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I am 23

As I sit here, now aged forty two, and think about my life, many emotions flood my heart. There are so many things I want to write and share with the world. Yet, knowing where to start is sometimes confusing.

Sadness comes in remembering the dark, abusive places I have come from. Comfort comes when I remember that I have overcome that darkness and very different experiences shape my reality today.  Then a mixture of fear and excitement presents itself, in the stillness of where I am today and where I am heading.

I have known the fear, loneliness and desperation of becoming a young mother at age 16.  I saw people talking, and pointing fingers, being so sure I was just a bad kid and could never be a good mother. Of course it would have been easier to entertain their opinions and let others raise my child.

23

I understand how easy it is for many people to fall through the cracks into a life of dysfunction. Society looks down on young mothers, the uneducated and people with addictions. When we are also raised to believe that about ourselves, it’s hard to overcome our demons. When you have nobody on your side, you just jump on the band wagon and accept that you are a failure. It spirals and becomes a way of life.

Because of my own difficult home life, I felt more accepted and loved at other peoples’ houses that I hung out in. It showed me how life should be lived as opposed to the dysfunction of my own home.  As the years went by and my children got older, my home became that safe place for other kids. I was blessed to be a part of so many of my children’s friends’ lives. Watching them grow up in such difficult circumstances broke my heart but I did my best to support them.  There was one little girl that that always held a special place in my heart.

I was walking through my neighborhood when a car passed me. I glanced at the vehicle and thought the girl inside looked familiar, but I kept on walking. A few minutes later the car appeared again and out got Linny. To most people this fragile girl was the stereotypical white trash, single mom. But I knew her when she was just an innocent, sweet, little girl. I helped her get ready for school dances. She did hair and makeup at slumber parties with my daughter. Back then I saw a beautiful woman in the making.

Her mom was in the grips of chronic addiction. I believe however, that she behaved the only way she knew how.  I watched her mother choose partying over the welfare of her children, getting high while her kids were in the next room. She would leave all the kids home alone for days as she went on her drug binges, over dosing, getting locked up, and at one point going into a coma. Despite all of the neglect and trauma, Linny and her siblings loved their mother and she loved them in return. Unfortunately their mother passed away at a young age, leaving her already vulnerable children exposed to a harsh world.

Linny became a mother herself at 16 and again at 18 by a 35 year old crack addict. She wandered through life unable to keep a job and living in different places. She lost her kids at one point because of her drug use and drinking.  Sadly she became a carbon copy of the one person she never wanted to be like – her mom.

When she got out of the car and walked up to me she was visibly high, stumbling and not making much sense.  The man behind the wheel looked much older than her. She looked frail, and as we talked I noticed her teeth looked stained and were starting to rot. She said she moved to the coast and had her 2 girls with her.  They were living with the father of one of them and she was unemployed again. She was stumbling and forgetting what she was saying, making no sense through most of our conversation. As we finished talking I asked who the guy in the car was. She said he was the father of her second daughter and was forty years old – the crack addict.

I had tried over the years to reach out to her, but usually lost contact with her eventually. At that moment I wanted to tell her she could be everything she wanted to be. She could stop this vicious cycle of abuse and dysfunction.  I wanted her to know she was a beautiful soul, not the disease that consumed her. All she had to do was to make the choice to change and get help, to grab the opportunity to make her life better.

I asked her how old she was now.  As she looked at me with sad vacant eyes – she replied:

I am 23.

December 27, 1984 – November 04, 2012 – St. Cloud, Florida

Linny Leigh, 27, of St. Cloud, passed away on November 4, 2012. Linny will always be remembered as a very giving, loving and free-spirited mother, daughter, sister and friend.

 

About Tammy / Pixie65

Tammy is in recovery since September 24, 2014, having survived a five year spiral of binge drinking, and a history of abuse and dysfunction. A single mother of three and grandmother of five she has striven to learn and grow on her path. With a background in Marketing, PR and business and accounting, she considers herself an entrepreneur with four separate businesses under her belt. She's always had a drive and passion to share her own story of victory in overcoming adversity.
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12 Comments

  1. Hi my friend Tammy!

    It was nice reading your poem and this article about your daughter’s friend, yet very sad. I related to the part about you feeling loved at other peoples homes and that is how life is supposed to be lived. I felt that too every time I went to my best friends house after school and envied the joy & happiness in her home with her parents & sisters. I never imagined a few years later that I would become an alcoholic in high school.

    I was remembering the first day you & I met on this site and how we share the same dysfunction with maternal narcissism. I’m blessed that I met you and to have a friend going through the same abuse which is not so common and hardly anyone understands what it is.

    I’m humbled that we found sobriety close in dates and am forever grateful to my HP for bringing us into each others lives. I love you and wish you congratulations on your 1 year anniversary!!! Yayay! Mine is right around the corner.
    We did it!!

    Thank you for sharing this story and inspiring others.

    Your friend,

    Tahirah xoxo

    • Thank you so much Tahirah! Yes my friend, we def have some horror stories that are very similar!

      I am proud of you for staying strong and believing in yourself, and working your program! Take that power back and keep it!

      Love you girl!

      Tammy

  2. What a touching story. I am so proud of my sister for being where she is today in her life. Almost a year ago she hit rock bottom and I was on the phone with her talking her through it. One thing we can thank God for is our strong will. I believe it wouldn’t be so strong had we not had the childhood we did. Keep up the good work!
    Love,
    Beth

    • My sissy!

      She was a rock, when I had no other that day! She told me things I did not want to hear, but needed to . She was a part of me choosing to become sober and I will forever be thankful for that!
      We endured hell and survived as children, but whipping this addition was too much for me to bear at that point.
      Thank you for believing in me and never giving up on the person I lost along the way!
      I love you my sissy!

  3. Tammy,

    Thank you for this story. I’ve met so many people in the AA and NA programs that just couldn’t stay clean and/or sober and they ended up dying.

    It’s heart breaking to see someone die in the throes of addiction and the sadness and loneliness of those that get left behind.

    So glad that you’re here and you can tell your story and help others see that their lives can be changed too by experience, strength and hope.

    It is my responsibility to pass this program on to others that ask for the help and to show them that a clean and sober life is a very good life one day at a time.

    God bless my friend.

    Terry

    • What a gift ITR has been in so many ways! One of them has been to find a friend like you!
      Thank you for your comment, support and for always checking in on me and catching up with our lives! I am so happy you are my friend on this journey!

  4. With an economy of words, Tammy paints a picture of hopelessness and tragedy that is commonplace amongst us. It breaks my heart to consider their plight and my own ineptness at being able to use what I have been given to help those whom God has placed along the pathway of my life. Tammy is a trooper, and her own life is blessed because of the compassion that she shows towards others. Garry

    • Where do I begin with what a wonderful friend, Mentor and Godly example you are for me!
      I am blessed to have you in my life and call you friend!
      Thank you for you!

  5. Tammy truly is a special person and this story is an incredibly poignant reminder of what addiction does to lives, and even generations.

    Steve

  6. Tammy is an inspiration and a godsend to many. Congratulations for overcoming your demons. I love you girlfriend. Stacey.

    • Thank you so much! I am blessed to have a friend like you, that I know will always be there for me! I love you too!

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