The law catches up: D – Part 3. A Thistle and Bee story.

Sidebar: Each year, it is estimated that more than ten million people experience domestic violence with women more likely to be the victim. In 2010, Tennessee ranked as one of ten states with the highest rates of female murder. 93% of these women were killed by a male they knew; 63% of them in the context of an intimate relationship.*

But those streets were her family, for better or worse – the drug man, the johns, whoever could pay her, either in money or drugs.  Her children did not feel like family to her. “They couldn’t give me what I wanted.” They were remanded to their father for custody. At that time, D “lived to get high and got high to live.” And high was fun. All her “friends” were junkies, but only when she had dope.

Looking back on her earlier life, D remembers being a “good little girl.” She was a curious child and wanted to know what was going on. She was allowed to drink out of her mother’s cup, alcohol most often, and sampled cigarettes, getting hooked on both. Addictions know no boundaries for age or substance.

At age 14, her mother died and that’s when it completely went to hell. Her father was not around, actually never around. D doesn’t care for him and why would she, having never seen him in 35 years. She and her brother indulged in sex with each other. That dynamic carried over to D’s daughter when he tried to have sex with her. That’s unacceptable under any condition.

It’s no surprise the law finally caught up with her. Upon one of her arrests, the police allowed her to smoke the last bit of dope she had before tossing her pipe away. They then hand-cuffed her, put into the police car, and then drove away to the station. All told, she’s been in jail 7-9 times for drugs (selling and possession) and prostitution.

After years of this, D claims she heard from God about bringing her back to life, a second chance. She was tired of getting high only to see life fade away. During a visit to a mission where women such as herself went, she was directed to Thistle and Bee. But she would have to pass a drug test in order to get in. And she did.

“Lived to get high and got high to live.” D – Part 1. A Thistle and Bee story.

T_B Logo with Bee_Pink

Thistle and Bee’s mission is to help women who have survived prostitution and trafficking thrive. I am honored to write their stories. This is the first excerpt from a forthcoming book about the women of Thistle and Bee.

Being a mother isn’t for the faint of heart in the best of times. But what happens when that sacred responsibility can’t be fulfilled? And why? And if it can’t be, what or who does one turn to for support or help? All good questions and ones that couldn’t easily be answered for D.

Now 52 years old and a mother of six children (ages 30 – 39), with two different fathers, and at least twenty-five grandchildren, D looks back and is grateful for where she is now. Grateful because where she was just a few months ago would not have ensured a survival of any kind. It doesn’t take much to slide that far down. It takes a lot to claw back up.

When you’re 15, it’s not unusual for kids to try things out – cigarettes, drinking, and weed. Where it led to was where it got scary. Her daddy’s sister turned her on to drugs. At 22, she was introduced to crack and remembers it was “so soothing to get high.” D believed it helped her control and be a better “mama” on crack. That was her daily routine. Not surprisingly, after time, it got progressively worse. Every day, getting high and falling off, not coming home, no money for food or food stamps, she was “owed out” and “living to get high.” It was not unusual for her to be up for days at a time, 8, even 9, because of her crack addiction. She couldn’t sleep and she couldn’t do much for her family.

She wasn’t there for the babies she’d had back-to-back. D was too busy selling things and stealing. D describes it as “illegal things.” No one was spared, she even stole from her drug man.