Why She Rocks: Brandi overcame addiction and cares for her family while suffering from a debilitating illness.
At the age of 36, Brandi found out that she was pregnant with twins. The news came as a shock, since she had believed for a decade that she was not able to have children. “They’re my miracle babies,” says Brandi. “Everything I do is for them.”
Brandi was engaged to their father at the time, but it was an unhealthy relationship that she can now see as revolving around abuse and mistreatment. After three years with this man, and with infant twins to care for, it was overwhelming to think about leaving him. But Brandi knew that she had to get out. Why? “Because of my sons,” she says. “I wanted them to learn how to treat women right.”
It hasn’t been easy. Beyond all of the typical struggles that single mothers face, Brandi is also battling a debilitating chronic illness. Since the age of twenty-five, she has dealt with severe nerve and muscle pain that affects her mobility and limits her job opportunities. For years, she received multiple misdiagnoses, and is only now finally being tested for multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders. During a flare-up, “the pain in my bones can be so bad that it feels like they’re breaking.” Nevertheless, Brandi cares for her toddler sons and also helps support her extended family by caring for her ill father and assisting her sister with childcare.
Despite her daily challenges, and the uncertainty of her medical condition, Brandi keeps going because of her belief in herself. She has faced incredibly difficult circumstances before; in her twenties, while seeking medical treatment for her nerve pain, she became addicted to painkillers, and then, to heroine. She hit rock bottom, to a place “where I didn’t want to live anymore.” Brandi quit on her own, without the help of any detox program or assistance. “It was a relief…to earn my loved ones’ trust back,” she says. Brandi has been clean for nearly five years. Although her boys hadn’t been conceived when she quit drugs, it is their existence that motivates her to stay committed. “My children give me the strength to be better.”
Brandi grew up in an alcoholic home, and she sees now that being mistreated became a pattern as she grew into adulthood. But what makes this single mother so remarkable is that she threw a wrench into this pattern. She looked deep within herself and found that somehow, from somewhere, she could pull up the confidence necessary to take control of her life. Brandi overcame drug addiction, left an abusive relationship, and now meets the challenges of her medical condition head-on, all while raising two young children on her own. Although any one of those trials–abuse, addiction, painful chronic illness– would be a valid excuse to despair, Brandi greets each day determined to make progress toward her goals. Beyond getting a medical diagnosis and bringing up her boys, Brandi wants to give back by sharing her experience with others who might also find themselves in extremely difficult circumstances. Since she was a teenager, she has enjoyed writing prose and poetry as a means of expressing herself. Her goal is to write her own story and inspire other women to change their lives. She has seen her fair share of dark days, but “I’m working on my happy ending right now,” she says.
Brandi believes strongly that you don’t overcome addiction and abuse by hiding from it. She wants other women who might face the trials that she did to be brave enough to reach out to someone and be honest with themselves. For her part, Brandi refuses to let her past low points pull her down now. If there’s one thing she’s most proud of, it’s her ability to keep trying. “I don’t want my kids to ever see me give up.”