Sonia Munoz is a member of the SHAIR Recovery Network private Facebook group. She reached out with 3 months clean and wanted to share the perspective of someone early in recovery.
She has a long history with multiple substances and relapses. She also is on a unique path in recovery that most people may not have considered. Sonia has a remarkable story that proves that no one is beyond hope when it comes to recovery from addiction.
CLEAN DATE: March 15th 2017
Listen to Sonia’s story now!
Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the podcast now!
Sonia is up between 2:30-3:00 am. The first thing she does is her Beachbody routine with her boyfriend (who is also the father of her children). The reason they wake up at such a crazy hour is that they have a 7 and an 8-year-old who need to get to school. They have to make sure they get in their morning routine before the kids get up and the chaotic day begins. A large part of Sonia’s recovery is meditation. Her boyfriend is also in recovery and they both commit to fifteen minutes of meditation every morning.
Then they both go to work. When they come home, they start another extreme fitness routine. Her boyfriend goes to AA and therapy, and she goes to three therapy groups per week. He’s a little further ahead in recovery than she is, and her routine doesn’t include a Twelve Step program at the moment. Her recovery pathway is her therapy sessions, along with meditation, intensive outpatient treatment activities, and couples therapy along with her boyfriend to keep things harmonious at home for the kids.
Sonia did try 12 Steps in NA in the beginning. She says it worked for her up to a point, but then it started becoming a trigger for her. Hearing stories of relapse made her want to use again. Sonia believes it was because she wasn’t ready and thinks she might attempt it again further down the road when she is not so new.
I wanted to get those thoughts out of my head.
Sonia was not familiar with the spiritual aspect of recovery until it was mentioned on The SHAIR podcast. She was raised Catholic, but never went to church or practiced any religion. She doesn’t have a spiritual higher power, but she says you don’t necessarily need one.
Your higher power doesn’t have to be religious. It can be anything that gets your through that.
Her workouts were what she considered her higher power, and once she got into meditation, it became her new higher power.
The First Time
Sonia started drinking at twelve, taking hard liquor from her dad’s cabinet. She remembers feeling numb, as though it was the magic antidote she had been searching for.
It was something I wanted to feel all the time.
Sonia fell into depression in middle school. At first, she couldn’t pinpoint the source of her unease. She always wanted to hide her body. She always felt ashamed. It turned out she had blocked memories of being sexually abused as a young child.
When these memories began to surface in 6th or 7th grade, she didn’t know what to do with her feelings. She didn’t want to tell her parents because she was disgusted. She dealt with it on her own, first by cutting herself. She also began acting promiscuous at an early age, teasing boys and then refusing to let them get further with her.
It was kind of like my way of controlling a situation.
Sonia was always drawn to troubled kids who smoked and drank. She started experimenting with drugs in Freshman year. She took whatever she could get, including acid, but it was alcohol that was her first addiction.
The drinking is what never stopped. Every time in my life I absolutely regret had alcohol involved.
As a rebellious act against her parents, Sonia went into the military. She was in a squadron with mostly young men. All they did was drink and party. She was free from supervision and got into some uncomfortable situations. Once, she woke up in a bathroom with a guy on top of her. She could only assume they had sex and that she didn’t remember. She became ‘that girl.’ And the more disgusting she felt about herself, the more she drank. The more she drank, the more shameful things she did creating a viscous cycle of guilt.
After the military, she got involved with the man who would become her husband. He kept offering her something he called ‘angel dust.’ Sonia tried to refuse, but he kept harassing her and she gave into the peer pressure.
She was instantly hooked and quickly went down a spiral. She got kicked out of her house, lost the trust of her family, and lived in her car. She stole and pawned all her belongings.
Nobody trusted me. Nobody wanted me around.
She didn’t quite understand what was happening to her until one day when she was with her boyfriend and his friend while they were cooking cocaine. It dawned on her that she hadn’t been smoking angel dust. What she was smoking was crack.
Even though he lied to her and abused her, Sonia still ended up marrying the man. He was her only source of drugs because she was not crazy enough to go cop on the street on her own. This was how little self-worth she had. Fortunately, her husband went to jail and Sonia got clean, but it was only because she wouldn’t go buy crack on her own.
I didn’t want to be a statistic.
She just pulled back on her drug use and stopped. She feels very lucky to have escaped her crack addiction, but she always found something else to fill the void – food, porn, sex. Whatever it was, she had to do it to the extreme.
It’s all out, or I don’t do it.
After she divorced her abusive husband, she became a party girl and went out drinking every night in the VIP sections of nightclubs. There, a friend introduced her to Vicodin. She began a new romance with her next drug. Painkillers became the most important thing in the world to her.
She had clean periods, but she’d always go back because she couldn’t imagine her life without them. Her grandmother and mother had unlimited amounts of pills in the house, so she never had to buy any. She never had a reason to stop, plus she felt like it was helping her artistically.
It seemed like I was more creative because I was using.
Sonia became involved with her boyfriend, the father of her kids. He was a mean alcoholic at the time. She gave him an ultimatum – that he had to quit drinking or leave. He did quit, but she wasn’t ready to quit drinking herself, and he didn’t even know about her full-blown pill addiction.
I swore I could live a normal life. I had this false reality in my mind that I can live a life and be an addict.
One day, wasted on morphine, Sonia called him up to buy her a bottle of wine on his way home, completely disregarding the fact that he had just quit drinking for her. She realizes now how cruel it was, but he did buy it for her and she chugged it down until she became sick and vomited. She was a miserable mess. Her newly sober boyfriend took care of her while her kids wondered what was wrong with their mom.
After that night, she finally ran out of resources for pills. She knew she was about to get sick and finally came clean to her boyfriend after 8 years of hiding her opioid addiction. She had seen herself at her worst – so did her kids and their father. This gave her the resolve to quit. After that, she decided to detox herself and went into withdrawal at home.
What kept Sonia from getting clean or staying clean?
She couldn’t imagine being without it. She didn’t want to accept the thought of life without using.
It wasn’t realistic. It wasn’t a thought in my mind.
The Aha moment
There were two moments in her recovery that solidified Sonia’s sobriety.
One time was when a person she knew who was still using reached out to her. They were in a bad place and she became an inspiration to them. Giving hope to someone else made her that much stronger in her recovery.
The second part was when she realized that she earned her family’s trust back. Back when she was using, they had put locks on everything because she stole. After getting clean, she came back to her parent’s house and the locks were gone. She knew she had made it.
Believable Hope by Michael Cartwright. This book is about the essentials to getting through recovery.
What are you leaving for your kids to live up to?
Sonia is a mom and knows this might not be relatable to those who have no children, but any adult always has someone looking up to them.
Sonia hopes that those around her will see someone determined and strong-willed. She wants to become so strong in her recovery that her kids will never believe she was at such a rock bottom if she ever decides to tell them.
Suggestion for newcomer
Don’t give up. No matter how many times you relapse.
Believable Hope: 5 Essential Elements to Beat Any Addiction by Michael Cartwright and Ken Abraham
See you then!
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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.