Everyday across America people who love an inmate or an addict go to work. They put their normal faces on and hide their pain and sorrow. They have bills to pay and the obligations to address. They are also living in a world they never expected devoid of structure and any degree of predictability.
I noticed the similarities of these two groups of people years ago. One set of people who love an inmate and the other set of people who love an addict.
You see up to 90% of my clients marry an inmate. I’m often the one person that they can confide in. I don’t judge anyone. My twin sister and I have both shared a painful path that may be different from that of people who love an inmate but I can assure you that loving an addict is also a minefield of painful perseverance that most people will never understand.
Both people who love an inmate and people who love an addict rarely have any degree of support from society as a whole. We are a unique group of people that are living proof that love is the strongest emotion regardless how difficult and painful it may be to love an inmate or an addict or a combination of the two scenarios. Why a combination of both an addict and an inmate? Because it’s not uncommon for an inmate to be incarcerated because of their addiction. In fact it’s quite common. Our baby brothers son, Frankie is in Union County Jail for violating probation for drugs then stealing a vehicle and driving through a bar to rob it. Our brother is beside himself with grief as is his wife. They’ve had 8 years with their sons addiction. Cindy and I have had 20 years of her daughters addiction. Addicts destroy your life and your health.
For twenty years my twin sister and I have been through raw & sheer hell. Why? Her youngest daughter, Stephaney is an addict. You will never know the raw sheer trauma of raising a child who becomes an addict UNLESS you’ve lived it. I’m damn serious.
Our entire lives have been affected by the choices of addicts. What do I mean by that? Our mother, Sharon Hill sold (that’s right I said sold this sale was recorded) all 4 of her children for $50 each. Why was this taped? Because our grandfather used that tape to silence us while reminding us “no one wants you not even your own mother. You are bought and paid for. Don’t ever forget it.” Our grandfather (fathers father) was a Pedophile.
At 15 years old, Wendy and Cindy ran away with the clothes on our backs. We had no money. We had no jobs. We had no car. We had no one to run to. I was pregnant. My father upon realizing this attempted to beat me into a miscarriage. Cindy jumped in front of me and suffered a beating herself. We ran. We ate out of dumpsters and hid from other people ashamed & dirty but alive.
Today homeless teens aren’t unusual or even rare but 43 years ago, a pair of twins who had been badly beaten were found by 2 Azle police officers who upon looking at us took us rather than back home to the Women’s Haven in Fort Worth, TX.
From the shelter to a $50 car we lived in for 9 months, we moved into an apt in the worst area of Fort Worth and couldn’t afford electricity for 3.5 years. Cindy was raped in that apartment. This tragedy would become a blessing because my family had taken my daughter, the same child my father had attempted to beat out of me that night in Azle, Anna from me. My father, his mother and father and even my aunt were hellbent to get Anna from me. No one in my family wanted me to keep the child Cindy and I had run away in order to save. They fought me over her and not having the income to fight back, they eventually won and took Anna from me. Leigh Ann filled the void losing Anna had left in my broken heart. I will never forgive them for what they took from me as long as I live and breathe but Cindy’s pregnancy healed my broken heart.
A lot of people won’t understand that Cindy and I raised our children as a team but it’s true. Cindy has 2 daughters, Leigh Ann and Stephaney. I have one son, Robert. We’ve never been lucky but we’ve always been resilient. We were determined to be the parents we had never known and honored our commitment to do so.
No parent expects a child they’ve raised to become an addict. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. Many people label people who love an addict as enablers. It’s easy for them to cast stones because they have no idea of the difficulty (mainly mothers of addicts as I’ve rarely met a father of an addict searching the streets over the past twenty years) as weak when in fact these warriors are strong. Mothers of addicts don’t give up easily. Their health suffers. Their finances are compromised paying for rehab after rehab. They feel isolated. Alone. Their own family members turn against them because they can’t stop trying to save an addict. They seek normality. They cannot buy peace. They become fearful of phone calls. They mourn the death of a child they’ve raised while they are still alive. This grief can best be described as Complicated Grief Syndrome. More often than not Complicated Grief Syndrome becomes Broken Heart Syndrome. Mothers of addicts health suffers greatly. It’s not uncommon for mothers of addicts to suffer heart attacks, strokes and cancer diagnosis.
My twin sister and I were at TDCJ Robertson Unit in Abilene, Texas when we read a group text “Mimis I’ve taken all of my anxiety meds because I don’t want to grow up and be like my mother.” Makenna one of the twins would be the first near death victim of Stephaney. We barely saved her. She was hospitalized for a month then moved by ambulance to Mesa Springs for suicidal ideation. She had never been away from Cindys home. You see Steph became pregnant at 15 and it was with twins. CPS was going to take the twins, Maryssa & Makenna. Cindy and I were 40 years old. Cindy saw Wendy and Cindy in NICU rather than Maryssa and Makenna. Cindy knew that if she didn’t act quickly those twins would suffer the same consequences Wendy and Cindy did BECAUSE our mother was an addict who abused, neglected then finally sold us. I called an attorney. Cindy has had full custody of Maryssa and Makenna since birth.
Millions of grandparents are raising their grandchildren because their children became addicts. Millions. Many without child support. Michael Wayne Scherer Jr upon learning Steph was pregnant, went to Cindy’s house and beat Stephaney trying to force a miscarriage just as my father had 43 years ago. He failed to do so. Michael pled down and copped a plea of Assault On A Family. The family was Steph and the twins. I used that to prevent him ever having visitation with Maryssa and Makenna in the custody hearing in Parker County, Texas. The attorney argued “no judge will grant that.” I argued “Cindy and I paid you to get this done and you are going to admit the plea deal he made into evidence and get it done. I’m not asking you. Instead I’m telling you.” The judge granted no visitation. Neither Michael or Stephaney ever paid child support on the twins. Deadbeat parent’s both of them. The hardship of raising a second generation of children fell on Cindy & Steve Daniel. Cindy had to give up her job to raise the twins. Steve Daniel a truck driver was laid off from Albertsons after 23 years and took a job for KBR as a fuel tank driver in Balad, Iraq. You can Google Steve Daniel Caught In The Crossfire to find out how much Steve gave up to save Cindy and the twins by taking on a very dangerous job in order to save his family. Love is sacrifice.
Addicts are selfish. They are narcissistic. They don’t care who they destroy. They have no remorse. Ask me I know. In 1989, I hired a private investigator to find MY MOTHER. I wanted to confront her. I wanted to know WHY she had sold us. She wanted $1500 to meet me. Cindy and our baby brother, Jerry were furious about this meeting but I was determined to find the truth. I wanted to hear it from Sharon’s mouth.
“EXPERIENCE is EXPENSIVE, because WHEN you LEARN something the HARD way, you NEVER forget the COST.” Cindy Daniel.
I didn’t get the answers I expected or wanted. Sharon took the $1500 and her toxic tongue and left that restaurant in Solvang, CA and was involved in a life changing accident. Her mother, Anna Mae Tinney called my home in San Clemente where my furious sister was waiting on me and told her “your mother isn’t expected to live. Please come to Santa Maria.” I was angrily driving from Solvang to San Clemente. I also never wanted to see Sharon again. Cindy feeling sorry for her mother who we had no idea had legally adopted our half sister, Tamara that no one told us about until 2007, convinced Cindy to convince me to backtrack. I didn’t want to but I did. A trust was established to benefit Sharon’s 4 children. Remember though 1 of those 4 children had been legally adopted. When Anna Mae Tinney and I set up that trust as payback for the children nobody wanted, Anna Mae DELIBERATELY didn’t advise me that Tamara was NOT entitled because Anna Mae had in fact legally adopted and effectively saved Tammy from the fate Wendy, Cindy & Jerry faced as children no one wanted. It wasn’t until 2007 when Sharon’s half sister, Nancy Tabor Tinney called me to tell me “Tammy is double dipping” that I had any idea Anna Mae had legally adopted Tammy at 10 years old. Anna Mae effectively not only saved Tammy at 10 but also later in life as Tammy benefited upon Anna Mae’s death as one of her daughters in an estate split between Sharon, Nancy & Tammy. Sharon’s split went into the Sharon Hill Trust Estate. You see Sharon lost 60% of her cognitive abilities from the accident which left her an incapacitated person in the state of California. Sharon is still alive today. Had she died that night as she was expected to… Wendy, Cindy & Jerry’s lives would have dramatically been improved by benefit of that trust money. But you see we’ve never been lucky.
How would that trust estate have changed OUR lives? Stephaney’s father had sent Cindy, Leigh Ann & Stephaney on a holiday to me in San Clemente and planned to wipe out their house leaving nothing not even a fork, can of green beans or ice tray. Larry took Cindy, Leigh Ann and Stephaneys personal belongings and anything under that roof. He even stripped the car I had left in TX. I moved Cindy in with me. Larry never paid one penny of child support on Stephaney. Why? He filed for divorce in TX lying and said he had custody of Stephaney and the idiot judge didn’t ask for evidence.
Meanwhile I was in a violent marriage. Jerry joined the Navy to escape. So you see that money would HAVE changed OUR lives. But we’ve never been lucky and have had to fight to protect that trust over 30 years never benefitting one nickel from it while everyone not entitled to it has continued to try to steal it all of these years.
Loving an addict is HELL. You can divorce a spouse you cannot divorce a child you raised who BECAME an addict.
For twenty years Wendy and Cindy have searched the streets, visited psych wards, jails & rehabs and begged DA’s for prison. Steph has been arrested over 20 times and even stole a semi and NEVER went to prison. I walk into prisons 5-6 days a week and constantly wonder if prison would have changed our outcome with Steph???
Addicts are the most self destructive people I’ve ever encountered. I now know why no one is looking for homeless people wandering the streets. I’m one of them. Cindy is too. We are sick of trying to Save Stephaney.
I’ve always been honest and candid. Two years ago I noticed that my clients marrying an inmate were by far more compassionate about our struggles with Steph than my traditional clients from Texas Twins Events. Why? Because they love an inmate. They too are judged by people who have no idea how hard it is to love an inmate. Stupid scripted shows like Love After Lockup depict anyone who loves an addict as desperately lonely or mentally unstable. This is INACCURATE and UNTRUE. I know my clients. I know how determined, resilient, loyal, independent and dedicated they are. Scripted reality shows are B.S. The reality is that loving an inmate REQUIRES tenacity, determination and grit. So does loving an addict. The difference between these two groups is that people who love an inmate KNOW when an inmate will be released OR if it’s a lifer they ACCEPT there will NEVER be a release. People who love an addict have NO TIMELINE OF GRIEVING. We mourn indefinitely UNTIL we get that FINAL PHONE CALL.
I’ve had mothers of addicts tell me “I’m relieved it’s finally over.” In fact a mother who had traveled with her daughter to marry an inmate at TDCJ Coffield Unit a few weeks ago told me just that. The circumstances of that day were beyond unique. 1. My client without asking or advising me had mailed her marriage license to the Unit. Effectively it was lost. 2. TDCJ does not allow guests. 3. My clients mother was allowed in due to a recent warden change and short staff at the Unit. 4. Because the license wasn’t with the client she was nearly cancelled and had to file for a duplicate marriage license and finally 5. The mother and daughter were leaving a wedding at a prison to go make funeral arrangements for the son who had after 24 years of addiction finally died. You can’t make this shit up. From a prison wedding to a funeral? YES.
In April 2023 Steph had decided to leave Oxford House (a sober living facility) and because Cindy had helped her increase and effectively repair her credit, move into the first apartment Steph had ever had at 36 years old after 20 years of homelessness. Cindy & I furnished and I decorated that apartment. Steph had obtained a job at a nice steakhouse and a car and finally an apartment. We were relieved and thrilled that finally Steph had overcome addiction. The twins were talking to her again. Leigh Ann was cautious but Cindy & Wendy had thought we won. We were wrong.
Due to unpredictable behavior, Cindy popped Steph with a drug test. It was positive. For nearly 3 weeks we have no idea where she is, who she is with or what she is doing. Here’s what we do know… within 7 days of that drug test Steph was fired, she wrecked her car and she spiraled. She’s facing homelessness again.
This could’ve been the greatest comeback story ever but it isn’t because no matter what you do you cannot save an addict…