Once I was told, “The truth shall set you free,” and in that moment, something within me stirred. Nothing had stirred inside of me for a very, very long time. Then the dam broke. I cried for two days, and I let out what was killing me inside.
When I married my first husband, my niece told me I looked like Cinderella. I felt like Cinderella, marrying the handsome prince. We were a beautiful couple, and it looked like we had it all. We were both pharmacists, and we had a home in Boca Raton, FL, with a pool, a boat and many friends. We also had unresolved childhood issues. Once we got married, we started partying and letting our true colors shine. We started fighting and neither of us had any coping skills that were healthy. We partied and poly-substance abuse was an everyday occurrence. We also both took prescription pain killers. I took them for my headaches, and he took them for his back. The last five years of our marriage I thought I had discovered a cure-all for my “unresolved issues.”
This, of course, led to a multitude of problems.
I was hooked, and I could not stop.
I liked how they made me feel. I liked that they numbed out the world. My tolerance kept building, and I took more pills. This got sloppy and my actions had consequences, like getting a divorce, getting fired, and putting myself in a situation that landed me in ICU.
This kind of thing was already taboo, but it was more complicated in my case, as I was a pharmacist with a drug problem. My week vacation in ICU allowed me to finally see that my way was not working for me. Faced with almost losing my life, I decided right then and there to make a change. And change I did.
I changed everything about how I thought, felt, and behaved. I did this by going to rehab (again), going to 12 Step meetings (I still go), and learning a new way to live my life so I could be happy and healthy in my own skin without needing a drink or a drug. Days turned into months, months into years. I was given a second chance and I was determined to make it great. I remarried and had two beautiful baby boys. I became a stay-at-home mom. My husband, also sober when I met him, was a doctor. Life was moving in the direction of my dreams.
Then, one day, everything changed. I found those pain killers in my husband’s briefcase. I freaked out. I confronted him. It was awful for quite some time, unpredictable and insane. Things continued to get worse, and then I understood that I had an obligation to report him.
No matter how scared I was to do it, I did an intervention on him, and he went away for help. That was three years ago. He never came home. A tsunami hit me out of nowhere, fast and hard.
His actions caused damage that he ignored. I dealt with them solely. I chose to tell his staff what happened and that he was not coming back to the medical practice that we built. They lost their jobs. Some of them did not get work again for a long time. The patients lost their doctor. The ripple effect had just begun. I filed bankruptcy. Then, I moved across the state to be in a larger job pool and closer to family.
I began working full time at a hospital, with crazy hours, a new babysitter, and aftercare at the boys’ schools. The boys already lost their father, and now I was working all the time. I had to work extra to pay back the trustees just to keep my furniture. It was a radical change for us, and it was stressful.
We moved to a house after the first year, and life started to settle. I divorced my second husband. He claimed that he could not face life, although the tests he insisted on proved there was nothing physically wrong with him. And I began the repair process and started picking up the pieces the tsunami left behind.
From the minute I found the pills in the briefcase, until now, I have used fundamental coping skills to survive. Every single day, my sons were my inspiration to put one foot in front of the other. I have done whatever has been necessary to make sure each of their precious needs have been met.
I took care of myself. I exercised and got massages, stretched at night, and went to the chiropractor.
I saw a therapist, stayed connected to my recovery program, reached out to my friends and family
I asked for help (and took it).
These were my basic tools, and during difficult times, I have learned that I must do all of these and then some.
I would go to the beach and sit for a few minutes or take a walk. I took hot baths and let “Calgon take me away.”
I meditated more and learned to go within to find peace. I’ve read more books and listened to guidance from my favorite mentors.
I began to journal and write. I had fun with friends along the way.
I never stopped dreaming about my future and doing what I could to feel good about it. I have made it through the tsunami. I have grieved and grown. I have accepted what has happened, and I am standing in the most empowered place I have ever been.
My first husband recently committed suicide and my second husband is hiding away from the world.
I learned that I simply had to make a decision about what I wanted and, in doing the footwork, I made it through the fire.
The tools work for me every time.
Life if precious and life is short. I am living each day as best I can “in the present.” I cannot wait to see what happens next. I can fine-tune the details in my life and teach my children and others there is always a solution. The purpose of life is joy and my purpose now is to spread joy and love where I am able.
I am grateful for everything that I have been through to make me who I am today.
I am grateful for learning I have the power, anytime, anywhere, to make a decision about my circumstances.
Once I make a decision, mountains move.
Chara Free, R.Ph., is a mother of two boys. She studied at The Florida State University and graduated with BS Pharm from Nova Southeastern University. She currently practices as a Clinical Pharmacist, with 16 years of experience. Chara currently resides in Ormond Beach, FL.
This article is a chapter from the book Transform Your Life! written by 60 real-life heroes and experts and available at Amazon.com, BN.com, www.Transformation-Publishing.com and all ebook formats.