strength within

shannon - Mallie, Kentucky
Entered on March 26, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe there is great power in addiction. I grew up in a large city. Temptations were waiting for me at every corner. At school, playgrounds and even parking lots, these things were calling me, screaming for me to listen to their pleas. I call these addictions demons because they are not here to help, they only destroy our very souls.

At the age of fifteen I smoked my first marijuana joint. The feeling of Mary Jane was awesome. I mellowed out and forgot all of my problems at home. My mother has bipolar disorder, so I never had a relationship with her, at all. The relationship was and still is impossible. She has rages that I just can’t handle. The mental abuse was unbearable, and the demon comforted me. Mary Jane would make me see things differently.

Then one dark depressing day, a new demon came a calling. He said, “I will make you happy. There will be no more pain of wanting a mother that you cannot have. My name is Al.” I drank him right away, making sure that I took all of him in. True to his promise he felt warm and I was happy. Al had me wrapped around his little finger. My old friend Mary Jane fit right in with us.

I went on to get married at age eighteen. We moved to a rural part of Kentucky. Here I was with no new connections, but thanks to the demons, I didn’t have to wait very long. A new demon had been introduced and I was possessed with his powers. However, this time the demonic pain pills almost destroyed me. He would scream at night so loudly that I would see the glow of neon eyes pierce the darkness. I even had to start stealing money that was put back for utilities. No matter what I did, it was never enough to satisfy them.

The demons loved to mess up my judgment and concentration. They used to make me drive drunk, neglect my job and take on the appearance of a homeless person. Even my husband was blinded by the front that the demons put on. The terrible threesome controlled me like a puppet, never cutting the strings.

Later I became pregnant and managed to beat down the demons for a short while. They were impossible. They made me vomit on myself and have cold sweats. I shook uncontrollably. After the baby was born, I knew where to get relief. The demons had been starving for nine months, they wanted fed. Al and Mary Jane along with Perky the Pill, soon made me feel that I was on top of the world.

My dad had developed cancer. Taking care of him and watching him die made the demons happy. They knew that I would listen to them more often. I heard every whisper the demons made. Drinking obsessively was my only way out of depression. Almost two months ago, I was arrested for shoplifting. I had hit my all time low. I was high and I had bought a felon a gun. The only thing that saved me was that it was in my name.

All that I could think about was my child. The guilt set in and the demons once again needed attention. To their surprise they did not get what they craved. The judge had sentenced me to a women’s help center. The Caney Creek Center or “Solutions” as we call it, is the bravest thing that I have ever done. Everyone here is just like me. I feel comfortable. My therapist is the most down to earth person that you will ever meet. She really knows her stuff. Help is available if you have the strength to get it.

The demons are still here and they always will be. But, now I have the knowledge and strength to put them aside. They scream at night but I have chosen not to listen. They make my thoughts run wild but I have learned emotional grounding. They are alive, but not free. They are locked away and now I have the power and strength to keep them there. The power of addiction is great; however, knowledge is greater. Getting clean proves that I found the strength, way down deep within, and no one can rob me of that.