When Sherri was only ten years old, she was being molested and given cocaine. The young girl quickly learned that the drug provided an escape from the horror. For more than a decade, she achieved that escape through various drugs, not recognizing she had a substance use disorder.
“I was pregnant with my son, had a job, had a 401k…I thought I was okay, because I was functioning,” she said. “But I couldn’t stop using.”
Her son was born in 2019, and after that, life became more complicated. Sherri was pulled over and the police found drugs in her car. At first, there seemed to be no consequence. However, when the police were looking for her son’s father, drug charges were brought up against her as leverage.
Her situation got worse when in 2020, she diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. “I was blind, couldn’t see,” she said. “I lost ability to speak, to use my hands.” Through it all, she continued to use drugs, including meth, outright rejecting her therapist’s suggestion that she attend a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. “I told him, ‘I don’t want to go to meetings. That’s for losers.’ I was so close-minded about the fact that it could help me,” she recalled.
The Turning Point
March 2021 brought Sherri to court. When she arrived for her pre-trial, she was high, and suddenly she found herself in jail.
“Being in jail opened eyes,” she said. “I was powerless over what happened to son, powerless over what happened to me. Going to bathroom by myself was a big deal. I was in the Winchester jail, and I met some people who helped, but was my mindset that helped the most. I didn’t want to go back to the way I was.”
Sherri had peer recovery coach while she was in jail, and when she got out, she went to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting that following Sunday. She went through the first two levels of the program by herself, before she worked up the courage to ask someone to be her sponsor. The woman she asked, Alex, agreed, and then immediately made her go back through steps 1 and 2 again. Sherri didn’t balk; she was determined to do whatever she needed to do to be successful in her recovery. In her case, that included going to two home group meetings each week.
On the Road to Recovery
In March of 2022, Sherri celebrated her first year of recovery. “It was amazing,” she said. “I talked to a lot of people in recovery to learn as much as I could, because I want this to work for me. I have a family now.”
Though her family provided her motivation for her recovery, they weren’t the only relationships that helped her move forward. The people in NA became a second family to her. “When my son had birthday, all people in that room were from the NA meeting I had invited to come,” she said. “They all showed up to celebrate.” And when she celebrated her one-year anniversary of recovery, she was even more astounded, as 150 people showed up to congratulate her and celebrate with her.
Her journey has not been without difficulties. In May 2022, Alex, her sponsor, passed away from cancer. “The gift that she gave me is unmeasurable,” Sherry said. “I will always carry her with me, and she will continue to help other people through me.”
In determination to honor Alex’s memory, Sherri found a new sponsor and plans to continue moving forward in her recovery. “I want to try to help other people. That’s what it’s all about, is giving away what was freely given to me,” she said. “Alex helped me so much.”
On Friday, September 2nd, Sherri celebrated her 18-month anniversary. During that time, her health has improved, her MS symptoms lessening as the lesions on her brain have begun healing. She has also experienced healing in her relationships. She explained, “My family trusts me again. I’m allowed in my brother’s house. My brother wouldn’t talk to me when I was using. Now I’m able to come into his house and talk with him.”
Perhaps the thing she appreciates most is being present. “Before, I was physically present, but not really present,” she said. “My son could get away with anything, because he didn’t feel he had to listen to me. I got him into a preschool, which is nerve-wracking. I’m able to be present for that.”
Words of Advice
Sherri wants others to know that although recovery is hard work, it’s worth it. “I don’t wake up dope sick and I don’t wake up wanting to get high. I love reading now. I read a book every two weeks. The gifts that recovery has afforded me have come over time and are priceless.”
“It gets better,” she continued. “As long as you stay in it. Get connected. Get your sponsor, get in a home group, work the steps, go to as many meetings as you can. They say 90 meetings in the first 90 days. That gets you your base and then you build up.”
Although NA is the path that worked for her, Sherri encourages people to find their own path to recovery. “Not everybody’s pathway is going to be the same as mine. I work with people and say, ‘It’s what you want to get out of it, it’s your recovery. It’s yours.’”
Editor’s note: Congratulations on your 18-month anniversary, Sherri! And thank you for sharing your story with us.
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