It was all so innocent at first: She was 11 years-old the first time she got high.
The drugs were brought into her life by friends of friends who would encourage her to try because it would make things better. At that age, she wanted the advantage of staying up late to watch television.
Tamie Coffin met me outside her double-wide home in Concho. Her dogs barked at my car, as her husband escorted me onto the property that they share along with a fifth-wheeler.
It’s wasn’t quite hot yet in Concho on the day I met her. One thing is for certain, this place can be intriguing, and you don’t have to look that far. On this path, the one where I would meet her and her family of husband and dogs that joyfully protect her, the roads were easy to follow (over the rocky reality that not all the roads are paved with ease).
Tamie wasn’t hard to find. She posted on Facebook a passage about recovery from 20 years ago. I contacted her to talk. She immediately responded with a “Yes.”
These days, the world seems to be in recovery, and in disrepair, folks spinning around the globe from similar afflictions, and this great United States of America is a leader with programs to heal and families. Then Tamie posts that she has been clean for two decades.
When I arrived, she had just gotten off an RV with her husband and commented that her face was dirty. It was, in fact, filled with fun and life, and the eagerness in her eyes stayed the same from the time she washed off the dirt until she returned to sit in front of the camera, with the same willingness to answer my questions. She held nothing back.
She looks right into the camera. Her hand occasionally close to her mouth, perhaps the underpinning of non-verbal language that asks, should I be sharing this with the video running? And she does anyway.
The story of Tamie as a kid who started to get high with the hard stuff isn’t where the imagination wants to go. Visions of a lost child who was in need of clothes and adult supervision, I thought, would be obvious.
However, that is not her story. She played varsity sports, had a 3.6 average, participated in tournaments, and no one knew she was getting high. Adults did not know she was using. Neither her parents, nor could the school could detect that she was getting high with the hard stuff.
Tamie is the one who recovered on her own with her children growing as her first marriage ended. She let it all go at once and coped accordingly. She began a new life at 28; questioning for the first time since she was 11 the use of drugs and the impact they had on her life.
“I started with meth and cocaine,” she said. “I didn’t know what it was. A friend put it in my coffee.”
At 19, she went to college, then met her first husband and had three children. They did a lot of drugs during that time. It was difficult to leave him with her children, but she returned to her mother’s house and the same difficult relationship she grew up with continued.
She figured if she wasn’t putting a needle into her arm it was okay.
“I’ve never felt addicted. It wasn’t like I had to have something as long as I wasn’t using needles.” She believed it wasn’t a problem.
Her second marriage to Charlie, moved them to a mid-life crisis in their late twenties. That meant giving up substance including drugs and alcohol.
“At 28, I quit drugs, at 30 I stopped smoking,” she said.
Advice comes from this sage without the usual finger-pointing attitude.
“You can’t tell them not to do it, but I got hooked because my mom was controlling. Drugs were what I could control. At the end of her mother’ s life, she told her daughter how proud she was of her. The words she needed to hear came in the final moments of a lifelong battle.
Concho is better with the addition of this mindful and open woman who came here from California. There is a normalizing growth to her that can go unnoticed with her ease of living and her success in overcoming addiction. Her home has light coming in, and the evidence of vibrant children and grandchildren who are welcomed into the home of a woman who puts family first.
“I would tell my children if it effects your life in a bad way, you need to stop.”
Love of life, family, great dogs and an evolved woman who has been there and then some; she is one of Concho’s gems.