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2007年07月05日

Profile

It has been long since I posted the last time. Sorry! But hope you'll enjoy this profile I wrote last term.


ANOTHER LIFE
One needle changed her life—.

Linda Todd lived in a small three-bedroom house in Florence, Oregon. One day in 1978, she invited her boyfriend, Danny Lidstrom, over. That was her biggest mistake. Lidstrom put a drop of liquid on a spoon and drew it into an insulin syringe. He injected the cocaine into his vein. It was Todd’s first encounter with hard drugs. She describes the intoxicated Lidstrom as “euphoric, floaty and sexy.” Todd wanted to fit in and impress her first boyfriend. Lidstrom put about half as much of the powder in the spoon and shot Todd up. Her head rushed and her heart pounded.

“The best feeling ever,” Todd says, “I climaxed.”
She wanted more.

More was something she didn’t have much of in her childhood. Todd, 52, was born in Roseburg, Oregon in 1955. From age seven, she was sexually and physically abused by her parents.
She grew up never learning to be loved.

Her children would follow a path of neglect and violence. After settling in Eugene at age twenty, she became pregnant with her daughter, Heather. The father was a man whom Todd never married. Two years later, Todd married another man and had her second daughter, Chere. That marriage lasted three years.

Todd became vulnerable as a single mother. She moved to Florence and worked in a bar to support herself and her two children. There, she met Lidstrom and thought he was cute and a good dancer. Later, his introduction to cocaine trapped her into a deep, black hole where again, Todd suffered from violence.

One night, Todd’s little daughters, Heather and Chere, shuddered in their bedroom while Lidstrom yelled and threw things at Todd in the living room.

“I’ll never let Danny come back and put you in danger again,” Todd later promised her girls with her black and swollen face, covered in dried blood.
But she did. She always let him come back for her dope.

Todd continued her destructive pattern. She partied with a rough crowd of dealers and addicts. Her life revolved around cocaine, speed and meth. She broke her family relationships because no one trusted her. Doing drugs damaged her teeth. The loss of 100 pounds made her cheeks sink and her skin dark. Yet, she descended further down the black hole of drugs.

Todd spent time in alleys and shared needles. One evening, she took out a bent needle from a garbage can and straightened it with light heat. With a badly barbed needlepoint, she was all ready. It was painful. She bled. But Todd wouldn’t stop poking—not until she found a vein. Neck, legs, hands, tops of her feet, and breasts—she shot dope into every possible vein. All she wanted was more, and for that, she could even hurt others.

Todd frequently cashed checks on her parents and others’ accounts. Stealing items from local shops was a daily routine. Todd spent a lot of time in her room and slept during the day while her girls starved. She had successfully passed on the neglect and abuse to another generation.

Late one night in 1985, police officers arrested Todd for forgery. After that night, Todd was in and out of jail. Every time she came out, the first thing she did was shoot up.

A first step toward salvation came from an unusual source. In a prison in 1988, she read Monty Christensen’s book, 70 X 7 and Beyond. The book taught Todd that regardless, God is there to forgive us and provide another chance.

“I felt the feeling of love for the first time ever,” says Todd. A seed grew inside her and pulled her a little closer to the light. However, it was only a step. She repeatedly betrayed the help and returned to prison with fresh needle marks on her body.

The road toward that good life was rocky. But in prison, Todd started working a janitorial job for a dollar per day. She passed the GED Testing Program, a high school completion test. These events gave her a sense of accomplishment. In 1992, the court marked Todd’s good behavior. Still, she continued using drugs.

At the time, she lived with her grown daughter, Heather, and her husband and children. One day when Kayla, Todd’s grandchild was a toddler, she found her grandmother using needles and getting high in the bathroom.

“I’ve always regretted that,” Todd says. “I’m so sorry that I wasn’t more careful. I’m so sorry she saw it.” Todd was given a choice. If she wanted to stay in Kayla’s life, she had to quit drugs—but she didn’t.

So Todd left Heather’s family and lived with her father in Florence. Her father had lost her mother from cancer, and he himself had suffered from heart attacks. He was no longer abusive.

In 1996, Todd started taking business classes at Lane Community College. However, prior to going to classes she did meth. In the first week, Todd took an English test and got a C. She was excited, but her teacher, according to Todd, wasn’t enthusiastic. She felt that the teacher looked at her as if she were, as she terms it, a “worthless piece of shit." This upset Todd. She left the classroom for drugs. On the street in front of the college, she was again saved, this time by a stranger driving by. Cindy Smith picked up Todd and took her to Smith’s house.

“You have a chance to change your life,” Smith told her.
That felt like a slap in her face.

Todd went back home and handed her father a small bag with three needles wrapped in a cloth. Without a word, he put it in the stove. Todd had used her last needle.

“I don’t know why I listened this time,” Todd says. “The Lord might have put Cindy there at the time and the place.” After this event, she had no desires for drugs. God, she believes, totally took her addictions away.

Two years later, her father died because of congestive heart failure.

“I’m sorry,” her father said in the last minute of his life. This was enough for Todd to forgive him. It was what she wanted to hear for 36 years.

Todd moved to a little house on River Road in Eugene to start a new life. She got a job at the Carson Dining Hall with the University of Oregon Food Service. But things weren’t easy.
She lacked social skills. “Linda acted like a kid,” Sue Martinez, Food Service Coordinator at the Hamilton Dining Hall, says. Todd would throw tantrums. She would curse to co-workers. Once this started, no one would have a chance to speak.

In 2000, Todd ended up working at the Hamilton Dining Hall. Martinez remembers that Todd used to come to her job either upbeat or crying. Her emotionally unstable personality scared co-workers. However, students loved her big smiles and hugs. They appreciated her taking their happiness and sadness personally. Todd got better and was even selected as Faculty/Staff of January in 2006.
Now, Todd is finally receiving the love she always needed.

She lives with her grandchildren, Kayla, Kelsey and Kris, while their mother, Heather, and her husband live with Chere’s family. Her day starts with walking them to the school bus. They often go out to dinner together.

“She cares about her family and friends more than anything else,” says Kayla. “She has become a loving, caring and inspiring person.”

Todd has grown. She has learned how to handle her emotions. “Mindful” is her favorite word. It reminds her to think before taking actions.

“Linda has bloomed beautifully,” Martinez says.

“I am who I am because of what happened in the past. I’m not ashamed of anything,” Todd says with confidence.

After being clean for eleven years, her eyes are clearer. All the marks on her face are gone. Smiles have come back. Only her left eye, which was blind for months, still switches and gets dark—and reminds her—never to go back.

投稿者 maiko : 2007年07月05日 10:13