Reclaiming her time
Young Gateway graduate gets a second chance at life
FORT DODGE – By age 14, Lillie Weir’s best friend went by a few different names — Tina, Crystal and Ice, to name a few.
You may know her former demon by its clinical name: methamphetamine.
The child of parents who grappled with her own struggle in similar ways, Weir didn’t envision herself going to college or having a career of any sort. So as an adolescent, her goal was simple: find the next high.
“I wasn’t really living. I lived to use (meth),” she said. “I was focused on getting my next high or what I had to do to get it.”
What started with alcohol and marijuana at 11 escalated to prescription amphetamines like Vyvanse, before an adult introduced her to methamphetamine — the friend who took all her other friends away.
“The first time I used, I felt like … this is what I’ve been missing,” Weir said. “This is the hole that I had inside. I tried weed and pills, but (meth) just seemed like the perfect fit. It was the drug of choice in my family.”
At first, getting high made her feel normal again — filling the hole to make her whole. But the feeling was a mirage.
“I didn’t feel like I had any options,” she said, as she couch surfed through school. “Addiction ran in my family, so it wasn’t really a surprise that I was an addict.”
Now the 21-year-old, the youngest of Gateway to Discovery’s July graduates is making up for a childhood — school, friends and prospects as a track athlete — lost to meth.
Weir, a self-described “grandma’s girl,” is living on a prayer, she said, ascribing her success to a faithful grandmother and a renewed faith in God that made this treatment program — over two years sober — stick after seven other unsuccessful attempts, most of which were court-ordered.
“I’m pretty sure my grandma was praying a lot for me, that’s what got me here,” she said.
Learning how to live a “normal” life after experiencing unparalleled rushes of dopamine takes a little bit of prayer and a little bit of adjustment, as it turns out.
But now, the young woman has learned how to reclaim her time and enjoy life for what it should be.
“No matter what feelings I feel, I’m happy with (sobriety),” she said. “I wish I could go on with my life not knowing what (meth) felt like, but God’s the only reason I’m able to do it.”
With Gateway to Discovery, Weir found a place she had been missing, more than a house: a home.
“I do have my whole future ahead of me now,” the Iowa Central student said, with aspirations to become a registered nurse and work in the psychiatric unit.
After more than one suicide attempt, she hopes she can use her darkest moments to help others overcome theirs. One of those attempts was after she chose to get high instead of seeing a friend who later killed himself.
“The last time I could’ve hung out with him was a week before that, and I ditched him to go get high,” Weir said. “I don’t ever want to know (again) that I didn’t spend someone’s last time with them because I was getting high or wasn’t in the present moment with them.”
One of the people she wants to make the most of her time with: grandmother Dorothy Weir, now 83.
“I got my wonderful girl back,” Dorothy Weir said at graduation, a tearful moment that resonated.
“Lillie’s come so far and so great,” Dorothy Weir told The Messenger. “All I hope and pray for her is that she can keep going the way she’s going. She’s done so well.”
For now, that means going to classes and embracing her open-minded personality to reclaim her time in life.
“The crazy thing is that I don’t like adrenaline, which isn’t what you’d think, but I now like trying new foods, going to new places, and seeing new people,” Lillie Weir said. “I just like living.”
Now, life is all the adventure she needs to live fulfilled — without that rush.