Real Recovery Stories
When we loudly we keep others from dying quietly
When we loudly we keep others from dying quietly
My name is Andy and I am in long term recovery from addiction. I battled addiction to alcohol, methamphetamine and opioid pain medication for over 18 years. My clean date is 7/5/11 and I get to live a life I never imagined possible.
Today I am a husband, father, friend and son, which was really not possible in my addiction. Sure I was a son but I was a strain on my family and I never would have met my wife and became a father if it wasn't for being in recovery.
I have a faith that is stronger than ever and it has been tested for sure. I have worked hard to make amends with my community and much of that is working with those that struggle as I did.
Today, I am Director of a non-profit called Safe Families For Children here in Baker County. My job is to give aid to families in crisis and reduce the number of children going into the welfare system.
I was the guy who couldn't get one day in a row clean. I was the guy who was in and out of jail. I am the guy that scores 7 on the ACES. I am the guy that was suicidal and couldn't see a way out. Now through a whole lot of hard work, dedication, love of fellow recovering addicts, and a God who didn't give up on me I get to live a life I never thought possible.
My name is Courday Rose. I am a Black man in recovery. That means I haven't drank alcohol or used any mind-altering substances for more than 19 months. That's almost 2 years!
Before I got clean, I was homeless and constantly in and out of jail. I had many failed attempts at getting clean by myself. I was the type of heroin addict who didn't think I was an addict because I didn't shoot up. I just smoked it. I quickly realized that wasn't the case.
I would find myself stealing from department stores and selling my "loot" at local flea markets for pennies. All the while being so upset that I couldn't get more money for my stolen merchandise. But I accepted the payment anyway because I needed to get my fix.
I had pushed away everyone in my life who cared about me and became one with the streets. Sleeping behind churches, 1 bedroom apartments with 15 people living in them, and stolen cars. And that's if I didn't nod off in front of a store.
One day it was like a light switch went off in my head. I had enough of living that way. I didn't even say goodbye to anyone. I just checked myself into Depaul detox, which was the worst 4 days of my life. After that, I went upstairs to residential treatment and graduated the program.
I got a sponsor and a home group with a service position because that's what my sponsor did. I took suggestions and followed in the footsteps of the people who's recovery looked attractive.
Now I am almost 2 years clean. I am the executive support staff at 4th Dimension Recovery Center. 4D played a huge part in my recovery also. That's where I went to my first meeting and got a volunteer gig there which eventually led to my employment. I say all that to say this: Anyone can get clean, stay clean and find a new way to live! Just like I did and my predecessors did. It is possible!
One Bridge Walker’s Story About Finding Her Way
By age 39, I found myself in a dead-end position where I worked at the Union Pacific Railroad. I’d recently been demoted from my dream position as the UPRR’s first and only traveling court reporter to an Albina Yard file clerk. There are not enough letters in unhappy to describe my mood. Taking a couple of Valium in the morning, two at noon, and two at night — just in case I might have a feeling — I enrolled as a freshman in college. That same spring, the year I turned 40, I somehow managed to research and write a ten-week series about the bridges for The Oregonian newspaper, forever changing the direction of a life built on the bedrock of chaos.
Up until age 32, I’d been a failed wife, failed daughter, failed mother, and failed sister — my failures continuing to pile up until I stopped including alcohol in my decision-making process. Thirty-two turned out to be at the same age my father was when he died of alcohol use disorder, as good a euphemism as any for alcoholism.
Whatever you call it, alcohol has been a plague in my family for generations. One of my ancestors on my maternal side, having established one of the first taverns in the New World, was also one of the first to lose his liquor license. My mother’s father and my father’s father also felled by alcohol, one dead at 60, the other at 57.
It took me a while to get off the Valium the ER doc had prescribed the night I quit drinking in 1977. He’d warned, “Be careful, these can be addictive." But always the one for investigative living, I had to test out the good doctor’s theory for myself. I landed in a women’s treatment center for my prescription drug addiction almost 11 years later, the experience of which considerably freed up my self-confidence. Eight months post release, I finally finished writing The Portland Bridge Book, published by the Oregon Historical Society Press in August of 1989. Late in turning in my manuscript, I’d called my editor and told him where I was. He said, “Stay where you are and concentrate on getting well. Your book will only be better.”
I taught my first weeklong “Portland Bridge Walking” class for youngsters at OMSI in the spring of 1993, first walking across the very top of the Fremont Bridge (more experiential researching) to stand almost 400 feet above the Willamette River, my curiosity cold sober.
My already-failing 66-year-old mother committed suicide (fifth of Smirnoff, chased by a paper sack full of prescription sedatives) in August 1993. She’d been troubled all the years I knew her, and with good reason. She’d twice been committed to the Dammasch State Mental Hospital in the 1970s, an experience that only increased her dependency on alcohol and did nothing for her self-esteem or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
In November 1993, eight months after summiting the Fremont, I proposed a freelance story to The Oregonian newspaper about the 20-year-anniversary of the Fremont — the Mount Everest of the Portland-area big river bridges. I wanted to know more about the critical fracture the steel arch had sustained during its construction. I could relate, having lived with more than one emotional fracture myself. As a result of my research, I met civil engineer Ed Wortman that same November. Ed had been the construction engineer for the Fremont in the early 1970s. One bridge led to another and we were married in 1998, the same year I finished my Master of Education program at a local university.
Working the 12-Steps as much as possible for a person with secular tendencies, staying close to others who can relate, loving my four children, 12 grandchildren, and my six-year-old great-grandson while supporting the efforts of Oregon Recovers forms the main span of my life today. So far, I have not awakened with a hangover for more than 12,000 days. Hallelujah!
In any spare time, I work on the cross-genre memoir I’ve been fiddling with since 2003 and fell in with poetry as a way to exorcise my demons. The working title is “My Overnight Recovery in 30 Years, the Abridged Sharon W.W.” One of my prose poems from the unpublished collection appeared in the introductory pages of the April 2021 issue of The Grapevine, the monthly magazine of A.A.
Nearing 77, I continue to cope with my own PTSD, some days managing better than others. I was born six months after the D-Day landings in Normandy. My teenage mother was also a World War II survivor — my teenage father, as it turned out, raped my mother right here on the home front and how I entered the fray in the old Oregon City Hospital on Christmas Day 1944.
My maternal grandfather, a bear of a man and a blackout drinker, forced his eldest daughter — my mother — to drop out of high school and marry her rapist, giving me a last name but a very much unwanted childhood; a childhood bombarded by multi-generational domestic violence. My poor father. My poor younger sister. My poor siblings who didn’t make it out of our Mother’s womb alive — twins girls kicked to death at eight months gestation. My poor grandparents. Poor any of us destined to live in households unhinged by misogyny, mental illness, and addiction.
What I know about the drug alcohol today is that what starts out looking as if it offers solace and a respite for the weary can quickly turn on the most unsuspecting. That’s why I support Oregon Recovers. As of December 2020, the state of Oregon has the HIGHEST teen (12-18) substance use disorder (addiction) rate in the nation and the worst (51st, counting DC) access to treatment in the nation.
This past Memorial Day, as just one example of alcohol’s hold on youth, three Estacada teenagers were killed in one more alcohol-related automobile accident. This terrible tragedy hits close to home, as my only sister’s 13-year-old grandson attends school in Estacada. What’s happened since? The teenage driver of the sedan that the three no-longer-here teens were riding in when they slammed into a large truck was arrested for driving under the influence and jailed. He is now charged with manslaughter. https://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/2021/06/estacada-mourns-loss-of-3-teens-in-memorial-day-crash-doesnt-feel-real-yet.html
I want my story to be a bridge. I want that anyone reading my story would see the most terrible cracks in our beginnings can be mended. We can be restored enough to carry our fair share of the load in today’s society. But first we need not be afraid of making the inspections needed to deal — even if it means taking on Oregon’s predatory beer, wine, and spirits industry with its stranglehold on the Oregon legislature. All of us deserve a chance at treatment, no matter what our age group or the substances that keep us in denial and hiding from our truths.
Sharon Wood Wortman
June 21, 2021