‘I was about a mile away from my parents’ house when I saw a pair of headlights coming at me in my lane. I was so scared it was going to burst into flames. I sat in front of the car screaming.’

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“Pain, heartbreak, drugs, and confusion. Those words are what describe a lot of my memorable childhood. Although what I went through as a child was difficult and impacted my life, I don’t hold any grudges. It is what made me who I am today, and I’m very proud of the strong, caring, and capable woman I am. Writing this story and opening up is going to be hard, not only on me, but also my family. Even writing those four words, has me in tears. I only hope that somehow this helps others, in some way. If you had a rough childhood with parents who struggled with addiction, you are not alone! You CAN break the chain. I’ll tell you all about my trials and tribulations, I’ll tell you about the rough childhood I had, how I was on the same terrible route with addiction and how motherhood and overall, love, saved me.

Two little girls in formal dresses and pearl necklaces smile beside each other
Emily Terpsma

A trailer with a tin roof up a holler, those walls were filled with much love, lots of laughs, and a wonderful family of four. My mother, my father, my older sister, and then me. There are of course a lot of good memories we shared but even with all the good, the bad out weighed most of it. My parents struggled with an addiction to Cocaine. Most people who struggle with addiction understand it’s a way to mask problems they have faced. My parents both lived a rough childhood themselves and I don’t hold it against them that they went through addiction. I still love them the same! Did they mean to get as bad as they did? No. No one ever does, but for a 6-7-year-old who had to listen to countless fights, hurtful and painful words flung at each other while going through a withdrawl, it still rings in my head to this day. Fights that turned into doors being slammed, walls being punch, turned into my mother and father fighting so badly and physically hurting each other and me accidentally. My parents were having an argument, honestly can’t even remember what it was about, but it was just after we had moved from our homey little trailer in the holler, into a concrete prison in the ‘projects.’they were fighting and I remember being in my and my sister’s room crying to each other about how we were sick and tired of all the screaming! I went out into the living room, being the bold little girl I was, I tried to break them up and had gotten in between their fight. My dad tried to push me out of the way and when he did I fell into the coffee table in the middle of our living room, hitting my head on the side of the table and I started gushing blood. The cops were called, my family was then broken up, we were taken away from my mother and father.

Being a little girl, I was so confused as to what all the fighting was about. I didn’t understand how we were all so happy, then fights would start out of what seemed like nowhere, and how all at once, any happiness we had was stripped away. It made me so angry I couldn’t see my dad, because he was the one who pushed me accidentally into a coffee table. We were placed with a family friend, that house was worse than my own family’s home. Drugs were still a part of my life, more so in her household. And there, I was starved, beaten, and sexually abused. I remember not being able to go to school if I had bruises on me, I remember not having food to eat and sneaking away to the bus stop to go to school because I was hungry and there I had a free lunch. I’m not to the point in my life where I’m able to talk about how we were beaten and how I was sexually abused. I’m not to the point where I want, potentially the world, knowing about how my innocence was taken from me at the age of 8-years-old. Just know that it happened. All because of a choice of addiction. We lived in that horrible place and went through hell for what felt like forever but it was only around 2 months.

Then, my Mother’s sister, my Aunt and her Husband came from Washington to Tennessee and took my sister and I into their custody! Honestly the next seven and a half months with them were such bliss. My Aunt and her family are good hearted, kind and Jesus loving people! When you walk into their house it is filled with the lightest air, the energy that just surrounds them is so pure. I love them very dearly, they took us in when we needed them the most, and I will forever be  grateful. They both helped me in many ways. My parents worked on their addiction while we were away, they kicked its ass. They are still sober to this day and I’m very proud of them. My dad went through lots of anger counseling and he hated every minute of it, but he did it, and completed it. This is what it took to get cleared by the therapist. They were working hard to fix their mistakes and to get my sister and I back into their custody. When we finally got to fly back to Tennessee to be with our parents, I can remember finally seeing my father for the first time in what seemed like forever, and clinging onto him like it was the only thing I knew how to do. I wrapped my arms and my legs around him and hugged him so tightly. My father may be many things, but I still love him nonetheless. We lived in Tennessee for almost a year, then my dad ended up getting a job offering from my Uncle in Logging, so the family packed up and moved.

Up to Washington we went, at this time I was around 10-years-old, we were happy, we were together.

Little girl with big smile smiles for school picture
Emily Terpsma

I remember the first few months were extremely difficult. My sister and I had separate rooms, for the first time EVER. I used to take the couch cushions off the couch and lay them in my sisters’ room on the floor with my blanket and a pillow. I couldn’t sleep alone, it was terrifying. We’d stay up late watching the movie ‘Black Beauty’ damn near every single night. She was my best friend, we were all each other really had for the most part, so we were as close as two sisters could be. During Middle school and into High school I went through a lot of mental health issues. I started therapy in 8th grade when I got diagnosed with Manic Depression, no that doesn’t mean I’m crazy, just means I’m bipolar. There’s nothing wrong with not being 100% okay, just remember that. I suffer from PTSD and horrible anxiety, given my background, it is understandable. I’ve been in therapy for 8 years now, honestly, I fully recommend therapy if you seek some kind of non biased opinion on the things in your head. Just because my parents were sober and we were a family again, didn’t mean the issues that their addiction masked were gone, because we were still very unhappy. My family fought constantly. All the time it was smart remarks to each other, and butting heads. I was a very hate filled teenager, and I started partying at a very young age. Around 15-years-old, not even exaggerating. I remember getting drunk and smoking weed like it was totally the coolest thing ever, and I thought it was. My sister was doing it, so I wanted to be doing it too. Then it became a habit. I started flunking classes, skipping school, partying and only caring how it made me look. Little did I know, I had started down a terrible path.

Young girl stands smiling holding her hands out with rock out sign
Emily Terpsma

When I turned 18-years-old, I started getting into worse habits, the summer of that year, camping down on a river bed, getting hammered every night by a fire, surrounded by people just using me for a quick buzz and a toke, people I thought were genuine friends. The group of people you hang around impacts you more then you realize. Oh, to be young and clueless. Soon after, I got into a very emotionally and physically abusive relationship. The boy I was dating was super dependable. When we had gotten our first place together it was a dinky little camping trailer on some man’s property. I worked two jobs and the boy I was with worked, on occasion, he was terrible at holding down a job. I paid the bills and kept us fed. The money he brought in, most went to weed, cigarettes, alcohol, and cocaine. This man cheated on me multiple times, countless times. After we broke up the girls came out of the woodwork, it was sickening. The first time he cheated on me, I should have taken as a red flag and left. He gave me a Sexually Transmitted disease, Chlamydia. He had taken my clean body, and defiled it. I didn’t know he cheated on me until about 5 months later, so these bacteria had plenty of time to affect my body in ways that can’t be fixed. Yes, Chlamydia is curable, but scarring on my Fallopian tubes is not. I was told by my doctor the scarring was so bad it would affect my chances of conception, I was devastated. This honestly sent me into such a deep spiral of depression, I started acting horribly, heartlessly. I didn’t care who I was hurting, as long as I wasn’t feeling anything. That relationship ended very badly. It really had me in one of the darkest places I had been in a very long time. I moved back into my parents’ house and continued forward.

On October 28th, 2016 I was on my own from work, it was around 10 PM and I was about a mile and a half away from my parents’ house when I saw a pair of headlights coming at me in my lane. I was run off the road by a drunk driver. I honestly should have died in that car wreck, my car was squished upwards on a power pole, I had hit my driver’s side tire. When I came to, I saw my phone light up and I called my parents; they were on their way to take me to the hospital. There was a power pole by my side, and a chunk of metal from my steering column in my leg. I remember being so scared the car was going to burst into flames I removed the metal from my own leg and proceeded to crawl out of the passenger door. I sat in front of the car screaming.

Car completely wrecked after car crash that woman should have died from but survived
Emily Terpsma

When they got there, my dad frantically patted my entire body down as if he were making sure all my limbs were still intact, my cigarettes were sitting on the hood of the car, I actually told him ‘if I’m going to have to go to the emergency room, grab those for me and light one.’ My life could have ended and all I cared about was getting a smoke in before going to the hospital. Was this experience scary? It sure was, was it enough to set me straight? No. Sadly it wasn’t. 5 days after the accident I went back to work, went back to my same old habits, drinking like a sailor, and smoking weed like it was the 70’s.

This is when my addiction came into play, I moved downtown because my car had been totaled and I needed to be able to walk to work so I could still survive and ‘thrive’ on my own. Some of my co-workers had a neighbor that had a room for rent and I jumped on it as fast as I could. I was drinking daily with my co-workers and neighbors but even when I wasn’t partying with them (which was most nights) I always had my own stash of Jaegermeister in my closet and beside my bed. Even with dealing with all my depression and all the bad, something so beautiful came from it. My man, whom I love so dearly, was my neighbor and co-worker’s roommate. During all the drinking and partying, we started dating, it was a rocky start, not going to lie. I had just gotten out of a horrible relationship, and he had a terrible relationship beforehand too, which made us not quite compatible at first. We broke up on and off for about 3 months, he didn’t take our relationship seriously. I actually remember him breaking up with me one time because ‘he didn’t want to have to reply to me’ as if that was too much to ask for. Even though we were rocky, I was HOOKED. I loved this man from the very start and every time we’d break up because he wasn’t treating me right, I’d yearn for him. The last time we broke up was when he had moved from my neighbor’s house, we were both healing and in a bad rut. We broke up and I continued to drink my sorrows away. I was addicted. Having a bad day? I’d solve it with whiskey. Had a good day at work? Celebrate with Rum. Booked myself a flight to Tennessee to visit with my family? Oh yeah, I drank to that for two days straight. I was out of control. About a week before I left to Tennessee, I started noticing a difference in my body, my mood was unpredictable, I couldn’t drink without feeling sick to my stomach. I couldn’t remember my last mensural cycle. I took a test, even though I was almost positive I couldn’t conceive, it came back inconclusive. Faint lines turned into solid lines the next morning, so I brushed it off and thought ‘oh there’s no way I’m pregnant.’ I went to Tennessee for a week and during that week was my birthday. I had my cousin buy me a bottle of Jager and I couldn’t even drink, it made me so sick. When I got home to Washington I took another test. Sure, enough I was pregnant.

Ultrasound of woman's baby who should've died in car crash
Emily Terpsma

Finding out I was bringing life into this world changed me instantly. My man and I had started talking again while I was in Tennessee and when I found out we were having a baby, I told him right away. We were overwhelmed with JOY. We got back together and have been thriving, and loving our own little family since. I stopped drinking as soon as I knew and I stopped smoking cigarettes so it was safe for the baby. It was like I was free from the temptation all together. My attitude changed overnight, I was finally going to be a mother, something I was told I couldn’t be. My son Elijah Richard Griffith was born October 25, 2017. He was born 7lbs 14 ounces and absolutely perfect. The little family we created is perfect and I am forever grateful God blessed me with two boys in my life. I don’t know where I’d be without them.

Newborn lays asleep in car seat while mother who escaped death places hand on car seat
Emily Terpsma

I love being a mother, words cannot even describe it. I am a stay at home mom, my man works hard to provide for us and keep a roof over our heads and food in our mouths. I raise our child and run a business over social media from home. I’d say my life instantly became better once I became a mother. I still struggle with my depression, that will never change but I have NEVER been as truly happy as I am today. The things I went through made me the wonderful mother I am today. I work hard from home to help my man carry the heavy load called life, and get to give my son the best life I could ask for. My child will never know a life with his parents struggling with addiction. That is the chain being broken. That is something I’ll forever be proud of.”

Mother whose parents were addicted to drugs smiles as she knows her child will never have that issue
Emily Terpsma

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Emily Terpsma. Submit your story here. For our best stories, subscribe to our free email newsletter.

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