle school I never felt like I quite fit in with other girls. I felt like I wasn't skinny enough or pretty enough. I just didn't feel good, on the inside, about me. We all know that middle school girls do not make that any easier. I wasn't active in many sports besides cheerleading, and of course that's a sport with a lot of emphasis on physical appearance. I feel like I had a small group of friends I grew up with. But then again, I also went through more friends than a baby does diapers. Something was wrong with me. At least, I thought so. I'd come home and I would act out. My father disciplined us the old fashioned way, if anyone knows what i'm talking about!
I always give a little background about my childhood before the drugs and alcohol. Much of what happens in your life when you are younger can affect your emotional health as you grow into an adult. Sometimes, adults don't even realize it. Especially nowadays with the epidemic. Too many grandparents are having to raise their grand kids because of addiction and overdose. Too many children have only one parent because of addiction and overdose. It is not fair to the ones left behind.
Once I got to high school I had already started drinking here and there, smoking weed you know the "recreational drugs". This was just the beginning of a nightmare for not only me but my entire family because this is a family disease. I had been "hanging" out with people outside of my town. The drinking, pills, and cocaine not only became a weekend warrior type of thing for me. Once Michaela got that red solo cup in her hand, the party never stopped for her. I was done listening to my parents and Michaela did whatever Michaela wanted to do. I was out of control. I stopped showing up for school. I had been suspended from school multiple times, fights with girls, etc, apparently i was the "bully". I was expelled from my high school. I was just a Jr in high school and I was blowing it all away. I stopped showing up for anything that was going to get me places in life. I surrounded myself with bad people. My house was robbed because people I "hung out" with were "addicted" to percocet. I rationalized this by reminding myself that I didn't take "percs". This was all before my disease fully presented itself.
I enrolled in the Charter school in Lowell. I was so excited once Sabrina said she was going to attend as well. By this point, Sabrina had dropped out of school as well. I graduated with my High School Diploma a year later and received a $5,000 scholarship from Tjx Corporation to further my education. I was proud of myself that I had stepped my game up and realized I needed to make something of myself. I decided to go to Cosmetology school that coming fall.
That summer is when my addiction started to evolve. Sabrina and I were doing stupid kid things like trying to use fake IDs in chinese restaurants, that didn't even look like us, but it was more than that...So like I said earlier, I was against percs. I had always said no when they were offered to me. Until one day, I said yes. I wanted to try it and I instantly fell in love. That went on for a while. Sabrina and I were always down for the crazy ride. I'll never another friend like her, I was the blonde, she was the brunette and it just fucking worked. That was until Sabrina had started shooting heroin and I was horrified. I had messaged Kyla and like usual Sabrina denied it. She probably blamed it on me, because that's what we did. Blame the other one. That is how we would deflect our responsibility. We would tell our parents that we were sleeping at each other's houses and we'd be passed out somewhere. Somewhere we definitely shouldn't have been. We put ourselves in very dangerous situations. Late that summer, Sabrina's sickness landed her in the hospital and ultimately 3000 miles away in California. I felt like I lost my best friend. We were inseparable and she was gone. We just thought we were having fun. We both had really addictive personalities. We knew better or at least I did, but we thought we were just having fun. We couldn't see what we were doing to ourselves. We were robbed from our teenage years and ultimately, I was robbed of my best friend that I'm never getting back again.
Sabrina was gone and my addiction continued to get worse, I started to use heroin. Even back then there really wasn't much heroin around, it was all fentanyl. I had started using a needle and continued to overdose almost daily for weeks. That number of overdoses was ridiculous, but it never fazed me. Sabrina had continued to reach out for me to get help but I didn't want to. I had to take a leave from hair school eventually and enter my first detox facility. My parents were heart broken, my entire family was devastated. I learned how to manipulate, lie, cheat, and steal. Everything that comes with addiction. I convinced my family I could go to detox for 4 days and come home and be cured, we all know that's not the case. I just wasn't done using. This continued to be a vicious cycle for years. I did whatever I could for drugs like I said, I was introduced to getting money from men just to go on dates and I started getting addicted to the money quickly before I had even stuck a needle in my arm. Things escalate quickly when you wake up dope sick and you need money. I've done things I didn't want to for money, I've done things I'm not proud of and I want women today to know it's Okay to tell men No.
That year I went down to Cape Cod which has amazing recovery programs to continue my sobriety. In a short amount of time I started dating someone. Soon enough, I was pregnant. I barely knew this guy AND he was also an addict. My daughter's father has been in and out of jails and programs his whole life. I moved back to my parents because it wasn't working out down there. My mom was sober and it was the best situation for Peyton and myself. But 2018, I was doing really well. I was clean, my daughter was healthy, and attending daycare. I started dating again. Yet, I always punished myself when I had to set boundaries with my daughter, Peyton' s father because I was scared whether she would question me one day about him, like what I could've done better to help him.
In 2018 I was doing really well. I was clean and my daughter was healthy and in daycare. I started dating again. I thought i could be normal and occasionally drink, well we all know one thing leads to another; I stopped working my program. Sabrina came back from California (mind you, heart broken about the ending of her engagement). I got her a job with me waitressing at the 99. But later that fall, my life did a complete 180 and sure enough the grips of addiction pulled me back in. I had left my daughter with my family, I was homeless, my boyfriend died of an overdose and I was living on the streets of Boston alone. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and the guilt and shame had set in but I continued to run from my problems. I also had gotten in trouble with the law and was now on probation with warrants and my life was absolutely chaotic. Sabrina took every chance she got, to bring me food and clothes, she paid for hotel rooms so i could shower and she would put eyelashes on me and do my make up so I could feel good for once. She was that friend. Even though she had her own demons, she would still help me when I was in need. I had checked in and out of detoxes multiple times, i'd stay for a couple days and then leave and go back. It seemed like the vicious cycle of addiction was never going to end. I started begging my parents to section me because I knew I was going to end up in jail. I was terrified living on the streets and I had seen things, done things, and been around people I didn't want to be with. Eventually I got picked up on my warrant, went to jail and got sectioned. If it wasn't for that day i probably wouldn't be sitting here today, who knows.
After treatment I went to Boston Sober homes for a little over a year which had many rules as to working the 12 steps and doing the program correctly if you wanted to stay clean. I worked, called my sponsor, and went to meetings. I started to build back a relationship with my daughter and my family. I sat in the courtroom one day and the judge looked at me and said "You're lucky your parents are here today because, eventually they are going to get tired of this". And he clapped for me when I told him my clean time. I'm only telling you this because there are people that do care, we are losing too many wonderful people daily to this disease and Sabrina was one of them. Two days before my birthday in February I got the worst phone call I could have ever received, my best friend died of an overdose. I knew she was using and I knew she would stop. I tried reaching out so many times to get her to go to meetings with me and I tried getting her to go back to treatment. I think about all the could've and should've done to save her but I know she's looking down on me so proud that I am here today trying to do the next right thing. Living through the 12 steps and praying to God daily to keep me away from a drink and drug another day. I've lost so many friends to this disease that It just becomes numb to me when the next one dies. Which is truly awful to say because our entire generation is being wiped out. I have a good relationship with my mom. By the grace of God, she has 4 years clean. I couldn't be anymore proud of her! My relationship with my mom has grown into the relationship that I have always wanted. I can say today that if it wasn't for my daughter I truly don't know where I would be because she gave me a second chance at life. Everyday she gives me another reason to continue to live. Every relapse I've endured, I've tried harder because of her. I am forever grateful to be here today and for my sobriety. Peyton is getting to know her father. He is 8 months sober and finally getting the chance to really get to know his 3 year old daughter. I am grateful to be present for my daughter, family and my friends. I am an honest woman today, I am reliable and can set goals for myself and reach them. I had to get uncomfortable to get comfortable in the halls and reach out for help to other women.
To every recovering addict, struggling,or using, continue to fight! We need you to reach out for help. If nobody told you that they love you today, I do. Nobody realizes how awful this disease really is until it happens to their family.
In honor of my friend Sabrina, I can't wait to see all of the beautiful women get the opportunity to reach their goals through the support of Rise Again: The Sabrina Best Foundation. Thank you for letting me share my story, and I hope I could help at least one person here today.