Heroin through a mother’s eyes


By Nikki Blankenship - nblankenship@civitasmedia.com



After watching her daughter battle drug addiction for years, McDermott’s Kimberly Hale says she has seen the darkest of times and can still promise there is hope.

Hale is the mother of Brooklyn Frazie, of Minford, featured in week two’s ‘I am inmate No. 82926,’ who started using drugs at 19 and got caught in a downward spiral of addiction leading her ultimately to prison. Though Frazie’s story portrays a glimpse into the life of an addict, the story of Hale is that of a mother.

Hale had two daughters that were just 15 months apart. She remembers spending Sundays with one on each side, eating cucumbers, tomatoes, and popcorn and watching the Lifetime channel and having sleepovers in her room.

“Brooklyn, both of my girls actually, were such sweet little girls, even through junior high and high school,” Hale remembered. “People would say their kids were such problems. Mine never were.”

Hale and the girls’ father were no longer together but were both active in their children’s lives.

“Their father and I were divorced. They weren’t from a broken home; they were from a divorced home,” Hale commented. “There was nothing broken about our family. I loved my children dearly. Their father loved them dearly. We got along. There was nothing broken about it.”

Hale, the youngest of 12, had grown up in Minford. In fact, she and all her siblings had graduated from Minford High School, the same school the girls attended. It had always been a great community to raise kids in. Hale remembers that when she was in school, the only drug she ever heard of was marijuana. There was no history of drug use in either her family or her ex-husband’s family. It was just a typical life for the Frazie girls.

Both played sports and were active in Girl Scouts, all of which Hale would coach even when she didn’t know the sport well.

“All the kids would come to our house to play,” Hale commented. “She (Brooklyn) just had such a normal childhood, a normal busy childhood.”

Hale remembers that her daughter wanted to be a singer.

“She really does have the voice of an angel,” the mom bragged.

Though Hale says she didn’t make a lot of money, she always made she the girls had everything they wanted and needed.

It was not until Frazie had graduated high school and was an adult that she first tried drugs, starting with pain pills and then developing a significant opiate addiction. Pharmaceuticals flooded the streets, which were under the reign of the more than 20 pill mills addicting and testing on human subjects. At first, Hale had no idea her daughter was using.

“Even though I didn’t do the drugs with Brooklyn, I walked every bit of it with her. It was horrible,” Hale said as she recounted her nightmare.

Brooklyn had already been using for several years before her mom caught on.

“I was blinded,” Hale explained. “My girls wouldn’t do that. They wouldn’t do that to themselves and they wouldn’t do that to me.”

The enduring mother confirmed that she sure heard rumors that her daughters had used drugs, but she would ask them and believe them when they said they had not.

“Brooklyn is very intelligent. She knew better,” Hale assured.

Then, in the fall of 2006, Hale went on a cruise and returned to chaos.

“Because I worked so much, I was Brooklyn’s only checking account,” she stated. “When I came back from my cruise, she had written checks everywhere. By Thanksgiving, it had reached several thousand dollars.”

Hale could not face the holidays or her family.

“I didn’t even have Thanksgiving that year,” she remembered. “I hid away. I didn’t want my family to find out.”

Frazie had to go to court and was ordered to pay restitution, one of many times that her drug addiction would lead to legal troubles. Still, Hale struggled on her own. She struggled to understand what was going on with her daughter and with her own life.

“It was always me and my girls. We were super, super close. So, for Brooklyn to do this was unreal. I don’t even know why she started. It was devastating,” she said, still struggling to understand.

From there, Frazie’s addiction got progressively worse. She landed herself in the county jail several times. For Hale, however, the worst period started in 2009 and was two years of unreal difficulty.

“It was something I would not wish upon anybody,” Hale explained. “She stole from me. I would believe she wouldn’t do it again. She would cash my checks. I would wake up at night, and Brooklyn would be down Army crawling, getting my purse. She would get in my wallet, and take my money, and I would go to the store and my money would be gone. I finally started sleeping with my wallet under my pillow.”

Hale continued to explain that her daughter would steal her jewelry to sell. In addition to working and taking care of her daughters, she was also going to college. Her entire student loan refund of several thousand dollars was stolen just after she had cashed it.

Despite all she lost, the feeling — one that involved the loss of her daughter — was the worst part.

“I would come home, and she’d be sitting at the table and pardon my language, but she would just be out of it. I would come home and she would literally be sitting at the table with a cigarette in her hand mid-air, just basically out of it and passed out sitting up.”

She would get threatening phone calls from people that her daughter had cheated or slighted. One day, she had left for class but returned after forgetting something. When she walked in, the phone was ringing. When she picked it up, a man simply said he was going to kill Brooklyn.

“It sounded like the devil’s voice,” she remembered. “I just fell to my knees.”

Hale says she felt a lot of guilt, and each passing moment seemed to add to the weight upon her.

“You blame yourself,” she clarified.

In June 2011, the family went on vacation. There were 18 on the trip including aunts and cousins.

“It was just the perfect vacation,” Hale said.

Though her mom was not aware, Frazie had brought enough pills to get her through the journey. When she returned home, there were no pills left. The pill mills had been shut down. Opiates were rare and costly. Frazie had already been helping her friends by getting them drugs in exchange for some for herself. She had never used heroin, however. But heroin was the only opiate left. She had never shot up, but she would now.

Heroin changed her, and her mom caught on much more quickly than she had to her daughter’s pill use.

“Brooklyn was always this clean person who always smelled good,” Hale explained. “I started noticing she would take a bath and hours later be greasy and dirty. I didn’t realize that when you shoot up, it does that. It makes you sweat.”

This was not enough to cause suspicion. Then, that August, when Frazie went to the hot Scioto County Fair in long sleeves, her mother again thought something was odd but had no idea her daughter was an intravenous drug user.

“Shooting up? Never! Brooklyn was scared to death of needles,” Hale explained her logic.

One day, the phone rang, and her doubt faded. It was her other daughter, who told her clearly that Frazie was shooting up. Hale went home and went through her daughter’s room. Frazie was not home at the time, but a couple of her friends were there. They, of course, left.

“It didn’t take anything to find those needles,” Hale stated. “I was devastated. I threw her out.”

Frazie and her boyfriend lived in a car for nearly a month. If she called and was hungry, her mom would take her food to the driveway, where she could pick it up. She was not allowed in the house.

“That was hard,” Hale commented. “I said she didn’t come from a broken home, but I was broken at that time. I was lost. I had no idea who I was anymore. I didn’t know what to do.”

Hale was now also spiraling to the depths of her daughter’s addiction.

“This was a horrible secret I was carrying, and it was killing me,” the mom thought back. “People knew some of the things, but they didn’t know everything.”

Hale felt like she had lost her daughter. At other times, she even hoped to lose her.

“My daughter was dead,” she exclaimed. “This was not Brooklyn. I had no idea who this person was. I prayed, I prayed at night for her to die. I prayed for God to take her because at least then I knew she’d be safe. What kind of a mother does that? Then, I had to live with the guilt of that.”

God did not take Hale’s daughter, however. And, her nightmare was far from over. Hale allowed her daughter to come back home, and things got worse before getting better.

She was home one day from work because she had had surgery on her foot. She remembers it being a Monday, and she got a call from Brooklyn’s drug dealer, saying Brooklyn had robbed her, which Brooklyn and her boyfriend had both done. Hale explained to the woman that her daughter was in bed, which did not cease the woman’s tone or threats.

“I’m not a fighter. I couldn’t hurt anybody, but I started yelling,” Hale commented.

The woman stopped directing her threats at Frazie and started directing them at Hale.

“I said, ‘Bring it on. You know where I live. You can’t do anymore to me than has already been done,’ the mother remembered. “I had had it.”

She went to wake her daughter, and the scene in the bedroom added to the frantic moment.

“While we were on vacation, we had gone skydiving,” Hale explained in a hushed voice. “She (Brooklyn) had the t-shirt from skydiving on. It was orange, and it was covered in blood (from shooting up). She had track marks all the way up her arms and between her fingers. I’ve never seen anything like it. I called the cops and turned her in.”

Hale explained that turning her daughter in was not easy or something she did without consideration.

“She had only been shooting up a few months, but I knew if it went on much longer, she would have been dead,” Hale commented. “But to see my daughter handcuffed and put in the back of a car, it is not something I can put into words.”

The emotional pain was too much. Hale had lost 20 pounds in a month.

Frazie was offered two years in prison with a judicial release in six months followed by time in Star for rehabilitation. She did 109 days in county jail.

On the day she was shipped to Marysville, her mom was at work. Hale was holding to pay a bill when she got a call from a number she did not recognize. To not lose her place on hold, she rejected the call. After calling back, she found out her daughter had been shipped to prison.

“I left work and spent three days in bed,” she stated.

Seeing her daughter in prison was even worse than turning her in. Hale explained that she had no idea that Frazie would go to prison. Even after sentencing, she struggled to believe it.

“What have I done?” she remembers thinking.

However, seeing her daughter there really brought it to life.

“I have lived here my whole life. I have passed Lucasville prison thousands of times and never once thought about the people in it or their loved-ones,” Hale said.

As she drove through the rural community surrounding the women’s prison in Marysville, it felt very similar to the drive past Lucasville prison.

“When I went to Marysville that first day – I’ve lost my sister, my dad and my mom – it was the worst day of my life,” Hale stressed. “Going into that prison, they basically treat you like a criminal. They check you. When I went in, I could hug her.”

That was the only hug. The two had to sit around a small table and talk but could not touch. They could not even hug bye.

“I had visited her in county jail, and it was no picnic, but she was here,” Hale explained.

Seeing her daughter start cry as she got up to go have and having to leave her behind after each visit was heartbreaking to the mother.

“It’s just not something I thought I would ever go through. Brooklyn isn’t that type of girl. I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. And, the guilt was overwhelming,” Hale said.

She remembers a man at work seeing her after her Frazie was released and saying she always seemed so sad and never laughed or talked.

“No one knew what I was going through inside,” she explained. “I worked all week and spend my weekends in bed. I thought she would never have a life. Thank God for businesses that hire felons because Brooklyn is not a felon. She is not what you would think of when you think of a felon.”

Frazie has since been released and completed probation without any violations. She has also become the mother of a beautiful little boy and has not relapsed a single time. Frazie says that prison and especially Star saved her life. Without her mom’s tough love, she may not have made it and would have ended up as a statistic, along with the many others who have overdosed and died because of heroin.

“I told Brooklyn when she first got out if I suspected she was doing drugs again, I would take her car, change my locks, change my number and she would be dead to me. I would bury her,” Hale commented. “For my sanity, for me to survive, that’s what I would have to do.”

Still, she has never even suspected. The two are very close, as they always have been, and have their relationship back. Instead of Sundays, Hale now spends Fridays with her girls, and she treasures the time with them.

“People can have their lives back and have their kids back,” she stated. “I know it doesn’t seem like it when you’re in it. You’re drowning. You’re at the bottom, and you’re never going to come back up. But, you can, and they can. I prayed for my daughter to die, but God knew that was not what I wanted. Rather than taking her, he resurrected her. I have my daughter back, and she is the daughter I always knew she could be. I hated everyone and everything. I hated her. But, you can come out of it. You can have your child back. You can have your family back.”

Hale concluded by saying that she and Frazie have a great bond and hold no animosity towards each other for anything that has happened. Frazie stressed that it was her mother’s tough love that saved her, and she never doubts it. Despite all that the two have been through, they show that there is hope for others who are struggling.

Editor’s note: This is week five in a 16 week series on the heroin epidemic.

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By Nikki Blankenship

nblankenship@civitasmedia.com

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.