May 4, 2021

Helping others heal. Stacey's story on healing through her son's heroin addiction and finding her higher purpose.


Stacey's story is one of a higher purpose and to help others heal. Three years ago her 17 year old son who was a starting football player, had good grades, wanted to join the military, started in a downward spiral with drugs and alcohol.  It ultimately led to a full blown heroin addiction after driving his car into a tree at 100 mph attempting suicide. This then led to Stacey to address years of her own pain. She believes she was given this story to help other people in similar situations. Her son's story getting this dark woke her up and encouraged her to show up as her authentic self pain and all.  She believes the greatest gift we can give ourselves is the freedom of finding the bright side. That  when we take the time to share the darkest parts of ourselves, we give permission for the light to shine through, and that can ultimately help others do the same.
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Transcript

Stacey:

That, for me has been the biggest awakening that's come out of this is that I am finding that you can take that pain, whatever it is, and you can turn it into purpose.

Melissa Bright:

Welcome to the bright side of life, a podcast where people share their personal stories of struggles, pain and grief. But through all of that they are still able to find the joys in life. Hello, hello Bright siders. Welcome to another episode of the bright side of life. I am your host, Melissa Bright. And I wanted to quickly announced if you did not know that may is mental health awareness month, and you obviously know I am a huge, huge advocate for caring for our mental health, and helping spread awareness to end the stigma. I want people to know that they are never alone in their struggles. That's exactly the point of this podcast. So if you do enjoy the episodes, the best way that you can support the podcast is you can subscribe or follow on any of the platforms such as Apple podcast, Spotify, Google, and you will be notified when new episodes drop. And if you haven't left a review, it would mean the world to me if you did, it really helps other people be able to find the show. So you can leave a review on Apple podcast or write on my website at the bright side of life podcast.com slash reviews. And since this is Mental Health Awareness Month, that's exactly why I'm excited for today's guest. But I would like to add before we get started that this episode may act as a trigger, as it covers a topic of sensitive nature. Stacey is here and she is going to share not only her story, but a lot of her son's story also. And when Stacy emailed me her story, she wrote this, I believe the greatest gift we can give ourselves is the freedom of finding the bright side, when we take the time to share the darkest part of ourselves, we give permission for the light to shine through them. Stacy's story includes pain, abuse, addiction, attempted suicide, and also shame and guilt around those topics. But that's why she's here today to let the light shine through these hard topics. So Stacey, thank you so so much for being here and coming on here to share your story. How are you doing today? I'm good, Melissa. And I'm so happy to have time with you. This is a really hard topic. But I think that it's something that needs to be talked about. And I'm grateful to you for doing this. Yes, you are so welcome. And I'm so excited to hear your story for that exact reason. So we can get it get it out in the open. So you start your story, you know, in your email telling me that you were raised Mormon that your dad was extremely hard on you and to escape the sometimes controlling and abusive nature of that, but you got married at the age of 18 and left. But before we go any further, do you want to add anything previous from your story that would shed light I guess on some of the pains or things that will come out later down the road that you feel is important to share? Up until that point.

Stacey:

You know, when I sent you that email, I I started contemplating like how I wanted to share, you know my family's story. And I just felt like it was really important that you understood that I am coming to the realization that I was running for my pain at my son's age the same way he's been running from head to toe. And I guess that is kind of the theme of my life from a very young age. My father was very, very driven, very business minded, very successful. And everything was about appearances, and how we look to the outside world. So I didn't grow up in poverty. I grew up with a family that was like middle class, middle upper class. You know, I got a brand new car when I turned 16 I didn't have to worry about money. But there were things happening behind closed doors that were very controlling, very abusive, and really broke my spirit before I ever even left home but I left home to get away from it. And I was running for a good portion of my life. Right? Yep. And that and like you said the biggest thing right now realizing in the you said I'm was running at that age, just kind of like your son is doing now which is kind of crazy, I'm sure for you to think about that.

Melissa Bright:

And I know we're going to dive into that story. So you're 18 you just left you, you marry this person. So what was that relationship?

Stacey:

Like at the age of 18 years old? Isn't it crazy? Like I think now, like, I have a son, I have another son who is graduating from high school this year. And I was months away from getting married, like looking at him. I'm like, but yeah, I'm married. I'm married another Mormon. And our relationship was good for the first two years, and then harsh words became led to harsh violence type of with him a lot of tension. And we ended up divorcing but before we divorced, we had one child. Okay. So I was a divorcee, single mom, by the age of 22. Right. I, I've been there done that I was a single mom by the age of 18. I mean, I totally understand. Also, wouldn't you said like, isn't that crazy to say? I'm like, well, not to me, because I had my daughter at 16 and was almost married by like, 18. So it's not crazy to me. But when you see your kids now that are that age, and you're like, No, no, no, no. Right. Right. Yeah. And I repeated that cycle. Not once, not twice, three times. But I am remarried to my second husband. Yeah. And we had divorce because he was an addict. He is now a decade into his recovery. And I think it's really important to know that we both have mental health and substance abuse issues in our genetics was that I thought that I had found my happy ending, that I mean, at 40 years old, I'm 44. Now at 40 years old, it was remarried to the love of my life. He's sober. Finally, every wanted. We bought our dream home. I was a independent hairdresser making six figures. I thought I'd faced my pain. I thought I finally got it. Right. You know, we're church going like not or not Mormon practicing Mormons. But like, I thought I had it all together. And I couldn't have seen any of this coming.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. So so let's, let's talk a little bit about now I know we kind of skipped over some parts really quickly. You did you were married? Three times. Two of which were addicts. Right. Is that correct? And then you rekindle the love with your second husband, which I know you said he was your soulmate. And basically, the only problem was, was the addiction. And he wound up, you know, getting sober for four years after you, you guys finally rekindled and he was sober for years, when you guys did. So at this point, you now have three or four kids.

Stacey:

So when we remarried, I had four kids, okay, and it's from three different men, and had blown up my life repeatedly. I mean, really, I had not I thought I had faced my trauma. And I have been hospitalized for depression and anxiety a couple of times. I attempted suicide the first time at age 14. Oh my goodness. I've been through postpartum with three of my four children. Yeah, I I was running from myself the whole time. Of course, we don't know that. Right. Right.

Melissa Bright:

Can I can I ask you this when you when, when the second husband? Who, whom you're now married to now, did you start to ask yourself like in terms of because I know, I know, in your email that you said that the first time you definitely could didn't see the signs of addiction because you weren't raised in that type of environment. You couldn't have seen the signs. Yeah. But then it happened for a second time. Did you? Was there any like moments that you were like, how did I not see this a second time? And we can also say that if they hide it really well. There's no way you could potentially know. But what did you feel after that? Like, seriously, like, this is good. This is happening again.

Stacey:

Yeah, I mean, I I immediately thought there's something wrong with me if this is happening with a third husband, so Husband two and three are both addicts then Stacey, you're the problem. I mean, I really took that on, I took on the shame and the guilt of it. But I didn't take on the okay that I'm the problem and I need to fix it. It wasn't until Mike, my now husband and I started to rekindle. And I started my healing journey. It was it all kind of came around at the same time. It was like, I knew that he was sober, and he was living his life. And I was living my life. But we were both trying to get healthy on our own. Sure. And as we were accomplishing that, we started to reconnect. I can't believe that I that I, that we got back together and remarried because I said, I'm never going to do that again. At the same time, we've been back together now. We've been married for four years, we've been back together for actually been married for five years, and we back together for seven years. And he's the love of my life. Yeah. But I had to find myself and heal myself first. Right. And he had to do the same. And it's amazing that you guys, you know, found each other again, that's incredible, crazy story. But yes.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, it is. And so you did a little bit of healing, then you were everything. For all intents and purposes, things were going good for you. And then you're now you have four children. Your 17 year old, is Mike his biological dad.

Stacey:

Yes, he is.

Melissa Bright:

Yes. Okay. So now you have a 17 year old, not that, then 17 year old son that starts to kind of derail, as you say, so kind of explain what started happening with your son.

Stacey:

So my son, his name is Dylan. And he has always been this kind hearted, sweet soul. And I, I want to talk about him. Before all of this happened, because we had 17, beautiful years before we had any issues with him, except one. When Dylan was around the age of, I'm going to say 12, maybe, maybe 11. Somewhere in there. We had a bottle of Codeine cough syrup that the doctor gave us. Now back in the day, they used to give you a giant bottle and send you home with it. And you would think, okay, I now have this coating. So if the kids get sick again, this cough medicine, and it was a large amber bottle. And it disappeared. And Dylan confessed to us that he drank the whole thing. Oh my gosh, I mean, at 12 years old, I thought, Oh, wait, this is this is bad. I mean, I was scared. Yeah. Well, what do you do with a 12 year old who drink a bottle of Codeine? Right. So at the age of 16, he was a starting player on the football team. He got excellent grades. He was talking about joining the military. He was focused, he was ambitious. But he was also sensitive, and vulnerable. And hardworking. Yeah. And he started hanging around. Some people that weren't the greatest influence. One specifically was a girl that he was dating in high school. And their whole family battled addiction issues. The mom was an enabler. And we really started to have a breakdown in communication because she would allow the kids to party. And I wouldn't so do everything he could to avoid. And he was also working at a golf course, where they had a restaurant and they would serve the kids liquor while they were working. And so he would get in the car and drive home drunk late at night. Those were the first signs that I knew something was really wrong. Yeah. But that the jarring thing was two and a half years ago, but he overdosed on over the counter medications that he googled online to figure out how to get high. So for all of you who have older children, I want to say lock that stuff up. I don't care if your kids are 10, 15, 20. If they're living your house, lock it up. I had no idea and we were awakened in the middle of the night to him being in a hallucinogenic psychotic state that he stayed in the hospital for over For 48 hours, he was completely delusional off of over the counter medications. And at that point, I knew we were in trouble. And he we took him to rehab.

Melissa Bright:

Can I ask you a question?

Stacey:

Sure.

Melissa Bright:

Whenever he was in that hallucinogenic state, and then he became he came to What? What did he say to you? Did you ask him? Why did you do this? Besides the simple answer being I just wanted to be high. Did he have any idea that this would be? Well, I'm sure he didn't know that would be the effect. But what did he say to you? after that?

Stacey:

I'll actually never forget it, because he didn't. There's nothing they can give you in the hospital to recover from symptoms like that. They just hooked him up to machines. And he was hallucinating. When he really started to get clear again, on his thoughts, he told me that it was my fault.

Melissa Bright:

Oh, my gosh, what did He what? What did he mean by that?

Stacey:

He said, Mom, it's your fault. No one can stand you in this family. And he completely blamed me. It was one of the more painful moments of interaction that I've had with him. Right. There was no real responsibility for it. We took him to rehab straight from the hospital. And at that point, he did apologize and say, you know, I didn't mean what I said. But that was when I really started to feel triggered with my past. As far as like, I really believe this can happen to a lot of people, you go through a traumatic experience, and it triggers a past trauma. And for me, it triggered a lot of the verbal abuse that I suffered as a child that I thought I had dealt with in therapy, but it was coming up because I did feel somewhat responsible. And I know that that sounds that I've had to really work through this, but I was living in pain. And I brought children into the world in my pain. And I believe that if that if you're carrying that baggage around and you haven't acknowledged it, you might as well put that backpack full of boulders on your child's backpack, and have them walk around with it, too. Now, I'm not saying that go on is not an addict. And that is genetic. And there are a lot of factors. But I also think that Dylan was devastated when his stepdad and I split. Very confusing for kids. And I, I don't believe that I'm the cause of his addiction. Okay. But I believe that my pain contributed to his pain. Does that make sense? That makes 100% sense. And the way that you said it in the analogy that you used of, you might as well just put a backpack of boulders onto him.

Melissa Bright:

Literally painted a perfect picture. And for anybody listening, that might be going through painful things, or have been through painful things, and maybe have not yet addressed them, knowing the possible repercussions of what it can do for our children. You know, I can say now with with my mom being gone for 10 years now and me not dealing with her grief, and in a way that I should have and just kind of always being busy and not dealing with it. It came in hit me like a ton of bricks these last three years. And that's what finally landed me in therapy. But I I'm glad I did. But at the same time there was you know, other things that have been coming up from my past that I'm like, Oh my gosh, what what have I put my daughter through in terms of my own pain and but I so I think like just being self aware, can be really helpful. But now I'm starting to like ask my daughter these questions, you know. So I just love what love what you said in terms of that. And I definitely have more questions in terms of that because I know you have a lot to talk about.

Stacey:

So at this point, he he goes to rehab, and then goes to rehab and rehab says to him, if you're going to move back home with your parents, keep in mind he's under 18. They said if you're gonna move home with your parents, you need to have a contract. And part of that contract is you can't see the people that used to see you can't hang out with same girlfriend. And he he just refused. He was like I'm not doing it and I'm He came home. And within a couple of days the girlfriend was back. And that mother, the daughter was 16. My son was 17. offered to let my son move into her house. Oh my gosh. And my son was, I mean, weeks away from turning 18. So I knew, even if I stopped him, it would be for two weeks. Right? Right. I was pissed, mom. Yeah. But I will never forget him packing his stuff up in garbage bags, and packing up the car. And I was sitting in the living room on the couch. And he walked in and he said, I'm getting ready to leave. And I said, I said, Okay, he said, I love you, mom. And I said, I love you too. And I didn't get up and hug him. And it was the last time I saw him before. 4 days later, when he decided that life wasn't worth living anymore. And he ran his car into a tree at 100 miles an hour on a back country road where he thought no one would find him.

Melissa Bright:

Oh, my goodness. And and he did survive.

Stacey:

He did.

Melissa Bright:

But now with that, I know you said he at the time when when people found him breathing only once or twice a minute.

Stacey:

Yeah, we I don't. I believe that. Gurdian angels were watching out for him that day. there happened to be an off duty Baltimore City firefighter who was cleaning windows, that he was trained in the sounds of car accidents. And he knew when he heard this distant crack, and he saw Dylan's car speed by he knew and he jumped in his in his vehicle when he drove to the accident, right. And Dylan was only breathing one to two times a minute. And so this guy stabilized Dylan's airway. And then he ran up the hill to try to get service to call 911. And when he turned around, Dylan's car was on fire. And he had the the gentleman happen to have a fire extinguisher in the back of his truck. And I know, I know, he saved my son's life. Without him. Dylan wouldn't be here, right?

Melissa Bright:

Oh, my gosh. So what so he goes to the hospital? And what happens like once he gets there?

Stacey:

Well, I need to add that because he hadn't been living at our house. We did not even know that he had had the accident until two hours later.

Melissa Bright:

Holy crap, and how did you find out he was in the accident.

Stacey:

I had been at a nail appointment that morning. Doing my normal routine before I was seeing clients. I'm a hairdresser. And I had just gotten home for my nail appointment. And I got a text that said 911 from my husband. And I called him immediately and he said Dylan's been in an accident. And they said Hurry up and get here right now. Yeah. And I I just remember I had to go pick up my other son who was two years younger. So he was 15. I had to go pick him up at the local high school. And when I got there, there were state troopers, who were ready to escort us from our little country town an hour into the hospital. And when we got there, I the head surgeon of shock trauma was walking towards me. And I don't know if he sat me down but I somehow sat down and we were facing each other and he said, Your son is in very grave danger. I will do everything I can to try to save his life. And then he started listing all of the injuries completely severed one of his carotid arteries. He had to have the other one stented. He damaged the bronchus, which is the little branch that attaches the lung to the esophagus. And it's a very hard thing to fix. He damaged his heart. He can't he he had a brain bleed. A traumatic brain injury he shattered his knee He fractured his tibia he damaged both of his arms. And they had to put him in a medically induced coma. And because he was an addict, he had just received the Vivitrol shot two days before the accident. And what this means is the Vivitrol shot is used as an opioid blocker. It is supposed to, like keep the cravings down and an on an injectable form. There's no way to reverse the effects of that. So he was in shock trauma with no they had no other option but to put him in a medically induced coma and to put him on ketamine. On the street, the street drugs Special K. And there were only two bags of that left in the hospital. And they had to be used for him because it was the only thing that would break through the Vivitrol. So it compounded. Right?

Melissa Bright:

And how long was he in the coma for?

Stacey:

So I'm gonna give you a roundabout I want to say it was about about a week, week and a half that he was in a coma. The thing about a medically induced coma. And especially with a brain, a traumatic brain injury and brain bleed, is that they have to slowly wake you up. So be like that, you know, once a day, they would wake him up for five minutes, okay, and then they will wake him up for like 15 minutes. And it was like, in slow increments because your brain is trying to heal. They want all the energy to go into healing. He was also fully ventilated. He was on a ventilator. And he was he had a a trake. So he was like, we I mean, like machines doing all the work for him. Right. And in one of the times when he kind of woke up, we were trying to ask him if it was a suicide attempt, because we didn't know at that point.

Melissa Bright:

Right. That was gonna be my question.

Stacey:

Yeah. And while we were not present, he admitted to one of the staff at the hospital that he was suicidal. And so from that point on, they had him for a period of time. strapped to the bed, even though he was that injured that he could and he had to have somebody with him. 20 470 My goodness, he wasn't. He was in the hospital for two months. Yeah. And what, as a mother, now going through this,

Melissa Bright:

prior to that, taking the what was the medicine the Vivitrol? injection? Yep. So was that something that he volunteered that he wanted to do? Like? Did he want to seek help in terms of getting clean and not being addicted to whatever because at this point,

Stacey:

it was alcohol. and marijuana, but nothing else to this point.

Melissa Bright:

But he he was wanting to get clean?

Stacey:

Yeah, I mean, he I think looking back on it, do I think that he recognize the seriousness seriousness of his addiction? No, I think just like any cocky, you know, 17, 18 year old boy, he thought that he was better than like the he could beat it. You know, even though he watched his father go through it. He had watched his father struggle. He saw it firsthand. Yeah, I think he just thought he was invincible. I think that he thought the Vivitrol shot, thinking that maybe it would magically take away his cravings. But it worked that way for him. Right.

Melissa Bright:

Do you know? And I don't believe you said this. Do you know if he was under the influence when he drove his car into the tree?

Stacey:

I do know that he was totally sober. Yeah, they, he was totally sober on the day of the suicide attempt. It was actually a suicide attempt because of an argument with his girlfriend. And I think that he said he said to us after the accident once he was awake a little bit more, that he didn't have the courage to ask to come home.

Melissa Bright:

And what did that What did that do to you? How did you feel when he said that?

Stacey:

It's changed my life. It is this whole thing but especially that has changed my life. Because I used to love doing hair. I used to love it.

Melissa Bright:

Right?

Stacey:

I still love it. But if my son didn't feel comfortable to ask me to come home from there are some things I need to change. Yeah. And it's not just my son. We have a huge problem in this country.

Melissa Bright:

Right.

Stacey:

And though his overdose made me start advocating both with the state of Maryland and and such Like just testifying and doing everything I can to advocate. I just feel like there's a bigger purpose for me here, Melissa, like, we were given the story to try to help people. Right. And I can't go back and change that he didn't feel comfortable to come to me and to come home. But I can make sure that never happens again. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And

Melissa Bright:

I know we still even have more to get through, which is, I wish I could say at this point that the story gets better, but it doesn't. So he he finally is able to leave the hospital. How is he? it? Does he does he say anything at this point in terms of wanting to seek, like professional help in terms of therapist? rehab or anything like that? was, was he? And also, was he glad he was alive? Do you know that dude, did you ever ask him that? Thank you to better help for sponsoring this podcast. I have been using better help for almost a year now. And the progress that I have made in my mental health has been incredible. I just want to tell you, my listeners a little bit about better help to see if it might be a great fit for you. Their mission is making professional counseling accessible, affordable and convenient. So anyone who struggles with life challenges can get help anywhere, anytime. They offer four ways to get counseling, from video sessions, phone calls to live chat and messaging. It's also available worldwide, you will be matched with your counselor and 24 hours or less better help offers a broad expertise in their network. So it provides users with access to specialists, they might not be able to find locally. Financial Aid is also available for those who qualify. So visit better help.com slash bright side of life, that's better help.com slash bright side of life, join over 500,000 people taking charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. And for your first month you're going to receive 10% off by being a listener of the bright side of life. So let them know that I sent you by using the link better help.com forward slash bright side of life. That's better help.com forward slash b r i g h t side of life. The link will also be in the description section of this episode.

Stacey:

So it was very it was very interesting to have him wake up from that coma. And you know, he had some setbacks medically, that when we brought him home, it was in a wheelchair. It was moving his bedroom to the main floor of the house and his bedroom was the living room. It was in home nursing care. It was he I knew he wasn't the same. Like I I believe in my mother heart. Though his traumatic brain injury is not limiting him from driving or from functioning in any way. I do think that mentally it affected him emotionally. I think that he he wouldn't really talk about things he would get overstimulated very easily, he was very irritable, very, very self conscious. A lot of people in our community wanted to see him wanted to interact with him, he would only let a few of his friends see him. But one of those friends, even after we explained, let me back up. When we left the hospital, one of the doctors said if you ever use drugs again, you will die.

Melissa Bright:

And why is that?

Stacey:

Because he only has one functioning carotid artery, and it's stented. So if he were to use anything like cocaine, it will restrict the blood flow to his brain and he'll stroke out and die. This is what they told us like when we're leaving the hospital and I'm looking at my son and I'm like, you will die if you use again like this is like death. Now if you don't get it now you're not going to get it. Right. And so we're we come home and one of his friends, unbeknownst to me, brought alcohol over to the house and got my kid drunk. While he had nurses visit like I I still to this day cannot believe it. It really wrecked me that one of his friends would do that, especially after they saw how much we had suffered. Yeah, that's insane. That is insane. And to see I was in the hospital for three, two months, two months and wasn't expected to make it i mean i had the conversation about donating my son organs. Okay. It was serious. And yeah, his friends his

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, that well, they're not his friends. They didn't give a shit about him.

Stacey:

That's correct. And he, as he started to get up and around, he started to express that he wanted some independence that he wanted to be out on his own. And again, you know, as I started seeing him go out, he came home and he one night and he said there was a Halloween party and he said, I want to go to a Halloween party. And I was like, Dylan, you've just been in the hospital. Like, we're only a few months out from your accident, like, let's I don't even know. So the accident was in April. This is in October, it's Halloween, right six months for his accident. And he says, I want to go hang out with my friends. I said, I don't think a party is good for you. You're going to be tempted. And he came home the next morning, and he was all hyped up. And I was like, did you did you use? And he was like, Yeah, I drank. And at this point, he's 18. And I said, Dylan, you can't live in this house with your other siblings. And do this behavior. they've watched you have an overdose. And they've watched you have a suicide attempt. And my youngest is seven right now. Just so you know. So like, I have a little one in the house of one two years younger than Dylan. They're both in the house. My other son has had his entire high school education up ended, because everyone wanted to know, Dylan's brother, like, in a bad way, you know? Yep. Like he couldn't deal with. Right. And so he ended up being homeschooled the rest of his high school career. Oh, that's terrible. Yeah. So I said to him, you can't we can't do this. If you're going to do this, you have to move out. And he packed up his stuff. And he moved out. And he has literally been in and out of rehabs battling heroin addiction and burning bridges. And tomorrow, he will be 20. So we have been in this cycle for three years.

Melissa Bright:

How do you think you found heroin? Or do you know how it went like how it came to be in terms of like, do you think it was to you know, was he any any, like, lasting pain from his accident that he was seeking? Because isn't heroin that helps with pain? Right?

Stacey:

Yeah, he was on massive amounts of oxycodone, etc. in the hospital? I mean, for months, right? You know, he had such extensive injuries. And when the doctors, you know, they sent us home from the hospital, it was knowing that he was an addict. They, you know, talk to us about securing the medication and having everything locked up. We did all of that. Right. You would dispense it for him. And it I mean, Melissa, it didn't matter. He he started partying shortly before he moved out. And what's unfortunate for mono, maybe it is fortunate, I don't know how he got started in the heroin. I just know that as his partying progressed, all bets were off. He I've lost count of how many rehabs and how many rehab stays and how many relapses and I, as I sit here with you today, knowing that tomorrow is his 20th birthday. I'm shocked that he's still here. All right.

Melissa Bright:

So how is it that the doctor told you that he will die if he does drugs? How is it that he is still here after he's used several times?

Stacey:

Obviously. Does he does anything happened to him? Has he said no. I mean, we've we've found him a couple of times. You know, we've we've gone and picked him up at like seedy Roach motels, tried to get them help. I don't know how he's still alive. I truly he needs a heart surgery. And it is something that the cardiologist has been monitoring his heart every few months. And he needs a surgery that he can't stay sober long enough to get. So how is he still alive? I'm just going to tell you exactly what I believe. And that is I believe that a higher power that for me, for me, it's God is completely like giving him every opportunity to say hey, I need you for something. Right. I think that I think that Dylan story getting this dark. woke me up.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah.

Stacey:

I don't want to be suffering with this. But I believe that it's leading our family to a higher purpose.

Melissa Bright:

Right.

Stacey:

It if for the family that is still here meaning work, you know, Dylan's the one who's moved out but the rest of the family here. We have had massive healing happening. We have all been working on confronting our own demons. We have worked in therapy, we are spending more time together. It has made me think about the bright side.

Melissa Bright:

Right?

Stacey:

That's gonna sound strange.

Melissa Bright:

Right?

Stacey:

Like what like what how you went to the to the darkest Hell yeah, I'm still in the darkest hell, right. It's it's aged me. It's ravaged me. Yeah. And it's like, one of my mentors posted today. If grief or a physical ailment, what would it look like? For me? It looks like being an MMA fighter who's gone into the ring. And you're bloodied and beaten? And you come back out to your coach and say, Are we done yet? They say, No, you got to go in for another round. Everything hurts, right? How do you even breathe in all the way when you don't know if your child is going to make it or not? And I know, you have to know how I feel having a child, you think of your child, and the idea of them being in any kind of pain is excruciating, excruciating. Experience.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Does he want help?

Stacey:

I haven't talked to him in six months,

Melissa Bright:

really? And why?

Stacey:

I only find out when he's relapse, because I get the bills from hospital.

Melissa Bright:

Is it? Will he not talk to you? Or is it too painful?

Stacey:

Actually, it's both. He did something really foolish. And I called him out on it. And he didn't like that. And he told me that I should just be happy, he doesn't have a needle in his arm. And that was the last time I spoke to him. And I have kind of backed off because it's hard enough to, like breathe when your child is not okay.

Melissa Bright:

Right.

Stacey:

But it's even harder to ride the roller coaster of addiction and mental health because I believe that my son has anxiety and depression. That's what he's been diagnosed with. I believe that there was never a chance for the meds to get right because he couldn't stay sober.

Melissa Bright:

Right? It's obvious to me, and it's probably obvious to you. And it's crazy to think about, and that sounds so crazy. Like, let's, let's say, we have me and my boyfriend watch the show cops all the time, for instance, and we see these people, you know, strung out on drugs or like, whatever. And sometimes it's like, you know, obviously, it's for entertainment value. But then it's like, if you look at every single one of these people that are addicted to something, there is some underlying trauma there. Hands down without a doubt, always, always.

Stacey:

And I long to free people from that, that that has become my new mission is like we have to face our pain.

Melissa Bright:

Right?

Stacey:

We have to face our pain because if we don't the next generation can't. Yep. And and this was the big aha moment for me. I need to show my children, that it is absolutely the right thing to show up in this world as the most authentic version of yourself, pain and all. And so by me getting on a national podcast and saying, You know what? I've been married this many times. I've had kids with different men, and I ran from my pain for almost 40 years. And now I'm facing it. I want my son even if we're not talking, I want him to know my mom faced her pain. And she she was showing me by example. Yep, I need to face mine. Yeah. And that was why I was so passionate about this space with you. Right? Because it sounds dark when I'm talking about the bright side and facing your pain but you can't feel the joy if you don't feel the pain

Melissa Bright:

100% you can for a while it's going to catch up to you eventually. You can't. You can't run from it. You can't and I think that

Stacey:

I think that now that I have learned that I want to is actively pursue spreading that message. Yeah. Yeah. And I will make sure that all four of my kids feel invited by me, by my example, to show up in the world as themselves to face their pain.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, definitely. So I know, we have spent 41 minutes now, talking about really, really heavy stuff. But this is the reality of it. We know that it's going on there is a first of all mental health crisis, there is a heroin addiction crisis. We know that for a fact. I want to switch gears in terms of talking about, I know that you are so passionate about this. And I want to talk about the the bright side. And I know it's really hard because of where you're at, because you were still literally living through hell,

Stacey:

I've got a bright side.

Melissa Bright:

I know. And that's, that's like, I have so many questions. Because there, there are plenty of moms out there that are going through currently the same things that you are, and they probably feel hopeless. And that's why it's so brave of you to come forward and to talk about it. Because for that exact reason. So a couple things I wanted to ask. And I think that you shed a little bit of light on it earlier. But I wanted to ask is, first of all, how do you differentiate between being a mother to your son who's an addict? And then you as an individual, because I know since the day that he got home from the hospital, your life was turned upside down? Even before that, essentially, but I mean, you had to quit your job for seven months? How? How, how'd you even move on from this? How do you even get out of bed every single day? You've been living this nightmare for three years now. So how do you differentiate yourself and kind of remove yourself I know is no longer in the house. But yeah, but it's still there. It's still there all day.

Stacey:

So at first, I would say self medicating, with a lot of food. A little bit of alcohol here and there. A little bit of marijuana, like I whatever I had to do to survive. Okay, that was that was what I did. And then I decided I was tired of feeling like shit. And so I saw my doctor and I, you know, started getting depressed once again, my anxiety was through the roof. Right? And I had to start with one little thing. So what I do is, and I still do this, but this is what this is where it started. What was one thing I could do, or that I could remember from when I felt healthy? What was I doing when I felt healthy? And so I've started adjusting my eating habits and exercising and you know, you're probably thinking if you're going through this right now, you're probably thinking how in the hell do you have the energy to do that? I didn't have the energy when I started. Right? I made myself do it. I made myself do it. And my husband when we were when I was in the hospital, when my son was in the hospital and we would go to the hospital, my husband would whisper to me, you know, go do your makeup, you'll feel better. And he knew that that was my quiet, prayerful meditative time. And I would do my makeup every day, even though we were going to the hospital. And I tried to come back to my job, Melissa, I tried, I tried to come back to hairdressing. I tried to come back to the business that I had before. And I found that a lot of the people who said they were going to stick around didn't, which is understandable. It had been seven months, right. But I was blessed to play around with some makeup from a company that has blessed me so much. And I was back to work doing hair for three months and then COVID head. And during COVID I started doing my makeup on camera on Facebook Lives for my friends and talking about my son and talking about addiction. And talking about my anxiety and just talking to my friends and I would I did it every single day. I still do it every single day. It's like five to seven days a week, literally for over a year. Wow. And as I was looking at myself in the camera every day and doing my makeup. I was looking at myself, but I was telling you, hey, do your makeup, you'll feel better. Hey, here's how this works. That call this color would look so good on you. But I was telling myself that. Yep, yep. And so I've just kind of slowly started loving on myself again and try To be more present in my life, and I do feel like my life has been upended. I thought I was going to be like a full time hairdresser until 70.

Melissa Bright:

Right.

Stacey:

And now I'm kind of redefining things, it's brought me the motivation to come out and say I'm intuitive. Yeah. And so I am a I'm a certified Reiki practitioner and a healer. And I help people I, I basically coach them with their soul. I can see who you are, who God made you to be. And I am helping other people heal. While I am healing. Yeah, and I am taking my story of pain, a lot of years of pain, right? My school has been the Hard Knocks. And I'm just gonna keep moving forward, not really understanding what it is that this new season is kind of boring, right? And trying to find myself along the way. I'm doing a lot of writing, doing a lot of reading. I give myself grace, right. Before this interview, I said to my husband, I am really depressed today that he's like, just take a break later. Don't do anything. Yep, that's exactly what I need to do sometimes. Yep. Some days, I need to cry a lot.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. And that's, that's why I appreciate you so much. Because you say the hard stuff, just like you said, with the exercising thing, like somebody would be saying right now, Stacy, how did you even find? How did you muster up the energy? I didn't? That's the honest answer. I didn't. And how do you not? How do you not feel hopeless? I do. But then I also do this. And because if you don't, you're just going to be stuck. And you you have three other kids and a husband that are a big part of your world and your whole world can't stop. Because this, and it's so easy to feel it's going to stop. And I think that is probably the biggest question that I have for you in terms of if somebody is listening to this that has, it doesn't even have to be a son, it could be a spouse, it could be somebody that addiction isn't just a person that's going through it, it is a whole family affair. So what do you what would you say to people to give them any, any kind of hope at all? And I know you're so real with your answer, so I'm just gonna leave it there.

Stacey:

That person is probably listening to this because there are so many of us know that you're not alone. I want you to know that this mother's heart feels your pain. I want you to know that you can't save your loved one. That healing has to be their decision. There's nothing you can do that is going to convince them convinced them to get sober, or to get help. I would say trust a professional. And I would say the best thing you can do for yourself is to set boundaries. I wish I had done that sooner.

Melissa Bright:

Right. And in terms of setting boundaries, because some people if they're not setting boundaries, they might not know what that means. So what kind of boundaries Do you wish you maybe would have set in terms of you know, obviously, your son?

Stacey:

So again, I think it's hard when you even if you have dealt with addiction before, I think it's really hard to know the signs to look for. But as far as like, I just feel I feel that we allowed behavior to go on a lot longer than we should have. You know, when we knew he was using marijuana, we would say no, but I think it's really hard when your child is under 18. And they're old enough to drive a car. But they're they're in your care, right and they're not legal, but they're close to. But I think by the time that he turned 18 in the hospital, I think that we should have said to him, you know, either you go again to rehab or you have to move out. I think allowing him access to his siblings during this time. Probably wasn't the best idea. Because now that we've had some distance between him and his siblings, I think they're healthier right now. Right? It's hard to ride the roller coaster. That's the issue. Yeah. And so I wish that I had set the boundary sooner of saying I can't I can't talk to him. Because I mean, we've had phone calls, at all hours when he's used to gang or relapsed, or in the hospital, it's just a really hard cycle. So I would say protect yourself with some boundaries, whether it's that you only accept phone calls, or whether it's that you have them move out. Because ultimately, they have to make the decision, the choice that they want to be sober. It's okay. It's not going to be anything about your behavior that gets them sober. Does that make sense?

Melissa Bright:

That makes 100% sense. So did you know that the whole time in terms of your son being an addict because a lot of people think I can make my son sober, I can make him want to quit?

Stacey:

I thought, I thought well shit like he seen his father struggle with this. So like, this is going to like I can tell him like you're going to rehab or else. Well, he's been in like, I don't even know a dozen or so rehabs. And I don't even know how many stays at each one. Right? Yes, I believed that I thought I could save them. And I believe that I thought that up until less than a year ago. Right.

Melissa Bright:

And I think I wanted to ask that because there are so many parents out there or sibling spouses, what have you that feel like they they could be the one that changes them with their magical words. And I'm telling you my second episode, my second podcast episode was a friend of mine, that was a heroin addict. And she looked at me straight in the face and said there was not a person in this world I was going to do it for it was going to be myself, she has now been five years clean and sober. But she said, No, my mom wasn't going to make me my grandma, my boyfriend, my sister, nobody was going to do it there if they just weren't. And I feel like that almost gives you guys permission to know like you, you can't be consumed by it every single day of your life, because you are going to exhaust yourself and still possibly not get the outcome that you want.

Stacey:

Here's the key. I'll tell you what the key is. And every mom is going to resist this idea because we do just naturally, you can't be the sacrificial lamb. You kick, there's no amount of you throwing yourself before the train that's going to save your child, you have to save yourself. If there's one thing that this whole experience has taught me, it's that it's time to save myself. And that's the greatest gift I can give to my children. Right, showing them that I saved myself. And you can do. Yep, that, for me has been the biggest awakening that's come out of this is that I found I am finding that you can take that pain, whatever it is, and you can turn it into purpose. You can take that pain, and you can help somebody else and be their survival guide. So please, if your child is struggling with addiction, if your spouse, your girlfriend, boyfriend, whoever it is, your family member is struggling, I'm going to encourage you to save yourself. Because that's, that's the only thing you can do. That's the only thing you have control over. So every day that I get up, I journal and I journal very intentionally. And in order to keep myself in a healthy headspace, I always start with what I'm grateful for. Always, always always. Yeah, it's how I stay on the bright side. It's a discipline, it really is. It's a practice. It is just like anything else. And so I get up and I write what I'm grateful for and my affirmations and my manifestations. And I read my devotionals so that I can connect with my higher power. And I juice with my husband. Yeah. And, you know, I'm just trying to I take silly videos of it, you know, like, entertain people, and I tried to show my friends and my family that I'm still showing up, even though it's painful. Right now. I'm real that it's hard. It is so freaking hard. Yeah. But it's gonna be hard. Either way. Like if I'm healthy or unhealthy. It's gonna be hard. Choose your heart, your brain. Yep, exactly. And another thing

Melissa Bright:

I love that you do is you you don't act like your life is perfect you, you post these funny videos of you juicing, but then your next post might be, I'm having a really hard day. And two years ago, three years ago, my life was turned upside down. And this is why. So people don't see this highlight reel there. But they know like, Oh my gosh, there is another another human being going through this. And I'm I'm not the only one. Because that that seriously does wonders for people, at least I feel because I kind of do the same thing. Like I can be funny, and giggly and bright and everything else. But then I have really, really, really shitty really, really hard days too. And I have to talk about those as much as we talk about our bright days, because that's just the reality of the world. You know. There's not always, always happy days. But I think that's why your message is so powerful, because you literally are in a living nightmare right now.

Stacey:

But still getting up and showing up every single day. Because you know, you have to literally have to like I I know it with every fiber in my being. And I know, the way that I separate my son, and the addiction. I think of it like two different people. There's my son, and there's the addict. And I know my son, and I know his heart. I know that he does not want his family suffering. Right. And so knowing that, and knowing that this is a disease, I feel like the best gift that we can give ourselves and him is to try to be a better family. Right? To get healthy, to take care of one another to spend time together. And I feel like we're we're an even tighter knit family because of us our immediate family. Yeah. Yeah, it's it's been a hard road. But I I feel like the biggest blessing that's come out of my life recently. And this is gonna sound so cheesy, but connecting with people on clubhouse. Yep, yep, has really blessed my life. And I have started to connect with other like minded people. And I joined a fearless speaking club. And I'm doing a fearless speaking challenge to teach me how to be a better public speaker so that I can take this message even bigger, Melissa, like I, I want to do whatever I can to help other people. Right? And I don't know. It's like I'm in between two clubs right now. I've met amazing parents who have had beautiful stories of their child in recovery, long term recovery. And then there's the dead kids club.

Melissa Bright:

Right.

Stacey:

I don't know which one I'm going to be a part of.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah.

Stacey:

But I didn't want to wait until I decided it was to start showing up now. Right? Because there are so many of us who are struggling. And we struggle behind closed doors. And you know, what, if our kids had cancer, it wouldn't be treated this way. Right. But this disease, we treat like it's contagious. I didn't want to hide that. I want to make a difference. I want the world a better place. But if me sharing our pain helps one person it'll be worth it. Yeah, absolutely. Especially because you are going through it right now. And there are other parents going through it that just want a survivor's guide. Want to know what to do because I know that you didn't have one and every single day I'm sure you still question Am I doing the right thing? Is this for sure what I'm supposed to be doing?

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. And it's, it's, it's got to be so hard. And once again, that's why I think you're so brave. And you know, when you when you said that, you know, I didn't want to wait until a different outcome. No, you you started talking now. You know, and and I pray so much that soon you can come back and share your story of you know, your son getting better and seeking help me do. I'm just so proud of you.

Stacey:

And you should be proud of yourself because I know that you're exhausted. I'm tired. And but I but I'm proud of you. I'm proud of you too. And I, I'm so grateful for this opportunity. I love that you are using your platform for good. And I want to align with amazing souls like yourself, because that is what we're really here for. We're here to learn to love ourselves. Yep. We truly love ourselves that we can love other people. Yeah, we can have authentic genuine connection like this. Yeah. And I believe that that is how we truly heal.

Melissa Bright:

Yep. I so, so agree with that. Because that's, I feel like I did not show up as myself until I started my podcast, when I started speaking about my mental health issues. And then I started talking to other people that were going through drug addictions, cancer survivors, guys that have been in jail for 10 years, and then found God, and now he's out, kicking ass and taking names and doing all that stuff. It's just incredible. But it took a long time to get here. You know, I'm not 40. But I'm almost there. I'm getting close. The last question that I have for you, and this is the question that I always asked all of my guests is, Stacy, what does the bright side of life mean to you?

Stacey:

The bright side of life means to me, always trying to find the lessons and get better. And get better can be in your healing in the way you show up in the world. But I think it all comes back to being the most authentic version of yourself. Because when you show up like that, you shine bright.

Melissa Bright:

Oh, you're like, natural public speaker. I don't, it's something just has happened. I don't even know how else to explain it. But like,

Stacey:

I have a story if you want to hear it about Dylan in the hospital.

Melissa Bright:

Yes, please share.

Stacey:

So early on in the first few days when he was in the coma, he kept spiking a fever up to 106 107. And the doctors couldn't figure out why they couldn't figure out what was going on. And I walked to the door of his room that day, and the lights were off. And he had these special, like a special blanket over him to like warm him because his body was so fluctuating the temperature so much, right? And I remembered I heard a voice I know it's weird. That said in your bag, the healing oil. And I had forgotten that somebody had mailed me a card for Dylan with a little swab of healing oil from a saint, but he who was a healer. So I took the I took the packet out of my backpack, and I went over to him and I put my hands on him to do Reiki. And I was over his head and then I worked down to his chest. And immediately I knew what was wrong. And I ran out of his room. And I have no medical training at all. So I grabbed his nurse Her name was Nora, Nora Dylan has a massive infection in his chest, you need to get the doctors here. He needs an antibiotic and an IV that starts with the C. And she looked at me like I was nuts. 15 minutes later, the doctors were all in his room surrounding him scanning him, he had double pneumonia. One lung was totally filled the fluid, the other one was almost filled with fluid. The next day when we back and went back into his room. The IV bag with antibiotic was hanging next to his bed. And it was like Cipro or cephalexin or whatever it's called. And the doctor that day when he was when he was talking to us, he was like, You're weird. What? Whatever you did help us. So I can't explain it scientifically. And I just that was the day. That was the day that I made the choice that had I not spoken up. Right. I would not have been able to help my son. And so even though it's a wicked uncomfortable, and I mean wicked. I just decided that it doesn't matter what other people think of me. If I am being true to me, and I am being real and authentic and genuine and I'm trying to help people. That's what I'm going to do. So the voice just went boom, right in that moment, and I haven't looked back. Yeah. And it's been incredible because it started this healing business. For me. It started me talking and I think this is true healing.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Yeah. And it's it's amazing. I'm telling you some of the If I could remember the freakin quote, there's a quote, I can't think of what it is, um, through our greatest pains come our biggest like, achievement. Yep, I think it's our greatest blessings. It's something, something crazy. And you know, the way to think about that it's so true. You know, because I had to lose a lot. I've lost my mom, I've lost my dad, you know, those, I don't have any parents left. And I can't believe I'm 35 years old, like parentless. Never in a million years that I think that this would be my life. But now it has really given me like a voice because something had to happen inside me to start healing, uh, you know, with the loss of my mom. And now that is transformed into something that I never thought would happen. But this is like, literally, I feel 100% myself now. And it's so good, isn't it? It's crazy. It does. It really does. And it's so relieving. It's liberating. It is it's liberating. And it brings the people that you have always thought of or expected to come into your life or they resonate, and it's just like, holy crap. Like, this is what it feels like, but that a lot of pain had to happen. A lot of self reflection had to happen. A lot of healing had to happen.

Stacey:

But it's not easy. It's a process for sure. And you know, it, it was hard for me. I mean, to come back out to work seven months later and not have a business. These were clients I'd had for 15 years. Yep. It was like, okay, nobody wants me anymore. And I don't even know where I fit. Like, I felt like an identity crisis myself. Yeah. And what's happened is, it's like God just cleared out the things that no longer serve me. Right? He's like, I can't change the fact that Dylan's going down this path, but I can bless you in the interim. Right. And I feel like that is the thing. Like if you can get yourself to a place to write down three things a day that you're grateful for, even just that, it changes your mindset. And for me, it is a discipline. It's not something that comes easy. No, but I fight for it every day. Every day. I get up and I show up. I might 40 pounds more shout up.

Melissa Bright:

Girl. There you go. There you go. Well, Stacey, thank you so much for coming on here to share your story. And is there anything else that you want? my listeners to know? You know, I know. I don't know. Can you do Reiki online? I don't know how that stuff works.

Stacey:

Yeah. And so I do intuitive readings, I do them

Melissa Bright:

through you can do them through like zoom, if so or FaceTime, any of that. So you don't have to live in the same area that I do. You can reach out to me that way. You can find me on Instagram at style of Stacey. I have a beauty business that I love so much. And I'm really focusing on my healing and helping others. So if there's anything I can do to serve, reach out. Awesome. All right, thank you so so much, Stacey. Thank you. You guys. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the bright side of life. I know that Stacy's story is heavy, much like a lot of my episodes, but I wanted to share hers because she has a higher mission in life. And that is to help anyone that may be going through the same thing. And to also know that you can work through your pain and you can heal from it as well. It's crazy that some of our darkest times in our life, bring us back to the light or even to the light for the very first time. She even said it in the email, she said the greatest gift we get can give ourselves is the freedom of finding the bright side. And that takes work. I will not deny that especially in the things that she's going through. But she also knew that she had two choices, she can look at the bright side in life and show up every day or let this keep her down. So Stacey, I wish you all the best and I know that I just want you to know that I have you in my thoughts and prayers. And guys, as always, if you know someone that may need to hear this story, something that might be going on similar in their life. Please Please share this episode with them because we never know if this is the one that puts hope back in their heart.