Our next Rising Woman has just rocked my world with her story. There are so many reasons that I’m completely honored to share Allyson’s story here. I “met” Ally through her Facebook group, Badass Sober Sisters, and asked her to share her story when I recently saw her celebrating 6 years of sobriety. The further I move on along in my own sobriety, the more I realize the importance of impacting the stigma around addiction and recovery. I’m so thankful for people like Allyson who choose to support people on this journey. Her FB group has been one of the many supporting factors in my own sobriety. Thank you, Ally, for being the first Rising Woman to share on the topic of recovery, and for the incredible courage that it took you to do so. You, my friend, are a warrior and I love you!
Who are you and what do you do for a living?
I’m Ally. I’m 27 years old and I am a full time student majoring in social work.
Tell me about your family, if applicable.
I’m the oldest of 3 girls. My parents have been and are still together since they were 16 years old. My dad will have 17 years sober in August.
What is your story?
Well, I grew up in the alcoholic household. My dad drank until I was 11 years old. I also picked up my first drink at 11. When my dad got sober he passed a comment that he got sober for my little sister, so she wouldn’t have to go through what my sister and I went through. I can honestly tell you right then and there all my insecurities were born. Why was I not good enough for him to get sober long before? If I’m not good enough for my own dad how would I ever be good enough for anyone else?
By the time I was 11 years old I knew what real pain and heartache was. I worried about things no child should even know about.
My drinking wasn’t crazy, just weekend and school breaks but when I took that first drink at 11 I knew I was different. I didn’t like the taste or the feeling but what I did like is feeling numb. From that first night, I drank to blackout and not feel.
Fast forward to senior year of high school, I was an excellent student and was accepted into every college I applied to. I feel like I was pressured into going away. See, my parents didn’t know about my weekend escapades, but I was a hard kid to raise. I was disrespectful, irresponsible and mean. I thrived in chaos and negative spaces. So my parents thought it was a good idea that I not stay home for school. I kind of feel like they just didn’t want to deal with me anymore and wanted a peaceful environment to raise my sisters. Again all those insecurities were right back in full force.
I decided to go to SUNY Purchase in Westchester, New York. I was 18 and no where near ready to be on my own. I drank myself into oblivion every night. I didn’t go to class – I joke that I majored in beer pong and boys. I met a guy who I thought I was going to be with forever. I latched on. I couldn’t do anything without him, breath, sleep, live. He joined the military and left for basic training for 20 weeks. I always craved attention from guys and I found that in his recruiter. I never cheated, but I loved the flirty-ness. I also started hanging out with my cousin who introduced me to roxys and shooting. When my boyfriend came home, we moved in together and I stopped doing drugs. It was more important to me to be the perfect military girlfriend. In December of 2009 we got engaged. I was living the life I always wanted. But I’m an addict and eventually my drinking became a problem, so I picked up pills again. We moved in with his parents and I was convinced that if I got pregnant I would be cured of drug addiction and my relationship would be fixed. But to be honest I really don’t think I would have stopped using, or if i did I think I would have been resentful that I had too. I know that sounds so selfish, but I only cared about drugs. My relationship fell apart and I moved back to Long Island.
On my 21st birthday, I went to a local bar. I was dancing with my long time friend, and this other kid came up and the next thing I know their hands are down my pants. Afterward, I just chalked it up to being too drunk and I asked for it because I danced with him. I know now that that was no where near acceptable or my fault.
I soon met another boy, in 2011, who was just getting out of treatment and moving into a male halfway house, so I moved in with him. The house was run by a gang called the Latin Kings and they were running drugs in and out. I was introduced to heroin at this time. I don’t really remember the week I was there. The boy I was seeing stole money from the guys running the house and blamed me, they broke my cheekbones, my nose, and I was raped by 7 or 8 men. I then went upstairs a hysterical bloody mess and overdosed. Someone called my mom and told her I was in danger, but wouldn’t tell her where I was. She had to track my cell phone. On the way to the hospital I ended up flatlining. They had to narcan me 4 times and use paddles. They asked me if I had a problem and I said that I was 21 and just having fun. I went a little overboard. They sent me on my way, but now I’m screwed because it is now confirmed. I am deep in addiction and using heroin. My parents sent my sisters to my grandma’s, took off work and I detoxed at home cold turkey for 8 days. I went to my first AA meeting after I was done detoxing, but was high as a kite before the meeting was over.
I went on to overdose another time, narcan, paddles, the works. I finally attempted sobriety and had about 75 days clean when my neighbors stepson moved in across the street. He was everything I wanted, he did drums, dealt drugs and had a girlfriend. The chaos that became my life for literally only 2 months was insane. I made Facebook after Facebook to tell this poor girl what was going on between her boyfriend and I. I spared no detail. He and I ended in Jersey with my mom’s stolen credit card. I showed up at my uncle’s ex wife’s door and I hadn’t seen her in 20+ years. We spent the next 4 days in oblivion. When I got home my parents had booked me a one way flight to Arizona for treatment. I stayed in Arizona for 3 months but was convinced I wasn’t an alcoholic, I was a drug addict. I couldn’t be an alcoholic. I was 21, that’s what all normal kids my age do.
I drank for a while, but alcohol stopped giving me the high or numbness I craved. In November 2011 my good friend from high school passed away from an overdose. He was 22 years old. My world sank. I couldn’t understand why a 22 year old was taken and I didn’t understand how he was here one day and gone the next. I had just talked to him about going to meetings. I was so uncomfortable and needed out. Right back to the syringe I went. I went to his funeral flying high and looked his mother in the eye and promised I was doing good. I ended up back in treatment 3 weeks later.
This time, I stayed on Long Island. I went to Seafield in West Hampton Beach, they were the best on Long Island. I ended up getting kicked out for fraternizing 12 days later. When my mom and grandma picked me up they informed me I wasn’t allowed in my house and I would be moving in with my grandma. I rebelled against everything my grandma believed in. I was furious and refusing.
I was with my grandma for 4 months and I stayed sober. I threw myself into my program, meetings, sponsor, and the 12 steps. In February 2012 my neighbors step son passed away and I found myself right back in the same place. Questioning God, my purpose. I really tried to stay clean, like honest to God I wanted it. I reached out, I went to meetings and shared, but the that uncomfortability came right back and I needed out of self.
I stole a credit card went down to Florida and did what I did best. I was extremely high staying in a hotel room when I called my mom and she actually answered. My parents had cut me off by this time. I went on and on about how I was starving and needed food. She just quietly said “you are my beloved, take a good look and ask yourself if this is who you want to be? That pain you feel is only temporary and you can fight it,” and she hung up. I cried like I never had before and I hit my knees and begged for help. I got my MacBook, the only thing I wouldn’t pawn, and googled treatment centers. I found one in Hobe Sound 4 hours from where I was, all I had to do was get myself to detox.
The night before going to detox I was raped by 2 men. They dropped me off at the hospital the next day. They didn’t even wait until I was out of the car to drive away. Even despite that, I still wanted to get clean. I was ready and willing to do anything for sobriety.
While checking into detox, they found drugs and I was arrested for possession with the intent to sell. I was taken to Tavernes County Jail. I was there for 3 days which isn’t long, but felt like an eternity. My parents bailed me out and I went to detox for 7 days, and then treatment for 45. I knew I wasn’t ready to come home, plus I was facing 7-10 years with the intent to sell charges, so I wasn’t allowed to leave Florida. I also knew I needed to listen to people who knew more than I did, so I went to a halfway house for a year.
I went in front of a judge 8 months later and my charges were dismissed because they broke confidentiality. I flew back to New York that night and called my parents from JFK. When I told them I was home, they told me that was nice because I wasn’t allowed in their house, so I had to find somewhere to live. I went to another halfway for 9 months, then moved in with my aunt in South Carolina. I wasn’t allowed home until I was almost 2 years sober.
To say it has been a roller coaster is an understatement. There has been extremely low points in my sobriety, but I pushed forward. Today, April 1st, I celebrate 6 years of complete sobriety. I was asked why I think I’m in the 1% of those who get sober and stay sober, and my answer is simple – I remain teachable, I don’t know everything and I rely on those who know more. I took every suggestion. I threw myself into program. I also believe living a life of service is a major piece of remaining sober. I am able to be there and supportive of everyone I meet.
I hit an extremely low point in my sobriety, I lost faith in myself, God, and meetings. I was going to 1-2 meetings every 2 months, if that, and I suffered terribly. I felt alone, not connected, and miserable. My attitude and behaviors were those of someone in active addiction. I forced myself to get back to meetings. I met my sponsee and we’re currently going through the steps. Taking her through the steps and being there and present for someone has healed me in places I didn’t know needed to be healed.
I remain grateful always. I fall short, but I can admit when I’m wrong and need help. Despite the hardships I’m still standing.
What have you overcome to get where you are today?
Honestly no one, including myself, thought that I would be alive today. If someone told me today that I’d be sober, have my family in my life, have amazing women in my life, I never would have believed it. I was heading down a really dark and dangerous road and I didn’t care if I lived at the end. So I guess I had to overcome not caring what happened to me, finding the willpower to overcome addiction.
What has been your greatest struggle in life?
Acceptance and control. I like things to go my way. I’m working on trying not to control everything and accept people and things the way they are. I read and reread page 417 in the big book of alcoholic anonymous.
Did you ever feel like giving up? When you felt like giving up, what did you do?
I want to say giving up isn’t an option, but just because I have 6 years doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with the same things people in early recovery do. I just have the tools today to deal with and overcome. I won’t lie though, sometimes I just don’t want to feel, but I won’t give up. When I do feel that way I reach out to my support tribe. I pray, write, make gratitude lists, eat, and read recovery books; Living Sober, The Big Book, Daily Reflections.
What are some of the tools and resources you have used to work through and overcome those struggles? (books, counselors, workshops, programs, coaches, etc.)
I see a psychologist once a week, a psychiatrist every 6 months, I have a sponsor and an amazing group of women and I am extremely active in A.A.
What are your gifts and how did you discover them?
There’s so many gifts. I am responsible today. I suit up, shut up, and show up for people today. I care so much about literally everyone and would do anything to help people. I’m nonjudgmental, I don think I have a right to judge anyone when we all have our own paths. I was blessed with these gifts when I got sober and did the steps and when I started taking other women through the steps.
Tell us about your tribe and the importance of having one.
I have an amazing tribe. We’re all different ages and in all different points in our sobriety but the love and compassion not to mention the understanding is in full force. They are always there when I need someone. Having a tribe makes me feel not alone and understood when I feel absolutely crazy.
Who in life do you rely on when you’re struggling? Who keeps you uplifted and on your path?
My dad. I had a really rocky relationship with him when he first got sober and addiction swallowed me, but I couldn’t have gotten 6 years without him especially in the beginning. He is my best friend, my go-to, my rock. He showed me how to live a life of honesty, integrity, and kindness. I call him for literally everything, probably like 15 times a day. He is the best man I have ever met.
What do you want other women to know who are feeling lost, and/or experiencing their own tragedy and/or struggles?
You are so worth it. The pain you’re in now is only temporary. Fight through. You are beautiful and strong and I love each and everyone of you even if we haven’t met.
What is some advice you would give to women who are healing or rising in some way?
You can do it! Look for the rainbow after the storm, it’s always there even if you can’t see it.
Anything else you’d like to add?
This world can be such a scary dark place at times. That’s why it’s so important to stick together. Lift each other up and strengthen each other. We need each other.
If you are a woman questioning your own troubles with addiction; if you’re trying or wanting to get clean & sober; or if you’re just looking for more support on your journey, we encourage and urge you to reach out. It can feel like a lonely road, but I PROMISE you’re not alone.
You can find Ally and a whole group of amazingly supportive sober women on their journey of recovery on Facebook at: Badass Sober Sisters
Ally, thank you again for being part of The Rising Woman Project. Keep doing what you’re doing, girl!