Misty Turner reports that she felt comfortable with being arrested, booked and thrown in jail because she had learned the routines, knew how to respond, but going into rehab frightened her. She’d never done that before.
Her life of drug and alcohol abuse started early, and she’s 35 now. At age 5 or 6, her dad would let her drink a little beer, and they kept it a secret from her mom. At age 13, she began actively seeking alcohol. She was always shy and wanted to be more outgoing. A personality change came with alcohol which her older friends supplied and she stole from her dad’s stash.
At times it crossed her mind that she might have a problem, but she indicates that she liked the feeling of ”oxy’s, cocaine, meth, opiates — anything that would speed me up.”
At 16 or 17, she was blacking out, but she attributed it “to alcohol or that I wasn’t eating right.”
Next she began breaking the law. She was given the responsibility of cleaning out a camper trailer for an elderly man and while doing this, she discovered his checks. Passing his bad checks escalated to stealing medicine and money from her mother, and stealing from Hardee’s and her father.
At 20 years old, she plea bargained and received five years of probation with a condition of the probation that she was not to drink alcohol. She reports, “I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. I did my best to work the system.”
By 2004, she had two children and they were taken away from her and put in the custody of her parents and in-laws. She felt that everyone was ganging up on her, so she ran away to Louisville, always fearing that she would be caught because a condition of her probation was that she not leave the area. Then it was one guy and another, walking the highways, breaking into houses, robbing from stores where she worked.
At a homeless shelter, she broke all the rules and was kicked out after a month. And then she learned she was pregnant again. She was still using, still drinking, when she broke into a house that was empty and used curtains for a pillow and blanket. She had no food.
“I was dope sick. I started shooting up and that was my first experience with it. I liked it, the rush, quicker, the flushing. Before I had crushed and snorted my pills. When I was using, I was friendly, talkative, confident; when I wasn’t using I was awkward, a wallflower.
“I had no concern for the baby growing inside me or myself.”
She and her then boyfriend staged a robbery at a gas station in Indiana where she had worked. She was caught and ended up in the Indianapolis Women’s Prison for 11 months. There she gave birth to her daughter and gave her up for adoption. She had $5 in her pants when she went to prison and could buy pills from the men on work detail there.
Released in 2005, she was returned to Kentucky and spent seven months in prison for probation violation. Paroled to her grandmother, she did all right for three days until her sister asked her if she wanted a pill to celebrate her release. And she was off and running.
The crimes escalated with trips to physicians where she got pills that she would swap for pills she wanted. She broke into vehicles, stole credit cards and bought expensive items to return to the store for cash or to sell.
Arrested in front of her children, she went to jail for another year. And then she was on parole again living with family members who were using and she was using. The outcome was this time was more jail or treatment. She opted for treatment at the Hope Center outside of Harlan.
She says, “I didn’t know where Harlan was. I was familiar with jail but not treatment. My boyfriend pawned his stuff to drive me to Harlan in July of 2008 and with the leftover money, we bought pills.
“I was scared. I thought I was in the sticks. I didn’t know anyone who had ever been to treatment.
“The first three months were tough. I laid in my bed and cried. Me and three other girls would walk down to a little store, buy beer and sit on the train tracks and drink.”
She reports that it took her a while to come clean, to become a part of the community at the Hope Center, to modify her behavior, her thinking.
She reports that she was able to change her thinking and her behavior because of the following:
• Prayer. I prayed for the first time. I learned there is something out there. I prayed even though I wasn’t sure what I was praying to.
• I learned not everybody is out to get me or hurt me. I can’t always recognize what I’m doing that’s hurtful and I need someone on the outside to tell me.
• The Hope Center gave me a chance to take a break from life — to reflect on what my life had been like, that I’m an addict, an alcoholic. I realized that I couldn’t be trusted. I couldn’t keep my word. I had no self respect. I was down to nothing.
• At the center they taught me that I still had the opportunity to change, to be a mom, a loving daughter, a responsible sister.
• I learned you can be sober through anything. I saw a woman losing her daughter to death, but she stayed sober, and that gave me hope.
• Finally, I learned I could decide I wanted to be something different. And it would take a lot of work.
Of the Harlan AA group which women from the Hope Center attend, she says, “I love Harlan AA. They are so genuine, so grateful you are there, that they are there and to pass it on to someone else. They love to see new people. They’ve been there and they remember. They stay humble and reach out and give support. If you’re in self-pity, they’ll tell you. They aren’t always warm and fuzzy, they don’t sugar coat it.”
Two of the regular attendees at Harlan AA say of her, “She is topnotch, one of the best to come out of the Hope Center. She followed the rules, and I’m not saying 100 percent. She carried herself right, done what she was supposed to do.” Another says, She has a good personality, not a poor-me attitude. She’s outspoken and thoughtful.”
She’s been clean and sober for four years, has completed an associate degree in business administration and is in her fourth term in a bachelor’s program. She’s happily married and her 15-year-old daughter lives with her. She says, “I see me in her and it terrifies me. She is shy and wants to fit in. She makes good grades, but she needs to find out who she is.”
She knows that recovery is a lifelong process, and when she needs to, what does she do? Calls her sponsor and attends an AA meeting.
Send comments: [email protected]