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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Girls with childhoods like mine don’t live long and they don’t grow up to become doctors. They die young and if they happen to stay alive, they end up in prison or living on the streets forever. I grew up in a family infected with incest that can be traced as far back as my genealogy extends. I was not protected or safe in my own home. Like thousands of young girls before me, I turned to drugs and alcohol to escape.

By 14, I was hooked on meth. I didn’t have the luxury of wealthy parents which meant I had to commit crimes and offer my body to men more than twice my age to stay high. I spent my adolescence immersed in the child welfare system, living in and out of foster homes, juvenile facilities, treatment centers, and the streets. Every junkie has a story and I have mine. Suffice it to say that I have paid my dues in that world and paid heavily. After a violent rape that nearly killed me, I vowed in the hospital that nobody would ever look at me with the disgust and revulsion that the doctors and police officers did that day. I have remained committed and true to my promise.

Today, I stand as a woman who’s risen above the darkness. I live free of chemicals and the obsession to use them. I can’t remember the last time I committed a crime or considered killing myself. I put in years of hard work to earn the privilege of being called Dr. Garrison and have dedicated my last ten years to helping others.

I’ve lived my life one step away from becoming a statistic. The question I get asked most frequently is “What advice do you have for others in your situation?” Here’s what I know about beating the odds.

1. Your labels don’t define you

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

This blog contains adult content.  View with discretion.

At 19 years old I’d lived a fairly charmed life.  I grew up in an affluent NYC suburb with loving, if flawed, parents.  It was the 1950’s and my father believed that women had specific (traditional) roles.  As the youngest of 3 the rules were somewhat relaxed for me, but I chaffed under their weight nonetheless.  So I rebelled, in a mostly ladylike manner.  In the fall of 1972 all that had been before, my childish notions about the inherent goodness of all people, idealistic political views, and my core belief that my parents could fix anything, were run through a meat grinder, never to be the same again.  It was the beginning of 20 months in hell.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I’ve spent years in the rooms and in therapy “working” through my life experiences. I’ve done several 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th steps, adding character defects to my 7th step list with each new 5th step, and on a daily basis asked for each individual defect to be removed. The 8th step list that grew out of my 4th and 5th steps is a living document and I have made all of the direct amends that were humanly possible, and taken other suggested actions regarding amends that could not be made directly. I lived steps 10 through 12. And I achieved many goals; became a productive member of society, a loving daughter, sister, aunt and friend. I did well for myself on the material plane.

But in all of the years doing the steps and working the program – living the program – I did not allow myself to sit with feelings related to the aftermath of traumatic events.  I became aware of them, then spoke of them, cried a little about them, and then moved on.  After all, what good would it do to REALLY cry – to sob until I couldn’t breathe?  I didn’t allow myself to just BE – to truly process; to chew the food of my emotions until finely ground and easily digestible.  I bit off chunks of my life, chewed hard and fast, swallowed, and moved on.  I didn’t even wash them down with water because I was too busy achieving my goals, too busy making up for lost time.

Then I picked up again.

I am in a place now where the universe is forcing me to sit with myself and just BE.  My initial reaction was that I had failed.  And then I was paralyzed, moving neither forward or backward, living in a kind of twilight zone; not dead but certainly not alive.  I hoped I would die but I didn’t.  I wanted to, though I would not take an affirmative action to make it so.  My heart kept beating and my brain sent signals to keep the rest of my body functioning.  I existed in the most basic way.  I ate, I slept, and I woke up each day to do it over.  I silently choked on the past, didn’t care about the present, and saw no hope of a future that would be any different.

The universe eventually brought me to my knees and I had a moment of clarity.  In a flash I remembered the epiphany I had 20 years ago in a NY subway station -- I knew that I didn't have to go where my addictions were taking me.  I remembered I could go to a meeting.  Thank G-d for sober reference, and for not allowing me to completely throw my life away.

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