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Brandi's Story

I was about 11-12 years old when I started to drink and smoking marijuana. I was born in Butte and we moved to Missoula when I was five. My mom left when I turned two and my dad raised me. He was involved with drugs and tried committing suicide twice. For three years as a child, I was sexually abused by a friend of the family. My dad was a truck driver and he didn’t believe me. Nobody believed me. The people were very involved in their church and didn’t believe it was happening. My dad was physically abusive and even with that he told me to stay quiet about it. So I stayed quiet about everything. I wanted to do what dad was doing. I was in the car shop or the bar, and he looked like he was having fun. I was shy and quiet and drinking gave me more of a voice and made me more accepting of myself.

It felt like dad didn’t know who I was. He didn’t listen to me so I stopped trying to tell him and put on a show. He was pretty crazy at times. He encouraged the violence so if I got a good grade, it was oh, good job. If I got in a fight at school and he had to pick me up, it was “that’s my girl” and we’d go out to eat.

When I was 13, he attempted suicide twice in that year. I went to Butte and lived with my grandma and my uncle. I came back after I turned 14. My dad lost the house and everything. We were living at a hotel. He became physically abusive again and I ran away and started using meth. He never reported me. I ended up finding my mom when I was about 12 and she still lives in North Carolina. I ended up telling her that I was on the run and she reported me to the police. I ended up staying on the run in Missoula, using meth until I was about 15. I stole from stores, sold drugs to survive. Stayed in hotels or at a few houses, couch surfing. I would get arrested and taken to the attention home. I ran away from there, I think three times. I went to juvenile incarceration at County and got out and ran away again. My boyfriend said he loved so we just ran and did drugs. I felt that no one cared. Your mom and dad are supposed to take care of you so when they let you down, who do you count on? Your partner – so that’s what I was in search of.

I had a probation officer who was looking for me and I was arrested and sat in juvenile on my sweet 16th birthday and I was sentenced to Cinnamon Hills in Utah. They didn’t want to lock me up in Montana. I ended up going there and completing their program. My dad wasn’t doing anything to get me back. I reunited with my mom and wasn’t supposed to come back to Montana until I was 21 because I had some assault charges and was labeled dangerous. That was who I was.

I ended up moving to North Carolina and met my step-dad. I have 4 siblings, 3 brothers and a sister. I wasn’t there for too long. I think I moved there right after Christmas of 2000 and I was back in Missoula by April 2001. I didn’t get the help there. I went from an only child, with a single parent, to a whole family and my mom accused me of using drugs when I wasn’t. I was trying really hard to not use. I ended up claiming I was suicidal so they took me out of the home and put me in a group home. I ended up coming back to Montana and my CFS caseworker said, “Well what do you want to do?” I had met this caseworker at Talbot House, and I wanted to go where she was. When I ended up staying in the attention home for a week, we celebrated because I had stayed longer than 2-3 days.

I went through the Talbot and I was in Tom Roy and I met a guy in high school. This guy was using and on 4/20 right before my 18th birthday, I relapsed. I drank and smoked marijuana. I was sober maybe a year and a half that time. I ran away and got into using meth again. I ended up pregnant and miscarried in 2002. Then I ended up pregnant again. It was the first time I used cocaine and I kept throwing up and that’s how I found out I was pregnant. My first son was born in 2003. I quit using meth as soon as I found out. I drank a couple of sips of wine cooler when I was pregnant.

Then after I had my son, the father was abusive and selling drugs. I ended up leaving him and started to go to the bar a lot. I was a single mom and knew that I needed to take care of this child but I didn’t know how. That’s when I started drinking again, used meth a few times after he was born. I started cocktailing and got into a relationship with the manager when my son was about 1 1/2. I ended up moving to Arizona. I was drinking a lot. I became operations manager of a dog kennel and didn’t see my capability in it. My boyfriend hit me once; so I packed up my son, dogs and came back to Montana. I automatically jumped into a relationship with another guy.

I ended up moving to Butte pregnant with my second son. The relationship became abusive, both drinking, both abusive to each other. My dad ended up moving down outside Vegas and he had pancreatic cancer, so I went down there and picked him up and brought him to Butte where my aunt, my uncle and grandma lived. We did hospice care in the home or at the hospital. I was taking some of his morphine and drinking. When he died, I started to give up. I didn’t know how to cope.

I didn’t want to admit that I was drinking because of my problems not that my problems were coming from my drinking. We both received a partner family assault and going in and out of court with him on custody of my second son. Also, I had my first son the whole time and he was going on five when my dad died. I reconnected with his dad and thought we were meant to be. I moved to Helena with him and got a grooming position there. I got a DUI with my first son in the car. That relationship was toxic. I wrecked my car.

I went into intensive outpatient at Boyd Andrews in Helena. I learned a lot, but I still didn’t have that self-worth. I dealt with a lot of shame. My second son was back and forth between his dad and me every two weeks. He was also taking my first son until he got a new girlfriend. When my first son’s dad was in the picture, I ended up signing over power of attorney. I was homeless and staying at God’s Love in Helena. Because of the DUI, I could only go to Great Falls to see my second son every other weekend for certain hours. I rescinded the POA and ended up taking my first son back and was sober for not very long, not even a year.

I connected with one of the guys that worked at the shelter and got in a relationship with him. He was a very good, kind-hearted guy and moved in with him and got pregnant with my daughter. I ended up living a double life. I started seeing another guy and he didn’t know I was pregnant. We were toxic together so that was comfortable. When I had my daughter at the hospital, I sent him a picture and he still forgave me. I didn’t know how to tell my nice boyfriend, so I made up stuff and left him and moved in with the new guy. We drank all the time and took pills. I had no idea how to budget money.

I started using meth again. I knew I was going back to court and just unaware of what my drinking and drug use was doing. My first son was ADHD and I had him on medication. I was so drunk and/or high I wasn’t even able to get a hold of his doctor to tell him he needed a refill, so my son was out of school.  I had tax return money. I was doing dog grooming at Petco. I had an awesome job and that was too good to be true so I ended up losing that job. I knew I had a gift with dogs, They were the only being that showed me what true love and forgiveness are.

After like 10 days, the schools contact police and they were going to put an alert out. They found us at a hotel and my first son was taken to my daughter’s Dad’s house. My daughter was at her dad’s house. It was the weekend and I ended up blowing my money on drugs so I couldn’t get into a place. I just stayed really high and even showed up to a visit at CFS drunk. They brought my first son’s dad back into his life. I ended up coming to Missoula and got another DUI and PFA. He ended up beating me up at my dad’s grave and we ended up fighting. They ended up placing my first son with his dad and I gave up. It really hurt because I did have times where I was good mom.

I ended up pregnant with third son. His dad ended up in prison for selling drugs. I ended up selling drugs. I was using while I was pregnant. I got so involved with selling drugs that I was leaving the state to pick up large quantities. They took my son at the hospital. I ended up walking out and I was homeless. I manipulated my grandma for money and was going to move to Wisconsin. I started selling again. I had a name in Helena for dope dealing and thought that’s who I was.

I ended up getting arrested for dangerous drugs a month after my third son was born. I got out on bond and the person ended up robbing me and I went right back to selling drugs. I ended up in debt to my drug dealer. I was two days late contacting my bondsman and I was set up and the friend I was with was wanted for murder. The police arrested us and I got a max sentence for felony possession of dangerous drugs. I was released on probation and then I got a suspended sentence. I went to check in with my PO and she wasn’t in so I was supposed to check in Monday, but by then I was already in another state picking up drugs. Things got dangerous and scary. When with my drug dealer, people jumped in the backseat of the car in front of a casino, broke a beer bottle over his head, stabbed him in the face and was shaking us down for money. I still felt like this was where I was supposed to be. I got in an accident and wouldn’t talk to the police. I got revoked and went to Passages alcohol and drug treatment with a suspended sentence.

Because of what happened to me as a child, I didn’t believe in God unless it was to think that he hated me. There was a thing in my room with my roommate that was like I’ll carry your worries today. And I really opened my heart to the idea that maybe who I thought God was, was not who he was. I came to the pre-release in Missoula.  I was afraid of what people would think of me. When I had been pregnant with third son, I received paperwork on my second son and I was too afraid to look at it, so I lost rights to him and he was adopted. I ended up relinquishing rights to my 3rd son.

I was in touch with my daughter’s dad and then he stopped communicating with me. He moved to Michigan which I found out later. I didn’t want to talk about my childhood rape. Why bother? I didn’t want to look weak in front of other people. My case manager/CP&R instructor said, “You’ll probably never see these people again. Use this as your dumping ground.”

That’s when I started putting work into it. I came to pre-release here in 2014. I started working with dogs again. I really started to do some work. I was seeing a counselor. I even did EMDR therapy. I also went to that church and I wanted to face it. I stood outside of the house where most of it happened and those memories don’t really haunt me so much anymore.

I started seeing a guy in the pre-release and he was in pre-release too. He was a very good looking guy and he thought I was pretty, which was a very new concept for me. So I stopped seeing him and then started seeing a bondsman. I ended up pregnant and I had an abortion. I didn’t know how to cope with that and all these new perspectives and not knowing how to implement my skills. I started going back to drinking, gambling and got back together with the boyfriend who I knew was toxic for me from the pre release.

I ended up getting high with my toxic boyfriend, and I lied to my current boyfriend so he threw me out and I immediately started living with toxic guy and using meth every day. I lost my job and everything I had just learned. I was so ashamed and so depressed. I started having contact with my daughter and then stopped right before Christmas of 2015 because I was high. It was the most scary time of my life.

I ended up pregnant again. I found out I was pregnant with my daughter when I went septic and I was in the ICU in the hospital. The toxic boyfriend only came about twice to see me. I still didn’t want to believe that he didn’t love me. I stayed home with his kids and I stayed high. I believed we had this “connection.”

I would not use for a while and then I would start again to cope with what was going on. I still was just starting to work on my feelings about what happened with my three sons.  I felt like I didn’t deserve this child either, but I wanted it to be different. Then one night, I was at home and about five months pregnant and I had stopped going to the doctor. The toxic boyfriend raped me and I ran out of the house and I didn’t go back. He stalked me where i was staying. I stayed as high as I could. That was early September of 2016.

In later September, he ended up getting arrested so I went back to the house. I used really hard and had to go to the PO the next day and thank God, I had a dirty UA. So I had to go to jail for 30 days.

When I got out of jail, my PO said she’d let me go to Wisconsin. My grandmother ended up driving in. That was very unhealthy. She didn’t tell anyone she was coming to get me. She wrecked in South Dakota and didn’t tell anybody and blew all the money a friend had sent to her.

I called my PO and said I wanted to pursue treatment and I followed my CD eval and started at Turning Point. I applied at Carole Graham and I did not want to lose my baby. I did not want CFS to come in and take her. Carole Graham said I had to go to inpatient so I came to Recovery Center Missoula. A lot of what I had learned was reinforced and there was more stuff like communication skills and boundary setting and thoughts that I was afraid to share because I thought they were crazy. It was the first time in my life that people related and I felt equal and kept sharing.  I had my daughter in January of 2017 and they discharged me and CSF didn’t show up so I came back to RCM with her.

I ended up getting into emergency housing through the YWCA and was doing outpatient here until I could get into intensive outpatient at Turning Point and kept working through stuff. I did everything opposite. I asked for help. I would actually call and go to a meeting and not because I had to. I didn’t have to be the Lone Ranger. I could let people in. I was always worried about judgment. CFS came every week  or called on the phone. I ended up telling her what I was doing. I got denied at Carol Graham because of my violent crimes. My PO appealed it and I went into Carole Graham in March 2017. I was afraid my daughter’s dad was going to come after me. I didn’t want him in the picture at all, no child support, nothing. Now I am at a place where I can start to deal with everything about abandoning my children.

I am now 19 months clean. I have had such momentum. Fear has always crippled me. I learned that courage is not the lack of fear, but acting in spite of it. I don’t worry so much anymore about what people think. I read my bible every day because I now have a higher power and it took that rape to gain a relationship with God. I still have the letter where CFS closed the case on her and she’s with me. I had never really lived sober so how to fit in with people and not be so hard on myself. The cravings and old tapes that I’m not good enough come back so I’m so grateful that I had Carole Graham because I don’t know how to go out and live normally.

I’m starting to work on reuniting with my first son and first daughter, and I got some rejection there. My first daughter refuses to talk to me. I haven’t been able to see her. I’ve never been sober this long without incarceration. That double life is what addicts do! It keeps you so alone. My doctor said he had another woman who was really in a hole and he was able to say to her, I know someone who did it, and it can be done. He meant me! That’s amazing to me. I Just feel more at peace.

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