I was a good student in every way. I was popular, athletic, and I succeeded in achieving anything I put my mind to. My parents had a messy divorce. Then, we lost our home. It was a difficult time in our lives.
After college, I decided to pursue pharmacy studies at NOVA (Florida). Not long after, I was married. The next seven years were the most toxic years of my life. I became addicted to pain medication and other drugs. My life quickly spiraled out of control. My husband had his own problems, but I must take responsibility for my actions, and I was the one getting into a lot of trouble.
I lost my job, and my husband finally divorced me. Six months after my divorce, I stopped taking all drugs. One month later, I woke up in the hospital. I had been on life support a full week. I had kidney failure. No one could figure out exactly what happened to me. At this point, I knew that I wanted to live. I also knew I wouldn’t if I didn’t make some radical changes to my life. I chose life and would do what it took to preserve it.
I was lying in my hospital bed; my eyes were closed, and I saw a candle with a flicker of light. Somehow, I felt it was a message of hope. I felt that I would be okay.
Getting clean was so challenging, even for someone who had succeeding in doing anything she wanted in the past. I surrendered at that point to a higher power. I agreed to be teachable. I agreed to do things outside my comfort zone.
My name is Chara Horton Free. This is my Kintsugi Story.
I was sent to a therapeutical center in Tampa to relearn how to live. I wanted to live. I was no longer in denial. When things got better, I moved in with my parents. My mother had remarried, and my stepfather treated me like a daughter. I was 29 years old.
Things began to improve. I took a job with the state. Being a pharmacist, it was difficult to find a job where I was not near drugs. With the state, I was able to get a desk job, and I also worked in the field. I was on a healthy path.
In 2004, I met another tall, dark, and handsome man. He was a doctor. After a month and a half, I found out that he had been nine years in sobriety. Both my mother and I felt that this was a good thing, as we really understood one another. We were in love. Soon, he was my second husband. I got pregnant with my son. My husband's practice was not doing well, and he left that job, and together we started our own practice. It was our family business. I got pregnant with my second son. This is when life changed again.
I found pain medication in his briefcase. His actions began to make sense to me. Now, all the fights and irrational behavior was explained. I also knew all bets were off. After confronting him, I found out that he had relapsed two years earlier, before our first son was born. I could not believe what was happening to us.
Two hard years led me to consider a divorce. My brother-in-law asked me to stay, to not give up. He believed my husband would not make it without his family, and so I did an intervention. I went to my sister’s home (until he was gone) with my two kids so we would be safe. My boys were only one and three years old.
The Tsunami Hit My Life
My husband decided that life was not worth living, and he never came home after that. He did not want or could not do the work required to reclaim his life. We had a business with three thousand patients; he was the doctor, and he was not coming back. I had to close the practice, close the house, move, and I lost everything. I went bankrupt personally and professionally. I moved near my sister. I hoped that she would give me much needed support, and I would find a job in a town with more options for work.
My children had lost their dad, their home, and their friends. In a way, they then lost their mom because I was working 50 hours a week just to stay afloat. On top of all of that, my youngest son has autism, and I was trying to stay sober. I kept repeating: One day at a time. Just one day at a time. I cried rivers, and I was not quite sure I would make it.
Strengthening my Spirit
I was a tornado, and my sister wanted no part in it. So, despite moving to be near her for support, we became distant or estranged. I was also away from the town I loved. I was utterly alone and realized that I would have to be there for myself. I could not blame my sister. My situation triggered trauma.
Our parents had a dark divorce. Our mother was a pharmacist, as I was. Our father was a doctor, like my husband. I lost my home just as we did as children. It was understandable that my pain was bringing too much of her own to the surface.
My husband was institutionalized, but since he didn’t want to do the required work he was kicked out of that facility. There were too many people who sought to live that needed his place. I managed to make arrangements for him to go to the facility I had been at years prior to get clean. In light of our relationship, they took him free of charge. This was a miracle! There he tried to kill himself, and so he was put into the proverbial system.
The divorce was imminent. He was in an adult home and earning disability income. He was doing what he could to undermine me, despite the fact that I desired to help him. So, I moved back to the east coast, and finally I met someone else online. I thought he was fantastic. Tall dark, and handsome, he was working in banking. He fit the profile of a person I supposed could make me happy.
Not so simple…
In October of 2013, 10 years after my first divorce, my first husband committed suicide. I hadn’t been in Boca Raton, where I lived at that time, for 15 years. I went to the funeral, saw our home, and literally closed that chapter of my life. It was not easy.
In September of 2014, less than a year later, my second husband committed suicide.
I had to take care of everything. He barely had any family, and I was alone as well. It was probably one of the hardest days of my life. My youngest son could not look at his father, and my other son helped carry the cascade. I had a hard time looking at that.
Soon after, my new relationship fell apart. He was not the person I thought he was when I met him. I was tired of that pattern.
It was now 2015. I had begun practicing certain meditative principals years earlier that helped me get through this time. I was writing down the silver lining of each day, my gratitude. I made a point to record and acknowledge my moments of joy. I had experienced so much loss.
At that point in time, I comprehended that Joy was something very vital for me: not only to live in Joy but to spread joy. I heard an inner voice, and I felt that it was my calling. I was receiving another message, and I could see a future for myself and my kids. I was filled with hope.
I moved again. I rented a house at the beach. My credit was so bad that I could not buy the house I wanted. This is where things started to change for the better.
Since then, I lost my dear step-father. I had a hip replacement. I lost my job due to a company acquisition, and I was forced into working on what I feel is my calling. I write what is in my heart. I am working and finding my own way to spread joy into this world. I never felt stronger or in a better state of mind.
I am writing a novel and I am working on my photography. I go out with my dog, who is called Joy. I pray with my children every night, and I feel an abundance of prosperity, not necessarily monetary prosperity but the kind that really matters.
I am a phoenix rising from the ashes.
I stayed sober and clean for these 16 years, throughout all the loss and heartache and disappointments because I really chose life. I hope my rollercoaster story shows you that there is hope. In the darkest of places, there is a flame that is burning, and it is never too late.
My name is Chara Horton Free, and I am Kintsugi.
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If you need assistance with Drug Abuse please call:SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Or click here for clinic locators: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/
Knowing Chara for a short time, she is a remarkable women and mother, her struggles and mine made me a stronger person. She showed me a light I didn’t know still glowed. We all go through traumatic situations, however she has been through many and has turned some horrible moments in life to strength in others. Thank you Chara for your story, it keeps me strong 4 years sober thanks to you ❤️
April 19, 2020
Wow! You have such an incredible story! I am so glad you have been able to overcome so much! I am so sorry for the loss of loved ones, the pain of all you have had to handle. Your story is so full of courage under great despair. I thank you and will hold you in my prayers for peace and good days ahead for you and your sons.
January 07, 2020
You have a heartbreaking story but am so happy that you have come out the other side. I wish you continued good health & sobriety. Know it can’t be easy some days. Your story will help others. You are a true inspiration.
January 07, 2020
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