Valerie's Story

My life didn't start out on a high note. I was raised in the Puget Sound area, north of Seattle by a very young single-mother, whose dreams of college and whatever else a smart young girl might dream of, were replaced by three mouths to feed. My mom taught us the incredibly valuable lessons of hard work, honesty, cleanliness, and manners. But, she was depressed, and money was very tight. Life was chaotic and even scary at times.

I could read the newspaper when I was five years old (not the best reading material at that age) and was aware of world events far too early. I laid in my bed at night, scared and worried about my mom and everything else. Even as a small girl, I knew I was supposed to do something special with my life.  What that would be, I could never have imagined. 

My older brother, Darryl, and I had red hair, pasty-white skin, and freckles. I remember being called "freckle-face" and "carrot top." Quick-wit and a tough older brother kept the teasing to a minimum. Lucky for my younger brother, Brad, he escaped the dreaded red hair curse.

 

(This photo goes a long way in explaining my current thigh situation.)

My brothers played hockey, and when I was twelve, my mom married Don, who was the junior coach. He was called Chips, which was the nickname he gained as a professional hockey player. Not only was my new step-dad, the coach of the highest level team in youth hockey, but an ex-pro! It didn't matter that he played before the NHL expansion and the big bucks, and now worked at Rainier Brewery, in our little hockey world, the marriage propelled us to near-stardom.

 

With our newfound status, came a brother, Rod, and sister, Karen. We were virtual strangers, but somehow we  bonded like blood. There is no talk of "step" in my family.

 

Chips entering my mom's life was a blessing that I will be eternally grateful for and never take for granted.

I wandered around during my high school years, without any real plans for my future. I went to school, worked, and did plenty of partying. (Guess that's what happens when you wander around without goals or dreams). It was easy for me to maintain a reasonably high GPA, even with my major being "partying." I bought my cars, insurance, clothing and cleaned the house weekly. I was a responsible partier, I told myself.

"It was easy for me to get off the party train, so I never understood why it was so hard for others. That was until I got an up-close and personal look at addiction."

At the age of twenty, something possessed me to get married. We were only two months into the union when it became crystal clear that my husband was far from -ready-for marriage when he cheated on me. Not wanting to be a divorce statistic, I forgave him and spent seven years trying to pretend I was happy, and he was probably doing the same.

(My mom and sister, Karen, whom I'm pointing at because she was getting married next. (She's still married.)

"The luck of the draw, circumstances, and my own choices provided me with ample opportunity to face my fears."

I became what I dreaded - a statistic. I was a divorced, single mom when Jamie was three, and Sean was one.

 

I loved being a mom more than anything and did everything I could to keep my kids safe and teach them what they would need to know to make good choices.

With no college degree, I worked extremely hard to ensure we lived in safe neighborhoods and that Sean and Jamie had a good education. 

 

While I would have preferred raising my children in a two-parent home, we were happy, and life was good.

 

Life was good before Rich, but it promised to be awesome after we became a family. Little did we know how upcoming events would test our marriage.

In 1998, I married my husband, Rich. This chapter of our lives promised to be amazing. It started that way, but a couple of short years in, Jamie would make some choices that would give my little family free seats on the Roller Coaster From Hell.

 

By the age of fifteen, the most gifted person I knew, suddenly went off the rails. She quit softball, youth group, her friends, and eventually, school. Jamie left our safe, comfortable suburban life, and made her way into a very different world. Nothing we tried stopped the freight train that appeared to be headed right for a brick wall.

 

On that train with her, was a boyfriend we knew was a bad guy. She suffered a near-fatal gunshot wound when she was eighteen, courtesy of that guy, whom we would learn, was a gang-member. 

A world away from our safe, suburban life, we sat in the ICU at Harborview, Seattle's premier trauma hospital, in shock, waiting to see if Jamie would wake up. The night before, she underwent life-saving surgery and had nearly fifty staples holding her gut back together. My daughter had been filleted open like a fish.

 

What happened to my life? It was supposed to be amazing. Instead, we were living a nightmare.

 

By the grace of God, Jamie survived the shooting with minor, permanent, physical damage. The emotional and mental damage would last both of our lifetimes.

Over the next decade, Jamie's life spun further out of control, and mine spiraled into darkness. 

 

We would come to find out Jamie became addicted to the opioids prescribed after her surgery, and eventually to heroin.

 

I couldn't understand why she wouldn't just stop, and I tried desperately to make her. I did everything I could think of to save Jamie from her addiction Beast and failed miserably.

Feeling like a failure as a mother and as a human being, I plummeted deeper into depression, hopelessness, and paralyzing fear. I rode the Roller Coaster From Hell painfully up one hill and screaming down the next, caught in a cycle of hope and devastating disappointment. I lived with a tremendous amount of guilt; convinced this was somehow my fault. Shame covered me like a second skin.

 

I hit bottom the day I stood in my kitchen and blurted out what I had thought a hundred times, but had never voiced to anyone, let alone, Rich,

 

"I don't want to be here anymore."

 

Hearing those words from my lips was a defining moment - the one where I decided to stand up and fight for my life. No way was my legacy going to be one of a depressed, lonely woman, who didn’t have any passion for life.

 

I had no idea where I was going or how I would get there, but I was determined to find even a moments' peace. The smile on my face would one day be genuine again.

"Our lowest points can be the most important moments of our lives. When I hit rock bottom, it scared me into action."

I dug deep and found every piece of wisdom, knowledge, and information I had learned and gained over my first five decades on planet earth, and got to work on myself and my recovery - from Jamie's addiction - from life.

 

In 2015, I created the 9 Actions to Battle Your Beast and published my first book, "Still Standing After All the Tears." Initially, I hoped to help even one person to reclaim their life, but thankfully, thousands have gained insight and actionable tools to stand up during their most difficult days. 

"Your book did more for me than all the hours of counseling ever did." ~ Nancy

Thanksgiving, 2014. The last time I saw Jamie clean. 

2015, the first Christmas in eight years with both of my kids & the last time I saw Jamie. It was also the last Christmas with my mother-in-law. 

While I worked to become stronger and to build my business, the world around me continued to crumble. I lost Chips, and my mother-in-law, Emily. My cat, Shiska, my sixteen-year companion on this ride, had a seizure on my desk and went to kitty heaven. We had business challenges, and a friend betrayed us by stealing a significant amount of money from us.

 

Jamie  continued in her addiction, with only brief periods when she was clean. She lived in a world of drugs and danger. To stay sane and safe, I drew my line in the sand, and let her go, hoping she would choose to come back and be a part of our world, absent of drugs, gangs, danger, and violence. It broke my heart, but I was no longer willing to self-destruct with Jamie. 

 

Every morning, I prayed for a miracle, then let Jamie go. I believed that one day she would beat her addiction Beast and go on to make her mark on the world.

"Once you cross the courage line, there is no going back."

Jamie would not get the chance to stand victoriously over her Beast. In August 2016, I got the knock on the door. Twelve years and twelve days after the first shooting, another guy shot Jamie, and this time it was fatal. My only daughter lived just 30 years, 7 months, and 4 days, half of which was in the world of addiction. The news knocked me down on the mat I had worked so hard to stay off of; now, I was flat on my back with my Beast of top of me. He screamed in my face the lies I had stopped believing about myself, and I was tempted to get back into agreement with the self-defeating thoughts.

 

Thankfully, when you cross the courage line there is no going back. So, I was able to stand up quickly, even with a massive hole in my heart. I am fully aware it’s not going anywhere, but my heart is big enough and strong enough to contain the hole and joy, peace, happiness, hope, and purpose. 

In the latest book, I tell more of my story and some of what I have overcome. Importantly, you can use the same 9 Actions to defeat what has you down.

Life is tough, and we will be taken down to the mat by the inevitable difficulties unless we stand up and fight. I choose to stand.

 

Anything worth having, doing, or being will take work, and it will take courage. Each time we are at a crossroads with a huge hurdle in front of us, we can choose fear or courage. No matter what else might be up ahead in the road for me, I choose courage, because once you cross the courage line, there is no going back.

 

My life didn't start on a high note, and there have been many roadblocks, mountains, and monsters on my trip through life. But I have learned that it's not how you start, it's how you finish.

 

It is my honor to turn my pain into purpose and to guide others to Courageous Living.

The news story was scheduled prior to the arrest. I sat down for the interview the day after I faced the guy who killed Jamie.

P.S. There were times I thought the ride would destroy our marriage, but we chose to fight for that, too. Today, Rich and I are standing stronger than ever...together.

Develop a Warrior

Woman Mindset

You'll learn to live FREE from the fears, doubts, and life-controlling issues that are are holding you hostage. It's time to believe in yourself & unleash that power on the world.

Valerie Silveira is an award-winning author of multiple books, workbooks, and journals to guide people worldwide through the path to a Courageous Life. She is a sought-after speaker and coach. Valerie is known as a woman of unwavering strength who, through the trauma and lessons of her daughter’s addiction and her senseless murder, along with her decades of leadership, empowers others to stand up and live courageously. Her book, “Still Standing After All the Tears,” has helped thousands to battle the beasts in their lives, and her most recent book, “Still Standing,” provides hope and healing for life’s many challenges.