How much abuse and trauma can a person endure and still come out of it with love and compassion for others? Lindsay L.’s story puts that question to task. Born with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lindsay shares, “I had such bad Rheumatoid Arthritis as a child that I was basically crippled in bed. One leg swelled to twice its size, and the other would shrivel to the bone.” When faced with attending kindergarten, her parents were given the daunting choice of her learning at home, from her bed, or going to kindergarten while taking powerful opiates. Her parents unfortunately chose the drug path. So from the tender age of five, Lindsay was sent down a terrible and destructive route of pain and addiction that wouldn’t stop until she was an adult.
To add more suffering to her already excruciating disease experience, Lindsay grew up in a household of addiction, financial instability, and domestic abuse. “When I was eight, my father was fired from his job, as a paramedic, for mishandling pain meds on the job. He began an opiate addiction shortly thereafter,” she stoically recounts. She also suffered from being overweight due to her arthritis, which, as she says, “Led to a lifetime of low self-esteem and worth.” Because of her father’s addiction spiral, her mom was forced to go from being a stay-at-home mother to working full-time to support the family. Not surprisingly, at age ten, her parents separated and stayed that way until she was twenty-four.
At age sixteen, Lindsay recalls, “I got my license, I met my first boyfriend, Ryan, and began a cycle of falling in love with violent and controlling men, who would isolate me from friends and family and sexually, physically, and psychologically abuse me. They exploited my low self-worth to control me.” After splitting with Ryan, she got a job in the car industry at age nineteen, and her life began to settle down somewhat. However, she was still abusing opiates the entire time.
By age twenty-four, Lindsay had met the man, Jon, who would become the father of her two sons, Logan and Jack. Shortly after moving in together, along with his young daughter Kiera, her pain deteriorated, and her opiate addiction got worse. To try and conquer her dependence on opiates, Lindsay checked into a rehab facility for the first time. She managed to stay sober for sixty days and rejoined Jon and Kiera. Around this same time, she got pregnant with Logan. John was a Native American and relied on money from his tribe to live.
It was a significant sum each month, but in 2012 the tribe cut off the funds due to political turmoil. Not long after, the couple lost everything and were forced to move in with Lindsay’s mother. That’s when the truly tortuous phase in Lindsay’s life began. As Lindsay explains, “Jon got depressed and couldn’t work. I had to go back to work, and then I found out I was pregnant with Jack.” To add even more familial fuel to the wildfire breaking out in her life, her parents, out of nowhere, decided to start dating again, and soon after, her drug-addicted and violently abusive father moved back home. Along with his opioid addiction, her father was also an alcoholic, and when he drank, he was extremely violent. But, for whatever reason, his fury and brutality were only aimed at Lindsay. It got so bad that, despite the fact she was the victim, the police and her family strongly encouraged her to leave her boys with her parents and move out, as opposed to her vicious father. Having no friends to call upon, Lindsay was forced to live under an overpass, and, understandably, she turned to drugs to ease her trauma and pain. By now, she had graduated to meth and heroin.
Along this same time, she met a man who, to this day, haunts and terrifies her. Cody was his name, and the life this “Bonnie and Clyde” couple led over the next six years were some of the most violent, drug-fueled, and traumatizing days of Lindsay’s young life. From stretches living in tents on the street while shooting up heroin to perpetrating fraud and other criminal activities to fund their addictions, and being in and out of jail, the one constant was Cody and his violent narcotic crazed need to control Lindsay.
The horrendous and torturous crimes Lindsay witnessed during this virtual domestic imprisonment are unfathomable. What she saw and experienced should’ve pushed her over the edge to oblivion. “I got to this pit of despair that was so dark that, if one more bad thing happened, I was going to come apart,” she told her mother. But there’s something about Lindsay we all should know. Lindsay is a survivor. Her heart and spirit are indomitable. She would not quit on herself or her boys, who she missed so terribly. Ironically and sadly, she was saved by the news her beloved grandmother was dying. The only family that ever cared about Lindsay were her grandmother and grandfather. So in June 2021, despite his threats of violence, she courageously broke away from Cody for the final time.
She rushed to her grandmother’s side to spend as many moments with her as she could. While there, her cousin, Curt, who had been sober for twenty-five years, approached Lindsay. He asked her, “On a scale from 1-10, how bad do you want to be clean?” She replied, “Right now, I’m a nine. But following grandma’s funeral, I’ll be an eleven.” But before her beloved grandmother passed, she asked Lindsay to make her five promises to keep. Lindsay, with tears welling in her crystal blue eyes, lists them as, “1. Get rid of Cody. 2. Get sober. 3. Take care of grandpa and keep the family together. 4. Get your kids from your mother. 5. Find happiness before you die.” Following the funeral, Curt approached again. Lindsay was ready to keep those promises.
Shortly after that, she walked through the healing doors of Beit T’shuvah. “I was a broken person,” she remembers. She had a hard time adjusting, and as she explains, “I almost left because my kids were so at risk with my parents. But I held on.” And though she’s only been here for ninety days, Lindsay has made one of the most remarkable transformations. “My treatment team of Asia, Drew, and Jill have saved my life. This is the first time I’ve never had to lie about who I am. I can actually be my authentic self,” she shares with a triumphant sparkle in her eyes.
Having served as a House Monitor and now interning as a Program Facilitator (PF), she’s also emerged as the “House Mom” for all the other female residents at BTS. As she wraps up her story, Lindsay shares one last thing, “Because of my experience at Beit T’Shuvah, I want to become a counselor and possibly a therapist to help other women and girls going through what I’ve gone through.” From where she’s been to where she is now, Lindsay is definitive and unwavering proof that the mission of Beit T’Shuvah does save and change lives. She’s looking forward to a future raising her boys in a safe, healthy, and loving home. And we share in celebrating her continued path of growing and healing. How much abuse and trauma can someone endure and still come out of it with love and compassion for others? Lindsay’s entire life is the answer to that question. Thanks for holding on, Lindsay. We’re all better for knowing you.