David & Jessica:
David: I’m David, I work at the REACH Center. I’m a father of 7. I’m married, I have 2 children that still live in the home and I’m a peer counselor. I have 6 and a half years of clean time.
Jessica: So, my name’s Jessica. I work at the REACH Center, Skagit Valley REACH Center in Mount Vernon. I have 6 and a half years clean and sober. My clean date is January 5th. I have been working as a certified peer counselor there for almost 5 years now.
David: We started using together, we went through addiction together, we got clean together.
What made you go into recovery?
David: Lifestyle, I think.
Jessica: I would say for me, it was the fact that our parenting wasn’t what we wanted it to be. Not to mention, how painful, you know when you don’t have your fix, how it feels. And not wanting to feel that pain anymore. And maintaining daily which is the little bits, of what we needed to get by, it made me feel guilty each time I did it, so it no longer was fun. So, for me it was no longer fun. I just kind of had a moment to reflect and see how it was affecting the people around me after we lost everything. And there just wasn’t really anything left to lose except for our children and then our lives. And so, for me, it was to live or die. It really wasn’t much of a choice.
Did you think recovery was possible as a couple?
David: I really didn’t even think about recovery so I don’t know if I knew it was possible but I know it is now. And the deal between us, we kind of told ourselves in the beginning before we started using that we would not put our kids through the same bull that we went through. The pain and suffering of addiction so…
Jessica: And then when we set up to get clean our deal was that we would do whatever was, whatever was assessed of us we would do.
What were some of the big challenges?
David: The wreckage. Picking up the pieces.
David: Trying to pick up the pieces.
Jessica: I think also, the cravings. In the beginning, when the other person’s having that and not falling into that trap of just doing it. In the beginning, we did. There was a stumble, our clean date would have been October, well mine was the 5th and his was the 2nd October. And so, we did end up kind of, falling, stumbling in the beginning. But yeah, we were able to, we looked at each other like “what are we doing? This is not what we’re going to do.” and picked it up and continued on.
So, I guess we didn’t look at it as a failure and so we were able to continue and keep trying.
What advice would you give other couples in recovery?
David: Don’t listen to the advice of people saying that it’s impossible to do.
David: Because, you just put your mind to it and make a deal with each other and it’ll happen and you can do it.
Jessica: I’ll say that it’s a myth when they say that you can’t, and also that to be strong and I guess for me I kind of held onto my strength for him too. There was days when he would tell me that the only reason he’s able to is because he had me. That’s how we’re staying sober. And, you have to look to other things other than your partner. I remember telling him that a few times because I would have my meeting or whatever it is that I was doing that was keeping me clean and I many times said to David that you’ve got to find something outside of me that’s keeping you clean, because it puts way too much weight on me. And he did. (laughs) He really did, that’s what he really put a lot more work into. He found friendships at the REACH and spent a lot of time volunteering and doing peer support and once he did that – that wasn’t even that long ago, it was I would say about 2 years ago. Once he did it -
David: - I guess the answer you’re looking for is don’t only rely on each other.
Jessica. Yeah, you have to have outside support.
Jessica: If you don’t, I feel like if you do just rely on each other, it’s a matter of time before you’re going to go back out. And I kind of felt that fear of not succeeding and so we had many conversations to where I was like “you really have to reach out”. I would come home and I could just tell he was unhappy. He was just hanging on by a string. And so, once he did reach out, it’s been amazing. Like, I had people at the REACH center where he volunteered where I’d been working for almost 5 years now, say that David 2 years ago is not David today. Like at all (chuckles). And I believe the same.
How did you rebuild the trust between you?
David: I don’t think we had to rebuild it I think the, while using, the mistrust - or not trusting, was from the using.
Jessica: I would say the same.
David: So, you take the addiction and the using away and the trust was back.
Jessica: Yeah. I’d say that we had a lot of distrust. You know it was like, “Oh you cheated on me” or that, just weird stuff like that, little stuff that you argue about. And none of that has even been a factor since we’ve been clean and sober.
How has parenting changed for you?
Jessica: I’d say that parenting then…
David: Was very hurtful. Sad.
Jessica: Yeah, I would say I feel guilt there. I wouldn’t say that we really were parents. They didn’t want to brush their teeth, they didn’t brush their teeth. We weren’t going to make them. And anything that was much work, we just didn’t do. And we were just kind of going with the flow, I guess. Trying our - not even trying our hardest. We weren’t trying our hardest when we were using. And, today I feel like we do.
David: It was more important to get that fix than to put food on the table and now it’s not. (laughs)
Jessica: You know we may have put food on the table but it wasn’t what they needed to be eating. Nutritious wise we didn’t pay attention to any of that. Today we do. If they’re not having enough of something, we’re trying to build that need.
David: We don’t have the fog in front of us anymore.
How would you describe your relationship with your children?
David: It’s awesome.
Jessica: It’s awesome, although like I said earlier, they are spoiled but they are not neglected and I think a lot of that is in part to our own guilt and our own shame of what we have put them through and what they had to go through. But like I said, I had a conversation with my daughter recently, asking her what her memories are of the past. And she honestly doesn’t have any. And I’m thankful and grateful for that, so that helps me a little bit with some of that guilt and shame. Honestly, it helped me to realize that I need to let that go and just move forward. So right now, where we’re at, is we’re trying to work on some of that…with ourselves. (laughs)
David: We’re going the right way now. With where we were.
Jessica: Yeah, we are. We definitely are. Yeah.
How are you managing financially?
David: Uh, yeah. We’re managing. Back then we didn’t have really much.
Jessica: -anything to manage (laughs)
David: Nothing to manage, yeah. (laughs)
Jessica: But what we did get was not used the right way. Today we pay – it’s actually this last month we finally got caught up to where we’re paying everything ahead. First time since before I got into deep addiction. You know, being able to pay everything and knowing that you have all the needs met are pretty awesome.
David: It’s a slippery – finance is a slippery slope there.
Jessica: Yeah, where working-
David: -even when you’ve been in recovery a long time, if you’re not used to having to finance, and your finances when you get them, if you don’t do it right… (laughs)
Jessica: Yeah, we’re working on budgeting right now actually.
How does it feel to be in control of your lives?
David: I like to be in control of everything in my life. Or I like the feeling of control of everything. But when I was using, I didn’t have control, nothing.
David: Kind of hard to get used to but when you get used to it it’s good.
Jessica: Well it’s scary because have you ever heard the saying ‘When it rains it pours’? I have not felt that and I hear it from other people when I talk to them like “You know, this happened, it happened. When it rains it pours”. And honestly I have not felt that way in my recovery because I feel like if you’re doing the next right thing then everything’s going to work out in the end and even when things don’t go so great, I don’t find myself worrying about them because for me – I believe in God and so, as long as I have God on my side, I know I can trust him. So even when things are kind of going away and I don’t want them to go I know it’s going to be alright. So, that’s just something that has changed hugely in my recovery is that I don’t – I used to worry a lot. A lot…
David: If you stay in recovery, you don’t got to worry about it.
How are your relationships with family & friends?
David: I have better, safer relationships with my just regular peers than I do with my family.
Jessica: I would say the same. Honestly. We’ve kind of found family amongst our friends in recovery. And sadly, sometimes your family is not – they don’t have your best interests at heart.
David: Interests. Yeah.
Jessica: And it’s hard to realize that, but sometimes that’s the case.
Jessica: And it’s because they’re not healthy themselves. And I think I see it that way. And I used to get angry and upset and I would cry and always get mad because I would try to work on this relationship with my sibling and I’d continue to get bit. And he’s like “why are you trying that again?” and I’m like “It’s my family I love them”. You know, but at the same time you can only do that so many times until you just have to wait for them to come to you.
David: You did your part.
Jessica: And, I’ve tried. And so, all I can do is work on myself and then hope that they come back around.
Do you feel you still carry baggage from the past?
Jessica: I don’t feel like any of the past really reflects-
David: I think if the past is going to help me build relationships with the people I’m around so, I don’t consider it baggage (chuckles).
Jessica: Yeah, I don’t feel like there’s any baggage with that. The fact that I had bad relationships with people in my past. I feel like that’s there and we kind of have a whole new way of living, like a whole new way of life. So, we’ve kind of changed everything we do and that’s just another thing that we’ve changed. So, I don’t feel like, you know, just because I’ve been scorned before that it’s going to affect me and my trust towards new relationships.
How is your health now?
David: I can wake up in the morning and be glad that I woke up now.
David: Before, I didn’t want to get up.
Jessica: Instead of resenting the fact that I woke up (laughs).
Jessica: Yeah. And its an amazing way to live (laughs). It’s hard when you wake up in a dark hole. That’s really all I can explain it as.
David: Too bad I had to have the - had to go through the addiction to get where I’m at. I mean, you know what I’m saying? I wish I would’ve woke up – been happy to be getting up every day without having to go through what I went through. It made me stronger.
Jessica: I would say I’m grateful for the fact that I went through what I have because without it I would not have received all the help that I have. You know, all of the workshops to teach me better. Because really honestly, we probably wouldn’t have had that. We weren’t taught the right way by our parents. You know?
David: That’s what I’m saying.
Jessica: We didn’t have that. So, without having to go through that - our addiction, we would never, you know, sought out the help.
What advice do you have for others in recovery?
David: Reach out. Reach out for help.
Jessica: And continue to look for supports.
Jessica: Just try to be a good person altogether. You know, focus on your children and being a good parent. Focus on…
David: Don’t live in the past. Look towards the future.
Jessica: Yeah. That’s one big thing. If you continue to feel guilt for it, you’re going to stay back there. But, definitely.
How do you see the future?
David: Unstoppable. I mean, where don’t I see my future? I’m just going to keep climbing.
Jessica: Yeah. He’s a big dreamer.
David: I’m not – a dreamer.
Jessica: Not a dreamer. I’m just saying, he wants them to happen now. That’s what I’m saying.
David: No. I’m just, my future – look at where I’ve made it.
David: Look where I came from. Look where I’ve made it. What else is there?
David: Just, if I keep doing right in recovery I’m going to keep going.
Jessica: Yeah. We are.
David: Keep living the way I’m living the right way and…
Jessica: Yeah. Baby steps. And I feel like for me it’s like I take small steps because I’m afraid of stumble. But we still came so far that way. So…
David: Yeah, so…
Jessica: I could see you do that.
David: I’m excited about my future.
Jessica: Yeah. Me too.