A sad story.
I am writing a story today about a young woman, who I will call Kay, that I met and worked with her many years ago. Kay was bought sharply back into my mind recently while I was training another young woman, their lives are miles apart and separated by a decade but their stories are similar.
I met Kay while working in a crisis service she came in seeking assistance, food and money. When she arrived I could see what had been a beautiful young woman with a petite frame long blond spiral curls and sky blue eyes. That was before the heroin took over her body and life. Who walked in the door was a tortured soul with eyes that held sadness and pain, a body that was rail thin with angry acne covering her face and cut marks on her arms.
Kay would come in regularly sometimes she would have a shower, sometimes have a sleep, sometimes I could get her to eat or at least drink some Sustagen, and I began to hear her story.
Kay lost her Mum to cancer, when she was about 12 years old, a very sad event. When this happened Kay felt abandoned and lost, angry and sad. Her Dad quite quickly, (as many men seem to do), found a new partner and began a second family and Kay became a big sister, part of a blended family.
Kay and her new step-Mum experienced the challenges of getting to know each other and learning how to be together, but Kay was angry she felt like her Mum had just been forgotten, she couldn’t understand why no one else felt as angry and sad as she did, she resented someone else in her Mum’s role, that’s when the cutting started.
Nothing that the family tried seemed to work and Kay had become the problem the one rocking the boat and she felt even more alone.
Kay’s loss of self esteem and self belief left her vulnerable to others and somewhere along the line, someone gave her drugs to ‘help’. It did help for a while, helping her forget everything.
But, heroin is a harsh master it takes over your life and requires money, so she did what many first time users do, they take from those they love and when money is refused they steal; they steal from home and they steal from shops.
Kay’s family tried to get assistance through counsellors, doctors and drug services to no avail. The stealing continued and Kay’s behaviour became angry and aggressive eventually, the addiction took over her life.
As many families do, with addicted children, they get to a point where they could no longer bear to see their child waste away, they no longer knew how to deal with the behaviour, the anger, the stealing, and they need to make a truly hard choice to decide between the addiction and the safety of the other children in the house.
Kay was told to leave, ironically, most crisis services will not work with people while they are being impacted by drugs and Kay became homeless, eventually finding somewhere to stay, with a condition, she had to prostitute herself and in return she was given a bed, food and heroin, not that she could eat much. The brothel charged $150 per customer, Kay ended up with $30, she hated it and it became a catch 22, the heroin helped survive the prostitution, but she needed the prostitution to earn the heroin.
Sometimes she felt strong enough to try to leave the brothel and would end up turning tricks on the street for $30 a time, just enough for a hit. She wanted to go home and her family said they would take her back but not while she was using.
All the help that she received was never able to change the real reason her life changed, no one could bring back her Mum, Kay thought no one could make her feel loved and safe, the way her Mum had.
Kay became a regular visitor to our service and she began to see a way forward, we were on the road to a new future she finally had one space in her life where she was heard and felt safe.
One day she did not turn up, she disappeared, it was the anniversary of her mother’s death. Clients not turning up to a service is normal, we needed to wait 24 hours to report them missing. By the next day we found out that Kay had gone to visit her Mum’s grave and overdosed, she never survived.
When I think about Kay I think about the impact she made, about what we have lost because she was unable to find her way and share her gifts with the world. I would like her to know that even after all these years she is remembered by someone who saw the beauty of her soul, she made a difference just by being, she is now part of my story too.
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