“Stop Setting Yourself On Fire To Keep Others Warm.” Penny Reid

This past week has been emotionally exhausting. Thursday at Harris Hospital, Virginia didn’t even recognize me. I was crushed. Shocked. Heartbroken.

After nearly 37 years since we first met when I was a contract employee at CSC working in Security, Virginia was the mother figure I had never had. Saying goodbye to her will also be the hardest experience of loss I’ve endured in this lifetime.

TDCJ Scheduled and Confirmed dates so far are June 8- Jester 3. June 9- Allred Unit. June 15- Jordan Unit. July 20- Robertson Unit.

Federal Clients- Please be aware that pre Covid guidelines have been lifted. Contact weddings are in place. Wedding rings valued at less than $100 are allowed. Currently, no guests are allowed.

ICE- No guests are allowed. Covid guidelines are still in place.

County- Tarrant County is still not allowing mobile notaries unless accompanied by an attorney. Parker County will not notarized absentee affidavits for inmates in federal custody.

All other counties- there are no further issues I’m aware of. If you encounter issues, contact me.

With Virginia dying and while trying to clean out the condo I bought and furnished, as usual, my niece, Stephaney yet again chose the worst POSSIBLE time SHE COULD to CHOOSE to relapse.

Addicts don’t care. I know you’re reading this Stephaney and probably too high to understand it BUT goodbye. You made your choice.

For the first time in 17 years I thought and believed I had YOU finally stable. The moment I used the money YOU had given me every few days to keep you from blowing it on drugs in order for you to save up to buy a car for 6 months, YOU went straight to your dealer and were off the rails on meth YET again.

Don’t call me Steph. I have nothing and I mean nothing to say to you. I will not help you again other than to buy a bus ticket to CA. Go be homeless in Venice Beach.

I’ve devoted 17 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars for YOUR treatment, bonds and more for you to trying to save you WHILE also financially helping Cindy raise the twins with NO child support whatsoever from you or that idiot, Michael Wayne Scherer Jr and I’m officially DONE. Your MOM is done too. Leave us alone.

Addicts are sociopaths. They are completely devoid of empathy and compassion for family members that their behavior victimizes. If you disagree with this statement, you either don’t have a family member with addiction issues who HAS destroyed any degree of normality in YOUR life OR you are an addict yourself. I hate drugs. I especially cannot tolerate addicts.

For over a year now, my niece, YOU Stephaney have been living at group home. The rent is $650 a month. It’s about 7-9 minutes from my West Fort Worth home. The group home isn’t in the luxurious neighborhood I live in. You “hate living with 8-10 other women. You want your own apartment. You wanted a car. You. You. You.”

They don’t have group home’s in Westover Hills. Group homes aren’t in $600-900k neighborhoods.

You didn’t like the location of the Group Home. Too bad. You had nowhere else to go. I would think after being homeless, in jail or in a psych ward 17 times during a two year window while trying to find you a job that you would appreciate having a place to live that someone else (your mother and I) were paying for. But nope not you. You never appreciate anything. You wouldn’t know TRUE sacrifice if it slapped you in the face. Sociopaths have no idea what sacrifice is.

I paid YOUR rent for months. I looked everywhere to find you a job. I drove you to AND from Jason’s until you started acting crazy and got fired again from using. Yes I called Angela at the Group Home to have you committed and dried out again. Not Cindy. Me. I did this to keep you from getting kicked out and dry you out. You are a stark raving lunatic on meth. Ask anyone. Ask coworkers at Jason’s or the other great job I got FOR you at Lucilles you screwed up. You think no one knows when you are using. EVERYONE KNOWS.

Then I find you a job at Charlestons where you were making more money than you did at Jason’s. Enough to pay a few months of your own rent for the FIRST time in your 34 year life.

Your mother and I were paying our own rent at 16 years old. Not in a beautiful neighborhood either. In a very dangerous area because we couldn’t afford a nice apartment in a nice area. Do you know what? We were thankful to have running water and a roof over our heads back then you EVEN though WE COULD not afford electricity for the THREE YEARS we lived there you ungrateful jackass.

You’re welcome you never appreciate anything. You never have and you never will. You care about getting high more than anything else in your life. You could have been married. You could have had a normal life. You could have SPARED this entire family from your destructive choices and yet over and over you have hurt us. We are sick and tired of your sociopathic tendencies, name calling and never accepting responsibility for your own actions.

I’ve drove you to work or let you use my Uber App when you got that job at Charlestons since you suddenly considered yourself “too good” to ride the bus. I worked so damn hard to get you at that upscale restaurant.

You have been fired from nearly every other restaurant in Fort Worth AND Weatherford for acting crazy on meth. You did that. We didn’t. We have screamed, cried and begged you to stay clean. You have consistently chosen not to do so.

A year and half ago BEFORE your two years back on the streets homeless and whacked out, you DELIBERATELY lied and said you were never using again. Cindy and I had as usual just picked you up from yet another psych ward “stint” because your behavior on meth leads police to believe you are crazy rather than high and experiencing meth induced psychosis.

You lied all the way to that apartment and then snuck off through the apartment complex after YOU lied to Cindy and I telling us YOU needed rent money to and that you were planned and were going to apply at Mexican Inn the following day and THEN you ran off with the rent money we GAVE to you in good faith choosing to be a homeless drug addict.

I cannot believe what you put us through over and over and over. My health has suffered. Cindys health has suffered and not one but both your twin daughters have attempted suicide BECAUSE OF YOU.

Not that you would care but since Cindy gave up on you during that 2 year window of you running off with the so called “rent money” we gave to you, Cindy wasn’t looking for you I was.

Cindy even told our dear friend, Sherri that “she was lucky her meth addicted son died sparing her ALL of the shit that we have been through trying to save you and MEANT IT.”

Sherri was shocked but Sherri hasn’t been through 17 years of this crap. She only had one year of it.

Your mother told me not to look for you but I refused to give up. I spent those 2 years searching for YOU when I wasn’t working in very dangerous areas.

Your mom spent those two years crying and heartbroken not knowing if you were dead or alive WHILE trying to act normal and raise your kids you selfish fuck.

When I did find YOU, you were out of YOUR mind AND living in a cardboard box. The police had called me because I gave up trying to find you myself and finally filed a missing persons report.

Fort Worth PD actually told me “not to try and come get you because you were out of your mind on meth.” YET Fort Worth PD also refused to take you to the JPS psych ward because they knew you were NOT out of your mind AND/OR mentally ill but instead high on meth. They left your ass in that box. I should have listenned to them and soared subjecting myself AND your daughter finding you that day. I wish I had.

You may have forgotten that night while living in a cardboard box that I had your daughter, Maryssa in my suv seeing you like that. Screaming and crawling out of that box COMPLETELY out of your mind. You wouldn’t go to treatment. We BOTH begged you. Even the police wouldn’t transfer you to the psych ward.

Have you ever wondered why Maryssa was with me? She was with me because she TRULY believed that if I found you that if she was with me that SHE could convince you to go into treatment. You screamed at your own daughter that you were Jesus Christ and she was Satan.

Do you THINK any of us have forgotten the things you’ve done and said to hurt us? News flash- we haven’t. We can’t. We never will.

I went back to that GD box every day I wasn’t traveling to meet clients to look for you and drop off food and clothing for a solid month. You never went back after you were found there. A month later, rather than you living in that bud and benefitting from everything I had left there thinking it was for you crying and humiliated, a man crawled out of that box instead.

Go be homeless somewhere, anywhere. I don’t want to find you shadow boxing light poles and acting stupid on Camp Bowie. The twins are terrified that you will show up in Weatherford and embarrass them at Cindy’s. Don’t. Cindy WILL call the police.

I spent 2 years when not working paying homeless people I showed your photo’s to trying to find you. TWO YEARS.

I wish I had left you in Oklahoma and let you do the 10-20. I wish I had. Getting you probation was the stupidest thing I have ever done. Those 3 years were the only time in your adult life you were “normal.” Your children wouldn’t care what a maniac you are on drugs if they had NOT seen you off meth for those 3 years you were on paper and follicles. Go to prison. I wish you had failed those Damn hair follicles to spare all of us getting back on meth LESS than 24 hours after your probation removed hair follicles.

Meanwhile Cindy was struggling with high blood pressure and hypertension because of YOU. Cindy nearly died because I was trying to get you back in treatment when you got off that bus in Oklahoma we put you on to get you to treatment so we could go to work and then you called us to drive 6 hours one way to take you to rehab ourselves. You selfish POS. You NEVER once considered what you have put us through. Not ONE TIME.

We hate your screaming phone calls. We now record them. Why? Because we are going to call the police and stop you from terrorizing us with them and film from our house cameras to prove you are a threat to yourself and others.

My neighbors thought I was crazy or a fanatic for installing those 16 cameras “in this neighborhood.” I knew I would need them with an out of control meth addict coming over here with a hammer. Were you planning to kill your #1 enabler. You know, ME?

The Fort Worth house is a compound of self defense. Don’t bring a hammer to a gun fight MF. You know damn well I know how to protect myself and my home AND I will.

Do you have any idea what seeing your OWN mother whacked out of their minds does to children? Tammy, Cindy and I do. Jerry was too young.

Maryssa will never forget seeing you crawling out of that box like a lunatic clawing at us like a monster.

We have tried to protect the twins from YOU. The very same children Cindy and I did everything humanly possible to give THEM the stable childhood WE didn’t have that you kept screwing up over and over and over with your outrageous and dangerous behavior.

No you don’t care and I doubt you EVER will care either. The only thing you care about is your next fix. You are the most selfish SOB I’ve ever encountered in my entire life OTHER than MY OWN MOTHER.

During that two years of you being homeless and strung out where Cindys heart was literally breaking in Parker County, I found you once again while trying to find you (as usual) in my “off time.” Do you know what it’s like trying to find a maniac on meth to convince them to get help? I DO.

That day I saw you walking down Calmont waiving your hands around and talking to yourself would be the last time I wasted my time looking for you.

While I was wasting my time looking for you, crying my eyes from weariness and frustration along with my determination to fix you, AGAIN I begged you to go into treatment. BEGGED. You screamed at me and called me names and told me you hated me. I hate you. I hate everything you’ve taken from me, my sister and this family. Cindy was right. Sherri was lucky.

If my other readers don’t know OR can’t understand what it’s like trying to save an addict WHILE raising their twin daughters for nearly 17 years, SPARE me your judgment about my language OR my transparency.

For everyone else who has lived through the nightmare of loving and trying to save an addict, I’m sure you can relate.

Someone I loved is NOW dying. The closest thing to a mother figure I have ever known doesn’t even recognize me. At the very same time- someone ELSE that I HAVE tried to save over and over, YOU Stephaney have YET AGAIN betrayed my trust for the last time. I will never “help” you by enabling you AGAIN Stephaney.

Stephaney, I wish you were in prison. I wish I hadn’t saved you from prison in Oklahoma. I wish when I was trying to send you to what I thought was a treatment center in Georgia that when you were arrested on a revoked bond in Oklahoma at the Dallas Greyhound bus station where I was relieved we were going to get you out of Texas that you decided to get into a fist fight at after we left that the Dallas PD had taken you back to Oklahoma.

I wish I hadn’t paid that damn bond because I was so determined to get a year of treatment in another state and a year of your crap away from this family. You destroy everything. EVERYTHING.

I finally got you on that bus out of Texas and a week later YOU were back here terrorizing us AGAIN. ONE WEEK? All that money spent?

The amount of money I’ve “spent” trying to save YOU is staggering at nearly half a million dollars over these last 17 years but the financial pain coupled with the emotional abuse and many other things that YOU have done to this family are equally emotionally debilitating.

I can’t go through this again with YOU and I won’t.

Stephaney you gave your mother high blood pressure and heart attacks. I nearly lost my twin. The only time in 17 years that you have ever been clean was when you were on paper from Oklahoma that REQUIRED hair follicle testing. The minute they removed hair follicles you were right back on meth and right back to abusing, harassing and stalking us AND the twins.

Stephaney-have literally abused this entire family for 17 years. Go away. I don’t care where.

Your daughters have both attempted suicide OVER YOUR CHOICE to start using. Makenna will permanently suffer with heart damage and Serotonin Syndrome BECAUSE YOU CHOSE METH after those damn hair follicles were removed from the conditions of your probation.

That 3 years of sobriety earned the twins trust only for you to destroy it and leave those two innocent children blaming themselves and attempting suicide you piece of shit! I hate you.

How DARE you lead us and your own children to believe YOU would never get back on meth by lying to all of us that you would never use again during that three year window of probation that required hair follicles? Fuck you.

Last Friday after months of saving your money for you from that good paying job at Charleston,s that I found FOR you WHILE juggling my 4 businesses and client’s. You wouldn’t EVEN bother to find a job on your own. I had to do it for you.

THEN after months of paying all of your expenses for you after yet another expensive “stint” in treatment, you got into that $5k car and took off.

You didn’t even bother to let me take you or follow to go find insurance. You were too hellbent on finding meth again you psychotic bitch.

No thank you for the many months and nearly a year of helping to pay your rent, give you rides to work, find you a job not once but three times in 3 years because you started using at the other job and got fired again. No thank you for the cigarettes, meals, treatment facilities or YOUR coffee WHILE driving you to and from work everyday when I wasn’t out of town or the state working my events while you yelled “I’m not riding the bus anymore give me access to Uber.” You are the most entitled and demanding little shit that I’ve ever encountered.

Do you HAVE ANY idea how hard it is to walk into a prison or venue acting normal AND happy for MY clients with your mom and daughters crying because you are yet again terrorizing this family?

Do you know I worry every time I travel that you will show up at our houses or our friends houses OR how embarrassing our neighbors seeing you acting crazy is to US or your children?!!!! How expensive it is to fix kicked in doors? Holes punched in our walls? Covering deductibles because you’ve stolen our cars, credit cards and checks WHILE raising your twin daughters and paying medical expenses over and over again at Mesa Springs for the twins because of your behavior? What about the treatments I’ve paid over and over and over for your sorry ass?

Stephaney, you are the most selfish son of a bitch I’ve ever encountered other than my own mother who was also a piece of shit.

The difference between you and OUR MOTHER is that YOU never had THE opportunity to SELL your children to YOUR dealer for $50 each like OUR MOTHER did to her FOUR CHILDREN. Do you know why YOU NEVER had the opportunity? Because I paid an attorney $20k to get custody of them and protect them from YOU your addiction.

We SAVED the twins from YOU. Stop saying we STOLE the TWINS from you. Idiot. You couldn’t take care of those kids for ten minutes.

Do you have any idea how much raising twins costs? Braces? Staying in expensive mental institutions because they’ve seen you acting crazy and screaming she is Jesus Christ? Again, fuck you.

Our FB friends message Cindy and I constantly when YOU are off her meds and back on meth. “I saw Stephaney shadow boxing a light pole near El Fenix in Camp Bowie.” We BOTH tell them all to “call the police.”

Do you know how much money Cindy and I have spent buying “psyche ward friendly” clothing FOR YOU over and over and over. JPS would release you. You would start using again and get institutionalized again. We would buy more psych ward friendly clothing. Wear what they have we aren’t bringing you ANYTHING ever again in the nut house. We aren’t EVER coming to visit again and we aren’t ever helping you again. Help yourself MF.

I’m surprised as hell that I haven’t had a nervous breakdown or heart attack myself! Stephaney- 17 times at the nut house in a 3 year window AND consistently losing all of the shit we bought for YOU over and over?! You are outrageous. OUTRAGEOUS.

Guess what you selfish narcissist, WHILE we were running and buying psych ward friendly clothing and cigarettes “because you could smoke at Sundance,” we were ALSO running to Mesa Springs where the twins were being treated for suicidal ideation because of YOU. Then we had to drive on to Wellbridge where dad was because he shot up his roof thinking someone was living in the attic.

You have NO IDEA the shit we have been through because of you AND dad. To Hell with both of you. Burn in Hell.

FOUR of our own family members in NUT HOUSES at the same time? TWO of you THAT we didn’t give a shit about were BOTH YOU and our DAD.

Yet Cindy and I were running to AND from our work and nut houses for a month while you and dad were committed at the same time as the twins.

Thanks for destroying nearly 20 years of our lives we can never get back. You life ruining bastard. You have no idea of the glass you have drug US and your children through.

Cindy’s neighbors don’t even talk to her BECAUSE your dumb ass antics that have forced us to call the police over and over and over again have embarrassed the entire family over there.

Walking back and forth across Cindy’s roof screaming you were Jesus as we rolled into the driveway with Makenna hanging her head in shame and running into the house after hours of STAAR testing to keep from seeing you YET AGAIN out of your mind on Meth terrorizing Cindy, the twins, Leigh Ann and baby Maddy? Your sister can never forgive you for the things you have said, done and taken from her. Neither can my son. Don’t call Leigh Ann or Robert. They are done too. Unlike you they have families and a normal life. Leave them alone.

Cindy and I survived the shittiest childhood ever. That’s right I said said survived. As you are well aware, our mother was the most miserable excuse for a human being I’ve ever encountered UNTIL YOU. Don’t give me your guilt trip B.S. ever again about how hard your life was because drug dealers beat you up.

Hey Steph- STOP bring stupid and blaming others BECAUSE you put yourself in those situations not us.

I never thought I could hate anyone as much as I hate our mom. But you changed that. After selling all 4 of her children for $50 each to her Heroin dealer who (not knowing what to do with us), locked us in a closet together for 7-12 days starving and urinating and crying in the dark. There was a latch on the outside of that door making it impossible for us to leave on our own. No one was looking for us. The smells alerted other neighbors to what they believed was a dead body which turned out to be 10 year old Tammy our step sister, 6 year old twins (Cindy and I) and two year old Jerry our baby brother. Cindy had cried so hard and so long out of fear and hunger that she required an emergency hernia surgery. We survived. We never used drugs because we hated drugs. You and your stupid choices have forced us to endure a childhood AND an adulthood of dealing with a piece of shit addict. I can’t wait for our mother to die so I can stop using the energy it takes to hate her for her choices.

You HAVE rarely heard me talk about “the rest of my family” because I don’t have anything good and much less positive to say. Our father didn’t want three children while grandma Tinney adopted and saved Tammy.

Our father wanted to drink and party so he left us with his father who once Tammy was safely out of the picture, began sexually abusing my twin sister and I just as he had Tammy. No one protected us from grandpa. No one. Not dad, not grandma not aunt Shirley. No one would save us. We RAN to save ourselves.

When Cindy and I ran away at 15, baby brother Jerry was left behind. Poor Jerry alone with a wicked stepmother and a violent father. Every time I hear “oh what a lonely boy” I think of our baby brother and I cry.

You wanna know where Cindy and I came from? We ran from the gates of Hell that you and your behavior drug us right back into.

The police found Cindy and I eating out of a trash can behind 7-11 at 15 years old and took us to the shelter. We were thankful to be off the streets but nothing you. You love being homeless you idiot.

I was pregnant after being raped and lost the baby shortly thereafter. We lived at Womens Haven for about a year before a church donated us a car.

We also lived in that car for another year taking births baths at area gas stations until we could save up to rent an apartment. Cindy and I both lied about our ages to get waitress jobs to keep from starving. Cindy was followed home one night while I was working late at Red Lobster. She worked at IHOP. These two men pushed her into the apartment and raped then assaulted her. I came home to find my bloody and battered twin sister on the living room floor beside the $10 sofa we had tied to the top of our donated car to bring home and have somewhere to sit. She never saw their faces. Stephaney you have no fucking idea where we have been, what we have been through OR what we have survived. You selfish idiot.

Your sister, Leigh Ann is the child of that rape. We didn’t even know Cindy was pregnant until a car hit us and she was told she was pregnant in the ER. This shocking development was a deal between us. I had lost a baby she had gained one. We would raise her together and forget how she got here. We would also “midnight move” from our dark apt in the middle of the night to an all bills paid apt about 3 miles away.

Never once did our father, grandmother or aunt offer to help us in any way. We had no one. Only each other. You have always had Cindy and I. You don’t anymore. You are dead to us.

You have stolen everything you could from this family. You had no excuses. You didn’t live our shitty childhood. You weren’t abused. You never went hungry. We raised all of you as a team. Even when you were screwing around and got pregnant, we weren’t upset. We would deal with it. We would financially handle it.

We didn’t ask you for anything other than to be a decent human being and get off drugs. PERIOD. That’s it. Their entire lifetime you have been a fucked up out of control lunatic on drugs. Cindy and I were all you had left. I refused to give up on you but NO MORE. Go away. Far away.

My first husband was violent as was your mothers. We didn’t even know or realize that violence wasn’t normal. We had grown up in very violent and abusive conditions. But once we did it was too late. Cindy was pregnant with YOU.

You (according to your Deadbeat dad, Larry Mahaney) were “supposed to be a boy.”

Your miserable excuse of a father never forgave Cindy for having a girl and within 2 years had another entire family.

Cindy was visiting me in San Clemente with you and Leigh Ann when a message on my home recorder from Larry stated “don’t bother coming home. There’s nothing left here. None of the girls clothes or toys, none of your personal items. Nothing. You should have had a boy.”

Leigh Ann was always a good baby. You never were. You were fussy and by 6 acting in a violent fashion towards your sister and my son. We couldn’t find out why until you were diagnosed as bipolar AND absolutely refused to take your medication.

Your sorry sack of shit father, Larry “skirted” child support by non servicing Cindy of the court date and claiming to have custody of YOU.

Your mother has raised NOT one but TWO generations of children with no child support whatsoever. I AM a workaholic BECAUSE I’m the only one other than her husband who had always taken care of Cindy, you, Leigh Ann and the twins financially and emotionally.

You DON’T KNOW hardship or sacrifice. You never have. Save that “sorry” shit for another sucker. Sorry is a word I would love to never hear again.

By 14 or 15, you were hanging with a rough crowd. By 15.5, she you were pregnant with twins. By 16 you were on meth “to control your weight.”

Had I not hired an attorney, the state would’ve taken the twins.

Cindy and I SAVED the twins at 40 years old. Stop saying we stole them you stupid ass. We saved them. We saved them from being drug into crack houses and sexually abused by your crackhead friends. You would have endangered them the same way our mother did to us.

For years Cindy and I have tried to save YOU and WE give up. You even stole Leigh Ann’s brand new computer, desk and chair that she saved up to buy for herself. You don’t care about anything except getting high.

YOU love meth more than the only two people who didn’t give up, me and your mom. Your “go to” enablers, Wendy and Cindy. Don’t come to us anymore. We are finished trying to save you. Save yourself.

Have a great life getting high or going to prison for your choices. I will NEVER bail you put again. I will never pay to get your towed car out of impound when you are arrested either and you will be you always are.

I can’t do this anymore. I won’t. Cindy had a heart attack when YOU relapsed and started using while we were in NY TWO DAYS to film with CBS.

You are just like our mother. The only difference is that Cindy and I protected the twins. No one protected us. We are the complete opposite of our mother and YOU. We gave you a good childhood. We have tried over and over to help you. The banks are closed.

We are the people we never had but you cannot cherry pick a withered branch from a cherry tree. We are out.

Good luck to you Steph. You will get pulled over. You will lose your car AGAIN just like you did 3 years ago after we spent thousands bonding it out because we aren’t going to bond your car OR you out.

Frankly, I wish you would go to prison. I wish I had let you go in Oklahoma an spared this family and especially your children from the things you’ve said and done.

It’s time for you to experience tough love Steph and this time WE REALLY mean it…

An Addict Will Celebrate Anything Even If It’s The Grand Opening Of A Pack Of Cigarettes..

I knew my niece would relapse. I expected it. No matter what her mother and I did to rehabilitate her, no matter how much money we spent on rehab or how much time we spent trying to find her in shady and dangerous areas to beg her to get help, we could not change Stephaney’s choices or her addiction.

On December 5, 2018, the police called to tell me they had found my niece, Stephaney living in a box on Camp Bowie. If you missed the blog, here’s the link.. Addiction Destroys Families- Girl In A Box finding my niece out of her mind and trying to convince her to re-enter treatment as I stood on a busy road was an escapade in futility. We lost Stephaney to the streets for another year. No one and I mean no one who doesn’t have an addict for a loved one can understand the depths of despair you fall into.

I once had someone tell me “don’t hate the addict hate the addiction.” How I kept from slapping that guy I have no idea. Addicts have s choice. No one is holding a gun to their heads to destroy everything around them. I hate the drug and the addict. People telling you to forgive someone who consistently hurts you and your family don’t have a clue of what they are asking or expecting. How my mothers mother dealt with her addiction for forty years I have no idea. I can’t do this another twenty years. I can’t do it another year with Stephaney. I’ve lost any ounce of hope I formerly had. I’m now hopeless. Void. Empty.

My sister called me tonight upset about another “crazy phone call from Stephaney.” Why Cindy doesn’t hang up and suffers through these abusive phone calls from a daughter we’ve tried to help the past 17 years I have no idea. I would’ve hung up. I wish Cindy would learn to.

During my first divorce and five year custody battle, one attorney finally gave me advice about phone calls from my ex that I needed to hear. What was it? “Hang up.”

My niece, Stephaney has been hitting the sauce again. I’m guessing for at least a few weeks now based on her behavior. Last week after being screamed at in my own vehicle over telling her to pay her own rent , I strongly suspected that Stephaney was using again.

The violence and anger of someone on meth is difficult to describe unless you’ve experienced it. I wasn’t afraid of my agitated and angry niece yelling at me from the passenger seat. Instead I was angry. Mad as heck I spent money on 9 months of rehab AGAIN. She should have been afraid of me and the 17 years of her antics that have affected our entire family. I have no idea how I didn’t have an accident. I even called Cindy on my Bluetooth so she could hear all of this screaming my niece was doing while riding in my car.

Years ago, in Cindy’s home with yet another escapade of Stephaney out of her mind on drugs, I called her out on it. She grabbed a knife and held it to my throat in front of my shocked sister who called the police. The things we’ve been through with Stephaney are shockingly sad. Things that we can’t forget but she doesn’t remember. How convenient.

Stephaney is and always has been the biggest challenge our family has faced. From punching holes in the walls to stealing credit cards or even our cars and wrecking them to saying horrible things to us, Stephaney has no idea why no one other than Cindy and I bother to help her. Even her own daughters won’t speak to her. They are 16 and sick of her relapses. We all are. Our husbands can’t understand why Cindy and I keep trying to Save Stephaney. Our other children can’t. Her own children can’t.

Tonight while leaving Greenwood Cemetery, a text from Cindy confirmed my suspicions. Stephaney had called Cindy’s house and demanded to speak to her kids. Cindy was busy trying to comfort Makenna who was holding her dying guinea pig. Her twin sister, Maryssa was making dinner. Cindy was alone with the twins when a call from a cell phone that Cindy pays for destroyed her night. Her daughter, Stephaney was on the other end of that cell phone screaming and demanding to talk to her kids. More upsetting than the screaming is the fact that we know when Stephaney is using. We always know. Crazy talk from a crazy person. My niece has been committed over and over because even the police think she’s insane when she’s using.

In 2010 on Super Bowl Sunday, Stephaney overdosed. Cindy was preparing to sign the death certificate when a doctor walked out to announce that “he had saved her.” My sister looked right at him and screamed “why?!” She meant it. We knew she would never change but like other families we tried over and over to change her. We hoped. We prayed. We paid for rehab after rehab after rehab. Inadvertently we enabled Stephaney. We didn’t know what tough love was. We never have. That Dr gave our family another 10 nearly 11 years of dealing with Stephaney while raising the twins. Cindy knew it and I knew it too.

Many of our friends have lost their kids to drugs. They post how broken they are with their son or daughter gone. They mourn the child they knew without knowing how an addict sucks every bit of joy out of your life. Without experiencing the painful merry go round of them being clean then using over and over again.

One of our friends, Sherri lost her son to heroin. She was forced to kick him out of her home after he broke several of her bones. He died of an overdose. She mourns his death everyday. I talked to her about accepting he made his choices. She needs to stop blaming herself. She needs to move on. How many parents and loved ones blame themselves and suffer through physical and verbal abuse are finally relieved that the addict they couldn’t reform is finally gone? There are parents relieved “it’s over.” Sherri isn’t one of them. The guilt she carries has caused her many health issues.

I walk into prisons on a regular basis. Often I’m thinking “would prison have reformed my niece, Stephaney?” She spent 6 months in Jacksboro at the state jail after breaking into Cindy’s house. Stephaney blames Cindy for pressing charges.

Stephaney stole a semi in Oklahoma and spent another 6 months in Cotton County Jail. These “stints” didn’t reform my niece. I saved her from a 20 year sentence in Oklahoma. Looking back, I wish I had let her go to prison.

I wish I had the past 6 years of Stephaney being out of of jail back.

Nineteen involuntary commitments because she was out of her mind on meth over and over and over. Ruined holidays with her upsetting the entire family.

Three years ago, Cindy and I spent two years spent searching the streets for her in Fort Worth. The angst of these emotionally debilitating scenarios with Stephaney literally broke my sisters fragile heart. Addicts don’t care. Over and over again buying “psych friendly clothing” to drop off at the nut house. We hated going to visit her at psych wards as she demanded to “come home.” The first opportunity she had to use again she did. The pain my niece has brought to our family is as big as Texas.

Trying to act normal while wondering if she was dead or alive. Addicts are the most entitled, narcissistic, demanding, self absorbed, irresponsible, reckless, self indulgent idiots in the world. I hate my mother for being a heroin addict. I hate my niece for being a meth addict. I hate what both of them have done to our family. HATE IT.

6 months months ago, Stephaney returned from treatment in Oklahoma. For three months she lived with Cindy. Laying around and refusing to look for work. Then one day acting so irrationally that I called the police to have her committed due to her behavior.

When she was released this time, I advised her that she wouldn’t be returning to Cindy’s house. This created an argument. I held firm.

Stephaney “believes” Cindy owes her a place in her home. Stephaney is misinformed. She had ruined every opportunity in her life that we’ve given her over and over again.

My sister didn’t need anymore drama. The twins didn’t either. I located a group home. The rent was $650. I paid it. I spent a week driving Stephaney to job hunt. I found her a job. The following month, I paid half the rent. The ONLY bill Stephaney had was the rent. Cindy pays her cell phones bill. I buy her bus tickets. The rent is due next Wednesday. Stephaney has been so erratic at her job that they sent her home for four days last week. She’s only saved $300 towards the rent. I picked her up this morning to tell her to find another job. I picked her up this morning to tell her to start being a responsible adult. I was yelled at. “Don’t upset me when I’m going to a job I hate. Don’t upset me when I’m living in a place I hate. I need to be happy and not worried about paying rent.”

When did we become enablers? I have no idea. I wish I knew. Why did we overcompensate as mothers to our children? Our own mother was a heroin addict. A loser. A miserable excuse for a mother. In fact, she sold all four of her children for $50 each to go buy heroin. My grandfather tape recorded this deal. He kept the tape to remind us that no one wanted us. He also sexually abused my sisters and I for years until we finally ran away. Tammy was four years older than Cindy and I. We ran away at 15. We had no one. We lived in a shelter until we were 16. I obtained a hardship drivers license and we saved up and lived in a $200 car after we left the shelter until we could afford an apartment. We never did have the money for electricity at that apartment. But we had a roof over our heads and by 19 years old we moved to an apartment and finally had electricity. Cindy was pregnant with Leigh Ann. She was followed home from IHOP to that first apartment with no electricity. She was raped in the dark. We raised Leigh Ann together. We moved from the first apartment in the middle of the night behind on the rent because we were using it to move away from the apartment Cindy would never feel safe in again. Leigh Ann was born at JPS 8 months later.

Arguing with Stephaney in my car about her only responsibility being to pay the rent, she screamed “you’re lucky and my mom is lucky. You have homes, businesses, cars. You’re lucky.”

Whenever I’m told I’m lucky or I’ve been lucky, I want to slap the shit out of the misinformed idiot telling me I’m lucky. I’ve never been lucky. I’ve always worked my ass off to take care of my sister and Leigh Ann. Cindy was in a hospital bed for two years after an accident. She had two kids, Leigh Ann and Stephaney, no child support and me. She didn’t have help from our shitty family. We never have. We’ve always had each other. We’ve never been lucky but we have always been willing to work, thankful for the opportunity to work, devoted, loyal, determined and steadfast. We had to be.

Stephaney was pregnant at 15 with the twins. After their birth, Stephaney moved from marijuana to meth “to lose weight.” I will never forget having to find an attorney at Harris willing to come to NICU to keep the state from taking the twins. I found someone and knowing we were in a bind, he was expensive. Attorneys are always driven by greed. Cindy and I committed together to “saving the twins and giving them the life we never had.”

There were tough times the first few years. Stephaney would drop by high as a kite demanding to take the twins. We would call the police. We never let her take the twins because she was never sober enough for the responsibility. Protecting the twins has been a 16 year investment.

Stephaney has never paid rent in her life. She’s never paid her own car insurance when she has had cars. She has never paid her own cell phone bills. Cindy always buys a new phone when Stephaney loses the old phone. She pays the phone bill because it’s the only way we can try to find Stephaney when she disappears again.

Last year, Cindy and I flew to NY to film with CBS. Stephaney was clean and doing well. For the first time in the twins lives, we trusted her to watch them for two days. Our flight landed at Newark and a text from Maryssa read “she’s acting funny. I think she’s on something again.” Getting off that plane, Cindy clutched her heart. This was the first sign that my twin had heart issues. We were under contract to film and always honor our obligations. I suggested going to the hospital. Cindy declined and said “if we aren’t on that set, they will sue us. Give me a Xanax.” But the Xanax didn’t take away this pain. For the duration of our commitment in NY, Cindy had chest pain.

Getting on the plane to fly home, I gave Cindy 6 aspirin and a bottle of water. Her heart Dr later told me “the aspirin and water most likely kept her from having a heart attack on that flight.”

We returned to Texas and I informed Stephaney I was putting her back into treatment after she failed a drug test at Cindy’s house. I had a full schedule as usual and a heart doctor appointment for Cindy the following day so I put Stephaney on the bus. Hours later, Stephaney called halfway to treatment. She had gotten off the bus and I had to drive and pick her up to take her to Grove, Oklahoma myself. Cindy insisted on going with me. I wish she hadn’t. Finding Stephaney singing and dancing at a truck stop wasn’t what either of us wanted to see. We’ve seen it before. She’s either happy or angry.

It was an awful drive to the facility. Happy went to angry pretty quick. I didn’t care. I couldn’t get to Grove, Oklahoma soon enough. Cindy’s chest pain continued.

The following day I took Cindy to the ER. She was having a heart attack. She had 3 blocked arteries. She was transported while I picked up the twins from school to Harris Heart Center.

A year ago, I almost lost my sister. A year ago saving Stephaney finally made me realize that she didn’t want to be saved.

A year ago, my attitude changed. Stephaney would have to support herself and be a member of society. She would have to work. She would have to be responsible. She would have to grow up. None of these things happened. Instead, after picking her up following 9 months of treatment, Stephaney moved into Cindy’s home until her behavior became so erratic that I had no choice other than to call a 51/50 on her to get her out of Cindy’s house.

Stephaney will tell you that the 19 times she’s been involuntarily committed were everyone’s fault but her own. JPS told us every time they kept her “she’s positive for meth.”

Stephaney never admits to drug use. Even when see fails a drug test, Stephaney insists “it’s wrong.”

We know when she’s using. She thinks we don’t. Everyone knows. Her jobs, her friends, her family. Addicts think they are sneaky and no one’s the wiser. Sneaky and stupid go hand in hand. I’m so sick of Stephaney’s antics.

Tonight’s phone calls forced Cindy to take her heart pill, nitroglycerin. Tonight’s phone calls left Makenna mourning a guinea pig slowly dying. My worry about Cindy continues.

Months ago, my husband announced that Stephaney isn’t allowed into our home. This hurt me. She was doing well at the time. “Your niece ruins every holiday or family get together. I’m sick of watching you and Cindy on the merry go round of Saving Stephaney. She’s clean and normal. She’s high and agitated jumping in front of my car screaming she’s God and embarrassing us when a neighbor stops me to tell me that they saw Stephaney bathing in the fountain at the park. I just can’t take it anymore. I want normality and Stephaney ruins every shred of predictability there is. She will relapse and when she does, I don’t want her in our house. I’m uncomfortable around her. I don’t like screaming and yelling under my roof. I’m sorry but this decision is firm. I want a normal holiday.”

Of course I was hurt by this but he’s right. Every single holiday is ruined by my niece. Her sister, Leigh Ann can barely speak civilly to her. Stephaney’s stolen from Leigh Ann over and over or called her names. Stephaney has simply done too much.

My son tried to help by offering to let her stay with him. Stephaney started calling my daughter in law names and knocking holes in their walls.

Stephaney is unpredictable. Stephaney on meth is angry, confrontational and unpredictable.

I can’t do anything more to change the shape of things to come. I must pull back and stop trying to run to the rescue. I hate to admit that I’ve finally realized that my help is actually enabling my niece.

I dropped her off this morning after driving through McDonalds to buy her a coffee with her screaming her order from my passenger seat at the cashier. Being around someone on meth is and can be dangerous to others. You cannot predict what they will do or how they will behave. I was relieved to drop her off at work but concerned about her getting fired if she didn’t stop being hateful and rude.

Based on this evenings string of phone calls to Cindy’s house, my niece, Stephaney is back on the sauce and off the rails. I’m heartbroken but I must harden my heart and focus on my sister, my husband, my son, my twin Grandnieces, Maddy and Leigh Ann as well as my clients. It’s difficult to stop worrying about Stephaney and her choices but I no longer have a choice..

Old And Bitter Or Covered In Glitter? Reality Bites Drama, Deception & Divas…

Yesterday while driving from Mercado Event Center to Belltower Chapel, an email from my November client planning a backyard wedding came through that confused me. “Brenda’s having car trouble but I will be available to keep our appointment.” This confused me because I was wondering why my client didn’t go pick Brenda up but, I had two hours before our meeting so I sent a text back that read “I’m on the West side and if you need to change the appointment, please let me know as my schedule is rather tight this weekend from Fort Worth to Shreveport to Winstar Casino and I’m not sure I can reschedule anything this weekend.” I didn’t hear anything back so I went ahead to my next appointment while running to pick up photos for my Wallace Unit, stopping by the post office, going to the cleaners, running into Mercado Event Center to meet my clients for a rehearsal then leaving to fill up my suv and running through a car wash before checking in with my Belltower clients to confirm our evening appointment and running to my clients home. 

What you are about to read will surprise you just as much as it did me. I thought this couple had everything going for them. They had just bought a new home together or so I thought and I had even driven them to the clerks office to get their marriage license. They were both excited about planning their wedding. The bride of course had several things important to her from a photo of the cake to the color of the linen and the groom wanted to be sure that whatever she wanted stayed within the budget. Nothing gave me any indication of any conflict. I saw two happy older people beginning a new life together but looks can be deceiving.

Driving to my destination, I mentally went over my week. As usual, it’s jam packed. The only issue I’ve had to concern myself with regarding this event was the weather. Why? It was outdoors. Texas weather is tricky. 

Arriving on site, I unloaded the champagne toasting glasses, gift card box, guest book and other items I had purchased for this event along with my tape measure. My client greeted me at the door and we went through  everything and I asked for a photo to be provided by the client. We also discussed my decorative ladder with garland blocking the front door and directing guests to the gate instead. We then went outside to check the direction of the sun and discuss where the guest tables, food tables and chairs would be for the reception and ceremony. None of this was unusual. In fact, it was an ordinary day of discussing details two weeks prior to the event. 

Once my client and I were on track regarding the slope in the  yard and where everything would go as well as the timelines, we went back into the house to finish business. My cell phone dinged. I didn’t answer. I never take calls or respond when I’m with a client. My cell phone then rang right after my clients cell phone did. Buckle up for one surprise after the next kids…

The fiancé of my client was calling and texting because she thought our meeting had been canceled. I was confused about this. My client watched me talk to his fiancé warily. I advised her of everything we had discussed and explained that I could not reschedule due to my schedule and apologized. 

Hanging up, my client advised me “Brenda didn’t really have car trouble. Her car was repossessed. This is the second time it’s happened. I’m concerned.” I WAS NOW CONCERNED TOO. Having your car repossessed is alarming. Having financial problems was why my client was getting cold feet too.

Two weeks prior to wedding day? An inkling and unsettling premonition of the dreaded “Sexually Transmitted Debt Due To Marriage?!” What else could be going on? I advised my client of very real possibility of debt lawsuits, tax liens and the fact that marriage merges debt. I also began asking more questions.

They met online a year ago. My client spent twenty years in Texas Prisons. My client had just bought a new custom home. My client had rebuilt his life and my client had FAR MORE to lose. I brought up the need for a Prenup. It’s a touchy subject but a necessary discussion. My role is to protect and advise my client of the need to protect his assets and I did. 

“My role and my experience when it comes to protecting my clients is varied. In certain situations, I’ve advised my client not to marry. In other situations I’ve advised clients of the need for a Prenup. Each client is different. Each set of circumstances is also unique. I have one set of clients marrying inmates, another set so fixed on income that they are bartering services and yet another set with enough income to have whatever they want. As a premarital counselor with an education of debt lawsuits and those affected by them, I spent years in courtrooms understanding how marriage merges debt. To prevent the result of marriage incurring sexually transmitted debts, advising clients to consider Prenuptial Agreements is alarming to other vendors. However, my candor, experience, honesty and integrity are why I’m sought after. I don’t HAVE to work which gives me freedom. I’ve never advertised and I put my clients first. What they don’t know they learn from me. EXPERIENCE MATTERS.”

Wendy Wortham

Should aging and the fear of being lonely lead you to jump into marriage? No. Does the glamour of wedding planning and the glitter of the gaiety blindside couples to problems that need to be addressed prior to  marriage? Absolutely. This couple have gone through not one but two premarital courses together. 

Why wasn’t finances discussed in either class? The number one cause of divorce is money or infidelity. Whoever was teaching those courses certainly should have touched on finances and budgets. I would have. Brenda called me last week minutes before pulling into Wallace Unit to “add on” a wedding arch. My contracts are very specific. There wasn’t anything in our contract for a decorated wedding arch. I also needed to get into the Unit with my client. I advised Brenda that I would have to get bids and revise her contract and that I was on site. 

I juggle 18-29 clients a month. I do not take calls or texts when I’m with another client either. Brenda is blinded by the glitter. Everyone is on Pinterest but no one is researching cost or delivery. I don’t have an inventory fairy. I do have an agreed upon budget. “Add Ons” require a new contract. 

“Love believes all things” or does it? I asked more questions. Two repossessions in one year? Where was her money going? I’ve already paid deposits and made purchases for a wedding that may not happen. My client needs to protect his finances and future. After all, he’s already lost many years of his life to prison. Mrs Right or Mrs Right Now? It was a very important turning point for my client who prior to my discussion with him was wholly and entirely unaware that debt is similar to poison ivy. It spreads to your partner.

This morning between bookings, I went to visit my niece who is currently in a six month treatment program at a church with other women in the same program. My heart was heavy. Will this program work? Will my family ever get Stephaney back? I wiped tears of fear entering the church. I had no idea what to expect. I wondered again why meth had taken nearly 17 years of my niece’s life? Why God had allowed me and my family to be drug through the destruction addiction brings to loved ones? My anxiety was high. 

For a person that regularly plans and marries people, I wondered if my niece would ever find a life partner too? Will Stephaney one day get her life in order and have a husband and her own home? What will happen when I’m dead and gone to my niece? I’m running out of time to get Stephaney on track. Cindy and I will be 55 next month. Stephaney is 34 years old. The twins are 15. I need my niece to realize that none of us can keep getting on the merry go round of “Stephaney being clean then she’s not clean anymore” because we can’t. Drugs destroy families. My mother’s addiction destroyed my childhood. My nieces addiction is destroying my adulthood. I hate addiction. I hate drugs. I don’t understand why weak people allow drugs to affect their decisions? Choose life. It’s not that difficult. Choose your family. You have a choice. 

The church was full. I had no idea where to find Stephaney. I took a seat in the back. I realized directly in front of me stood my niece praising God unaware of me behind her and started crying. I didn’t want her to see my emotion of all the years spent praying for her. I chose to compose myself before touching her back to let her know I was there. Stephaney was wearing clothes that I didn’t recognize. I had taken clothes to the facility as well as shoes and toiletries but didn’t buy the dress she was wearing.

I knew that seeing me alone wouldn’t be as celebratory as seeing me with Cindy and the twins. Steph had wanted her mom (my twin) and her twin daughters to join me but they had declined. I’ve always been the fixer. Re establishing trust between my family and my niece won’t be easy. It will be painfully challenging. 

I’ve lost my faith in God over and over again throughout my life. My path has never been easy. A family member sexually abused my twin sister and I for years until we ran away. We didn’t have a mother to protect us or anyone who cared. Why has my life always been a struggle? Where was God when I needed hope? My struggle and my faith have been tested time and time again. Hardship didn’t define me or my twin. Instead hardship empowered us both. We are warriors.

My mother was a heroin addict until debilitating accident occurred in 1989 that destroyed 60% of her brain that resulted in her forgetting her lifelong heroin addiction. I would never be able to confront her over her choices at tore our family apart. Hours prior to the accident, I had met my mother for the first time in 20 plus years. Why the separation? Our mother sold all four of her children for $50 each to go buy heroin. Hours prior to her accident, I paid her to meet me and answer my questions. The answers weren’t what I had expected. She could have lied and spared my heart but chose not to. That “rent money” she wanted to meet me? It was used to buy drugs that resulted in “the accident.” 

At our meeting, I was too shocked to express my anger. Fifty dollars? I was paying her $1500 to meet me and answer four questions. Cindy refused to go with me to this meeting. I went alone. The fantasy of her worrying or wondering what happened to us was shattered. The truth hurt. In fact it hurt so much that even today the scar remains. Guilt over money I paid her to meet me that resulted in a life altering accident also plagued me for years. Her answers to my questions haunt me. Why didn’t I react? Why didn’t I tell her that because she was such an awful and thoughtless mother that Cindy and I left home and chose homelessness over a broken home? 

Why didn’t I tell her I blamed her? Because my “dreaded dark stranger” a chronic stutter that has haunted me since our mother abandoned us at 6 years old had (as usual) grabbed my tongue. I was speechless. I couldn’t respond. I didn’t cry. I paid her the money with my head hung ashamed that Cindy had been right. 

Indignant that my mother hadn’t bothered to bathe or bother putting any degree of pride into her appearance while having ten full days notice of meeting me. I walked away. My entire childhood was spent fantasizing that my mother cared. That she wondered. That she had tried to find us. That she worried. She hadn’t given us a second thought. “I didn’t want kids and I certainly didn’t want twins.” I couldn’t believe those were her parting words. Driving back to San Clemente from Solvang, I hated my mother. I also hated myself for stupidly convincing myself she had spent years searching for us. I was an idiot. A sap. An easy Mark. 

“The accident” occurred in Santa Maria while I was driving to San Clemente. My mother’s mother called my home to let me know “your mother has been in an accident. She isn’t expected to live. This is your last chance to say goodbye.” I played it over and over again. I then drove to Santa Maria. This time with my sister and my nieces. I wasn’t alone but I felt alone. I didn’t want to talk about my meeting. I drove in silence. 

I could have never anticipated that she would be missing an eye and half of her brain when I saw her again the same night. I was devoid of any emotion after “the accident.” I was empty. Unable to feel pity for someone who had only hours earlier had no remorse whatsoever for her own choices or her actions that had affected an entire family. 

My niece became pregnant at 15 with twins. Maryssa and Makenna would never have the childhood Cindy and I did. We became the mothers we had never had. We took our own childhood and threw that book the trash. Deliberately and with forethought, we became the role models we had never known for the twins and our children. When Stephaney fell, we were there to pick her up. Over and over an over again. Cindy’s arms are weary. My heart is heavy. 

“An addict will find any reason to celebrate even if it’s the grand opening of a pack of cigarettes.”

Cindy Daniel

I understand my nieces twin daughters anger. I understand my twin sisters anger. I also know that unless I can convince my niece to never use drugs again that she will lose her family forever. I’m the only one still standing. Still praying. Still holding out hope. I’m standing alone. But today at a church filled with people singing the praises of God, I wasn’t alone. I was holding my nieces hand. I was listening to the sermon and I was regaining my faith that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. I’m giving up my despair to God. I have to as my heart pertaining to my niece and my mother are heavy. Will Stephaney choose her family? I pray she does…

Perception isn’t reality. People tell me I’m lucky all the time. It’s untrue. I have never been lucky but I have always been resilient, passionate and perseverant…

Will my client overcome unexpected financial secrets? Will my niece choose her family? Will my family trust my niece again? I have no idea but I do have faith. 

It takes HEART not STRENGTH to lift a LOVED ONE back up when they are DOWN…

Loving an inmate requires dedication and perseverance. It’s not an easy path for any of my clients. But, love is stronger than than most people realize. 

Yesterday, a stranger called me who had been following my blogs for years. This person had decided to finally “reach out” in order to point blank ask me “how I became so compassionate towards others?” 

It’s confusing to others how I became the person I am today but, I’m open minded and determined, passionate and perseverant because I haven’t had an easy life. If I had, I might have been a different person but, a hard path didn’t define me or my sister. A difficult childhood empowered us both with strength, courage, tenacity and resilience. 

The truth is that throughout my childhood, Cindy and I as well as our stepsister had very little attention and much less compassion from those who were supposed to love and protect us. Our mother was a heroin addict. Our mother also sold all four of her children for $50 each to go buy heroin. 

Cindy and I were 6 years old and at our grandparents house alone with our grandfather while our grandmother and other family members were at another house planning a birthday party for my twin sister and I. Neither of us will ever forget this particular 6th birthday.

Why? Because my grandfather had played the tape recorded conversation with our mother (as he often would over the years) to remind us that no one wanted us before sexually assaulting us. I would stop speaking on my 6th birthday. I would for many years have difficulty speaking. 

People say “children learn what they live.” This is bullshit. Children can and do learn to break the chains. Cindy and I did. We both hate drugs. We both went to great lengths to protect our children and grandchildren from ever being hurt in the same way we had as children ourselves. We were never taught compassion by example. 

Instead, we learned to be compassionate regarding others because we knew lack of compassion by the examples of people who were supposed to love and protect us failing to do so throughout our childhoods. Cindy and I left home at 15. We never looked back. Instead, we looked forward.

Last Friday, my twin sister, Cindy was hospitalized with chest pain. After 16 years of the “carnival of chaos” Cindy’s youngest daughter, Stephaney has pulled us back on over and over again, the end result is that my sister has hypertension. Stephaney is a meth addict. 

Someone told me last year “don’t hate the addict. Hate the drug.” I’m assuming they must have been an addict because I know damn well that anyone who loves an addict would never say anything this stupid to someone who was yet again “Trying To Save Stephaney ONE MORE TIME.” 

The number of times I’ve told my niece “this is the last time” would astound you. The lengths Cindy and I have gone to in order to put her daughter on the right path would amaze you. We absolutely refused to give up. We can no longer go on. Yesterday was Stephaney’s last chance. I fear if she doesn’t choose to change, her choices will destroy our family once and for all. 

My niece and her choices have hurt my own health as well as my sisters. Stephaney’s choices have affected her twin daughters mental health and self esteem. Stephaney is self destructive. Stephaney has consistently backtracked. 

Last weekend after three months of sobriety, Stephaney backtracked again. Sunday, I was in the hospital with chest pain regarding Stephaney’s latest relapse. My sister and I as well as Stephaney’s twin daughters, Maryssa and Makenna were all (yet again) devastated. 

Yesterday, Stephaney was released from her 18th visit to JPS due to drug induced psychosis. My son had driven my niece to JPS while Cindy was in the ER with me. My daughter in law and son also took over my bookings last Sunday. I’m terrified that Stephaney’s choices will eventually kill my sister or myself. 

I drove my niece to rehab yesterday. I cried as she cried. I mourned the years she had lost with our family. I feared and continue to fear the future of my sisters health issues that Stephaney’s choices have burdened her loved ones with. How do you change an addict? How do you save them? 

People have asked “how did your mom stop being an addict?” She didn’t. High as a kite, a Los Angeles transit bus collided with my mother’s car. The “accident” took 60% of my mother’s cognitive ability and one of her eyes. 

In essence, my mother “forgot” that she was a heroin addict. I pray my niece decides to stop being an addict and chooses to be a part of our family instead….