Tammy's Story: Don't Judge Me By My Past
I was born premature, fighting for my life at birth. Mom called me her angel baby because her first child, a baby girl, died at birth, and I almost did too. Mom was 38 when they had me and two boys, one a grown man at 20 years old and one at 15 years old. You shouldn’t have favorites when it comes to your kids, but we all knew I was her favorite. That aside I always felt like I lived in the shadow of the little girl my mom lost.
Many things may have contributed to the fact that I would grow up to become an addict and eventually a junkie. It could have been the inherited predisposition handed down by both of my parents. Maybe it was that one time when I was just in first grade and came home to find my mom had taken a bunch of sleeping pills and was trying to kill herself. Another factor could have been that just days before that my mom came to know that her boyfriend at the time was friendlier with me than anyone should be during bath time and once while she had been passed out.
They say trauma can be a factor so maybe it was just a few weeks later when my eldest brother was high on meth and got into an argument with my dad, while my dad was visiting me. I was sick and my dad told him to be quiet and called him a punk. My dad had stepped out the door probably to go buy a bottle. My brother grabbed a metal baseball bat and chased after my dad, my mom chased them, and I chased her. I’ll never forget the sound of his head splitting open, or maybe it was the crack of the bat. They said had my mom not stepped in front of the last hit, my father would have died. My dad left Tucson after he got out of the hospital two months later.
We had no reason to stay so we moved to Tucson Arizona about a month later. Things were great till mom met a new guy. She was a single parent and worked a lot. Then, when she met him, if she wasn’t working she was at the bar to see him or his house. My middle brother took care of me and it seemed like it was him and I against the world. I was trouble. I was always angry and acted out often. By this time I was in 3rd grade. I got in trouble for sneaking out of school to go play in the wash that was behind the run down trailer park we lived in. She decided to move us all out to live on his property out in the country in Mirana, AZ.
She said it wouldn’t be like last time, that we would never live with him and that we were to live in the other house on his property. What it turned into was my brother and I living in the other house and her in the house with her boyfriend. Eventually he began to beat her really bad. A big reason for the fights was my middle brother living on the property. He forced her to make my brother move out and get his own place back in Tucson. Then, I had no choice but to live in the house with her and the man who beat the living shit out of her. I also took a beating a time or two when I got in the way or was not fast enough to escape his reach, to go call the cops at a neighbors.
During this time she got sick, she had blood colts and bad arthritis. Often I had to call the cops and he would spend a night or two in jail. We would pack the things we could fit in some garbage bags we would drag them to a near by neighbors and hide until he would convince her to come back. What saved us was the summer of 2001, just before I turned 11, my dad asked if I could come to Oregon to visit. To my surprise she said yes. I was supposed to not say anything, but the second dad asked how life was I broke down and told him. I was just a little girl who wanted my daddy to protect me. He refused to return me until she got us out of that situation.
My best friends family took us in and we would later rent a house on her families property. What I would remember as some of the best years of my life at that time. So by then I am 13 and I already have a drinking problem. I steal beer and vodka every chance I get piss drunk. I smoked weed and I am always chill when I smoke, but when I drink I am volatile. Doctors tell us that mom is a time bomb because of a blood colt they can’t fix and any day can be her last, but isn’t that always the case? I start to run away because I have found my favorite high, methamphetamines.
By the time I am 15, I am already using needles and I run away with a boyfriends family to Michigan, trying to get sober for the first time. While I am there, his niece is backed over by a family member who didn’t notice she was behind the U-Haul. We were watching her and it is us who finds her body. She is laid to rest five days later and I am sent home by the state of Michigan about five days after that. Escorted by police officers and handcuffed a majority of the way except on the plane. The memories of what I saw haunt me to this day. Back then I used it as an excuse to get as trashed as I could as often as I could.
Today, I am a recovering drug addict. I used hard drugs from the age of 13-21, well just before my 21st birthday. I came from a long line of drunks and drug addicts. I’ve been in juvenile detention, like it was a second home. I have been to 2 rehabs and done 12 step programs. My addiction took everything from me and most of what my mom owned. When I was 16, mom got an infection that put her in a coma and the people I ran with robbed us of everything while I was in juvenile and we lost our home too. She recovered, but had nothing and nowhere to go. I was in state custody and in a group home. We had lost everything and it was my fault.
Later my addiction cost me custody of my son, who I gave birth to at 17. He has since been adopted. I tried to kill myself the day I lost custody, the same way my mom had when I was a kid, with sleeping pills. My mom died shortly after that and I didn't even make it to visit her in the hospital before she passed because using was more important. I started using heroin shortly after she died. During that time I was high on heroin and pills. I had passed out and was raped either by an ex-boyfriend or my oldest brother, my guess is the latter.
I wrote my son a few letters and sent a few birthday cards to him while I was using drugs. While writing his 3rd birthday card, I decided that if he ever got these cards and did want to know me, I wanted him to know more than that version of myself. So, I called my dad's family in Oregon who wanted to take me in and help me get sober and start my life over. That was August of 2011. I have been sober since. I went to college and made all A’s and B’s. I made deans list multiple times. I stayed sober after my dad died just a few months later in January of 2012. I was there holding his hand as he took his last breath.
I continue to write to my son and I am even in contact with his family. I am married to a wonderful man and we have 5 furry babies. He is my rock and without him I’d be lost. He believed in me at times when I didn’t. Stood by me when I was still an angry person and needed help, but never told me I had to get that help. He loved me till I was ready to get that help on my own and go to counseling for my trauma. We even helped his daughter find her way to sobriety when she was lost to addiction.
My husband is also a recovering addict. So, we could say we are a family of beautiful disasters and proud of it because it took a lot of work to be who we are now, but it also took being who we were to get to the us we are today. Our life is nothing short of beautiful. Our love is truly a one in a lifetime kind of love. Loving the other person has made helped us grow and flourish into the best versions of ourselves. Him, our furry kids, and our human kids too, are the gifts that keep me going when my past brings me down or the present gets tough like when I have a bad pain day, I have Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a chronic pain condition. Also, when I had intestinal surgery in November of 2021 after having a stomach infection that lasted 8 months, it was loving them that helped me quit the pain pills after that surgery without a second thought.
He just bought the Scripty zip hoodie and I purchased the In Loving Memory leggings and the Fight Club shirt. See, I can’t pick just one item that is my favorite Beautiful Disaster item. I love most of the designs you all put out. So many of the designs speak to parts of me. The broken girl who was abused and destine to be an addict, but also the girl that rose above the trash fire that was her life and made something beautiful out of the ashes. I am not to be judged by my past as, I am more than the scars and trauma that helped shape who I am. I fought to be this version of me and the old me has been laid to rest, but I do honor her and all she went through. Her strength got me through it all so that I could be who I am today and who I will be tomorrow or even 20 years from now. So many things have made me the beautiful disaster that I am. This clothing line feels like a badge of armor every time I wear it, reminding me that who I was and what happened to me made me the bad ass bitch I am today.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making the Beautiful Disaster clothing and tribe. It touches my soul in a way I can't put into words. Blessings to each and everyone of you and much love from a fellow tribe member, a fellow Beautiful Disaster.