#Herstory With Randi Neal, Together We Rise; A Story of Addiction, Recovery and ResilienceJul 08, 2022
I first found Randi's story in the most unlikely of places, browsing the LinkedIn platform. Usually reserved for discussions around B2B sales, commerce, recruitment and strategy, Randi's utterly candid real-life journey stood out to me like a hot pink beacon, and I knew I needed to reach out to her and learn more.
When we met over a virtual coffee, some 4000 miles apart, I was immediately in awe of Randi's no-holds-barred raw honesty and her open will to show and live her vulnerability. The following article is the result of that conversation, and I will try to do her the justice her incredible story deserves.
In the Beginning
Born in Utah to a hard-working mother, absent in and out of jail father, and a stepfather who subjected her to sexual abuse during her elementary years meant that from early on in her life, Randi was made to grow way beyond her years and saw her working through her lived trauma in therapy at just ten years old.
Despite her early experiences, she was always top of her class and seen as a go-getter with good grades and a promising school career. That is until she started her high-school junior year and was introduced to drugs and alcohol.
Randi's junior and senior years of High School saw her in and out of youth correction facilities building an extensive criminal history as a minor, which led to her spending 3 birthdays consecutively, behind bars.
Fuelled by an addiction to Methamphetamine, she lost jobs, lived out of her car or slept on the street with her two dogs and fell in and out of abusive relationships; culminating in a terrifying experience where her then-boyfriend and drug dealer kidnapped and nearly starved her for four days in a locked room.
Lacking energy due to malnutrition and dehydration, sheer adrenaline allowed her to push him into the locked door, breaking her free to bolt into the street, screaming for help and the police being called to assist. They didn't help; instead, they viewed her as another statistic, and charges were never brought.
Continuously in and out of homelessness, Randi was arrested for drug possession with intent to supply and was given a six-month jail term. Her grandparents, whom she credits for her still being here today, put their home against her bail, but despite their best attempts, Randi just wasn't ready to get clean and was soon using drugs and was again arrested. This time for cheque forgery, a felony upon a felony led to a much longer jail term and eventually probation.
Probation, Rehab and Turning Points
Having already been through two separate rehabilitation programmes and caught shoplifting Randi called her grandmother and apologized for her near-constant messing up. It was the day after mothers day, and she was facing another charge.
Her probation officer at that time gave her a choice. Jail or an all-girls inpatient Rehab centre. At the time, it was to be funded, but due to a loss of state funding, she was faced with jail or paying for the rehab herself. She made the decision to change her life for the better and get sober from drugs.
The Day It All Changed
Following rehab at 23, a newly sober Randi enrolled back in college to work towards a bachelor's degree. Remembering all she had been told growing up that to make something of yourself, you should go to school and qualify, that's precisely what she did; that's when she found out she was pregnant.
Having heartbreakingly witnessed children born into addiction and how their lives unfolded lit a fire in Randi. She knew she wanted to be sober and make something of her life before, but knowing she was carrying her baby made it an unshakeable life-altering must.
Studying full-time, bartending, waiting tables and raising her infant son gave her a new reason for being. It wasn't easy, but she kept going, still sober from drugs, knowing that things would eventually improve. The tables were turning.
My Past Does Not Define Me, but It Will Remind Me
That was fourteen years ago.
Looking back, Randi could not have imagined the journey she has been on in the last fourteen years. She has gone from strength to strength using incremental steps, focused on her why. Raising her children, buying a home, making memories, gaining qualifications, applying for jobs, getting sober from alcohol, overcoming the obstacles of a criminal record, getting out ahead of and facing the bias head-on (something she credits as being one of the scariest things she has ever done) were all milestones which led this incredible lady to the place she sits today. Alive, thriving and breaking the stigma of addiction and mental health.
Together We Rise
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I found Randi's story on social media. It was utterly candid, disarmingly honest, and completely vulnerable (especially for a platform like LinkedIn). You won't find her making excuses, asking for sympathy or even trying to inspire. Randi isn't wearing the labels of what she has been through, and she defines herself on her own ever-evolving terms. Still, she does allow her story to remind her where she has been so that she continues to grow from her experiences and takes her constantly expanding, captive audience along with her.
A courageous pioneer of authenticity, when you've sat down with Randi Neal and heard her story first-hand, you aren't quite sure if you've heard her right or are confused with a Hollywood-esque tale of overcoming the odds. You leave the room knowing, beyond doubt, that anything is possible.
Whatever comes next for Randi will be another leg of an already incredible journey. A driving force of radical authenticity, I firmly believe the more we have of this kind of authenticity and, in the words of Brenee Brown, daring greatly, the better our world will be, and in my opinion, the world is simply a better place because of women like Randi Neil.
Tricia Scott is an author, speaker, passionate startup business mentor and the Founder and Editor of The Female CEO - Create Evolve Overcome, a platform and digital magazine holding the space to showcase female entrepreneurs from all over the world. She works and collaborates with various organisations to bring the most inspirational journeys, stories and training to help entrepreneurs on their own personal success mission.
The Female CEO is growing, expanding and gaining global recognition daily and Tricia is able to bring her own level of expertise as a start-up coach, mentor and multi-company director to her very exclusive table along with her team of brilliant Guest Editors and Contributors. You'll usually find her with her MacBook in one hand and a coffee or a glass of something fizzy in the other and she always has sunglasses in her hair. Reach out anytime!
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