I am the daughter of a drug addict, alcoholic, and prostitute

By my 13th birthday I had endured being beaten, verbally abused, starved for days at a time, abandoned, sexually abused, and finally orphaned.

Now how do I tell you my story to fill in the gaps of the sentence you just read?

Many times I thought I would write my story, the real untold story.

Many times I thought I should share more, the secrets I’ve kept.

Many times I thought I could find my voice, the one that was hushed many years ago.

Many times I thought about it and many times I changed my mind. Until today.

How do I explain a story that I don’t understand myself?

How do I convince people that no matter how bad of a person she may have seemed to be she was my mom and I loved her?

How do I tell you all about my life and expect you to respect the person who caused me the most pain?

I don’t and I can’t. This is where my story differs from how I originally thought I would share one day. I am not sharing my story to convince you to see that she was my mom and deserved my love. I am not sharing with you for pity or for you to look down upon her.  I share with you because I want you to see a different viewpoint, the viewpoint of the child who grew up.  There is always an untold side to every story..and this is mine. You aren’t required to view her in the same loving manner that I have even after all these years, you are only asked to continue reading with an open mind and realize that forgiveness wasn’t necessary for her, it was necessary for me.  If I hadn’t forgiven myself, it would have consumed me. The rage I held on to as an adult from my childhood was out of control, until I learned that forgiving her wasn’t the answer. I needed to forgive ME for carrying her burden all those years.

Where to begin….um, I’m not sure. People have asked me many times when was the moment I realized something wasn’t right in my life.  Well, I never realized it growing up??  Sounds crazy, but think about it: if your life is the only thing you know, then that is YOUR  normal right? For me, I thought I was growing up like all the other kids at school.  I was wrong. The realization didn’t set in until after I got married and had my son. That is when it truly hit me that my life had been……bad.

I guess I’ll start in Kindergarten- before that time, my memories don’t have as much detail.  My mom was very much into being seen and looking good for the public eye. I had to “be” a certain way in public (prim, proper, and always perfect).  I was given scripts on what to say and how to answer questions, I had it down to a science and could look you square in the eye when I gave my rehearsed lines. One of my most vivid memories was standing in line at a pageant she entered me in and before it was my turn to walk the stage, she put red lipstick on me.  By the time I did my walk, I wiped it off (what kid wants to wear red lipstick haha).  I got to the middle turn and I looked at the front row, gave her my biggest smile, certain she would be very proud of me  because I had made every turn perfectly on stage like she taught me. Instead I saw rage in her face and as she shook her head, I knew I would get punished for wiping off the lipstick.  That night I won Mini Miss Johnson County and Most Beautiful out of the entire pageant, yet I cried all the way home begging her to forgive me, promising never to do it again.  The next day I had a pump knot on my forehead and when I was questioned by my teacher, I gave my scripted response: I fell in my dress shoes going up the steps last night because it was dark.  No one ever knew that pump knot came from a pink hard plastic brush.  So you may ask why I didn’t tell the truth or why I lied? That’s an easy answer: she told me what to do, I loved her,  and wanted her approval.

Second grade: I wrote a letter to her telling her I was sorry that I wasn’t as pretty as her and that if I promised to do better would she love me.  That note was a result of her boyfriend telling me I was ugly and deserved to be scarred so he put out 2 cigarettes on my left forearm.  She was drunk that night and laughed about it when I cried from the pain then threw a glass bottle at my face. When it busted she said I deserved to be hurt for not being pretty like her.  I swore that night laying in bed that I would not let her be ashamed of me anymore and I would do whatever it took to get her boyfriends (plural) approval so she could be proud of me.

Fourth grade: I sat in the car at a bar while she hung out with some friends. When it was getting close to midnight and the snow had covered the car windshield completely so that I couldn’t see the bar door anymore, I got scared. I was afraid she would leave me there alone as she had other times and I didn’t want to spend the night in the car again.  I went to the front door and asked the bouncer if he would get her for me to start the car so I could turn the windshield wipers and heat on to melt the snow.  That is a decision that I regret to this day.  I went to school the next day with the textbook answer: the cuts on my forehead and face were from a fall on the ice.  I did not fall. She was so angry with me, she slapped me hard enough that my head hit the passenger car window.

Sixth grade:  I often slept in the bed next to her at a hotel while she turned tricks.  I use the word slept loosely because I didn’t sleep. Seriously, sleep was impossible so I just laid there with my eyes closed, quiet and still, hoping to be forgotten. One night, I was feeling sick and asked her if I could go to the bathroom.  That was the night she told me that I had to pay for the hotel room now since I interrupted her, so how did I expect to do it?  I will forever be grateful for my dad whom I called and saved me because I don’t know if I could be sitting here writing this today had I been forced to finish her work that night.

Seventh grade: Drug raids became the normal since my mom started living with a drug dealer. You learn a new sense of the word scary living in a situation like that. I just thought I had been afraid before, but no, this took it to a new level. I learned that if I put the pot on me, no one searched me and the police wouldn’t take her to jail.  This was also the time I started praying to die nightly.  I was not what I consider to be suicidal normally, but after being forced to play Russian Roulette with 2 people so high they didn’t even realize who I was- praying to die seemed like a good idea at the time.

Eighth grade:  I missed a week of school because she left me alone in our house and told me I wasn’t allowed to go outside because if the police found out,she would go to jail and did I want that for her?? Being left alone wasn’t a huge deal, I was used to it by then. The hard part was not having any food, electricity, or running water because she had blown all of my child support on drugs.  When she came back, I was so proud to tell her I did exactly what she said the entire 7 days and no one found out. Instead she told me that I was a thorn in her side, I had prevented her from truly living, and she hated me. That night, she kicked me out and locked the door.


She passed away a few months later. After her death, I became even more protective of keeping her secrets. I guess in my mind as still a child, if I kept her secrets THEN I finally would have made her proud.  Funny how really all we ever want is approval from those we love. 

There are so many more pieces to this story and details but in the end, the result is still the same: I loved her then, I love her now, and I will love her tomorrow. She may have been a horrible mother, but she was mine. The problem wasn’t that she hated me or didn’t love me- she just loved her addictions equally and wasn’t strong enough to fight back.  I have never told these stories to anyone (not even my husband) for fear of being shamed and fear of her being hated, because I do believe we all deserve to be forgiven for our sins.  I tell you this now because  you may know someone who is suffering from addiction, please don’t give up on them because that person could have someone at home who depends on them to sober up. I needed desperately for my mom to get help, but help never came. She was too good at burning bridges.  I beg you, don’t let your bridge be burned. Keep that communication open even if it is just a line of prayer to that person for mercy and grace.

So where am I now? How do I deal? I wish I could tell you that I have forgotten all of the pain and heartache that I went through, but it still haunts me daily.  It took a long time for me to start sharing bits and pieces of my life, to even my closest friends.  I wasn’t sure how to talk about it without causing a backlash of negativity against her because I need everyone who is reading this to remember: She was my mother. No matter how badly her choices were, I loved her.

In 2014, Sheila’s Daughter launched. This program helps me give my mom some integrity back because if she were here and sober- she would want other women who are in situations like she was to have a fighting chance. Although the program was created in my mom’s honor, it helps  heal my heart.  To know that I am helping someone else makes me believe that the broken road I’ve traveled brought me to where I need to be today.  I don’t look back on my life with hate or anger anymore, just sadness.  I deserved better growing up as a child and while I can’t change that for me, I can try to be the change for someone else.

In the Sheila’s Daughter program, we do everything possible to help a woman in need. Below is a post on Facebook from 2015 on Train Dirty Fitness :

daughter of a drug addict

Packing almost 30 bags to go to Red Legacy Recovery ♡ Many people don’t know but my mom made some horrible decisions in life and found herself a drug addict, prostitute, and thief before the age of 28. When her body finally gave out before her 31st birthday and left me an orphan at 13 years old, I knew that I had to choose better to make her proud ♡


Often we went into shelters with nothing more than the clothes on our back so as I packed these toiletry bags up tonight, I had such a wave of emotion. People don’t have to understand drug addiction or even sympathize with the user – that’s fine and it’s your decision that I don’t have to agree with. But remember – every woman is someone’s daughter and she deserves to have a chance to be clean and sanitary. Sheila’s Daughter is the program that I run through #traindirtyfitness to give someone else’s momma a chance that mine didn’t have. •●•●•●•●•●•●
I am Sheila’s Daughter, the daughter of a drug addict, the daughter of a prostitute, and the daughter of a thief. I don’t say that with shame anymore though because every woman that we help deserves the right to be respected and treated with love ♡ My mom didn’t see herself as valuable, but she was. She was mine and to me, she was priceless ☆ #TakeDownFear


So there it is, my story. Raw, unfiltered, and a little too exposed. I am who I am and I am not ashamed.

I am Sheila’s Daughter.



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37 thoughts on “I am the daughter of a drug addict, alcoholic, and prostitute

  1. Wow what a truly amazing journey you have been on. I am so glad you have been able to forgive and I am happy you are now able to help others who are in a similar situation to you and your mum when you were a child. Be proud of yourself for being brave and sharing your story – Have you ever considered writing a book? This is so well written I would like to read more of your story. Thank you for sharing.

    Posted on January 28, 2015 at 10:42 am
    1. aww thank you Caroline!

      Posted on January 28, 2015 at 11:39 am
  2. Thank you for sharing your story Crystal. I know we have talked a little bit in one of your training groups about “our stories”, and I know how hard this had to be. I can relate to a lot of the feelings you expressed although our stories are very different.

    Posted on January 31, 2015 at 6:50 pm
    1. thank you Sarah <3

      Posted on January 31, 2015 at 10:47 pm
  3. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your story. I have a very similar one, I left when I was 16. You never meet people who understand, thank you again for reminding me I’m not alone.

    Posted on March 21, 2015 at 10:13 am
    1. thank you!

      Posted on April 6, 2015 at 10:02 am
  4. What an amazing story – you are a champion survivor and your resilience is simply inspirational! I have a mother who struggles with her own demons and like you said, despite what she does and continues to do, she still is the one single person who has the “mother” tag in my life. So I can’t reject or abandon her completely because we are forever connected.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Bren Murphy

    Posted on July 12, 2015 at 12:53 am
    1. Bren, I absolutely understand and commend you for never giving up on her!! I am a believer that change can happen for an addict and I will always hold out hope on them. I’ll keep your mom in my prayers. ~ Crystal

      Posted on July 13, 2015 at 7:19 am
  5. Recently, a Facebook post from the fitmom glam team was asking for donations because a women was in a dangerous situation. I understand how donations can help but I hope this Woman is not solely relying on donations to get out of a dangerous situation. They obviously need other support from agencies specializing in her situation. After the fitmom glam team received donations the director posted it provided a safe place to stay for a week with food. Again, I just to make sure people understand donations alone will not get her out of a situation. It’s merely short term fix when not coupled with a program. Maybe she did a bad job explaining the post, I just want to make sure she is safe and getting the proper/professional assistance she needs.

    Posted on August 14, 2015 at 8:37 am
    1. Of course she is, we don’t even intend to imply that we have the end all cure or replace a professional. If you read my blog post in it’s entirety then you understand that our main goal is to provide for the moment, somewhere out of the cold (or heat), a roof, clean clothing, a bath, and a meal in her stomach. Actually, also in my post I refer to working close with a local agency that helps provide professional services.

      Please keep in mind that without the donations that we raise, often times the women don’t have food for that day. Services are there but many don’t know about them, so if we can step in and help to provide for even a second? We will.

      Posted on August 19, 2015 at 7:26 pm
  6. Awsome testamony!! You are a blessing to many!! Press on for JESUS!!!

    Posted on August 25, 2015 at 6:05 pm
    1. thank you Shirlee <3 God is good for sure!

      Posted on August 26, 2015 at 2:01 pm
  7. Wow, Crystal, this post is powerful. I am stopping by from the Runaway Bridal Planner blog hop and decided I was so moved by this post that I had to comment here. What an incredible story. While I can’t fully relate to it, I know people who can, so I will be sharing this post with them and I hope they can help you in your mission. Thank you for being real with your audience. Thank you for sharing your story. I can only imagine how tough it was to write this. You embody true inner strength and I look forward to staying in touch.

    Posted on November 2, 2015 at 11:48 am
    1. thank you so much Ellyn for stopping and for your kind words <3

      Posted on November 2, 2015 at 3:08 pm
  8. <3 <3 <3

    Posted on November 2, 2015 at 1:48 pm
  9. My mother to is a addict. I am 22 years old and found out about her addiction a year and a half ago. I also have a 7 year old sister. I wanted to thank you for sharing your story. I makes me feel not so bad that I still love and care for her very much although the trouble she has caused our family. It’s the hardest thing I have ever and probably will ever go through.

    Posted on December 28, 2015 at 5:08 am
    1. Katlynn, thank you for reaching out. I don’t think you are bad at all for still loving her, that doesn’t make you a bad person at all..it makes you a great person <3 I'll keep you and your family in my prayers! Crystal

      Posted on December 28, 2015 at 3:39 pm
  10. You are truly a very strong & such a courageous woman. Your story is very heartbreaking, but I am so very glad you found the power within yourself to stay positive! Thoughts & Prayers for a Blessed future. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted on February 17, 2016 at 12:21 am
    1. thank you so much! I appreciate you kind words 🙂

      Posted on February 19, 2016 at 8:25 pm
  11. Crystal, so very moved by your testimony of grace and forgiveness. Trying to find out how I can donate to your cause, can you email me with info? Thank you!


    Posted on February 19, 2016 at 4:45 pm
    1. Ashlie, thank you so much! I appreciate you! I’ll email you now 🙂

      Posted on February 19, 2016 at 8:26 pm
  12. I am the new Executive Director of Red Legacy Recovery. I would love to talk with you about possibly speaking with a few of our ladies.
    Please email me if you would consider doing so.
    So amazing of you to share your story and help others.
    I do hope to hear from you.


    Posted on May 11, 2016 at 9:01 am
    1. Hi Carolyn, sure I dont mind at all! I have worked on a few things with Angelee in the past and am always here to help in RL endeavors!

      Posted on May 11, 2016 at 1:38 pm
  13. This is beautifully written and touched my heart. Thank you for sharing and for everything you’re doing to help women in need. You area a Godly woman and our world needs more just like you!

    Posted on May 14, 2016 at 9:24 pm
    1. Thank you Laurie!

      Posted on May 20, 2016 at 7:06 pm
  14. Wow. What an amazing story. I do relate on some level. I grew up bullied at home and at school. My stepfather emotionally and sexually abused me. I still have a hard time sharing my story. Other than my mom and brother, no one in my family knows. I’ve shared it with a few other trusted people, but I’m afraid to. We were close despite the abuse. I loved him. I wanted his approval. My home life sucked, my parents fought constantly. But he was my daddy. He passed, but he did acknowledge the pain he caused me and asked for forgiveness. I know if I didn’t have God in my life, I wouldn’t be here. I have two beautiful boys, and I am grateful that I have made it. One day, I’ll get the courage to really tell my story. Thank you for sharing yours.

    Posted on October 7, 2016 at 4:10 pm
    1. When and if you ever decide to tell it, I’d be happy to be your support system and help you get through it <3 xoxo

      Posted on October 7, 2016 at 7:13 pm
  15. I am sure, that somewhere, your mother is proud of the strong, independent woman you have become. I am also sure that sharing your story is giving hope to those who need it. Bless You for sharing and overcoming. ((Hugs)) <3

    Posted on January 28, 2017 at 11:18 pm
    1. thank you Dawn <3

      Posted on January 29, 2017 at 11:34 am
  16. I cried as I read your story you are very brave for sharing it with others. I have struggled with addiction for 10 yr now. Lord knows it took me a long time just to be ale to say that but with his help I’m learning to heal an forgive myself. Addiction is a terrible disease not just for the addict but for the family and loved ones around them. God blessed me with two wonderful children that I love with all my heart they are both christians and are good kids. My kids had to see and go through a lot of things they should never have had to and I am very ashamed of myself for not being stronger and being so selfish. I’m so thankful for having a loving, supportive, and christian family who always love me even at my worst. My son and daughter both have said after seeing firsthand how addiction can ruin lives and tear families apart, that neither of them will ever do drugs. I pray everyday God keeps them close and that one day they will be able to forgive me.

    Posted on March 15, 2017 at 3:07 am
    1. Nikki, I’ll keep you in my prayers and I am sure your children will forgive you just as I did my mama <3

      Posted on March 15, 2017 at 10:48 am