Christine’s story is part of our series of stories to reduce stigma and honor the journeys of our patients at OneFifteen.
Christine is no stranger to abuse. As a child, she watched her mom suffer at the hands of her step-dad. She remembers trying to protect her mom when she was in high school, stepping in between them, often taking the blows herself. It was a hard life.
She escaped by going away to college and quickly, as a freshman, started experimenting with alcohol and marijuana. While still in college, Christine signed up to be a volunteer firefighter in her community. What started as a service opportunity and a way to give back, ended with regular parties with fellow firefighters, often drinking to the point of passing out. She still bears the scars of the evening when the drinking became out of control and a man at the party sexually assaulted her. “I wanted to fit in. I wanted to hang out with my fellow firefighters who were all mostly men. All of the social events revolved around alcohol, there was no escaping it,” said Christine.
She found happiness with Sam. Their dating years were also filled with drinking and parties, but they were young and in love. When Christine found out she was pregnant, it made sense to get married and start their lives together. Their son was not even born when the abuse began. “He pushed me down the stairs twice while I was pregnant. I gave up drinking while I was pregnant to protect the baby, but Sam did not. I was scared all the time,” remembers Christine.
The abuse escalated once the baby came. Christine numbed her pain by taking her son to childcare during the day, then returning home to drink, smoke marijuana, and occasionally do cocaine with a group of friends who came to the house daily while Sam was at work. When she realized she was in real trouble, she confessed to Sam who was supportive and helped her through withdrawal without any treatment. She was proud of herself and life settled back into a quiet routine as she stayed home to care for their child and Sam went to work to provide for the family.
Then unexpectedly, Sam lost his job. He began drinking heavily again, often turning violent. When he left to visit family for a month, Christine knew this was her opportunity to break free and filed for divorce. “I got a lawyer and got all the paperwork ready. I was done, I just wanted out for myself and for my son. I knew it was time to break free and start all over again,” said Christine. Shortly after he returned and was served with the divorce papers, Christine found out she was pregnant again. She felt trapped and decided to try to keep her family together. She knows now that was a horrible mistake.
More fighting, more violence, more drinking, more passing out. Christine weeps softly sharing the memories of her kids trying to intervene to protect her, the same way she tried to protect her mom. She knew she would end up dying there if she stayed, so as much as it broke her heart to leave her children, she drove the 1000 miles to find safety in the home of her brother in Ohio. Sam was not violent with the children, she knew they would live in a peaceful home if she was not there.
In the safety of her brother’s home, Christine tried to heal. But the pain of 15 years of abuse and addiction was too much and she again found herself drawn to people who would supply her with alcohol and drugs, and would spend her days partying to dull the pain. When her brother asked her to leave due to her drug use, she hopped from couch to couch, never knowing where she would be laying her head at night. Her hard life was now harder and Christine finally hit rock bottom. She asked her brother to drive her to Dayton so she could confess everything to her mom and ask for help. Christine had been addicted to alcohol and drugs for most of her adult life but had never reached out to receive treatment. Her mom welcomed her home and set out to find the treatment that would put Christine on a path of recovery.
Christine’s recovery journey has not been an easy one. Multiple stays in inpatient residential treatment centers, several different sober living houses, hundreds of AA/NA meetings, and all of this while struggling with the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic. “My grandma died during the pandemic, she was my best friend. The pain of losing her was almost more than I could bear. Many times I thought about using again, to handle the pain. But I’ve come too far and am so close to seeing my daughter that I can’t let anything get in the way of being with my kids again,” says Christine.
Christine’s mom is now her biggest champion and is so happy she found the help she needed in Dayton. “I am so grateful for the kind and caring staff at OneFifteen. Christine has tried many different treatment plans but struggled to find the right fit. She found a supportive community in the team at OneFifteen and feels like she is now on the right path of recovery.”
Christine continues to participate in group therapy at OneFifteen as well as regular visits to the MAT clinic to check in with the doctors and receive medication-assisted treatment. “I believe in a higher power, who I call God, who has led me here, I am grateful,” whispers Christine.
Christine is celebrating 300+ days sober.
*Christine’s name has been changed.