My name is Crystal and I have been clean since 9/3/2021. I grew up in Knoxville, TN with my parents who are also addicts. My entire childhood I spent my entire childhood in fear, as I watched my mother being physically and verbally abused by my father. My Father was always gone and in and out of jails while my mother was always working very long hours and was not always physically present in my life because she worked so much so I had to stay with my grandparents a lot growing up so at an early age I felt a disconnection from my parents and a sense of abandonment. I felt very alone and my emotional needs as a child were not attended to, so I acted out a lot growing up because I realized that was one way I sought attention and acted out in rage because I was angry but truth is I was hurt and I didn’t know how to express that hurt because I didn’t have anyone to help me process my emotions. I was a ticking time bomb growing up because I stuffed my feelings, so I never addressed them growing up. I was the only child up until my mom had my brother on 06/24/2001 which he then passed away on 09/11/2001, he was only 6 weeks old and after that tragic event my mother mental health took a turn for the worse and had a mental break down and my dad became completely absent from my life at this point because we then moved in with my mother’s parents after my mom came back from a mental institution. I never truly had anyone who looked after me in sense of supervision. I did what I wanted and when I wanted to and didn’t have anyone to answer to so when I moved in with my grandparents around age 9 and I began to start hanging out with people who were twice my age because my cousin lived there also and she was in high school and she would have friends come over and they would be drinking and smoking weed so that is when I first started using and discovered a way to escape my hurt and my pain. I was hanging around older guys and, I discovered at the age 11 that I found myself in a relationship with a guy that was much older than me and I discovered more than just drinking and smoking weed. I got involved in pills and I can remember overdosing at the age of 12 because I took to many, but it never registered to me that using was a problem “I just took to many” so I continued to use and I truly never reached my full potential throughout high school, but I maintained graduating and getting my diploma. after high school I got heavier in doing other drugs and found myself in the mist of what it means to find ways and means to use. I went against all morals and values to get high. I started creating a record from traffic violations to criminal charges and I was in and out of rehab facilities. Through the process of rehabs I was introduced to Narcotics Anonymous but couldn’t stay clean long enough to hear the message of any addict can stop using drugs, loose the desire to use and find a new way to live until I experience enough pain and enough consequences was when I became entirely ready to do something different and In 2014 I experienced my last trip to rehab and soon as I got out I went straight to a NA meeting and continued going to meetings and took suggestions and got a sponsor and started doing service work and working steps. I chased my recovery like I chased the dope because I was broken but I had hope by listening to others that came before me who believed in me when I struggled believing in myself. My first year clean I got pregnant with my son in 2015 and I felt a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose in this world because I was going to be a mother and I knew I wanted more for my son than I was given growing up so I stayed clean for 3 ½ years , relapsed because I decided going back around to the same people, places and things that I was “ different” and convinced I wouldn’t get high instead I convinced myself that I could drink and I stayed drinking from morning to night and came close to losing everything I worked hard for in those 3 ½ years including my son. So, I decided to put down the alcohol and get back involved in participating in my recovery and get clean so that is what I did however I wished I could say that was the last time, but I stayed clean close to 3 years and relapsed again and now here I am again on 09/3/21 I decided to take my life back and get clean. Now I have two handsome sons that are my world and deserve a mother who can be physically, mentally, and emotionally present in their lives and to give them more than I had growing up. I have a healthy relationship with my fiancé, and I have a beautiful relationship with God, myself, my kids, and others. I continue working a NA program, make meetings and I have a sponsor and I still work steps. I continue to do my best to be a light of hope to others in this world to know that we are not defined by our mistakes, that there is hope, we can change!!! 

Do you have a recovery story that you’d like to share? Email Ashlee Crouse at