Wasatch Crest program graduate, Aspen M., shares her story of recovery. You can watch her tell her story and read her inspiring narrative below.
My name is Aspen, and I am a Wasatch Crest program graduate. My childhood was normal. I had a white picket fence family until I was about eight years old. My parents cared a lot about presentation. My family was never religious, but my dad wanted to look a certain way to the community.
When the recession hit in 2008, I was eight years old. Up until then, my family’s life was good. We had just gotten four-wheelers, moved into a new house, and were going to build a house. But my dad lost his job, and our world crumbled.
My dad fell into a depression because he couldn’t find a job. He wouldn’t get out of bed. My life consisted of making sure that my dad was okay and trying to not upset him. That was hard for a little kid.
I’d been close with my dad. My mom worked graveyards, so she wasn’t very present. My two older brothers did their own thing. So, it had been just my dad and me. In the evenings, we’d go get movies at Blockbuster and have dinner together. When that recession hit, that completely changed. My dad disappeared.
My first experience with opiates was when I was 12 years old. I got my tonsils taken out. When I came out of surgery, I said, “It feels like the devil had a hold of my throat, but the rest of my body is screaming, ‘Heelllooo, Jesus!’” The doctors and nurses told my parents to keep me away from drugs. At the time, I was so young that it wasn’t a huge deal.
My parents got divorced. My mom and I lived out of her car. Finally, my mom sent me to Kentucky to live with my aunt, uncle, and their boys. They became my family. I called their boys my little brothers. I adored them.
I felt like I hadn’t had a family for so long, even when I’d been at home. My brothers were so much older than me. I felt alone at that time. Those little boys made my whole world spin. I went back to Kentucky every summer. I was planning on having my whole life revolve around Kentucky.
That changed when I was 15. My uncle sent me a message one night saying that I owed him sex for everything he’s giving me. It was traumatizing. That night, I surrounded myself with all four of their little boys. I knew he wouldn’t do anything to me if they were there.
I didn’t know what to do. I tried to leave Kentucky and come back to Utah even though my life there was not good. I couldn’t be there anymore. My uncle would follow me in his car, and it was awful. When I told my aunt about it, she got high, went to sleep, and did nothing.
That whole time was really confusing because I wanted this family unit that I felt like I didn’t have. This man that I thought was a father figure was sexualizing me.
I ended up going home to Utah a few weeks later. At home, I was with this older guy. He was 18, and I was 15. He had a car and would take me to all these places. But it turned out that he was cheating on me the whole time.
At any age that is hard. At 15, I was so confused. Why was it that these people who were supposed to be important in my life out to get me? I was angry at my dad. I was angry at my mom. I was angry at God. I was angry at life. I didn’t see the bright side of anything.
My mom convinced me to stay with my boyfriend after he gave her flowers and told her he was in love with me. So, I did. I stayed with him because I didn’t know how to leave. I had never done that before.
Growing up, I was so codependent. My mom brought in people from the streets, and we would take care of them. I would take care of my dad when he was depressed. I would take care of my mom when she struggled with her addiction. I didn’t know what to do when I wasn’t taking care of someone.
Another toxic relationship got me out of that relationship. A man overdosed in my basement, and I wanted to save him. I was going to fix him. I’d help him never do drugs again. He was going to love me. Everything was going to be great.
Less than six months later, we were dating. He ended up convincing me to smoke crack with him. I smoked crack with him for a little while. Then he went to jail, and I quit.
Memorial Day weekend of that year, I was raped. It was traumatizing. Not only because it happened, but because people told me that I was lying about it. I didn’t know who to tell or who to go to. I was 17, and the guy was 37. My family told me that it wasn’t rape and that I had been begging this guy for drugs. That’s not true, and it really hurt me.
It was a family-involved situation, and it all came out during a family reunion. People were saying that I was on drugs. I had used before, but at that time, I was not actively using.
I left that day with my boyfriend. That’s when I started using meth. I used for three months. When I came home that September after being homeless in Salt Lake, I weighed 75 pounds.
My boyfriend went back to jail for a few months. I got my life together. I had two jobs. I was doing well. I graduated. I had my pharmaceutical technician’s license. I was getting ready to go to college.
Then, he got out of jail. I didn’t use for the first six months after he got out. Then one day, after we had gotten our own apartment, I caved. We ended up using. I lost my apartment. I lost my car.
On New Year’s Eve, he ended up trying to take my life. He almost killed me. I’ll never forget that night. But I was so obsessed with making this man happy that I went back to him. I also knew he could get me drugs.
I checked into Wasatch Crest because I needed to get away from him. I couldn’t do it anymore. My life was miserable, and I was scared for my life.
I got eight days in, and I’m like, “Okay. He’s gone. I’m done. I’m never doing drugs again. Let me leave. I can’t do it. I hate this place. I don’t want to stay.”
I’m so happy that I stayed. I’m so happy. Wasatch Crest has changed my life in so many ways. At Wasatch Crest, the people here really care about you, and they really care about your recovery. They make you feel like you deserve everything that you do deserve. This place is magic. I talk about it with clients all the time. It’s not like any other treatment center. They tug at my heartstrings every day. The thought of leaving here is so hard for me.
I’m one of the first residents in the women’s Uinta transitional living house. I’ve attended sober living programs before. You kind of get kicked out of treatment and have to figure out what you are going to do. Here, they help you. I got my license back. I got my warrants dropped. I’m working on getting a job and going back to school. They’re helping me with all of it. If anyone is looking for transitional living, I highly recommend it.
Early recovery for me has been a roller coaster, but it is for anybody. This time, I have hope that I can do it. I work magic every day that I’m sober. I’m so happy, and I never thought I could be this happy.
Sobriety still scares me. But I also can’t wait to see what life has in store for me. I’m going to travel, go to school, and have a family one day. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without Wasatch Crest.
Everyone always says, “If I can do it, you can too.” I firmly believe that. I never thought that I wanted to be sober, even when I started treatment at Wasatch Crest. But I never want to go back to that lifestyle. I can’t stop talking about how good my life is.