By Liana Jacob
MEET THE two former addicts who were both suicidal until they checked into rehab where they met each other, fell in love, had two sons and now claim that the support they’ve had from one another has helped them conquer their addictions.
Medical biller, Melissa Kreutz (30), from California, USA, was just 15-years-old when she fell into an alcohol addiction which was stemmed from a lack of self-esteem where she felt like the world would be better off without her.
For years she abused alcohol and this would lead to self-destructive behaviour which caused a rift between her and her family. Melissa ended up drifting apart from her family due to her addiction that lead her to move out. It wasn’t until her family told her she could come back to them if she went to rehab. So she went to her doctor, who was astonished by her excessive drinking, told her he had never seen anyone as young as her that consumed so much alcohol.
Front desk manager, Cody (38), was raised Mormon but he had developed an addiction to opioid pills that resulted in him lying, stealing and starting to hate himself. His guilt mixed with self-loathing resulted in him attempting suicide twice within a 24 hour period before he realised he needed help.
Both Melissa and Cody checked into rehab in 2013, both going in with low expectations, however, they ended up staying sober for months before meeting each other when Cody instantly fell in love with Melissa.
Despite completing his treatments and 12-step programme in October 2013, Cody couldn’t get her out of his mind and asked his friend, who was still in rehab, to pass her number to him and they began dating officially in January 2014, by which time she had also left rehab.
The two entered into a whirlwind romance that resulted in Melissa falling pregnant with their first child just five months into dating. Fast forward four years later, they are now proud parents of two sons, Watson (4) and Emerson (18-months), married and five years sober.
“Family has always been the most important thing in my life, unfortunately I allowed alcohol to take them from me,” Melissa said.
“I have struggled with self-love and abandonment issues my whole life and looked to booze and men to help me heal – that lead to years of self-destructive behaviour.
“Before finding sobriety I held such a deep self-loathing; I believed I would never accomplish anything and that I was a selfish human being who was meant to die an alcoholic’s death.
“At the end of active addiction, I was physically ill and mentally shattered. I hated myself and pushed everyone away and was very alone.
“Leaving the house or speaking to others gave me debilitating anxiety, I woke up every morning feeling like the world was crushing me.
“Due to my physical addiction to alcohol, I could no longer hold a job; I was twenty-five-years-old with nowhere to go – no college education, no job, no car, no license and basically nowhere to live. I was alone and waiting to die.
“I found myself back in detox; my parents would allow me to come back home if I went to rehab. I didn’t intend to stay sober; I truly thought my destiny was death.
“I met a doctor who said, ‘Melissa, I’ve never seen someone so young drink the way that you do, I don’t know why, but you are trying to kill yourself, and you’re going to succeed if you don’t get help’.
“I went to rehab and figured I may as well give it a shot. Then as I began to change, my life began to change. There was a window of opportunity to get sober, and somehow, I jumped through it.”
Cody explains his turning point that lead him to check in rehab.
“At one time, alcohol was fun for me, a way to enjoy the company of others, a way to celebrate, a way to have fun. However, it was my addiction to pills that robbed me of my true self,” he said.
“I would say the last two years of my drinking and drug addiction were terrible and wreaked havoc on my life emotionally and physically.
“In active addiction, I began lying, stealing and hurting others, I became a man I didn’t recognise, a man I hated. The guilt took me to a very dark place.
“While I still had friends and loved ones, I caused a lot of damage and hurt throughout my addiction. I was spiritually broken, in the middle of a divorce and working a job I hated. At the end, I wanted nothing more than to get clean.
“I believed I was a piece of sh** and I was consumed by guilt. I was broken and had surrendered to my disease, so I was ready to go to any lengths to get clean.
“I had two unsuccessful suicide attempts and finally gave in to seeking help and do everything suggested by the team of doctors.
“Literally, everything has changed since finding sobriety. I was able to become the man I always had been; kind, responsible, empathetic, unselfish.
“I’ve worked incredibly hard over the past four years to move up in my company, last year I became the head of my department.”
Cody describes the moment he saw Melissa in rehab and how their relationship has helped them overcome many challenges.
“I saw Melissa in rehab and basically fell in love on the spot, but she had no idea who I was. My rehab ended and I couldn’t get her out of my mind,” Cody said.
“I had a friend who was still going while she was, and I asked him to ask if she would give her number to him for me. Somehow, she agreed, and I called her the following night and asked her out.
“She agreed on what was a blind date for her; the date was unreal and we’ve hung out essentially every day since.
“Melissa and I both knew that recovery was the most important thing in our lives, so very early into us knowing each other we set some boundaries.
“Number one: don’t try to run each other’s programs, number two: make recovery a centre piece of our relationship from the beginning (i.e. dates would be going to twelve-step meetings instead of other things).
“Number three: promise each other that if either of us relapsed in early recovery we would leave the person who relapsed because we would have obviously made a mistake in being in a relationship too soon.
“Melissa and I can both be brutally honest with each other and we also have a tremendous amount of respect for how we each run our own recovery.
“Our family started early and by surprise. Melissa got pregnant four months into us dating. It was a real test for us and made ask very serious questions, but we both decided pretty quickly that being madly in love was what was going to make this work.
“Like, no joke, having a kid scared the sh** out of us, but we both knew that if it was going to happen this soon, we were with the person we wanted to have kids with so we dove right in.
“Having a family has helped us both dramatically. However, I think it’s important to point out that Melissa and I have continued our recovery because we know how bad it will be if we go back.
“This decision has to come from us. Of course, our kids help on making that decision daily, but they do not keep us sober/clean.”
Melissa explains what it was like to be a mum during her recovery.
“I cannot credit my sobriety to my children, while they give me so many reasons to stay sober, they also give me so many reasons to drink/use (mainly stress and exhaustion),” she said.
“However, being a mother has taught me the responsibility and accountability I didn’t have before – and those two things are necessary in sobriety.
“People are always supportive. We have had people turn to us for help, and I think that’s the biggest gift. Never give up. Life can be f****** beautiful once you begin to fight. It’s not easy, but it is amazing.”