Our twentieth spotlight in the FACES OF HOPE: WE DO RECOVER series will focus on Ashley DeLaney’s story, “Broken to Beautiful.”
‘…My name is Ashley DeLaney and I am someone who has struggled with addiction and depression for the majority of my life. My problems began well before I ever put a drink or a drug into my body. I was a broken, empty, shell of a child. I remember being so filled with anxiety I could not sleep at night, I could not eat, and at times, I felt I could not breathe. I remember fantasizing about suicide. At age 10, I stuck a loaded gun in my mouth. I remember the cold metal clanking against my teeth. I remember wishing it all would just end.
I was 14 years old when I first drank alcohol. I felt alive for the first time in my life. Alcohol seemed like the answer to all of my problems. My entire existence and soul purpose for living centered around that next drink. My use spiraled out of control. I began using anything and everything.
I found myself seriously addicted to opiates. I attempted to get clean on my own numerous times and then with the help of several detox facilities. I could not stay clean. I found myself so hopeless, I was content in dying from this disorder.
I began my journey to “surrender” in the summer of 2013. I began looking for treatment facilities but the only one I would even consider was Karen’s Place. It was a residential facility that looked like a home rather than a hospital. The only problem…it is a faith-based facility and I was not sure I believed in God.
I truly believe God led me to Karen’s Place and gave me the opportunity to sit still so that He could reveal Himself to me. I arrived at Karen’s Place on September 5, 2013. I had only been there two days, I found myself sitting out back on a swing. I was shaking, sweating, and sobbing as the drugs left my body. It was my mother’s birthday and I prayed for the first time in forever. I asked God to give me a sign. I asked Him to let me know He was real. I asked Him to let me know I would survive this. Moments later, a butterfly flew and sat on my hand. My trembling hand, wet from sweat and tears…and there it was. I was not comfortable in my own skin and yet it set with me. It set there long enough for me to remember a conversation I had just a week before. I was told by my former youth pastor and spiritual mother that butterflies are messengers from God saying He is here. I began to have HOPE and FAITH that I was meant for more than how I had been existing.
Describe your ‘Aha’ moment.
My Aha moment came after I relapsed and overdosed. I had completed a 37 day program at Karen’s Place but knew in my heart, it was not enough. I had gone against God’s plan for my life. Right before I walked out of Karen’s Place, God spoke to me. He said, “if you walk out those doors, you will be the one they hear about overdosing.” I got home and found myself instantly restless, irritable and discontent. I remember praying, “God, if I have not listened, if I am not walking out Your plan for my life, I need you to smack me in the face!” I don’t often listen to that “still quiet voice” so I asked for something bolder. It was approximately 24 hours after I had left treatment. I found myself in a pit of black nothingness. I could hear my mother screaming my name but she sounded so far away. I can still hear the sheer terror in her voice which causes me to quiver to this day. As cliche as this sounds, I remember seeing a light and a comforting voice telling me to go on. I woke up as I was being wheeled out on a stretcher. I was so upset in the back of the ambulance. The paramedic attempted to calm me down as my oxygen levels were severely low. I don’t know how he understand me between sobs and gasps for air. Somehow he did. He understood me saying that I wanted to DO better, LIVE better, BE better. I remember looking up and he was standing over me. I noticed the crosses adorning his shirt collar, just as he spoke and said, “just look at it like a God Smack, like God is smacking you right back into place.” I was stunned! The exact prayer I had prayed just hours before. I called Karen’s Place from the emergency room and was given grace and allowed to reenter the program.
Describe the feelings and emotions during active addiction
HOPELESS. I was incredibly hopeless. I honestly thought I would die from drugs and I was ok with that.
What is the driving force that keeps you going when times get tough?
My daughter. God has taught me so much through both my daughter and my role as a mother. I now understand unconditional love. I understand that God’s love for me is not performance based, just as my love for her is not based on her performance, but rather her identity as my child.
What is something that you want people who have never dealt with addiction to understand?
Where there is breathe, there is HOPE! I was a horrible person in active addiction. I did horrible things. Thing I never thought I would do just to feed my addiction. I know my family should have given up on me but they didn’t. A very good family friend once told them, “where there is breathe, there is HOPE!” HOPE is incredibly POWERFUL!! Don’t lose it!
What advice do you have for a person’s family that’s still in active addiction?
Love them. Remember your child or loved one is still in there, they just need help. Love them but don’t love them to death. Loving them does not mean giving into their every demand. Remember to love and take care of yourself too. Fear is a powerful motivator, it is easy to find yourself consumed by your loved one’s addiction. Set boundaries and stick to them. Find support with other loved ones.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call Addiction Recovery Care at 606.638.0938 or visit them on the web at www.arccenters.com.
There is hope. There is help.