First Person: Brianna’s Story

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

You’re never quite right again after feeling the life exit a person’s body, especially when it’s your younger sister. That’s when the road to disfunction and addiction began in my life. Being a young girl of only nine years old, the loss of my sister Debba Jean was crippling for me emotionally, mentally, even physically, not to mention the breakdown of my parents on the same level. They didn’t know how to cope and blamed me. Not only did I lose my sister that day in April, but I also lost my parents. I had night terrors and slept on a couch at the end of my parent’s bed for months. I just couldn’t figure out how to take all this pain. Yes, my parents provided for me after her death. In the sense that I never went hungry, I always had clothes to wear, and a warm house to live in. They took me to therapy in which I wouldn’t participate in because I couldn’t talk to my parents, the only people in the world that were always supposed to love and protect me, but who ended up inflaming my pain and suffering. Nothing I did could get her out of my head. We lived in the same house, I went to the same school, looked at the same people but none of them were her.

By the time that I was twelve years old I was drinking, and smoking weed on a regular basis. It was the only thing that numbed the pain of her death. Over time I taught myself just to shut my emotions off all together. It was so much easier not to feel anything rather than feeling everything. By the time I was thirteen years old, I had been introduced to meth and instantly fell in love. I went from not ever hearing of it to loving it. BOOM! Just like that it was the answer to all my pain, and I was hell on wheels from that point on. I was suffering so much that every single human being who encountered me was going to suffer too. I wreaked havoc all over the country, my parents never had any idea where I was, really, and they didn’t even care because they were so wrapped up in their own addiction and loss. I was invisible. I was selling drugs, skipping school, and stealing cars and I gave no f**** what could, would or should happen to me and that’s how I liked it.

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By the time I turned eighteen, I was federally indicted for grand larceny, operating a chop shop, and sentenced to five years in Greenville, Illinois federal prison. I was so wrapped up in drugs and car theft that I went to prison before I had even had sex. I was released after two years for good behavior and ended up pregnant with my only child two months after being released from prison. I was  again so into my addiction that my mom had to take time off work just to take care of me while I detoxed. I stayed sober throughout my whole pregnancy, even though it was a rough pregnancy.

I missed so much because of my addiction that I can never get back.When my son Brian Anthony came into the world, I promised him and myself that I would stay sober and out of jail or prison. Now I knew what unconditional love was. Never in my life did I think that I could love someone, especially as much as I loved this little baby boy who I’d made. He was part of me.

Love alone kept me sober for almost three years, then I started to date this guy who I thought was the bee’s knees. We were going to spend our lives together even after he started beating me regularly. I still stayed off the meth, but I was a regular drinker and weed smoker. We would get drunk and start fighting and I would have to call my mother to come and pick my son up because I didn’t want him to see Jay (the guy I was with) beat me. This man would cheat on me then get drunk, accuse me of cheating on him and beat me. Next, he would send me to jail. Finally I reached a point that I would know when he was going to snap, so I started beating the crap out of him first. It was so toxic and sick, but we thought that it was love. One night I arrived home from work to a house full of drunk people and decided: Well, if you can’t beat them join them. I proceeded to devour a 1.75-liter  bottle of 100 proof Southern Comfort. That night when Jay decided it was time to turn the living room into a boxing match, I beat him bloody. When the police arrived, I said I was in fear for my life. That night after he went to jail, I took my son, my dog and a duffel bag and fled to my mom’s. It only took me eight years to get up the courage to do that. He would come there every night after work and cry and beg for me to come back but I held my ground and refused.

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However, now I was back in my old stomping grounds. It started a twelve-year stint of being in and out of jail and prison for drugs. I always loved my son but was too busy getting high and being a thug to be a mother.

Then one day sitting in Sherburne County jail a lady from Pilot Outreach (a Christian jail ministry) looked at me and said: ”When are you going to figure out that you’re not really the one doing the time? It’s your son sitting out there. He’s wondering why he is not enough for you to stay out of toxic relationships, to set down the needle, to stay out of prison. Why isn’t he enough?” This broke my heart into a million pieces. I always preached about how I would be a better parent than my parents were and that I would always make sure my son knew I loved him, and I would die for him. That was my moment. That moment of clarity where you’re like: “OH MY GOD! I can’t believe I’ve been so stupid. That I wasted so much of my life being a thug and addict and a dead-beat parent.” I missed so much because of my addiction that I can never get back.

Today I have almost six months sober, attending school to become a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, I am off parole, and planning a wedding. Today I am living for my son who now struggles with his own addictions because of the things he went through because of my addiction. Every single night I pray to my Father: “God, help him find faith and the restoration that I’ve found in recovery.” Now I am trying to lead by example and show him that there is hope and that anyone can change. If this pistol packing, IV-using, convict can change her life, anyone can, by the grace of God.

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