RECOVERY STORY OF THE MONTH
Sobriety Date: September 8, 2016
My name is Toni and I’m a sober alcoholic. I was born on the west side of Cleveland to a middle class, hard working family. My dad was an alcoholic, and from an early age I learned about living with fear and being quiet. I also have some forms of abuse in my story. Those things didn’t make me an alcoholic, but they did give me very unhealthy coping skills.
I went to Cleveland Public Schools until 8th grade, when busing started. At that time, I went to a very strict, Christian private school. I went from being an A-B student to a D-F student with daily detentions. When I turned 16, I got my first job, in the dietary department at Deaconess Hospital. I worked with a lot of kids my age, but they were different from the kids at school. They were cool, and funny, and everything I wanted to be. I started drinking and smoking within a few months…it was 1981, and things weren’t as regulated as they are now. I met a man, he was 24 and I was 16, and my drinking and drug use progressed. We were together for the next eight years. Sadly, he died in 2005 from cirrhosis.
I met a man, he was 24 and I was 16, and my drinking and drug use progressed. We were together for the next eight years. Sadly, he died in 2005 from cirrhosis.
I graduated high school and began a Medical Assistant program, and while doing my internship I realized it wasn’t for me. Luckily, the pharmacy was hiring at Deaconess, and I got hired as a technician. I loved my job, but I quickly started self medicating. I worked in many, many pharmacies from ’85-’99..I recently had all my felonies expunged…those promises.
In 1990 I met the man I would be married to for 24 years and the father of my only baby…my beautiful, perfect baby girl. I was so grateful for my baby girl, but as much as I loved her…which was more than anything in the entire world…no human power can get me clean. If you were to ask my daughter about her childhood, she would say it was great, but I know I could’ve done so much better. By 1999 I had been introduced to AA via the court system. I found every way possible to drop clean. I’m going to fast forward to 2010, my daughter graduated from Padua High School and started CSU (Cleveland State University,) where she lived on campus. Suddenly, my reason for getting up and functioning was gone. My marriage was quickly deteriorating, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t put three weeks together of clean time. In 2012 I went to Jean Marie for the 1st and 2nd time. I’m a champ at sitting halfway, but as soon as I get my phone and car, all bets are off, and I’m drinking and using by the second week.
I’m a champ at sitting halfway, but as soon as I get my phone and car, all bets are off, and I’m drinking and using by the second week.
After many trips to psych wards, Laurelwood, and a trip to Metro on life support for two weeks from a fentanyl overdose, I showed up at Jean Marie completely broken, hopeless, and full of fear. I breathed a sigh of relief as my mom kicked me out of her car and said “tuck and roll kid, I’m done with you.” I don’t know why it worked this time and not before…all I know is I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and treating my family like crap. I believe that my relapses gave me a better sense of empathy for the alcoholics I talk to today. I went transitional and got a job at Panera mon-fri 5a/2p. I hated it, but I went every day and I was never late…it also is the only job that I didn’t get fired from, and they gave me a going away party. In April of 2017, I was able to host a bridal shower for my beautiful daughter….the fact that she even wants to be in the same room as me is a miracle….we’re going to NYC in Oct. for a mother/daughter vacation!! In June of 2017 I went to her wedding with my first sponsor by my side. I had God signs all around me that day, starting with a double rainbow at 6am in the backyard of Jean Marie House. I had an amazing time with no alcohol, no drugs…thank you Jean Marie House.
I lived at Jean Marie House for 19 months. It’s a 9 month program, and I still think I should have two plaques on the wall of the group room. I still go every Sunday and do the in-house for the ladies — I love the house that saved me and gave my daughter her mom back. I sponsor ladies at Jean Marie House, and it amazes me every time I see them get another month under their belt. I also do Peer Support work with people who have endocarditis from IV drug use, and I manage a recovery house. In five short years, my life is better than anything I ever dreamed possible.
Thank you Katie Patton for third chances and for asking me to share my story. I will never be able to repay the gift I’ve been given, but I will continue to “listen and do”!!!