I was born in Europe to Holocaust survivors. My father was the rav of the city and my mom was very controlling. We were like puppets on a string. I felt like I lived through the horrors of the war as the child of survivors.
When I was seventeen my father tried to commit suicide. He left us and never returned. I went to seminary in Israel for two years, where I was plagued by depression and anorexia. When I finished seminary I got a job in Israel. During the Gulf War I moved to the United States and got married. This transition was very difficult for me, as I was without any family in a new, foreign country. In 1996 I got meningitis for the second time. They gave me hydrocarbon. I was in a lot of pain.
Shortly after, my brother died. I sat shiva and truly felt like I was left without family. I was all alone – except I had the pills. They gave me strength to make it through the shiva. When I got up from shiva I moved to another city with four kids under the age of four.
At this point I didn’t know what addiction was, but I did know I needed more pills to keep me afloat. I went to see a therapist with my husband to deal with many issues – including anger. After one visit my husband made me promise to never go back to the therapist. My husband and I moved back to our old city and I started calling in prescriptions with the doctor’s numbers, pretending I was a secretary. One day when I went to to the pharmacy I got arrested. When I was released, there was a doctor I went to who would write me a prescription and I would fax it to two pharmacies, then bring the original to another. I got arrested again – this time in front of my family. This was very difficult.
They sent me to my first treatment center, a state-run locked-down facility. My husband wouldn’t visit and wouldn’t even let the kids speak to me on the phone. I got out after 28 days and went to AA meetings, but I didn’t work the steps or get a sponsor. I relapsed after seven months. I was hospitalized and given the option to go to a rehab center in Florida for six months, but there was no way that I would leave my six kids under the age of nine years old. I went to a fancy rehab for 28 days in my state. My family did not visit me, neither was I allowed to see my children (as a punishment from my husband for my behavior). I had to stay there over Rosh Hashana, as recommended by Rabbi Dr. Twerski, explaining that if I would have had a heart attack, I would never think about leaving the hospital for Rosh Hashana. Obviously, the answer was clear.
When I finally got home, the kids jumped on me, while my husband stood there furiously. This made me relapse right away. I went to Jewish Addiction Services, where the psychiatrist introduced me to the Methadone program. I just wanted to feel normal and this was my solution. After a while I started to mix the Methadone with Ambien, Valium and Lunesta. After being on Methadone for eight years, I went to rehab detox for two and half weeks, where I detoxed from Methadone.
By the time I came to Retorno, I was in a total mess!! I did not want to be there and tried to run away several times. I starved myself, but they did not give up on me. I really did not workthis program, also thinking that I would be there only for two months. Don’t forget, I left all my children behind. I did not want boundaries and consequences.
Well…slowly but surely, I gave in and started to have self respect. I began counting my clean days, learning to live “one day at a time,” knowing that life can only be lived with boundaries. I learned how to STAY clean, cope with life and express feelings. Retorno saved my life.
I have no words for the gratitude I have to Rabbi Eckstein and everybody at Retorno. Retorno is the best place that I could have been to save my life. Today I am living, not existing. I would have never been able to do this without Retorno. Again, Retorno does not give up on anybody. If I could do it, everybody can do it.
Thank you, Retorno!!!!!!!!!!