Confessions of a meth momTamara (Tami) DeMar is reluctant to tell her “truth.” But she knows it is the only way to free herself from it and hopefully save others from living it. Tami, 41, New Richmond, sits calmly on the couch in her nicely decorated apartment and begins her story.
By: By Gail Winship, Hudson Star-Observer
Tamara (Tami) DeMar is reluctant to tell her “truth.” But she knows it is the only way to free herself from it and hopefully save others from living it.
Tami, 41, New Richmond, sits calmly on the couch in her nicely decorated apartment and begins her story.
“I was a regular soccer mom driving my kids to practices and activities,” Tami says. “I stayed at home raising my four kids while my husband worked, and life was good for us.”
Within a matter of months their lives turned upside down through a series of unforeseen circumstances.
“My father-in-law died in 2003 and we inherited his farmhouse in East Farmington,” Tami said. “So we packed up and moved there to take care of my mother-in-law, who was suffering with Alzheimer’s.”
Once the family moved, Tami found herself going through five back-to-back surgeries. Then her husband, Rob, suffered an injury at work that crushed his foot, rendering him unable to work. Rob was in the construction business and had no insurance.
“As if that was not enough,” Tami laughs, “we had four teenagers in the house at one time.”
The DeMars continued to make it day to day even with Rob’s salary substantially diminished while he was out of work.
“We still drove the kids to practice and went to church every week, just like a normal family only with considerably more stress,” Tami said.
While recovering from her own surgeries and nursing her husband back to health, Tami struggled to feel at home in their new abode.
“It just never felt like home to me.” Tami said. “I never quite adjusted.”
During the chaos of those seven months, Tami found herself becoming depressed and lethargic while the DeMars’ kids became “wild teenagers.”
“Eventually it became harder to do regular things I had always done,” Tami said. “Like cleaning, cooking, running the kids around town. It got to be too much.”
Then one fateful day a “friend” offered Tami a toke on a meth pipe “just to take the edge off.”
“Well suddenly I was Wonder Woman,” Tami said. “I was cooking and cleaning and running all over town. I was weeding the garden and taking care of everything. I had so much energy. It gave me the lift I needed.”
Tami said she “got her husband involved with meth.”
As meth began taking over the DeMars’ lives they started making bad decisions.
Never fully comfortable in the farmhouse, Tami and her husband did a quit claim deed and handed it over to Rob’s siblings. Without a place to live, and living for meth, they sent their younger children to live with friends.
Meanwhile Rob and Tami drifted from motel to motel and existed purely to do meth.
“We felt guilty while we were doing all this, we never stopped loving our kids, but meth had such a hold on us,” Tami said. “And once meth gets a hold of you, you go from A to Z in a real hurry.”
With their resources depleted and nowhere to turn, the DeMars decided in 2005 to travel to Nebraska, where Tami’s best friend lived.
“We stayed in Nebraska six months and got clean,” Tami said. “Our love for our kids and realizing what we were doing to our lives just made us decide to stop using. We had so much guilt and shame.”
The DeMars didn’t go through the normal treatment programs or inpatient therapy to stop. They just stopped using the drug and followed up with Narcotics Anonymous and other programs.
“I’m not going to say there weren’t times when I wanted to use again,” Tami admitted. “But I have been clean for three years now.”
“Before we went to Nebraska, we had gotten in some trouble with about $3,000 in forgery,” Tami said. “There was a warrant out for our arrest.”
The DeMars, now clean, returned to Wisconsin, took their daughter to stay with her grandmother until they got back on their feet, and turned themselves in to the police.
Without bail, the DeMars spent the next 13 days in jail and had one year to make restitution. When they left jail, the couple went to Grace Place in Somerset, hoping for a temporary place to live.
“We spent two or three months in Grace Place where I felt very displaced,” Tami said. “They expected me, who has never had to really work, to get a job and support my family since my husband was disabled. That was a difficult thing for me to get used to.”
Tami took any jobs she could get from working in Burger King to many factory jobs. The couple “graduated” from Grace Place and was sent to live at Faith House in New Richmond, where they could be reunited with their children.
For about 10 months the DeMars and their two younger children lived at Faith House, where they paid 30 percent of Tami’s salary for rent.
West CAP came to call on the DeMars and explained their services. They visited the Demars once a week and helped Tami with budgets, resumes and goal setting.
“We’d be at zero without Grace Place and West CAP,” Tami admitted. “They rebuild you from the ground up. They helped with job searches, social services — everything is there for you.”
Tami said by the eighth month at Faith House she was anxious for independence. Only a few months later, the DeMars were in their own apartment in New Richmond with both of their children and the help of West CAP’s Supportive Housing Program (SHP).
“It has taken quite awhile for the kids to come around to the point where they feel comfortable and safe again as a family,” Tami said, “but I think that is finally happening now.”
Tami is quick to point out that meth is “the number one drug on the planet.”
“Polk and St. Croix county are so eaten up with meth, it’s really scary,” Tami said. “Our circumstances caused our situation. I should have done a million things besides light up a pipe, but you don’t think of those things at the time.”
Tami says meth is so prevalent in this area that “people wouldn’t believe it.”
“Meth is absolutely a catalyst for people becoming homeless,” she said emphatically. “People need to know you can get back on track and be successful after meth. Just don’t ever go back — stay away from where you started meth and stay clean.”
The DeMars have already begun paying it forward. Last winter they rang bells for The Salvation Army, which runs Grace Place and Faith House, for 30 hours in sub-zero temperatures, according to Tami.
Another positive in the DeMar’s life is that Tami has just been hired full-time as a supervisor at Grace Place.
“I know God is watching over me and it’s going to be okay. We still struggle. My husband is chronically ill and will never be the same, but West CAP is educating us as to what we can do to make it better so we can make it on our own without any assistance.”
Since Tami is now making enough money to pay the family’s bills and Rob has received a medical settlement, the DeMars will be free of all social assistance programs as of Oct. 1.