The Star-Herald

Kayty’s story

Editor’s note: Recovery Aroostook has celebrated National Recovery Month by sharing stories of local people and their recovery journeys. The 2021 theme was “Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.” We thank you for reading.

Don’t get me wrong. My childhood was good. I had both parents until I was 12ish. They made decent money. Loved us and each other. My siblings and I were in sports, had a nice house, vehicles and loving pets. My parents didn’t drink or do drugs. For me, this wasn’t a moral failing, nor was it a hereditary misfortune. I was just wired a little different.

I was young when I started drinking. I had tried cocaine here and there but didn’t know love until I tried heroin. For five years I beat the system. I stole to support my habit until I realized that just wasn’t enough money and transitioned into exotic dancing. 

I loved it! I worked hard, made excellent money and put it straight into my bloodstream. I lived a life I thought people dreamed of. But as with all substances, this was not going to end well. In 2015 I was 25 with two kids, homeless, unemployed, with multiple criminal charges and a Child Protective Services case backed by that first bad boy I met.

I called my mother and asked if she would take me to rehab. She picked me, her only daughter, up at the back door of a strip club and sat with me through the entire intake process. The following Monday, at a CPS court appearance, the cops and court offered me a choice: two years in prison and lose my children or keep my children and go to rehab. Rehab it was.

Four months later I transitioned from rehab to homelessness, to an apartment, then eventually back home to Maine. For four beautiful years, I fought hard. Then one night, after a physical altercation with an abusive partner, a broken window, a ton of tears, and a police report to CPS, my children were removed from my care.

It was all too much for me at the time. I went to visit my oldest daughter. My substance use disorder took over and I shot heroin. This time, though, it wasn’t heroin. It was Fentanyl. I lost consciousness, hit the floor, and died. Right there, in front of my daughter, I died. 

My daughter saved my life that day. My 5-year-old daughter and Narcan. That was the day I looked at my recovery. I asked myself the question “Why, after four years of winning the fight against opioid use disorder, did this happen?”   

The answer: In addition to a system that didn’t understand, I didn’t have a community. A community of people who appreciated how hard someone must work to beat this disorder. A community that smiled at me “even though,” or a community that told me they were proud of me. A community who told me I was capable. 

I finally found that community. Aroostook County Action Program loved me back to life. I found Aroostook Mental Health Service’s Roads to Recovery Community Center, which provided me with a safe place — a Thursday morning Narcotics Anonymous meeting that, to this day, is still a driving force in my recovery. The most powerful connection I have today is my connection with Maine Recovery Advocacy Project, a family of folks who love fiercely and without condition.

Today, I can testify on behalf of recovery-friendly legislation. I started my own recovery-focused organization that offers recovery coaching and peer support groups at the Caribou Public Library. I have been able to partner with organizations that help bring harm reduction to our community. We support and love those in recovery; more importantly, we love people who struggle with substance use disorder fiercely and without condition, as I was.

I support recovery of any and every pathway and hold zero judgement on how a person chooses to live, provided they try to be a little bit better every day. It is because of my recovery that I can sit on the board of directors of ACAP, represent Maine State Parent Ambassadors, participate in committees and counsels. And my voice matters. 

Because of my recovery I am capable of living my life in a way that offers people what I couldn’t find: love, support, connection and acceptance.

Today I am a waitress, nonprofit director, a present and ever-improving mother, and I have never been happier. The life I live today is a life worth living. I have passion, ability, honesty, and a desire to grow and be better. 

I’m Kayty, and I’m a mother whose family unit is living together in long-term recovery. 

Kayty Robbins is the director of Rise and Grind Recovery. If you or a loved one would like more information on recovery services, please contact her at riseandgrindrecovery@outlook.com.

To find out more about the pathways to recovery, and supports available for individuals and family members, find Recovery Aroostook on Facebook @roads2recoverycommunitycenter @recoveryaroostook @carlcenter or email recoveryaroostook@gmail.com.

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