Here at ABLE, we celebrate and strive to empower women who have overcome a variety of circumstances. In a new series, entitled SHE IS ABLE, we share the struggles, determination and perseverance from the strong women we're honored to work with on a daily basis.
Meet *Leigh. This is her story.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you’re from.
I grew up in a really small town in the hills of East Tennessee. My parents got divorced when I was 8 years old and my dad immediately fell into addiction that year. When that happened, I took on the primary responsibility of caring for my 5 siblings, with some help from my parents. But when I turned 12, my mom also fell into addiction. It was a really hard time because I had so much responsibility on my plate with all my siblings.
What was a big turning point in your life?
A big turning point in my life was when my parents divorced when I was 8 and they both fell into addiction.I didn’t have the parental guidance like most people have and so I started drinking when i was just 13. I’d be around friends, we’d go riding and there would be a cooler there, so it started with alcohol. And I saw really quick that I was compulsive about it and when I started drinking, I couldn’t stop. When I turned 17, that’d when the hardcore stuff started to happen and I got into drugs. My dad, who I'm proud to say is now clean and healthy, was in a bad car accident and was prescribed intense pain killers. We started taking those together. It all just kind of escalated from there. There were years that were really hard and I didn’t even realize how bad it had gotten. My moment of truth was May of 2017 when my mother, who is now sober for 6 years, told me “if you don’t get your act together, I’m taking your boys from you.” That’s when I knew I had to get clean and healthy. If not for me, for my boys.
How did you come to find ABLE?
I did a 6 month program here in Nashville and graduated in November 2017. My boys were taken care of by their grandparents and I got to see them every weekend. It was my mom who pushed me to apply to ABLE because she knew about the company through some women who already worked here in the jewelry department. She had been through the program with them and now works at the program, helping other women get clean. She felt like God was pushing me to put an application in and this was my chance at a really amazing opportunity. She said “This is a God’s place” so I applied in January, spoke with Jen in February and started working at ABLE mid-February. It was awesome.
Tell us more about your role here on the jewelry team?
I don’t have a specific role on the jewelry team, but instead help out where needed. There’s always a lot to be done, so the more hands the better. It’s a really big team that helps you out and teaches you what you need to know. I found I am a quick learner and it really surprised me how much I love working with tools. My favorite part of working in jewelry is buffing. It helps get the debris off the materials after we sauder them and it cleans it up before we make it final and shiny. Looking forward, I want to learn how to solder and get more involved in the design process, too. I’m just really thankful for the support we have in jewelry and just through the whole company. They understand that come up in life, especially if you have kids and they support a good lifestyle. As a single mother, I appreciate that a lot.
When you’re not hard at work, what do you like to do in your free time?
I just love spending time with my two boys, who are 6 and almost 4. I’m so happy to be able to spend time with them after work and on the weekends. We love nature and exploring the outdoors! Fall Creeks Falls is our favorite place to go because we can swim and hike and take road trips. It’s been really amazing just jumping back into our relationship after getting clean, it’s just like it was before.
What’s the past year been like for you?
The past year has been eye opening. It’s been cool to see that I can do this and see that I can be independent. If i could use one word to describe my last year, it would be grateful. I’m just grateful to have a new outlook on life and have another chance to do this right.
What have you learned about yourself through all of this?
I’ve learned that I am strong. I’ve learned how to do things on my own, how to be independent and how to do things the right way. You really learn a lot about yourself when you get clean. Addiction started at 13 for me and all I knew was how to raise kids from my siblings. When you’ve been in addiction, everything looks grey. The whole world is just numb and dark and you don’t see any beauty. Every addict says the same thing. When you get clean, everything is so beautiful now. You just appreciate all the colors and the beauty the world has to offer. I just feel like God has opened my heart now.
What are you most looking forward to in the next year?
I’m looking forward to having my own place on the outskirts of town, where I can have a little more room and open space with a yard for my boys to play. We have to much to do in this new city too - so we have lots of plans to make!
We believe that every one of us understands what it means to overcome, and we are all ABLE to find real purpose. What is something you are ABLE to do because of the incredible changes you’ve made?
I am ABLE to help other women who have found themselves in a similar situation. When you’re in addiction, you feel trapped. People may tell you that you need help and how bad it is, but it just does not register. You literally can’t put one foot in front of the other and you’ve got to be pushed, which is really hard. Leaving drugs is like losing a close, but bad, friend. It plays such a big part in your life for so many years and it’s hard to drop it. But if you can just get past it, it’s amazing. And that’s where I want to help other women get to.
*Name has been changed for the protection of the individual and their privacy.