Written By Marcie Catanese
My name is Marcie. As a woman in my 40’s, before I came to Graceland Ranch, I knew it all. I was never, ever wrong. So, how come my life was in shambles? How come my life was so unmanageable and out of control? Growing up in the 70/s and 80’s was quite different than it is now. No internet, no cell phones or the World Wide Web. We rode bikes, played outside, and waited to hear our Mom and Dad call us to come home when it got dark. Reagan was President, and the Just Say No to drugs campaign was going strong. What a concept, “Just Say No”…at that time, addiction wasn’t considered a disease, it was a matter of willpower. Doctor’s readily handed out Opiates and Morphine like it was candy for any pain or discomfort. My Mom’s best friend was a doctor and had her own practice, and at 13, I started getting monthly shots of Opiates to control my severe “female” cramps, and soon learned early on, that my pain would be simply rectified by a pill or a dose. I started getting “headaches”, and my Mom just wanted to see her girl out of pain, she didn’t understand addiction as we do now, and she did what she thought was best. One week out of the month, I was flying high, out of pain or discomfort, but the rest of the time, my parents and I couldn’t understand why I would slip into major depression, mood swings, and my moods soon became out of control. I know now, my young body was going through major withdrawals. By the time I was 17 years old, I was on several antidepressants, seen my share of psychiatrists, spent lots of time in and out of mental hospitals, and yet, never attributed these things to drugs or addiction. I started smoking weed regularly, drinking, and continued this well into my 40’s, before I acknowledged I even had a substance problem. Looking at me, I had it all under control. I was raised to never let anyone see my weaknesses, to keep up appearances, despite what was going on inside of me. I wanted for nothing, parents were married for 38 years, loved my sister and I more than life itself. I was a theatre kid, a singer, and starred in every musical. Graduated Beyer High School in Modesto, California in 1991, and planned by 21 years old, I would be winning a Grammy for best Album. Pursued after graduation my music career, and had a single out in 1994, opened for some major artists at the time, and was on the way to stardom. During this time, I was working in the Restaurant business as a server, and soon went up the ranks to Bartender. This gave me ample supply of any drugs and all the alcohol I wanted, as my addiction became stronger and it became a necessity for me to function at that point. I couldn’t wake up without my hit of weed, couldn’t start a shift without a few shots to get me going, and never recorded my music without my pain pills which I was now taking, not just for the pain anymore. My music career now became just a side note. Being a professional partier was now my life. I knew all the answers, my entitlement was strong. Every bad thing in my life was someone else’s fault. I got married in my 30’s, to a man also greatly active in his addiction as well, so, it was the perfect match. This ended up becoming a 14 year cycle of abuse, police reports, hospital stays and chaos, and I stayed because I had become comfortable living in that chaos. I could never see my part in why the marriage was toxic, granted, there is no excuse for his abuse, but, again, I didn’t see the red flags because I was so high all the time, so I stayed, hoping, it would get better. I know now, I definitely played a major role in the dissolution and toxicity of that partnership. However, that’s another story for another time, the truth is, I was incredibly broken when we met, and would have seen those red flags if I hadn’t been.
So, how did I end up here at Graceland Ranch? I was tired, fed up with the constant chaos, the constant chasing the high, tired of my excuses, I was broken and heartbroken. I was overweight, rarely left the house, had burned every bridge, and felt alone, so alone. Scrolling through Tik Tok one day, Graceland Ranch and Patrick Ridge popped up on my feed. I saw a community, a family of people from all walks of life, happy, having fun, laughing, and SOBER! At 48 years old, I wanted so very desperately to know what that was. I had only known self imposed chaos, and not peace.. and the drugs had stopped working, it had stopped becoming fun, and a necessity to function, although, I wasn’t functioning at all really. High and pilled out on benzo’s, I reached out to Graceland, and the house manager, Madison contacted me. 5 days, 2 buses and a train later, I arrived here. Those days seemed to drag, as I wasn’t able to tell my husband I was leaving in fear of his anger, the fights, and consequences of me doing something for myself for once, so I packed two suitcases, and left EVERYTHING behind. My toxic marriage, the animals I loved and raised, my new car and material belongings. Everything I had accumulated, I put behind me for an indefinite future, but I just knew that I couldn’t live that way anymore. I was alive, but I wasn’t living. I was merely existing. I walked through these doors,heartbroken, a shit ton of baggage and excuses, buried in self pity, along with my addictions to drugs and alcohol. I am now starting from scratch. It is ironic, I don’t have much, but I am freer than I ever have been before. 3 months later, and 102 days sober today, I have learned, at 48 years old, I don’t know shit. Working AA, and the 12 Steps, have taught me to surrender to my Higher Power. I have so much to learn. The community here has now become my family. the staff here are invested in each and every individual that walks through those doors, with love and compassion. Mind you, a whole lot of tough love that pissed me off when I got here, but this is the love I need. This love is saving my life. This program is teaching me this…to surrender. It’s teaching me that I don’t have the answers, to be honest, and to trust this process, as hard as it may be. I know that I have so much to learn, and there are days and moments, i just want to throw in the towel and get high or have a drink, to numb out the memories and regrets of the choices I’ve made. I am learning to that through the uncomfortable, to acknowledge my bullshit, to take inventory of who I have wronged, to be my brothers and sister’s keeper, and to keep each other accountable. I am learning to get out of self, to help others as much as I can, because ultimately, it helps me grow. I know now that this is the beginning of a beautiful future, and I am so very grateful to be here. I am proof that it’s never, ever too late to learn, to get sober, and to grow. Graceland Ranch saved my life and has made me excited to live again.