Dan's Note: I reached out to Nancy Carr the minute I read this story. I told her that I HAD to have it on my site. To me, it shows that any of us are as close to the ditch as anyone else along the path of recovery. I'm going on five years now—God willing—but I have to keep in mind that I could fall. I don't want that to happen! So, thank you, Nancy, for your story of how close you really came to losing it all—we all need it to remind us of all we stand to lose if we pick up again. -- DTSM, Daniel D. Maurer
(Almost forgot . . .the website is all shiny and new!! Please comment what you like and what you'd like to see change. We want it to work for everyone.)
It was during the economic downturn when I found myself without a job and no steady income.
A friend in the fellowship came to me about an opportunity—one where I could have free room and board, my own private room, and I would be able to keep Lucy, my wonderful little Boxer rescue pup.
My friend said she was getting ready to open a sober living home the next month. She needed a House Manager.
By this point in my life, I was almost five years sober and I ran a good program—I had a sponsor, worked the steps, and I did what I was supposed to. I thought I had my shit together. It was an easy decision to make, and within two weeks I moved into a gorgeous, five bedroom, fully-furnished home. It even had a pool and ocean view! It was like moving into my own private Golden Door Spa home . . . until the sober housemates showed up, the clients I was supposed to manage.
Our first was fresh from the local 28-day rehab. She was as fresh as a nineteen-year-old girl could look: dewy perfect skin; gorgeous, healthy hair—she was an attractive woman, and soft spoken. From my view, she didn’t look like she had ever spent a minute with a needle in her arm. I wouldn't have guessed that she had been a heroin addict.
But that's who she was.
The management of the sober-living home soon found out that most young, female addicts were just that: heroin-addicted on the inside, but still sparkling-fresh on the outside. None of these young girls resembled skid-row heroin addicts, sent off to treatment and the sober house by their parents, none of them seemed to want what I had. During my ten months as house manager, there were five young women in particular—all attractive, all addicts—who were all very good liars, cheats and manipulators.
(Isn’t that what addicts are? You bet your fake-urine, drug test they are!)
I had had to learn the ropes the hard way. The owner and I soon figured out that they were buying fake pee and that they were in cahoots with their housemates and would trade pee when needed. When we caught on to the fake pee scam, we decided to follow them into the bathroom and watch them go. We learned that you could insert a tube containing the fake stuff into your vagina and pop it with a pin to give you a steady urine stream.
We also had to dole out their Suboxone® individually and watch them dissolve it in each of their mouths, since they all were swapping pills with each other. One girl came back from a weekend pass saying she had caught the flu from her Mom and that she was really ill. Within a day we realized she was dopesick. We had to kick her out of the house as it was her third strike. She had had a few months clean prior to that relapse. Sad stuff.
We also had women in the house that were more "traditional." As alcoholics trying to find recovery, they really wanted to get sober. These women were a little older; they had more life experience. However, some would try and hide their drinking. But their relapses weren’t as routine as the H-girls'.
We also performed random breathalyzer and drug tests—it was a revolving door of wondering who was high and who wasn’t. Since I was the House Manager of the home, I was privy to everyone’s schedule; I was normally driving them around to meetings, (or to job interviews, or to the gym) but I developed friendships with some of them—and just when I started to think that I was becoming a friend to some of them — thinking, 'Nah! She wouldn't lie to me' — they spun their addict web of lies. That job had me feeling like I was an ER Doc: like I was on call 24/7 (even on my days off). Let me tell you—that job provided no rest! Let me give you a sample of what I went through:
I’d be sitting in a movie and my phone would start blowing up with texts and phone calls:
- She didn’t make curfew!
- She needs a ride to work tomorrow!
- She needs to visit her Mom!
- She and so-n-so got into a fight!
- Lucy ate her stuffed animal. You gotta come home! And on and on it would go.
It got to a point where my own sanity and sobriety were at risk. I couldn’t go to a meeting and share about what was going on with me; nor could I confide in anyone at the house. My sponsor was on speed dial, as were my other sober sisters. I soon heard the alarming statistic that anyone working in the recovery industry (which I was) may have a higher chance of relapse! Eeeek!
I knew I had to kick up my recovery a few notches. I refocused on me and my program more. I went to Boss Lady and confided in her that I needed to really take care of myself and my program. The last thing any of us wanted was a drunken House Manager. I never really wanted to drink, but I had access to the safe where we kept all the medication and some of the pills were addictive. I thought: a little harmless pill would be nice – just to take the edge off.
That thinking churned around in my head. Luckily, someone else would relapse, and I’d be jarred back to the reality of the disease:
. . . and it was happening every day right under my nose.
After ten months, my life took a drastic turn: I was summoned by my family to move back east and assist with my ailing mother.
It was January. Packing up my stuff and moving wasn’t something I was longing for. But I’d much rather take care of my own mother, than continue to try to be "Mother" to some who weren’t ready. I have stayed in touch with some of the young women from that home, although many still needed to live out their own journey . . . of addiction and recovery.
I've heard that most of them are now clean and sober.
They are the lucky ones . . . as am I.
Nancy Carr is a freelance writer with a mission to bring awareness to alcoholism and addiction. She keeps the online blog Last Call. She is the author of a memoir about her experiences to let others know about the reality of recovery: "Last Call, A Memoir" is now available on Kindle via Amazon. She lives with her dog, Lucy, in Naples, Florida.