One word that means so much: pain, anesthesia, stimulation, devastation, perceived freedom, true imprisonment, madness, power, loneliness, pride, shame and death.
We live in a community where the effects of methamphetamine are everywhere. We know it personally. We have felt the anguish of meth addiction in our lives and the lives of people we love.
This man that I am falling for so quickly, the one who is so charming, so exciting, so considerate, tells me he is clean off of meth. He used to use it, he tells me, but not anymore. Cool, I say. Cool.
With absolutely no clue what that means - meth, meth addiction, clean off of meth - until he relapses. How do I know he has relapsed? I don't. I just know he's different - all of a sudden he is acting crazy, paranoid.
He disappears, doesn't call me back, tells me some insane story about having to hide at a friend's house 17 miles away, that people are looking for him, he can't talk to me anymore, he is going to jail.
Then he reappears a couple of weeks later, needing a place to stay and crashes on my couch for two weeks. What is wrong with him? I'm thinking, "All he does is sleep on my couch."
He's coming down now, but I don't understand it. My family warns me. My friends warn me. Everybody warns me.
They know him. He uses meth, he has a temper.
He is notorious in this small town - he's been arrested so many times you couldn't count. He's been shot, stabbed, lost his kids; he has nothing left.
But I've seen into his eyes, his heart, his soul.
I know that there is an extraordinary person behind his past of drugs, lies and violence. I see love, generosity, desire in someone who I am drawn to so strongly, who is so easy to talk to.
I've never met anyone like him, so I am willing to risk being hurt and take a chance on believing in this man. I do get hurt. But I still believe that God has a different plan for him.
He gets clean but spends a month in jail - his relapse has violated his probation. After that month, he stays clean. He accepts Jesus. Three months later, Judge Michael O'Hara allows him to go to a six-month rehab.
I have fallen in love with him, and we are engaged before he leaves. While he is gone, I want to know more about addiction, more about this life-wrecker called meth.
I begin recovery of my own. I was an addict of a different kind and had underestimated the devastation of meth addiction. I begin my passionate journey of supporting, loving, educating and fighting against the lie that entices the first high.
Today, more than six years later, my husband and I stand side-by-side. He is clean, an inspiration to me and others, a miracle of God's hope.
Two days ago, I celebrated six years clean off meth.
You wouldn't think it would be that hard to quit something that ruins your life, destroys your health and steals your soul. But it is. It's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.
Why did I ever start using it? When I was under the influence of meth, it took away all my feelings of guilt and shame. It took away the reality of my past actions, how I had hurt people and the pain I felt from being hurt myself.
Meth replaced all of that with feelings of power and energy. It made me feel like the world was right when I was high.
That was the beginning. Then came the ruined relationships, the jail time, the loss of respect and my self-worth, the loss of businesses and friends. I could write a book. My life was unimaginable, and to think it was all self-inflicted.
When I finally quit meth, I was living in a storage shed, going through my second divorce and losing custody of the youngest of my three kids.
I was facing felony charges yet again - surely this time I was going to prison.
My life was over. My kids were better off without me. I did nothing but hurt them. I had little to offer them or anyone else. I wanted to die. What I really wanted was to get off meth, but that was impossible.
I had tried so many times before only to fail again and again. I had been given so many chances, yet I always messed them up. What was wrong with me? Why can't I get this right?
I found myself in jail once again. I called the only person who would still accept my call.
I could tell she was devastated by my relapse. I had lied to her. I had hurt her. I expected her to tell me not to call again, but she didn't. Instead she started writing me in jail, sending me bible scriptures.
After a month, she bailed me out of jail, but only if I would start going to church with her.
Of course I said I would. Just get me out of jail.
A few months later, I decided not to do this on my own. I needed help. I asked God to lead my life and help me beat my addiction to meth.
A couple months later, I was allowed to go to rehab in Grand Junction. I was ready. I had been clean seven months, my mind was clear, my heart was being healed, and I had hope.
Hope. That's what I had been lacking.
God made my life new again. I knew I had a long road ahead, but I was ready to work for my recovery. Jessie and I married three days after I got out of rehab.
Our lives have been blessed so much.
It's our desire and passion to help others who are hurting.
We are involved in Communities Overcoming Methamphetamine Abuse because we believe in the message we carry. We are involved with Celebrate Recovery because God is changing lives up there.
We have been part of Celebrate Recovery for the past five years, knowing that it is the strength of God and the support of others who are walking the same walk that helps us stay living as right as we can.
Today, we are convinced more than ever that we have to be persistent in our involvement in the lives of those who are struggling with addiction and in the lives of the kids in our community who we pray will never be touched by it.
We are proud to live in a place where compassion is abundant, and we have been moved by all of the business owners and community members who have contributed to the victories of COMA and Moffat County Drug Court.
We have felt the sting of failure and loss along the way. And yet every day there is a success - success that you can't measure or put a number on, but successes of friendship, faith, one more day clean, one more marriage restored, one more little girl whose dad was around to tuck her in last night, one more mother whose son has said, "Not even once."
We'll never know how far the effects of our efforts reach. That makes us no less determined. Determined to do what we can to help kids understand what just a taste can lead to.
We are desperate to share our knowledge of the tragedies that befall a life of meth addiction.
We welcome anyone and everyone to join us - join us at Celebrate Recovery on Friday nights, join in COMA's efforts in our community, join us in supporting Drug Court clients.
If you are hurting, or know somebody who is, call us. Our door is always open.
Our numbers are: The Journey at First Baptist, 824-5926; the Cramers, 826-4000; COMA, 824-COMA.