Ayla P. was very angry. She had just totaled her brand new truck – rolling it down a hill four times – and she needed a drink. Only problem: they don’t serve vodka in the hospital.
For Ayla, feelings have always been a struggle. For most of her adult life she chose to run away from them instead of work through them. “On the outside, my life looked normal, but behind closed doors, it was crazy. My parents got divorced when I was young. My mom’s bipolar disorder made it really hard to visit her and my dad and his new wife were heroin addicts, so starting in high school I was a party animal,” she explains. “My nickname in high school was ‘fish’ because I drank so much. I graduated with a 3.8 GPA, I was doing coke all the time, I worked one job at a telephone exchange company and at night I was stripping,” she says.
Not one to do things halfway, Ayla took her drug use to the extreme. Cocaine led to meth, meth led to oxycodone and eventually to methadone and heroin. She was dating drug dealers and gang bangers – all before she turned 18. “While crystal meth dimmed my light more than any other drug, methadone was my downfall. After I started popping oxys, my money dried up. The withdrawals were so unbearable I went to methadone clinics. The next 8 years were a blur of methadone and heroin,” she explains. During this time she began using drugs intravenously, injecting anything she could get her hands on. When her best friend nodded off near a lit stove, she knew she had to try and seek help–but she couldn’t stop.
Then, she got a reprieve. She started dating someone who saw the light in her soul. “He knew I was an addict, but he saw more to me than I did,” she says. Her new boyfriend Aaron would tell her, “I see who you really are and you’re just stuck in a world you need to get out of.” They moved to Hawaii in 2012 and she had her last dose of methadone. Ayla managed to stay clean for some time, but she still hadn’t addressed how to handle her feelings. “It was really easy to stay clean for a time because I was just taken out of that crazy world, but the problem was in me the whole time, which I failed to recognize,” she explains. From Hawaii, she traveled to Colorado where her drinking picked back up, landing her a DUI and a totaled truck. From Colorado, she moved back to her hometown of Reno. The pull of her old life was too much, and her drinking spiraled out of control. “I had to drink first thing in the morning. One morning, I couldn’t move because my potassium was so low,” she says.
Ayla knew she needed help and reached out to her aunt in LA. She packed her bags for a year and came to Beit T’Shuvah in September.. “his place didn’t just remove the substances, it made me look at who I am. The hardest thing for me to do since I’ve been here is to learn that feelings go away. I always wanted to get out of what I was feeling. I’ve had to sit with them since I’ve been here,” she explains. “Running away makes it feel like it’s easy, but everything just sort of catches up to you. Now I feel like I can face things more head on.”
On Sundays you can find Ayla training hard for the LA Marathon as part of Beit T’Shuvah’s Running4Recovery team. . Her relationship with running has changed since she was the hard-partying high school girl. She explains, “running makes me feel good, and it keeps me sane. Being on the team reminds me that we’re all here for the same goal. Now I’m doing it for myself. Not for a job, not for Aaron or my parents. I’m finishing something that I started for myself.
The LA Marathon is only 1 week away and our team has been working hard to train for the race! To sponsor our team or an individual runner, go to: https://www.firstgiving.com/event/beittshuvah/2019-Beit-T-Shuvah-Running4Recovery-Marathon-Team
Help our team cross the finish line!