Doing whatever to survive can be destructive or constructive, depending on whether you’re running from yourself—and your trauma—or facing it head on. Amanda Freeman understands this.
She’s been on both sides of the equation. First as the runner who fell into a decades-long addiction to drugs and then as an overcomer who confronted her past and now believes it only prepared her for her future, her purpose in life.
“If it’s to help others in recovery then that’s what I’m going to do,” she said. Now, five years clean and the founder of a 12-step, Bible-based recovery program—“Celebrate 24”—even she is unable to believe the life she’s lived.
No one thought she’d survive, including herself, and her beloved brother who at one point washed his hands of his baby sister, bone-weary of her lies and deception.
Doing whatever to survive is Amanda’s story.
“You know I’ve never told anyone my entire testimony, just bits and pieces.” The petite blonde, with the heavily tattooed forearms, said, sitting next to me in my kitchen. “I’m telling you.”
My neighbor suggested Amanda as a potential subject. He said her story was perfect for my blog, and he knew only the bits and pieces.
Listening to the undisclosed details that afternoon reminded me of movies I’d seen about people who know they’re on a collision course but seem powerless to correct their trajectories.
Little did I know then. It would take several drafts to do justice to Amanda’s story. “You’ve written my story, but I’m concerned,” she said, several weeks after our initial meeting. “It seems I’m blaming others for what happened to me. I want to give glory to God.”
No one, however, can blame her for the trauma that contributed to her addiction. As with so many recovering addicts, Amanda was sexually assaulted by a man she’d known and trusted at a young age.
And the running began.
Fifteen and pregnant with her oldest daughter, she took off with and eventually married her baby’s daddy who struggled with his own demons. Theirs was a volatile relationship, and it didn’t take long before Amanda developed a taste for cocaine.
The teen-age mom then got pregnant again—another girl—and within three weeks of her child’s premature birth, Amanda was using again. This time more heavily.
“I was running from something.”
From what she didn’t know … doing whatever to survive.
The Miracles and the Strongholds
Despite the drug haze, she did understand her life had spun out of control. Pregnant again—with twins—she turned to God for the first time.
He answered with the first of two miracles.
Though one of the twins had died in utero, a sonagram showed the other in a kneeling position, hands grasped together as if in prayer. When she delivered a healthy, eight-pound baby girl, Amanda remembered thinking, “God, you are real.”
She also marveled when she delivered yet another baby girl a few years later. She’d resumed her drug habit and had overdosed while pregnant. But this child, like her sister, entered the world healthy and drug free.
And still she couldn’t quit.
Despite the miracles. Despite the repeated hospitalizations and rehab set in motion by her concerned family. Instead, she started shooting cocaine and overdosed several more times. Her kidney failed. She contracted Hepatitis C from a dirty needle. She lost custody of her four girls.
Amanda was only 22 years old.
“I Was Getting Evil”
We’d been talking for more than two hours. Nonstop. She’d told me about her divorce, her job as a stripper, her current husband, a recovering alcoholic whom she met at the strip club. She’d told me about the savage pistol whipping and rape at the hands of a gang member who accused her of snitching.
And she’d described her many relapses, the festering abscesses. PTSD. Depression and suicide attempts. She wanted to die.
But she had more.
Doing whatever to survive had evolved into an addiction to methamphetamines. To support her intravenous meth habit, she began selling drugs in seedy motels, running guns, and even procuring explosives for biker friends.
To her, it was a business. Customers either paid up or suffered the consequences. So, she’d put guns inside the mouths of those who owed her money and thrash others.
“I didn’t care, and I was getting evil.”
In September 2017, the running stopped.
The Sheriff’s Department, which had wiretapped her phones, made good on its promise to put her in prison stripes. On a return trip home from paying her drug dealer, deputies pulled her over and searched her car. They found nothing. They didn’t know she’d shoved a baggie of dope high into her vagina and injected herself with a gram of meth.
Didn’t matter. They already had enough evidence to bust her, and she went to jail.
“My testimony is God’s testimony,” Amanda said. “I’d made a mess of my life and thought I wasn’t worth saving. But God saw value in my life even if I hadn’t. I gave it all to Him.”
On March 14, 2018, after 22 years of addiction, she used for the last time.
She did struggle. Her family didn’t trust her. Her daughters were angry. “I still wasn’t giving it all to God. I went to church, got my heart right and gave it back to him—again.”
When she appeared before the court on her pending drug charges, she’d been six months clean. “God walked into that courtroom with me.” The prosecution dropped all charges and she never looked back.
Doing Whatever to Survive: Part Two
A week later, I found Amanda sitting on a bench before the altar of a little white church nestled in an East Tennessee hollow where Amanda once lived.
“I blamed God for everything, but it wasn’t God,” Amanda told the handful of men and women attending her weekly “Celebrate 24” recovery meeting. “The choices I made were my problem. I would’ve rather been dead than deal with my crap … I’m the best runner out there.”
And because she ran from her trauma, the trauma followed her. “I had a choice, but I decided to run from God, my pain,” Amanda told me after the meeting. “But God broke my strongholds and restored my family. He took the mess I made and turned into a message for others. Nobody is too far gone.”
These days, Amanda is walking by faith, not by sight, and holding fast to Jeremiah 29:11 … “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
She is doing whatever to survive, but now as an overcomer.
Amazing story! Thank you for sharing Amanda and Lori.
I couldn’t agree with you more. I appreciate Amanda’s willingness to share.
Wonderful story and I’m so happy Amanda is who she is today!
We’ve all been blessed, haven’t we?
Great story. Wishing her all the best now for her new life🙏🏼❤️
Thanks, Sharon. She will prevail!
I’ve known Amanda since middle school & her story gives me strong hope for myself, as I too am a struggling addict at the beginning of my sober journey.
I’m praying for your recovery. Please remember you are beautifully and powerfully made and placed on this earth for a very special purpose. Keep the courage and the faith. God bless you!