What kind of family environment did you grow up in?
I grew up in a happy, stable home environment. The town I was raised in was small and quaint. While attending the Mennonite Brethren Church with my family, my brother and I also participated in VBS, Christian Summer Camp, Youth Group, etc.
I accepted Jesus into my heart at age seven. I believe I knew what it meant but didn’t understand the dynamics of it. Around age eleven or so, I had many questions about God such as, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
This really affected my relationship with my “church friends” as I was “rebelling” against Mennonite culture by asking so many questions. Although others mentored and cared for me, I was already fairly lost and angry with God. My relationship with God continued this way into my young adult years.
I believed in God and wanted to believe He was good, but I never felt He loved me. The enemy also reminded me of how much I was a failure and not good enough. I know of course today that I don’t need to earn God’s love because of His mercy and grace towards me.
What were some of the struggles you were dealing with growing up?
I was a redheaded late bloomer. I was bullied from kindergarten until the day I graduated high school. I don’t think anyone should ever underestimate the power of a bully. I should also mention, I started school young and went to college when I was only seventeen. I wasn’t ready.
During my tween years, I fell in love. It wasn’t a silly puppy love. I really, truly fell in love. Fish (his nickname because there was no other “fish in the sea” for me) wrote me my first love letter and took me on my first date (we went mini-golfing).
Halfway through the second semester of high school, he broke up with me for another girl. That experience sent me into my first major bought of depression and suicidal thoughts.
On my nineteenth birthday after many on and off relationships with “The Fish”, broke my heart for the last time. Again, I spiraled into another period of depression. It got so bad that I had to drop out of college and move back home.
So much of that first relationship formed and affected how I thought about myself; I never saw myself as worthy enough. Combine that with being bullied and feeling like God didn’t really love me, I looked for approval and inclusion wherever I could find it.
Why and when did you become a user of drugs?
I smoked pot for the first time when I was twelve. It started because of my peers wanting to impress other peers. I felt terrible though and didn’t plan to do it again. That only lasted until I went to high school. “The Fish” smoked pot pretty heavily and I wanted to show how “cool” I was.
Were there events or problems in which you felt drugs would help you?
Aside from trying to impress “The Fish”, my drug use actually started with smoking. There were always friends to be found in the school’s “smoke pit”. High school smokers are generally social outcasts, rebels or uncultivated gifted children and I could relate to them better than I could my church friends. I found a place to belong and be accepted and all I had to do was smoke a cigarette or take a hit off a joint.
I may not have been “pretty enough” to hang out with the preppy girls or “good enough” for the church kids but smoking was something I could do.
Did you at any time feel that your drug use was getting out of control?
There are a few key moments I clearly remember feeling my drug use was out of control. They also always preempted a bought of depression.
How were your parents informed of your drug use?
I know my parents suspected I was doing drugs (while I blasted Eminem from my bedroom). They found pot once and flushed it down the toilet (they also threw out my Eminem CD- twice). When I was nineteen, I can remember trying to sit down with my Mom in the kitchen, desperate to tell her what had happened to me over the years but she didn’t want to hear it. They didn’t really know what was going on.
**(On Sunday, June 5th I’ll post part 2 of Leah’s interview. She has some great insights. Please come back for the rest!)
Lord, I pray for the parents reading this, those who see themselves here and feel guilty. Remind them you understand and forgive all our mistakes. Assure them there’s grace for all of us at the foot of the cross. Comfort and give them the resolve to lean on You, receive your forgiveness and do what they can to improve their relationship with their child. With Your help, we can.
“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word (Ps. 119:28).”
*Leah Grey Bio:
Leah is a twenty-something blogger, writer and hairstylist whose husband went into long-term treatment for addiction. She runs a faith-based online ministry for women with loved ones who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. She challenges popular beliefs about addiction and encourages women to support their loved ones’ recovery, without abandoning them, by creating healthy boundaries. In March 2016, she launched her website, leahgrey.com and community for women in crisis, “Live, Love, Hope”.
Sign up for Leah’s free, four-week Bible Study, “Be Still & Know” to say, “Goodbye” to Worry!. Visit, www.leahgrey.com/bestillseries.