The tiniest bit of love gave me hope in the darkness

May 1, 2023

“I was a good mom until I wasn’t. I used cloth diapers, homeschooled, and taught Sunday School. But my drug addiction and an abusive relationship that threatened my children terminated my rights to them. My kids were 16, 13, and 10. Thankfully they have good dads who put them first. I wasn’t allowed to see my kids for years. When I got sad, I called and harassed my children’s fathers, begging to talk to my kids and tell them I love them. Both fathers blocked my number. They did the right thing.


I could have done right and fought to get my children back. At that point, I was so beaten down by life and the voices in my head that I didn’t think I could do it. I was mowed over in court and thought I would kill myself if I ever went through that again.


I always said I would never shoot up or do heroin, but after I lost my kids, I started doing both. Once you shoot up a drug, any other way doesn’t get you high. The needle and finding a vein became my obsession. I was using drugs every couple of hours.


Drugs had just switched from heroin to fentanyl — after trying fentanyl no one wanted heroin. The first time I used fentanyl, I didn’t know what it was, but I slept for the first time in months. That was in 2018, right before the pandemic.


My tolerance for fentanyl kept rising. I overdosed twice while snorting it, so I stuck to shooting up. My biggest fear was becoming dopesick, and I spent $300 a day on fentanyl. If I stayed high, I could float through life without feeling the guilt of losing my kids — that pain was too much to bear. I compromised everything about myself for this drug.


I didn’t have a job to pay hundreds of dollars a day on drugs. I wouldn’t steal, so I turned to prostitution because it wasn’t hurting anyone except me. I forgot that I was a person and that I mattered. It started with massages and body rubs — I tried to keep some of my morals — but it soon went into full service to make more money. When I started, I was tan and beautiful with long hair and no scars yet. I was one of the top escorts in Nashville and made $200 for 15 minutes


A few women found out their husbands or boyfriends paid me for sex and tried to smear my name on Facebook. I thought, ‘Honey, if you are trying to ruin my life, you are too late, I have already done it. Call me whatever you want, it’s all true, and I have said it to myself.’


Some of the men coming to me were doctors and preachers. Respected men in the community were using women for sex. They knew I was in darkness and despair, but they contributed to that because they had to have sex. I now understand their addiction to sex was as bad as my addiction to drugs.


Prostitution can also be human trafficking. Someone paid off my debt to a drug dealer, then said I had to give him the money I made. He made himself my pimp and advertised me on websites. Drug dealers become pimps and make money from the desperation of dopesick girls needing drugs. There is a lot of violence towards prostitutes, but I was old enough to get out of these situations.


I overdosed on fentanyl twice, and Narcan brought me back both times. The first time I died was the easiest and most peaceful thing I’ve experienced. The noise and pain stopped, and I was angry when I woke up. Why didn’t they let me die?


I was breaking my mama’s heart. She cut me off and stopped sending money but never gave up on me.


I went to my mom’s house in Fairhope in 2020 to get help. I made it through detox, but it was during COVID, and I had to wait a week to get into the Home of Grace. I didn’t make it. I stole $80 from my mom and called a cab. The driver knew where to find drugs, and I was gone. Those few days were enough to show my mom that the real me was still there. We started talking,and she asked me to tell her every night that I was alive.


Mom sent me inspirational messages, and I told her I was safe, when I thought of it. The timing was right and that tiniest bit of love gave me hope in the darkness.


I was on the run between Davidson and Rutherford counties at that time. Bounty hunters were looking for me because I had seven drug charges and had skipped out on a $10,000 bond. Someone told me they had drugs for me in Murfreesboro, so I went to get them. It was a set up. I was arrested on January 18, and I was relieved.


I had been caught in VICE stings for prostitution; in Davidson and Rutherford counties, prostitution is now victim status with programs to help. I refused those programs, but this new approach also included treatment options for drug charges. I had a 30-day mandatory minimum for each of my seven charges, forcing me to get clean in my jail cell. I started praying, ‘God, if you’re real, get me through this.’  I never got dopesick.


I was in jail for three weeks and barely knew what day it was, but my public defender and mom stood up for me in court. The judge ruled I could serve the rest of my sentence in rehab at the home of Grace in Mobile, but if I escaped, I would get 15 years. They did everything right, and it saved my life. I was a pain in the butt to the police officers and judges back then. Now I wish I could thank them and tell them not to give up. God moved mountains for me to get into rehab and put them back so I couldn’t leave.


On February 10, 2021, I showed up broken at Home of Grace. God took my pain and replaced it with something beautiful. He pulled me out of the darkness and never stopped chasing me. I can look back on my story and see that He was always there.


I graduated from the 90-day program at the Home of Grace and moved in with my mom. I saw a video challenge about magnetism and sticking a bobby pin to your head. I did it and ran giggling into the laundry room to show my mom. She stopped and grabbed my cheeks and smiled. Later we painted our toemails, and she said she didn’t think she would have these moments with me again.


Now I am having more moments with my own kids and slowly spending time with them. Reconnecting with my family is the best feeling, and I won’t lose them again.


This morning, I sent this text to my mom:


‘I hope this will ease your mind about the risk of relapse. I say these things as humbly as possible because I am nothing without God. I’m realizing more and more that I was put on this earth for a bigger purpose. My experience with drug addiction didn’t make sense. I didn’t grow up surrounded by addicts or in an environment of poverty where slinging drugs seemed like my only option. Suddenly I found myself in the grips of addiction. Then I found myself delivered from its grip as quickly. Without reason, those urges to get high disappeared. I think it was all for a higher purpose. As long as I stay on the path fulfilling my purpose, it won’t come back’.”


Leigh Anne (Part two of three. This was from our interview in Sept. 2022)


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