Finding grace after trauma

Kyle James is a mother, a widow, and a drug addict. / Kerri Copello

Kyle James is a mother, a widow, and a drug addict. Her sobriety date is January 29, 2011.

Born in Alabama, Kyle James lived a normal life with a normal family. She graduated from high school, went to college, joined a sorority and graduated college.

At the age of 21, she started drinking socially. While working at a bar, she met a man that give her a pill to help get rid of a hangover. This is where James' addiction started. Her drug of choice, opiates and alcohol.

After college, she met a marine, the love of her life. They married and had two children that passed away at birth. As a result, James started taking pills more regularly.

During the next attempt to have a child, James and her husband Robert welcomed a daughter, Phoenix, to the world.

The death of their children and trauma from time spent in war took a toll on Robert. After a night out and a few drinks, followed by an argument with his wife, he took his life while James was out of the house.

James recalls how she felt when finding his body; "It was horrendous. It was a dark place that I don't think anyone could ever go to unless they're there at that time because I can't explain what it's like to blow breath into a dead body of someone you are so hoping is just not dead."

Four days after his death, James found out she was pregnant with another child. Nicholas was born on his deceased father's birthday.

For Kyle, her disease became rampant. She was taking so much medicine and drinking to a point that her liver and kidneys shut down. Despite being on dialysis and having a port in her neck, she continued to drink.

Laying in bed with a bottle of pills and liquor on the table beside her, she thought the five words that every alcoholic and drug addict says; "I wish I was dead".

After about two years of using, she hit rock bottom.

James' next step was to detox.

While there, one of her nurses suggested that she should go to a long-term rehabilitation center and through internet research, she found Graceway.

"The hardest part is getting here. Once you get to the door; once you just walk in the door, you are no longer a junkie, you are a recovering drug addict or you are no longer a drunk, you're a recovering alcoholic so you make a huge step as soon as you walk in the door." says James.

Being a total slave to the drug, the recovery process wasn't easy.

The first thirty days are the hardest. This process includes meetings four or five times a day and one-on-one counseling to help teach life skills.

She says, "when I started using drugs, I totally went off of another path. It was like a whole new monster that I created. I created this delusional, self-righteous, grandiosity person that had nothing to do with who I really was".

Today, James doesn't count the years, she counts today. "Today, if a drug or drink is in front of me, I've already made a conscience choice before it even appears to me to rely on my higher power to surrender the fact that I'm powerless over it and that is not the life I want."

Twenty-eight months later James has completely chemical free. She is set to graduate with her second degree in the beginning of May and adds "I got my freedom and I got my life back".

Kyle James is a mother, a widow, a drug addict and now, a counselor helping guide others to recovery so that they can find grace.

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