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Voices for Recovery


LadyAnn Graham-Gilreath (02/22/2013)

"Dramatic Reversal by a Hopeless Victim"

To The Reader:
        I am currently 50 years old, and the opportunity to attend the University of Minnesota, in the College of Liberal Arts, studying Psychology is nothing short of a miracle. With the goal of becoming a doctor in destructive behaviors due to ethnic background, peer pressure, and other outside forces, of already damaged lives.  But before I continue, I want you, the reader, to understand that this is the most important accomplishment in my terribly victimized life.  And that everything I convey is absolutely true.

I am more determined to succeed than ever. This essay is the first challenge to prove myself in the undertaking.

                                                                                
1.  College and Cocaine
2.  Broken Heart, Man of My Dreams
3.  The Marriage, The Murder
4.  The Rape
5.  The Hurricanes, Death of Father & Mother
6.  Cancer, Breast and Neck
7.  Mended Heart, Man of My Dreams, My Rebirth
8.  The College Acceptance    

1. College and Cocaine.

        At 19 years of age, enrolled at Florida State University, I dated an ex-marine who introduced me into a world of false pleasures and pains. The world of drugs, Cocaine!  Reality inside-out and my early acceptance to medical school vanished with the constant upgrading levels of cocaine.  Sadly, I had wanted to be a doctor since the age of 5. My father was, and I wanted to please him.  However, I had wanted to be a pediatrician, for I love children. It was my very firm intention to have a large family. And why not, I had a normal strict upbringing in a moderately proper household.

        It commenced the night I caught my boyfriend cheating and I became weak and useless, not to mention powerless over cocaine. (The most important thing to remember is: I did it because HE wanted me to.)  An evil spirit attached itself to me and controlled my thoughts, living habits, and actions.

        I was quickly discovered by the FSU officials and was expelled from school. Back to Miami, cocaine capital of the United States, with no college degree, my very proper parents would not accept the inevitable truth. Their daughter was a drug addict and not willing to admit it.  All visual and mental dreams for my life's future were at stake.  Dropping out as a senior, I did not have the heart or guts to admit my plight to my overwhelmingly perfect parents.

        Totally denying the obvious, my addiction increased dramatically with too much time and no responsibilities, and of course, no job. So, I set out to have some fun in the sun and get into trouble.

2.  Broken Heart, Man of My Dreams.

        With the sole purpose of having fun, I went to extravagant parties, feverish bars, and the fast and furious night life of Miami.

        It happened one night at a small intimate lounge connected to a five star restaurant, The Taurus. There he stood, a Greek god, chiseled out with black panther emerald green eyes.  I was frozen with admiration. I could not seem to talk or think. As he oiled his way over and with the sexiest baritone voice, captured my heart and spirit with a simple, "hello."  I was lost to him with a, "hi" back. 

        We stayed together for two years and I got pregnant.  Without telling him, I confronted him about marriage, where he flatly stated he was a confirmed bachelor who did not believe in God and would never attend church.   OH NO!

        I left him that very moment and proceeded with an abortion. An abortion to this day I regret. This child was conceived in total love and was thus the beginning of my destructive path to get even and make him jealous.  Not only did cocaine have a hold on me but the devil came into play as my heart was more than broken, it was disintegrated. I wanted to make him pay for my broken heart and make him hurt like I was.

         The cocaine level increased for a third time, I was crazy.

3.  The Marriage, The Murder.

        I escalated to a mid-western pint size dynamo from the hills of Tennessee. Frederick. The day he met me the first words out of his mouth were, "I'm going to marry you!". I laughed and left. He is an expert hunter and hunt me down he did. He kidnapped me, holding me hostage for three days until I would say yes to marriage.  So I said yes and we eloped.  I formally adopted his two children, a three year old boy and a one-year-old little girl. We lived in a nice medium sized suburban house.

        One day I came home, my husband was threatening his partner on the phone. The next day, my husband and the two children were shot. I was pregnant and hiding under the bed. When they came into my bedroom they focused on the $12,000.00 dollars on the dresser. They took the money and my jewelry and the keys to my Mercedes. While I watched from underneath the bed, I miscarried. When I woke up, the homicide detective walked me through the house to identify the bodies. I cried only two days and went to my parents’ house where I contracted agoraphobia and could not leave my parents’ bedroom. I was sick, thinking they would come back to kill me.

        My husband left me $250,000 in the air vent and two kilos of cocaine. I went on a binge, a hate-life binge. In the space of 30 minutes and six gunshots I lost my husband, children, house, baby and sanity.  In short my life, my world.

4.  The Rape.

        With all that money and drugs I got loud and boisterous. I threw parties, played the hostess and did not feel. At one of my parties I was introduced to a pro football player. I had seen him with my husband so I knew the story already. He was well acquainted with drugs. But what he was not acquainted with was the answer, no. He had made a move on me and I told him off.  Well, he would not accept that and decided to do things his way.  Any way he could.

        There was a small spa at the home of a good friend and I made use of it. The pool was attached by a thin wall.  One night I was swimming and had a drink by the spa when I heard a splash.  There he was right behind me.  He laughed and held my head under water and raped me.
 
        I was rushed to the psychiatric rape center where I stayed two months before I would even speak one word to anyone. I was released and so humiliated there wasn't enough cocaine in the world to wipe out that disgusting event which added more evil to my already damaged life.  Now I lived in a world of total suffering, pain, and humiliation.

5.  The Hurricanes, Death of Father and Mother.
 
        Many years on the streets and violent events taking place, my uncontrollable life was passing me by. Unachieved, unsuccessful, and a failure at everything. But, I never committed a crime, and tried to help the more unfortunate girls on the streets, by feeding them or cleaning their clothes or just listening to their problems. Even at my worst I was still, a sort, of counselor. I even taught some to read and write and a little math. Occasionally giving them a place to stay for a night during bad weather, or letting them use the bathroom which is the hardest thing to find on the streets,  never actually losing my desire to help the less fortunate or sick.

         My father became very ill and I was called home. It was the first time I did not want cocaine or to be high. I sat with him for 5 months and was tortured by the wanting of cocaine.  I took Thanksgiving weekend to party, got caught and was arrested.  My fathered died a week later, December 9.2002, and I was in jail.  Oh, my shame could not have been any greater!

         September 3, 2003 was my last arrest for possession.  (This is my official clean date, to this day.) The judge had quite an effect on me and I got my first desire to quit cocaine.  So out of jail on state probation, I joined Narcotics Anonymous.  They have a poker chip system to represent clean time.  The white chip is the first one you take on day one which represents the desire to get clean.  Then you must earn the others until a year and you receive a medallion. All in all, I went to 22 rehabilitation centers and 23 white chips and counseling 5 days a week and finally made one year, then two.
      
         Now it was my mother who gave me strength and courage to go on, she never in all my life failed me, and she gave me a puppy to love which I did.  With my father gone she and I became closer than best friends. She got colon cancer and lymphoma and I got breast and neck cancer.  But she came first and I doted and waited on her till 2005 where in October, Miami suffered the environmental damage of 4 consecutive hurricanes.  Charley. Rita, Katrina and finally Wilma, all in October, one week after another.  On the night Wilma hit, our home was destroyed and we were six feet under water. Then at the peak of the storm my mother died.  Her last words were, "Try to finish school, I know you can do it, now that your clean.  Make a life you can be proud of, and never stop believing in God for he is the only one with you now. I gave you a second chance and so will he!"  OH NO!  I was devastated. In the midst of trying to save my mother my dog got out and trapped and he drowned under water.  I wanted to die!

          Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and FEMA never came to Miami.  I had to pick up the pieces of my life without any money or no one to care about me. I decided to stay clean. At least that much I felt certain I wanted.  I stayed out in the open, homeless, for six days when a friend saw me and asked if I would like to work for my room and board, in a privately owned nursing home. I loved it. I cooked and cleaned and gave the patients their medicine.  They loved me and their faces showed it every morning when I arrived with breakfast. I worked morning, noon, and night.  I was nursing and helping. I felt good.  With the love of work and those patients I made it through the hardest time of my life, alone!

6.  Cancer, Neck and Breast.

      I was seriously alone and lonely but through the constant counseling with continual NA meetings along with work, I pulled through without getting high.  As a matter of fact I was trying to get some old friends to quit. Then one day, the past came not to haunt me but taunt me.  The man of my dreams found me and called.  And to my surprise, I received mail the very next day from him with a few dollars and a formally written note asking, in fact begging me, to come to Minnesota and visit with him.  And so I took a long overdue vacation from life and went to the promise land of my broken heart.  The very second I saw him, tall, emerald green twinkling eyes, standing aloof and smiling at me, I ran into his arms crying with happiness.  That's right, me and my heart felt the magic all over again ... but did he?  I wanted to know but did not ask for fear of rejection.  So I stayed 10 days and went back to Miami for some medical evaluations.  Surely I could be spared this but no, I had 4 tumors in my right breast that ruptured and grew the size of a watermelon, as well as a disk that swelled and sat on my spinal cord at the neck.  I also had some blood complications.  Well I never thought it was going to be easy. Treatment was essential but I panicked and refused it thinking they were going to disfigure me.  I kept rescheduling and I was progressively getting worse. Don't ever do today what you can put off until tomorrow.

7.  Mended Heart, Man of My Dreams, My Rebirth.

        My illnesses was getting worse but he asked me to move up to Minnesota and leave the past behind. He offered to help me with whatever I wanted to do. (Well, we know what I wanted, I wanted to be with him and go to church.)  Nothing ever changed there, not in 30 years.
So I agreed to move up and start over from scratch.

        I finished some legal problems that were still hanging over my head and the Court put me on mental probation and I traded 6 months’ probation time for 2 months jail time.  This ultimately was so that as of October, November and December, I would have quality time with my man in a brand new environment, the north, Minnesota.  I wanted our first few months to be the holidays and hopefully happy.  Well it was so much more than that.  I fell in love all over again and took that stupid vulnerable chance and told him.  To my ecstatic wish, he reciprocated.  So on September 9, 2007 I was released from jail with new prescriptions and doctors’ advice, and on September 10, flew to Minnesota for the rest of my life.  Here I managed to get medical and financial assistance and with the strength of our love and him standing firmly behind me, I had on November 12, 2007, the breast operation done. On the 7th of December, 2007, the neck operation and I am pleased with the results.  I am cancer free!!!  Love is powerful and I’m beginning to think it does conquer all. I’m alive for the first time in 30 years and loving every minute of every day.

8.  The College Acceptance.

        I have reach in the darkness and come out with treasure.  I had a dream when I was 5; I wanted to be a doctor.  Now, I have an even bigger dream, to be a doctor that helps mend broken lives in many areas that I am most assuredly overqualified as far as experience.  I need to be certified and educated to the best of my ability.  So, I applied to the University of Minnesota and got accepted.  Even with my scary background. It seems that the College of Liberal Arts is willing to give me a chance to do just that!!! On December 1, 2007 I was officially accepted and applied for some grants.  I receive 200 dollars a month from cash assistance and 140 dollars in food stamps. That's it!  So I learned to use the online Internet and started my search for new school monies.  Yes I have a goal, a big dream to fulfill and I am determined to do so.  If I can overcome the irreparable odds which I already have proven, maybe I can achieve the most dramatic reversal of the century.  I will prevail. Women in trouble will know of me. I hope to write a successful novel of my biography, not for fame or fortune but to continue to help those still out there that are too scared or ashamed to seek help. So they might possess a reference guide they can follow though the dedication of my learned education and vast experience, I will make a difference!

Back to the reader:

        I'm hoping for the most. That you know and understand, that if I'm educated, there could not be anyone more appropriate to take on the task I've set for myself.  Maybe even open up Gilreath Rehabilitation Clinics across the nation, with special training features for pregnant girls on drugs or a destructive path. This scholarship would ensure me of some very valuable school and lab training time. I would not only comply with my mother’s last dying wish but will show the world that a dramatic reversal can be accomplished. But to become a doctor and achieve the dream of a clinic that works, will satisfy my own reconstruction of my life and prove to be a worthwhile human being, and most importantly to leave my legacy for future problem children and young adults. With all the experience of my past, and with good education, I might be able to come up with new found ways of controlling destructive behavior that is already in progress, ultimately, to reverse it. It's a hard task, but I must try. My heart is in it. I don't know if I'm deserving of this scholarship, but, I think I would be a good bet that this money would ultimately save lives.  What better person to help than someone on their way up to a successful victory.

        I was a hopeless victim that was already one foot in the grave. It was my love for this one man, and the words of my dying mother that made me want to try again. Not many of us get a second chance at life or love and I got both. I firmly believe that the Lord is rewarding me for my own dramatic reversal.

        Thank you.

        Ann Elizabeth Gilreath
        December 25, 2007
        Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

P.S.  I begin my first term at the University of Minnesota, January 22, 2008.



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