One woman’s journey to recovery
By the time I was 25 years old, my entire life was in complete shambles. I was buried in my disease of addiction. It had been my life since childhood.
In fact, if you had asked me two years ago, “Was your childhood normal?” I would have answered, “Yes,” because it was my normal.
I grew up not knowing my father. I was always told that he was either dead or in prison, and I accepted that.
My mother was a single, hard-working woman who made sure we always had what we needed. Before I was born, she was a full-blown addict. Once she became pregnant with me, she would not touch drugs again — at least not until I was 20 years old.
During my childhood I was exposed to a lot of drinking and partying. Men were in and out of our lives.
By the age of 11, my curiosity got the best of me and I was ready to be a part of whatever was going on around me. This was when I began drinking. When the party was happening at our house, I was allowed two wine coolers every now and then. Addiction was already alive in my life, but at age 11, I had no clue where it was going to take me. I had jumped on a train to hell and did not even know it.
Even though my mother did not model the best behavior, I still looked up to her. So at age 16, I followed in her footsteps and dropped out of school. This gave me a lot more time to be a full-on alcoholic.
When I was arrested for DUI, however, it did not get my attention. After that arrest, I began taking prescription medication, and it was not long before I was hooked. I could not get out of bed without them. Getting arrested became my normal.
At age 19, I began filling fake prescriptions to support my addiction. I was arrested and offered drug court and was told I could either go to prison or learn to function sober in society. I certainly did not know how to function sober, but prison didn’t sound very appealing. So I chose drug court.
Eventually drug court had enough of my inability to stay sober, so they sent me to prison. I was faced with my worst nightmare. I turned 21 while in prison and was released at age 23.
By the time I was out, my mother and little sister were strung out on drugs and my other siblings had gone to live with other family. What once was my home was now gone, both physically and in terms of my supportive family unit.
Although I was now free, I remained an addict. Soon after I returned to my family, I hit the streets with my mother, and within two weeks was addicted to methamphetamine.
For the next three and a half years, I lived in the center of the meth world. I was homeless, had nothing and was chasing a drug so I could stay numb to all the turmoil that had taken place in my life. I was absolutely running from reality because I didn’t know how to deal with it otherwise.
I got into more legal trouble and was so far into my addiction, the only option I thought I had was to run. So I did — for almost a year. I was living in and out of hotels or staying with very creepy, sometimes unsafe, people.
My entire life was about to change though. I became pregnant. The State of Oklahoma said I could either go back to prison and give birth there or get the help I needed and go to Women in Recovery. The Tulsa program helps women facing long prison sentences for non-violent, drug-related offenses with an alternative outpatient program. I am still in that program.
My entire life has changed. I am no longer the broken little girl in search of something. The WIR program has shown me how to face my past, live in the present and plan for my future. My baby is now 10 months old, and there is not a single word that describes my love for her. Before entering this program, love was something so far-fetched, I didn’t know how to obtain it or give it. My daughter has brought that out of me.
Today I have an understanding of and respect for myself and am rebuilding relationships with my family. My daughter and I live at Lindsey House, where I have a fully furnished apartment. It is our first home together.
They are teaching me to be self-sufficient and have been so gracious and patient with me while I learn the skills I need to provide for my family. They are helping me obtain my GED and are showing me how to utilize resources so that I am successful in recovery as a mother, friend, student and employee.
Before I entered recovery, I had accepted defeat to addiction, but today I can envision a journey of endless possibilities.
Lindsey House is Transitional Living Center of Oklahoma’s first program. The sober living facility opened in 2010 to women and their children facing situational homelessness.
Located in downtown Tulsa at 601 S. Elgin Ave., Lindsey House is home to 12 families and the corporate offices for TLC. The residence was named after Lilah Denton Lindsey (1860-1943), an early Tulsan who championed projects helping women and children.
Program participants support themselves and encourage each other in their journeys to self-sufficiency.
“Our program focuses on intense budgeting and customized case management to best support our participants’ individual needs,” says Tiffany Egdorf, executive director of Lindsey House. “This unique approach allows us to make a difference in our community one family at a time. We believe in the future self-sufficiency of these amazing women.”
For more information on Lindsey House, visit www.lindseyhouse.org.