"When you're told nobody else will ever love you enough, you start to believe it…" Faces Of Recovery: Aimee Hicks

My name is Aimee. I’m an addict and alcoholic.

My older sister and I were raised by a single mother, who did the best she could, I didn’t see my Dad often, and he was an active alcoholic most of my younger years.

My story of addiction began after my grandpa died. My mom, sister and I moved in with my grandma. I tried alcohol for the 1st time at 11 years old when I snuck some from under the kitchen sink at my grandma’s house. I became a “regular” when I was in junior high, maybe 12 or 13. I would sneak strong liquor and my friends and I would drink it before school many days of my 7th and 8th grade years of school. I also tried speed for the 1st time and was also regularly doing liquid rush. I also lost my virginity when I was 12, and continued to be promiscuous, often going to parties and getting wasted, and sleeping with whoever was willing. I was trying to numb the pain of losing my grandpa.

In high school things just got worse I would go to frat parties with my cousins who were 7 and 8 years older than me, I remember blacking out and waking up in a strange bedroom, with a strange guy many times. I also had an older sister who drank as well. I became her shadow, if I was with her my mom would never ask any questions about where I was going or who I was with. She also made up excuses for me and took care of me many nights I was too wasted to stand or walk. My mom also occasionally allowed my sister to have parties in the garage as long as everyone stayed the night. I recall my sisters friends getting me drunk because I was really funny when I was drinking. I became who I couldn’t be in real life. I was looking for love and attention in all the wrong places.

When I was 16 I found what I thought was love. He told me he loved me, that I was beautiful and fun and we drank together. After a few moths he became verbally, mentally, physically and sexually abusive. I recall on one specific occasion, we had gotten into a verbal confrontation, he told me I was a slut and nobody would ever love me, and that I was worthless and I should be thankful he was even with me. It started to get physical and I ran into the bathroom, he followed me and cornered me and slapped me so hard I had a bruise in the shape of a handprint on my face.

I kept going back for more. When you're told nobody else will ever love you enough, you start to believe it.

In August I found out I was pregnant with his baby. He was upset at me for trapping him. He didn’t want to be a dad and he was insistent that I terminate my pregnancy. I told him I wouldn’t and he reminded me that I was not only unlovable, but I also was going to have a baby and who would ever love me with that kind of baggage?

I continued to drink and party knowing full well I was pregnant.  Luckily I found my courage and my strength. His name was Chris and through Chris I gained the courage to leave Kyle. I went into labor at 19 weeks and on October 18th 1989, I gave birth to a stillborn, perfect, tiny baby boy whom I named Tanner.

Chris and I continued to hang out. We partied and drank and had a great time together.  We got engaged my senior year of high school. We moved in together 3 days before my high school graduation and had set a wedding date for the following July. I got pregnant with my oldest daughter and we married in May instead.

My drinking days were over. I was now a mom and I loved every second of it.  My husband continued to drink, most of our marriage I recall him always with a beer in hand.  Several years and another daughter later I was dealing with some medical issues, I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease and I gained over a hundred pounds.

In 2004 I had gastric bypass surgery and lost those 100 pounds. Fast forward a few years, I had a couple more surgeries and then I started having widespread pain, my back, my neck and my legs. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, depression, and anxiety and I was having my pain treated at a pain management clinic.

I took my pain medication as prescribed for a year or so, and then I needed to take more to treat the pain. So I went to my regular doctor and told her the pain clinic wasn’t treating me anymore and she started prescribing me Vicodin. At one of my appointments at the pain clinic they had gotten information that I was getting medication elsewhere as well and they ended our plan.

Of course my pain was still there. So I talked my doctor into just taking over my pain management. Eventually I was being prescribed 210 oxycontin and 75 Percocet every month, along with Xanax, Ambien and Adderall for lack of energy. What started as legitimate reason for pain medication had spiraled out of control.

There were many days I didn’t get out of bed. My daughters raised themselves and my husband was working 2 jobs because I couldn’t hold even down one.

There were days I was a “functioning” addict, I made some really poor choices like driving with my girls in my car, putting their precious lives in danger as well as others because I was driving high. There were times I didn’t sleep for days. I’d be scrubbing my floors at 4 in the morning, and in those moments, days really, I started to become scared.

There were many days my daughters made themselves dinner and got themselves to bed all alone because I wasn’t able to function, I was so high. There were day’s I would take between 15 and 20 oxy’s, my marriage was in shambles, and my husband’s drinking was out of control – it was how he dealt with the dysfunction.

We separated for a few months; I moved out of our home, I couldn’t bear lying in bed every night smelling beer as my husband slept next to me. I also got really sick, I was completely iron deficient, and had a chronic low white blood cell issue; I had virtually no immune system. The doctors discovered I had Sjogrens syndrome, whose symptoms mirrored fibromyalgia.  I couldn’t commit to anything and when I would I would always cancel last minute.

A friend had been inviting me to her church for weeks. I figured what do I have to lose; my life was already a mess. I sat through that 1st service and sobbed. That pastor was speaking to me. He was preaching exactly what I needed. I felt like it was home, that it was a church where I fit despite my messed up life. I bought a copy of that weekend’s sermon and brought it to my husband who was a self-proclaimed atheist. The next week he asked if he could come to church with me, I was amazed. He gave his life to the Lord and we were baptized together, December 2009. We both became very involved in our church, I was volunteering wherever I could. Little did I know, they noticed that I that I had a problem.

October 18th, 2010 Tanner’s 21st birthday, I had just had my monthly med check and my husband and I had spoken several times during the day because he knew it was a tough day for me. We had planned a walk when he got home. He called on his way and I didn’t answer. He came home to find me on the kitchen floor not breathing and turning purple. He thought he had lost me.

He called 911 and the first-responders were there within 2 minutes. Luckily my heart hadn’t stopped, yet. My husband was told if he had gotten home minutes later I would have not survived. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital with 3 doses of narcan on the way, 2 more at the hospital. I have no recollection of even taking any of my medication. I was treated, admitted and stayed overnight. The hospital physicians just told me to lower the amount of the meds I was taking and sent me on my way. My overdose was not intentional. 

We were still very involved members of our church, The Crossing. My husband called one of the pastors because he needed support. Two Pastors who head up our faith based recovery program got involved and STRONGLY encouraged my husband to get me into treatment.

The following Monday, I walked into Hazelden taking several Percocet. I didn’t want to do this sober. I was terrified. I was safely detoxed over 3 days and then went to a unit where I would spend the next 24 days.

Those 24 days (and all the days following) I had absolutely no pain. The entire time I was there I was in a fog, following the rules but not really investing myself into the program, I went to get sober and I didn’t really need to know how to stay sober or how my life became unmanageable. I knew all that already!

My husband attended the family program. I was discharged with the condition I did outpatient treatment for 8 weeks. That’s where it got real for me. I learned from my family how my addiction had affected their lives, mostly my daughters, how I had hurt them. My husband was my biggest cheerleader through everything! I had several amends to make. I had decided to go to Crossing Recovery and it didn’t feel like a right fit for me at the time, so I stopped going. I attended another recovery meeting for 6 or 8 months.

On the one year anniversary of my overdose, I got a tattoo of a green lifesaver with a cross on it as a daily reminder of my journey. The green signified new life and growth.

I had left the Crossing for a while but never lost my faith. My husband asked me for a divorce after 19 years of marriage. I was crushed, but I made it through with newfound strength, determination, and courage because I was sober and with the support of a lot of people who love me.

God led my path, when I wanted to give up, it was he who whispered you’ve got this, don’t give up, and you’ve come so far. Mother’s day 2012 I walked back into the Crossing for the 1st time in well over a year and Pastor Kelly Dykstra saw me and she came over and gave me a hug and said welcome home, and I was.

I have recently started really working my steps again. One Sunday I was at the Crossing’s Zimmerman campus and when one of the pastors prayed over communion that day and he was very emotional. His words that day were for me. I sobbed and came to the realization that God really was my lifesaver and he let me live that day because he wasn’t done with me yet.

I have a purpose. I need to be his hands and feet and reach other addicts with my testimony.  If I have helped one person with my story every second of what I have gone through was worth it. Today I am a beautiful mess. I have also been sober 3 and a lahf amazing  years!

My names Aimee. I’m an addict and an alcoholic.