I grew up as a girl with so much potential. I was musically inclined and became a bit of a prodigy. What I may have lacked in academic achievement I made up for with people skills and likability. But by the time I hit puberty it became evident that something was wrong with me. I was hospitalized at age 13 for detoxification after I wrote a goodbye letter and took all the pills in my parents’ medicine cabinet. At age 16 I was admitted to an inpatient psychiatric ward after my father found self-inflicted wounds on my wrist.
I made it through high school and began to find my way, a bit, in my first two years of college. I excelled in many of my music classes and came alive with excitement in an anatomy and physiology lecture with a cadaver lab. But crying spells, which had started as a young teen, were becoming less controllable and more frequent.
The antidepressants I’d been prescribed since my teenage years did not suffice, and alcohol was my preferred numbing agent.I transferred to a different university for my third year. This is where alcohol took a hold on my life. Sure, I’d been inebriated at times since my early teens. But this was the first time I found myself in a culture that embraced regular overconsumption. And when I joined the rugby team things really took a turn. It was a club sport, and free of the regulations that applied to the university’s team sports. We had kegs on the field and a house on frat row. My apartment was a few blocks away from the rugby house, an easy walk even stumbling drunk. There were no holds barred.
Even still, I graduated. Uninterested in any particular graduate studies or career path, and weary from focusing on the never-ending task of figuring out what was wrong with me, I turned to the service of others. I joined the Peace Corps and after two years in West Africa I served an additional three years with AmeriCorps VISTA on Indian reservations and in Appalachia. These years were filled with moments of fulfillment and some successes. The month I served in jail for drunk driving during this period did not slow down my drinking habit. Alcohol was necessary to medicate what ailed me. The antidepressants I’d been prescribed since my teenage years did not suffice, and alcohol was my preferred numbing agent.
God only knows why I was spared the ravaging disease of opioid addiction that has taken the souls and lives of so many promising peers of my youth.During the few months of my short first marriage, my drinking habit grew to include regularly snorting crushed-up opioids off toilet tank lids through rolled up dollar bills. By that time oxycontin was flowing through the streets of West Virginia’s small towns like Noah’s floodwaters. God only knows why I was spared the ravaging disease of opioid addiction that has taken the souls and lives of so many promising peers of my youth.
Fleeing from what had become an obviously hopeless situation, I left my marriage and enrolled myself in massage school a thousand miles away. It was there and then that I began my healing journey.
I’d made an agreement with myself to stop drinking. But as I started trading massages with fellow students, the crying spells returned and soon my emotional state became a source of major disruption for my fellow students. Fulfilling a requirement to remain in the program, I sought counseling.
The counselor that was recommended turned out to be a good fit for me. And for the first time in my life, at the age of 31, I was treated for trauma. It was news to me that I’d grown up with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from early childhood trauma. I learned from him that my condition was a normal human response to trauma. What’s more, I was empowered to heal! As it turns out, he argued, there was nothing wrong with me. He facilitated EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) to work with memories of repressed traumatic events.
During this time, I was also introduced to craniosacral therapy. I learned how trauma is stored as somatic memories in the body and about the impacts trauma has on nervous system function. With a little bit of counseling and a ton of craniosacral therapy, additional bodywork and yoga, I rid my body of the emotional charge associated with old traumas. I healed my body, and with it, my mind and spirit.
Healing from trauma alleviated my need to medicate, and with commitment to quitting, addiction eventually lost its hold on me. I have no specific sobriety date, but alcohol/substance abuse has no place in my current life and hasn’t for over a decade.
Patricia Rogers, CST-D, Diplomate CranioSacral Therapist & Owner, Body to Brain Therapy, has an advanced CranioSacral practice in Charleston, West Virginia. She is a teaching assistant, advanced preceptor and primary therapist at Intensive Therapy Programs thru the Upledger Institute as well as Integrative Intentions. She treats people of all ages with all types of conditions, including participants of an opioid recovery program.
Last Updated on September 9, 2021