She lost her father to drugs and alcohol. Then she became lost herself. But in recovery, she now lives “in the light.”
“When I think about my life when I was using, it’s darkness, and it’s suffering, and it’s pain, I’ve learned that now, being in sobriety, I live in the light.”
Her mother always said, “Alcoholism is in our family. You can’t drink.” But Claire didn’t listen. She had her first drink the summer before eighth grade and almost died after binging on vodka. That didn’t stop her, though — either did being expelled from school, getting sent to juvie, or watching her mother leave their father.
But after six months in county jail in her senior year, Claire said she wanted to get sober and moved to L.A. for a fresh start. She rented a room and found a job, but “I was always one dollar short,” she recalls. So, she started selling weed, then got paid for “dates” she made on Craigslist. Soon, she was in even deeper: meth and heroin. When she was found almost dead in a dealer’s room, she finally admitted she needed help. She was 19.
“When I think about my life when I was using, it’s darkness and it’s suffering and it’s pain. I’ve learned that now, being in sobriety, I live in the light.”
Claire went into sober living and met her husband, Ryan. At first, things were good, but it didn’t last. When Claire had a baby, “It was the best moment of my life, and I wanted to be clean so bad for her.” So, they kept trying: first in L.A., then Denver, then Seattle, then Maryland near Ryan’s family. Even when a court gave custody of her daughter to Ryan’s parents, Claire still couldn’t stop: “I just felt like I wasn’t meant to be clean. I’m going to die of this drug addiction.” After more moves, Claire ended up at a treatment center in Austin. That’s when things turned around.
Claire recalls, “I just started doing the right thing. I had girls around me that were going to meetings and sober, and I think that’s what really helped me.” A year into recovery, she started video chatting with her daughter and then moved to Maryland to be closer. “I’ve been able to see her every weekend and slowly get back more custody and just show up as a mom,” said Claire. “She just knows me as I am now. She doesn’t know me as a drug addict.”
Claire saw Ryan once before he died of an overdose, and she still wonders why she was able to remain in recovery and he wasn’t. “It’s important for people to know that everything you lost, you can get back. When you get clean and when you get sober, blessings just happen to you without even trying.”
“When I think about my life when I was using, it’s darkness and it’s suffering and it’s pain,” Claire says. “And I’ve learned that now, being in sobriety, I live in the light.”
Today, Claire is back in school full time studying computer science, lives in an Oxford House, and helps other women find recovery as a Certified DC Peer.
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