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Home Let’s Talk Blog: The Monkey on My Back In Everything Give Thanks

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    Allison Kernan
    Allison Kernan
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    Thanksgiving: A holiday where most families get together and share what they are thankful for while breaking bread. When I was using, Thanksgiving and many other holidays were awful. I would be rushing around trying to meet drug dealers and put myself together enough to show up for my family. They all would know that something was wrong with me, but would just give me a gentle reminder that I am loved and that they hope everything will be ok.

    I don’t think the chaos of those holiday mornings are described well enough with the word ‘awful’. I would wake up in deep withdrawal.. vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, chills, aches, and extreme anxiety. Most of the time I would wake up with no money in my pocket because it was spent the day before on bags of dope that I would swear to save for the holiday morning. But once they were in my hand it was, “I can do these now and I’ll figure out the morning”. The morning was NEVER figured out and I knew this, yet I kept doing it.

    Out I would go to steal something or rob someone. Scrambling to not get caught, usually outside in the cold, all while still experiencing withdrawal symptoms and only intensifying as minutes pass. Once I would finally score some money, the next mission was to find a drug dealer that was ‘around’ on a holiday. See, drug dealers are not always these guys that just sit in a house all day selling drugs. Many of them have families that need to see them too. I can’t explain the feeling of doom that takes over when all phones are off when you are trying to score. So then you have to go into neighborhoods that you know have people available and hope you score something that isn’t completely fake. All the while, your family members are blowing up your phone asking where you are and you’re already an hour or two late.

    Today is the third Thanksgiving in a row that I will be celebrating while in recovery. This morning I have woken up healthy, besides a slight cold. I woke up with my best friend at my house after a sleepover. My mom is cooking and preparing the Thanksgiving meal. My dad is making breakfast and my brother is on his way over. I’m not reaching over for a needle. I have money in my bank account. I know that everyone in my family is in good health. I will be spending the afternoon surrounded by my loved ones and will be arriving on time.

    Three years ago today I went upstairs in my bedroom while my entire family was over for Thanksgiving to complete a suicide attempt by a heroin overdose. As raw as that is, it was reality for me. So this morning I wake up with slight panic because it still feels real. I can feel all of the terrible emotions I had felt that day, I can literally feel them. But then I realize.. I’m not there anymore and that day has passed. I can’t believe that it has been three years. I’ve never had this long of recovery before. I’m in awe every day of God’s mercy and grace in my life.

    I’m thankful for three years.
    I’m thankful for my family.
    I’m thankful for my best friends.
    I’m thankful for my boyfriend.
    I’m thankful for my cats.
    I’m thankful for my career.
    I’m thankful for my education.
    I’m thankful for my co workers.
    I’m thankful for my boss.
    I’m thankful for my church.

    & I’m thankful for so much more.

    Today, I am also thankful for me… the courage that sparked inside me to stop that suicide attempt and ask for help. I’m thankful for making the call to treatment centers despite the immense amount of humiliation, fear, and shame that comes along with it. I’m thankful for the counselors that didn’t let me quit.

    Little did I know that what I planned to be the end of everything, was the start to a journey of hope I’d never imagine.


    In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

    1 Thessalonians 5:18

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