May 27
  • Written By Scott Drochelman

  • #177 – Judy Wilson

    #177 - Judy Wilson

    Glitz, Glamor and God: A Recovery Story Fit For The Movies

    Judy Wilson was born in West Virginia but moved to San Francisco in the height of the Haight Ashbury, Flower Power, Free Love era. Her world opened up to things she’d never seen before. Everyone was doing drugs and having sex and she jumped into that life with both feet.

    Her parents saw what was happening and moved the family back to West Virginia, but it couldn’t reverse her trajectory. In the first 6 months back she had 6 car accidents and she was picked up by the police six times and drove her car off a cliff. Her drinking and using only increased.

    She eventually went to college where she met a man who ended up serving time in a minimum security prison. On a visit to his family’s home, the house caught fire and she stood in the yard where she watched him die. What followed was a rape, an abortion, a suicide attempt and a move to New York where she got a job in Wall Street.

    There she partied at Studio 54, got mixed up with the Mafia and eventually married a man who hit her so hard that it caused brain damage. She found herself in the worst place imaginable. It was then that she went to get help for the first time.

    The years that followed brought ups and downs in her healing journey before finally finding a career where she can help people find recovery. 

    Judy’s story is enormous in scope and importance. Believe it or not I’m only scratching the surface of all she’s been through and experienced. And she’s been able to use all of it for immense good.

    Episode Resources

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    Episode Transcript

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:00):

    Coming up on this episode of The Courage to Change, sponsored by Lion A

    Judy Wilson (00:06):

    Little while later, Al came in and he woke me up and he asked me to marry him. I remember, oh wow. You know, and then we went back to sleep. I wake up to this wall of smoke, I wake him. And when you look to the left, there’s the candle that had fallen over and the roaring flames are going on up to the ceiling.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:29):

    Hello, beautiful people. Welcome to the Courage Change A Recovery podcast. My name is Ashley Lo Blasting Game, and I am your host. And today we have my friend Judy Wilson. When trying to understand Judy Wilson’s story, picture Forest Gum meets Recovery. Her story is large and moved her in proximity to so many moments in America. She was born in West Virginia, but moved to San Francisco in the height of the Hate Ashbury flower, power Free love era. Her world opened up to things she’d never seen before. Everyone was doing drugs and having sex, and she jumped into that life with both feet. Her parents saw what was happening and moved the family back to West Virginia, but it couldn’t reverse her trajectory. In the first six months back, she had six car accidents and she was picked up by the police six times. Even driving her car off a cliff, her drinking and using only increased.


    She eventually went to college where she met a man who ended up serving time in a minimum security prison. On a visit to his family’s home, the house caught fire and she stood in the yard where she watched him die. What followed was a move to New York City where she got a job on Wall Street. There she partied at Studio 54, got mixed up with the mafia, and eventually married a man who hit her so hard that it caused brain damage. She found herself in the worst place imaginable. It was then that she went to get help for the first time, the years that followed. Brought ups and downs in her healing journey before finally finding a career where she could help people find their own recovery. Judy’s story is enormous in scope and importance. Believe it or not. I’m only scratching the surface of all she’s been through and experienced, and she’s been able to use all of it for immense. Good. I’m completely blown away by Judy’s story. I tried to ask very few questions so that she could really get all of the story out and give you a full picture because it is a wild ride. I hope you enjoy it. I hope you’re inspired. And I hope what you hear is that no matter where you go, where you come from, what it looks like, that recovery is available to you if you need it or want it. So without further ado, I give you Judy Wilson. Let’s do this.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (02:58):

    You are listening to the Courage to Change a Recovery Podcast. We are a community of recovering people who have overcome the odds and found the courage to change. Each week, we share stories of recovery from substance abuse, eating disorders, grief and loss, childhood trauma, and other life-changing experiences. Come join us no matter where you are on your recovery journey.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (03:27):

    So, Judy, let’s start with a little bit. So you are a person in long-term recovery. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you grew up in West Virginia and I’m desperately trying to remember the song, but I can’t remember

    Judy Wilson (03:39):

    It. Take me home.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (03:40):

    Yeah, that one which I’ve made up lots of lyrics I’ll share with you another time. So I don’t know much about West Virginia. What’s it like growing up in West Virginia and how the hell did you get to San Francisco?

    Judy Wilson (03:52):

    West Virginia has a whole lot of personality, but where I grew up was in the northern panhandle. It’s called Weirton. It was a town of 30,000 people and it was a steel city. Okay. The rest of West Virginia has all the stories that I learned about later in life. But that little town had Weirton Steel, which ended up many years later becoming the first employee owned esop. They bought themselves from a national steel and went, you know, that way. I was the second child of four. My parents, my father worked in Weirton Steele. He had originally been from New York. My mother was from hundred West Virginia, which is an actual town. And they met in New York City. She was trying to be an airline stewardist. They met in five months later, they’ve got my sister and marriage and those things. And moved back to Weirton. And at some point, I think I was in the fourth grade, he was transferred to San Francisco.


    So he packed the family up. We drove across with our cat a completely different experience. I was in the fourth grade, good student, you know, actively involved in school. I’m in a, in a elementary school up to the sixth grade, still a good student. Did a lot of things. Didn’t think of anything until we go off to Burrell, which was uh, seventh and eighth grade. I’m in the seventh grade and this is the big year. You know, people were starting to do drugs. The eighth graders were doing drugs. The seventh graders were doing drugs. Lots of drugs were around, everybody’s doing drugs. And what we started skipping school. I was in French class and we ended up going, grabbing some friends. And we went to my parents’ house and we, I think it’s called huffing, where you’re spraying in the bags. And we were breathing that in.


    I think I smoked pot cuz everybody else was, other girls were dressing me up. So to take me to the park to get me laid basically, cuz everybody was having sex already. And my parents got wind of all of this stuff. Saw the drugs, saw everything. It was the end of the Hate Ashbury era. This is when people were rolling up sleeping bags in the streets of San Francisco and things like this. The exposure was unbelievable. But they ended up saying, my dad said that’s it. We’re moving back to West Virginia. I mean, it was pretty hairy out there. I loved it, I loved it, but my parents didn’t like it. So they packed us up. We moved back to Weirton and that, I wasn’t happy about that at all.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (06:12):

    What was it like going back to Weirton once you had been exposed to all this

    Judy Wilson (06:17):

    Stuff? Last thing I ever wanted to do was go back to Weirton. It was awful. I’m, I was 15, I got my license. In the first six months of my, of my license, I had six accidents. I was picked up six times one time for six counts and never got a ticket. Two of those accidents were totals. So I was in trouble a lot. I ruined some good cars. We’re starting to go to parties a lot. When I’m driving, I’m driving people. One time I drove under a truck. I mean, I just did some weird stuff. We’d also did drugs. We would, you know, try some acids and orange masculine. It wasn’t all the time actually. I just dabbled in things. I would try different things. But the drinking, I really liked. The first time I, my first job I was a butter girl where you deliver butter at the anchor room.


    It was several miles away, few towns away from where we lived. And I never had that thing of knowing how much time to take to get somewhere. So I kind of always thought I needed to be there right now. And I drove that way. I remember the Butter Boy or whoever was too, I don’t remember which guy. It could have been the chef. But anyway, he bought, got a bottle of tequila. We got in my parents’ little l t d and sat in the backseat. And I, I wanna say this is my first real drinking experience. You know, we just did shots. I had no idea that how to drink. I just drank a lot. And I got so drunk that he ended up having to drive the car. And I’m in the backseat laying down and I’m in my new winter coat. It’s this purple thing with little white and I really wanted it and everything else like that.


    And when you’re coming into Weirton underneath this little trellis, it’s black soot basically. Cuz the coal, you know, is the slag and all that stuff. And the steel mill, that’s all this, you know, pollution, it’s all in the, in the ground and it’s black soot. So I got so sick as we pulled in, I said I gotta throw up. And I rolled outta the car and into that black soot and vomited like crazy. My parents were waiting for me to come home. They hadn’t quite fallen asleep yet. And they see us pull up and I remember coming into the house so, so drunk that they just put me in the shower. They didn’t know what else to do. And my dad held me up with his foot. He didn’t know what to do. So here I am, I graduate school and I gotta go to college.


    I never thought for a second I wouldn’t go to college. I was always gonna go. And I was in love with his guy, chip Davies, who ended up asking me to marry him. And he said, the only thing is you can’t go to school. And I was like, oh, I’m sorry <laugh>, I gotta go. But um, and I loved him. But anyway, so I looked for a school, I wanted to be far away, not gonna go to West Virginia University. So I look at Find Florida State, it’s a beautiful place. Never been in my life, but it had more boys than girls. And it was accounting and finance. And for some reason that’s what I decided I wanted to do. Yeah. My dad ended up, they decided I could get an apartment <laugh>. So I found a girl who ended up really liking men. She was into men. That’s what we did. And I liked guys that had ick shirts

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (09:16):

    On it. Wait, wait, wait. Hold on, hold on. What is that? Is that how we say that? Is that, or how you used to say it? She really liked men. I don’t think that’s <laugh>.

    Judy Wilson (09:26):

    She was Ahoe. <laugh>. She was a slut.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (09:29):

    I was like, wait, I’m pretty sure that that I was like, oh yeah, really? Oh, oh yeah. Brilliant. Like,

    Judy Wilson (09:35):


    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (09:35):

    She, okay.

    Judy Wilson (09:37):

    She taught me that what you do is not just the hands that you look at. Okay. You gotta check the feet out, you gotta confirm it with the nose and all of it. Okay. She had it down and I was dating this guy and I remember <laugh>, his shoes were in the living room and she was sitting on the couch and I was walking out and she said, why are you wasting your time? <laugh>.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (09:57):


    Judy Wilson (09:59):

    She found a guy on campus with the biggest one. He was the tallest with the biggest hands, biggest feet. And she was happy as a clam. That was her boyfriend,

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (10:09):

    <laugh>. Oh my

    Judy Wilson (10:10):

    God. So anyways, yeah. So, but I dated this one guy and then I had friends with this other, and I’m in school, I’m doing basics, blah blah blah. And I’m meeting friends and I’m partying and we’re going out to these sinkhole and just having a good time. And then I meet Al and I meet Al in going around the little revolving door of the cafeteria. And it turns out Al ends. That becomes my boyfriend. He saw me and we just went like, he just pursued me. And just the way you’re supposed to do it, honestly to me, I’m old school. I like the guy pursuing. And he did. And it turns out he was in a minimum security prison. He was a beautiful man. He had had a major bust in New York where they took him down. Okay.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (10:57):

    <laugh>. He was in a min

    Judy Wilson (10:59):

    <laugh> minimum security prison

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (11:01):

    He was in at the time. So he was out on, yes. Right. So like he was out during the week.

    Judy Wilson (11:05):

    Correct. And he would get out at 6:00 AM he’d be dropped off at my door. If it was raining, he’d be bringing an umbrella. So I didn’t get wet to walk me to school. And so we just, you know, had our thing. We were enjoying our relationship. Drugs. Absolutely. And I never thought I was addicted to anything, Ashley, because I liked everything and I didn’t ever like chase any one thing and I didn’t do it all the time, you know, so I drank. I would maybe shoot a little drugs. That’s okay. <laugh> snort this. I remember somebody giving me heroin one time and I sniffed it and didn’t get high. And thank God, cuz who knows what would’ve happened. Anyway, so Al and I are having a good time. He’s getting ready to be released. They’re gonna release them. His parents live in Winter Springs, Florida.


    And he wanted to go see his parents for the weekend, see his mom. So they let him out for the week. And so we hitchhiked from Tallahassee down in Winter Springs and it was a glorious thing. We went through the orange fields, we went with truckers. We had a great time. We really did. And we get down there and the mom’s Catholic and won’t let us sleep in the same room. Anyway, so we’re there and it was okay, well we’ll stay with his brother and her girlfriend. His girlfriend, the girlfriend had a child. So we went to the apartment and we partied and did whatever else we did. The child was with somebody else. And Alan and I had the child’s room. So I remember going to sleep. I had had enough. And a little while later, Al came in and he woke me up and he asked me to marry him.


    I remember, oh wow. You know, and then we went back to sleep. I wake up to this wall of smoke, I wake him and when you look to the left, there’s the candle that had fallen over and the roaring flames are going on up to the ceiling is quite a sizable fire. You know, he was like, get them out of the rooms. And so I ran out and I, and I was so shy yet with all this wildness going on, I was still modest and shy. And I go running into their room and I see them naked and I run out and then I run back in. Cuz they had to tell them, get up, the place is on fire. They come running, you know, they come running and it was like he shoved the girls out and the carpet starts to kept on fire and we’re out the front door.


    Don’t remember if we have clothes on, I, who knows from here. It got really like this time went slow motion. The fire, the flames, all of the smoke is just roaring out of the front. And then I see this naked guy run out and I see Al’s ass. So I think he’s out. Turned out it was the brother. The girl and I are sitting on the curb. The firetrucks come and at some point, I don’t remember how, but now I’m in the back of the apartment complex and the windows broken. It’s black inside. It’s horrible. And I’m just crying and crying and crying. Cuz what had happened was Al was inside and the last time I saw Al, he had the blanket up. He was the kind of guy that was gonna put the fire out, protect. What had happened was Al’s inside and the combustion closed the door.


    And so al in the confusion and smoke inhalation and drug-induced and the rest of it ended up in the closet. And the brother got there just in time to see him catch on fire, fall backwards. And I’m in the back now and I’m crying. Al’s dead. He’s dead. He’s dead. And I’m bawling. And then I see his mother grabs my face, she gets there. So I don’t know how long this goes along. She’s like, where’s Al, where’s Al? And I’m like, he’s, he’s dead. It was awful. I was 18, I was 18 years old From there, uh, things get a little hazy. I don’t, I, I don’t remember when I got on Delta, but I remember Delta having a very warm place in my heart because when I got on the plane, they took care of me. They put me in first class, they kept my drinks full and they showed me love and care and drinks.


    I ended up coming back for the funeral. I had to get new clothes cuz everything I owned was in that room. And then at the same time, my parents are in Antigua at the time, back then there weren’t any phones really on the island except for a couple, wherever, maybe at the hotel. And my sister was in Pittsburgh at the time where they were living. And she was dating a guy that was in the military. And he had come home just about the same time that the fire happened. And he had come home for a week. And when he got off the plane he said, let’s get married. So my parents were antiga enjoying this nice vacation. And they get one phone call that we’re getting married, you need to come home. He’s leaving in a week. And the other one is your daughter’s Beening a fire, she’s alive.


    So they had to come back. I ended up getting on a plane again up to Pittsburgh. When I woke up the next morning, my sister woke me up and grabbed me and said, you’ll not rain on my parade. You’re my maid of honor. Get up, let’s go. And this was like right after the funeral. And so I had to get it together pretty darn quick. And I did that and whatever. And I ended up going back to school. And I went back to school for the both of us. So I was going to school, I, I mean I rolled into so much school, I was taking so many classes. I was putting the pressure on myself. And then eventually it was like I started going through like Jack, Jack in the boxes and getting these burritos. I would drive around and eat it and then I’d go back in and get more food and more food and more food and just eat, eat, eat, eat, eat. I was working and eventually I had five jobs. And going to school, I was a night auditor in a hotel. I worked at three different restaurants as a hostess, a waitress and something else.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (16:44):

    It sounded like things started to go downhill pretty significantly. A as is very understandable. Can you tell me about that?

    Judy Wilson (16:52):

    The escalation of the drug use was way high. I remember shooting a lot of Demerol, the drinking, all of it. I mean, I just partied hard. I remember one time taking a fork and a knife and just jamming it into my wrist. Just, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t talk to anybody about what happened. There was no therapy. Mm-hmm. There wasn’t anything. It was back to school. Throw your, you know, people will say, well as long as I’m going to work, I’m a functional alcoholic. That’s such bullshit. <laugh>. And back then they put up with a lot. I mean, how do you go to high school on acid and the teacher doesn’t notice or wreaking of alcohol having been in the parking lot. You know what I mean? It’s like, come on. And it’s not functional Al, I don’t even buy functional alcoholism.


    <laugh>. I just don’t. So I did, did did. I’m fracturing, I’m unraveling. Things aren’t going well. I can’t sleep because whatever. And one night <laugh>, I decide, okay, well this girl at work has lived in Southern California and she was gonna go back and I didn’t have enough money to get on a plane and all of that. At the time, there were checks and you can go into a bar and write checks for $5 over. Imagine how many I went to to have enough for a flight because I left town. I get on a plane with her, we go to Santa Ana or wherever we were, ended up in Marina Delray. And I was dating this guy Nick. And I couldn’t find a way out again. I don’t know, I’m going to Palm Springs, I’m meeting all kinds of people, but I’m stuck. And I’m in the apartment.


    I go in the apartment, I go into the bathtub and I take a razor and that’s it. Nick ends up getting me to the er. They usually say, you gotta stay for 72 hours. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, whatever. I said they understood and they let me out. I got to go. And when I back that same day, yes, that night, yeah, I’m good. And you know, that ends up becoming a major downfall cuz people think you’re okay. Yeah. And you know, and you can pull it together. And as long as you can look okay, you know, as long as you can dress all right. You know, I’m still matching underwear, you know, stuff like that. You’re doing all right. And then I came back and ended up at Nick’s place or someplace nearby. They were my parents. Nick called my parents. He didn’t know them by the way.


    I never told my parents I was leaving Florida State either. They had APDs out looking for me. I didn’t know that. Oops. And I literally was so naive, Ashley, that I thought I’ll call them when I’m successful. I truly thought that took about 30 days. Dom, it’s dirt, basically. You know? Really? No, no common sense whatsoever. I guess <laugh>. But, so we go back, my dad will not talk to me. He is so angry. He’s so angry, he’s so scared. So I go back to Pittsburgh now. I see a therapist and the therapist is sitting in the chair and I’m sitting across whatever, and I tell him my life in an hour and 15 minutes. And he says, you know what? You’re all right. He said, you could help a lot of people. You don’t, you don’t need any therapy. You’re good. And he let me go.


    So I go get a job and we are scoring coke every night. We’re doing that. We’re drinking, we’re partying. That’s our life. And then one day I tell my job, oh I’m, I’m gonna jump up to New York City. I’d like to see it. And I’ll be back in four to seven days. They thought. I said 47. I go up there. I, I land four jobs in completely unrelated fields. I’m working for Peter Johns. I meet Vince who becomes the love of my life. He’s amazing. He’s an account supervisor. And I remember going there with like a bubble skirt, like to look fat. I bought glasses. I had no need for glasses. I put my hair back in a bun. I was trying to look demure and just non-existent. And Vince invited me out, sent me a note. During this time I’m relatively okay. I’ve got this job, I’ve got this boyfriend, everything’s good. I’m in love. We were having a good old time and we were doing well. And then Peter Johns gets promoted to general manager. Next thing, I’m now over all of the secretaries. I’m like 20, 21, 20 years old, something like that. I’ve got my own office with the bar and I’m supposed to hire and fire 90 secretaries. That politically didn’t go over very well with the rest of the people. <laugh>.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (21:10):

    So I can imagine.

    Judy Wilson (21:12):

    So I had to go, this guy Brian Eagan had been after me to come work for him. He was in oil and gas and real estate. This is the Iran Contra fair time. See I got, I gotta hit these high marks. There was cocaine everywhere. I got invited to parties where on a silver platter is cocaine. Tons and tons and tons. You could do a line on the bar. Everybody had cocaine in their desk. Drawers, in their purses, in their pockets. It was everywhere. Studio 54. Now I’m going to studio at 54. I’m meeting celebrities, I’m meeting powerful people. But inside I was dying because when I would come and get sober like the next day, or even to try to go to sleep that night or in the middle of the night or whatever, I would just feel so sick to my stomach. Then I ended up working on Wall Street and I’m reading all kinds of stuff. I fell in love with Wall Street, fell in love with it because you could learn anything.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (22:08):

    What were the consequences of the drugs and alcohol? Or were there as many consequences because so many people were using them. Did that change

    Judy Wilson (22:18):

    Things? One night I’m at the Stan Ho Hotel, we’re shooting cocaine, we’ve been freebasing and the friends are going out, whatever. And Peter shoots me up and Stan Hook Hotel is across from the Metropolitan Museum. And I, he now leaves and I knew it was too much. And it was scary. Like I flew out of that room and they have a guy with a high top mm-hmm. <affirmative> and the white gloves and the elevator. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I’m, I’m like, it’s too much. It’s too much. And I go flying through the Stan hobo to all these people and like elegant attire. And I end up on Fifth Avenue where, believe it or not, in the middle of the night, there were no cars but an ambulance and I died. Okay. I overdosed. And that ambulance was right there. I mean, that is a miracle. Miracle.


    Miracle. When does Fifth Avenue never have cars in it? When does an ambulance come at that moment when you need it? Yeah. You know, after I overdosed, married a man that was gorgeous front cover at World Tennis Magazine, but he was an account supervisor at U S A today. I missed some things. The guy couldn’t keep a job. I married him. I didn’t love him. I thought there was something wrong with me that I didn’t love him. Cuz he came from the right side of the tracks, Scarsdale, blah blah blah. And I never loved him. And I’ll never forget when he got down on his knee to propose. I thought, get up, what are you doing? And he asked me and I would, I would think about this. I’m like, how come I don’t love him? This is big. Because I wouldn’t listen to my inside. I didn’t think, I thought there was something wrong with me. Right. So I marry him. You

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (23:56):

    Said there were some things that you missed. What were the things that you missed?

    Judy Wilson (24:01):

    He saw his slice of the pie. Only he could not see the whole picture to anything. On paper, he looks great. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> Thanksgiving. He wouldn’t bring me to Thanksgiving dinner cuz his mom said no, cuz we weren’t married. Things, little things that were about him that showed he wasn’t doing so well. So this image of him being an account supervisor, but being at the gym or in the sauna more than at work. Things like, you know, start noticing stuff. So we go to Christmas time, he didn’t buy me a Christmas gift. I remember I bought him all kinds of stuff. Al tried to take him out. Hey, you’ve gotta buy something. Never bought me anything. I’m in introducing him to all kinds of stuff. Introducing to all kinds of people, paying for a lot of things. And he’s really just there for the party and for what’s for him.


    And so that Christmas, I remember when I realized, oh, he put a gift under the tree for himself and he started meeting his friends on weekends. And he started hanging out with his buddies, not including me. And I remember going to a training coming back one night and he has made this dinner and he’s being him normal self. And I take the dinner and I turn it over in the sink and I go to take a shower. It’s been a long week. And I wasn’t mean by the way, it sounds like it, it sounds like I like looked down on him and like had all my sh you know, like I was a superior person. I wasn’t at all. But I really did that. And it was just whatever he was about, I had nothing for him. I had no respect for him at all.


    And I certainly didn’t love him. So I had $200 in my hand that he had given me towards rent. And you know how much rent. I mean my place in New York was three grand a month. Easy. Go to the shower, I’m sitting on the shower floor and he starts looking for the $200. He wants to go party with his friends. I’m sitting there and he’s starting to get escalating, escalating, escalating out there. You can start hear him starting looking, looking so hard, wanting to know. So I end up going to bed and as I’m getting under the covers, just starting to relax and he starts escalating and you could feel it. Something’s going on. I’ve never been touched in my life. And this man, I knew I was in trouble as he was coming after me. And I went to reach for the phone. He ripped the phone out and he took all of the cabinets and everything was throwing them on me, you know, just off the walls.


    And so I go into the other bedroom, reach for that phone. He grabs that, throws it out. I get out to the door, he picks me up from here and throws me on the kitchen floor. And he’s six four by the way. And he pins me down and he starts taking my head like this and just ramming it into the ground. Oh, he ram, ram, ram. And you know, lights are about to go out. You know it. And I am wiry somehow and I still have a scar in my finger from it. But I was able to get my arm free and reached to the back of his head and pull. And this big chunk of hair came out. It stunned him long enough to where I got up, got to the door, I’m running, I’m still in my knockout, running down the hallway. This beating that I took took long enough in what he was tearing up that other people could hear the danger.


    Other people called for help. And when I got to the elevator, he’s right behind me. I got to the elevator, they both opened up. The EMTs are on one of the police on the other right there. If I I, I wouldn’t have made it, he would’ve killed me. Wow. That was it. So, and you know what’s funny? People would say to me after that, what did you do? Turn over a dinner. Okay. He ended up going to jail that night. You sustained some serious injuries from that. Oh yeah. I didn’t know how bad yet. I go to the er. Darius’s boyfriend comes to get me. Didn’t recognize me. My face was flat. That swollen black all the way down. You did not recognize me. And I was completely and totally swollen. Well, I get released to home <laugh>, this is like the story of your life.


    Oh, and this asshole, they let him outta jail. But you, you had a cracked skull. Well I didn’t know that yet. Oh, they missed that. So I end up al’s finding out what’s going on from Darris. He comes to get me, we go to lunch, I end up putting my face in the food. I’m back in the er. And the next thing I’m two and a half weeks in the hospital. That’s when they assessed the damage. Okay. I had a bruised in and outer brain, massive concussion, a fractured skull and something else. I don’t recall what eventually, by the way, the state wanted to press charges. And I ended up not doing that. But anyway, I should have, should have what changed in May. From that moment inside I became lower than a curve. So deeply crossed over inside that I was never okay after that.


    When somebody has your life in their hands and Stockholm syndrome, it’s that connection of love and and hate all in the same line. There’s a place now that, that you are, that I was, I lied to people said I was in a car accident. Took me a long time to tell the truth. I remember Richard coming in and to the hospital with him and crying. He couldn’t believe he had done this to me. Later on in life, I say, well, I’d been hit over the head by a two by four. I might’ve gotten an idea that I might have a drinking problem. Ashley never considered that I had a drinking problem. Never thought about stopping drinking, never tried to quit drinking, never wanted to. But things started to go. When your brain is healing, it’s extraordinarily painful. Every bruise that heals is through the roof.


    By then now I’m seen a psychiatrist. I’m on medications and there’s this level that would hit as the, it was as it would get close to that drinking hour. What would be normal drinking hour. The pain would be so much I couldn’t drink enough. And then I would go and take, I would go to a local place and sit there at the bar or whatever and try to hold it together. And at some point I’d be curled up in a banquette bowling my, cuz I could not, could not, nothing. So at this point, I don’t know, I’m doing this, I’m calling family members in the middle of the night and they’re taking the phone, putting her by the pillow. And they start to talk. And Judy needs help. I hear from a high school friend, you hadn’t talked to her in years. And I told her what happened.


    She says, what, Judy, are you kidding me? What happened to you? You were never afraid of anything. This would never, and I remember thinking, oh, I am that person, you know? And it was like, I forgot that I used to be brave. I forgot all of it. My mother ends up coming to visit me. And I grew up in a family that we didn’t ask for help. So we took care of things ourselves and we were brought up very independent and strong. She asked me, do you need help? Said, yeah. Well they had already arranged for me to go to treatment at Fenwick call in Charleston, South Carolina, where they had just moved. I did not know I was going to treatment <laugh>, no idea. I thought I was going to go talk about my problems over cocktails with the shrink. The healing process is not finished.


    I’m on some heavy medications. If I would’ve known, I would’ve had more than two Bloody Marys and a beer or two beers and a bloody Mary. And I’m so glad that I got to go to FMA call because when I went there, they, they had this, it, it’s like Tara, you know, the trees and all that stuff and here’s the manor house and, and I’m seeing the pool, I’m seeing this and I’m like, I wanna go. Yeah, that sounds great. And I’m in the clinic and I’m doing the detoxing. And I can tell you I just took a couple of things to detox, uh, to treatment. My vibrator and my G-string. That was it. Here is <laugh> Essentials. That’s all I needed. Yeah. You know, just pack my panties. I’m outta here. Yeah. Yeah. And so here I am. I <laugh>. They have to go through your bags.


    They’ve got this thing in the nurse’s station, all these people, and they’re holding up the thing with the cord. And I’m about to die. <laugh>, you’re like, I have a brain injury. It’s not my fault. Yeah. And they’re like, she can hang herself with that. So they take it, you know, <laugh>. So I’m doing the detox thing. They had these classes and different things going on through the day. Next to my bed was a cellophane thing. Just filled with aa book, NA book 12 and 12, 24 hours a day. And I saw it was all related to AA stuff. Blue books, anybody who had a blue book I didn’t want anything to do with. And the nurses knew to lie to me. They would come out to me and they’d say, your, your crime victim’s bus will be along shortly, but you know, why don’t you go ahead to this class?


    You know, we’ll come get your, when you come back, it’ll be ready to go. And I’d come back and they’d say, oh, you just missed it. And then the next time was, there’s a flat tire and then it’s not coming today. Oh, it’s raining. So they did this about three days. Now I’m seeing a therapist too. I’m starting to write some stuff. And then after the three days in that moment, I was in a class with Philip Roland and he was teaching the 12 steps. And then it was the 11th step conscious contact with God. In that moment. It was like woo, boom, mind opened. I was trying to get that high to reach God. And it’s not till years later that I could actually put all that together. But that’s what I’d always wanted. My mind opened up all of a sudden I, you couldn’t teach me enough.


    I couldn’t go to enough classes. I couldn’t go to enough meetings, wouldn’t couldn’t write enough. I couldn’t listen. And I’d do everything you ask. So they had me write this stuff and I’m giving it to the therapist, reading it to her, whatever. And she says, and you don’t see anything wrong with this. I said, no, no. She says, why don’t you do me a favor? Go grab a couple people out of your group, a man and a woman and go read this to him. I said, okay. So I get this guy and this girl he, I looked down on cuz he was the heroin deal, you know, heroin guy. I was Coke. And we go into this manor house and we’re at the parlor and we’re in there and they had like the misty old mirrors that kind of grate over whatever. And we’re sitting there and I read this thing and I’m reading my life, blah, blah blah blah blah.


    And I’m all into it. And then I look up and this heroin guy is like this. And I’m like, what? He is like, you don’t say anything wrong with this. I said, no. He said, and you are really fucked up. And I went, oh. And it pierced me in such a way of tremendous humiliation to the point where all the way in, how did this guy that maybe had a few days more than me catch this and be able to say to me, you’re okay. I want you to go up to that mirror. Stare in that mirror. And I want you to say I love you Judy. Even though you fucked up. And I remember actually walking up to that mirror and it was like I could see myself, it was almost like I was this little tiny pin prick. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> that could barely see anything.


    And he made me stand there and say it till I was fully in the mirror to where I could see all of me. Now it’s time to discharge. Everything’s fine and accept this hurricane. Hugo comes along. So that’s the day I get released from treatment. My parents came to get me up and I say that’s the only way they let me out early. Took us two and a half days to bus our way out. There’s no point in me relocating to Charleston anymore. It’s wiped out. So my parents and I drive to Florida where I stay with my favorite aunt. The one who came and got me before. I took this book to a treatment center there. And I asked them to duplicate it and they did. I was now in Florida and whatever. I did the steps. I was working with people, I was telling my story.


    I was chairing, I was taking meetings to jails, I was involved in treatment centers. It was amazing. And a year later I decided it was the time for me to go back to school because that’s when I had started quitting things. And I went back to school. Oh by the way, got divorced from, what’s his face, Richard? For $200 full circle. Okay. So that year I go back to school, I quit smoking. I meet my second husband who I loved with all my heart, who happened to have also been married. I was told I could never have kids. One fantastic night, I’ll never forget I’m pregnant. Seven months into that relationship, we moved in together. That’s when I found out he was an alcoholic. I didn’t know it before cuz he always sipped. And so then I come back to South Carolina where my family is and I start to raise my baby there.


    And then I start to work with my brother, my late brother, my favorite person and all the world. What happens from here is I’m starting my spiritual journey. And so I started to read the Bible, which gave me tremendous panic attacks, but I knew that the truth was in there <laugh>. So I went to get some help with that. Got some spiritual guidance, ended up getting saved. Spiritual growth takes off. I’m doing really well. I’m working at a bank again, starting to work way too much. I’m move away from aa, I’m thinking I got the God thing down. Relationships phenomenal. I move away from my program of recovery. I ended up relapsing after 20 and a half years of sobriety. And then I didn’t just lose my job, I lost my career. I was really doing well in mortgage lending. But it was pretty humiliating being fired.


    I was fired for lack of production. I had an 8 million portfolio. Okay? A little politics goes a long way. I’m fired in August of 2011. September I have a heart ablation because I now have AFib, which is definitely from alcohol. I had drank for a year and nine months. I got a D u I spent a night in jail and right after the heart ablation in October or September, I’m sorry, I ended up starting to drink red wine again. And that Friday night and I drank enough red wine that it was as high as I ever got on cocaine. I didn’t know you can get that high on wine. The next morning I walked into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and picked up a white chef. So then in 2012 my niece had a 40 day old baby who, she fell asleep and the baby slipped and smothered and he died.


    He’s 40 days old. When I get the call from my sister, I had just left a heaven Bible study fellowship I was doing. It was an amazing thing. And I walk out and you know those people that you look at and say, how do they do that? How did they show up to do this? God took me that day. And so you’re it. I had to look for, at baby land, I had to find whether cremation, I had to deal with my niece. All of it. God took me through. I mean it was just horrible. But it was the longest day of my life. But you know what? Because God was able to use me, other people were able to experience this. And so was I. And I was working 3, 4, 5 jobs, pizza, delivering pizza, just whatever, all kinds of stuff just to make ends meet.


    And then in 2014, my brother had been a binge drinker. He was my favorite person. He was everybody’s favorite person. And I mean that he really was. He was a binge drinker. He could go a year not, but then it got shorter and shorter and shorter. He had lost a lot in business in 2008 and all of that. But he made up for it anyways. It was Easter in 2014. He didn’t come to Easter dinner. We, we all wanted him to come and he was all dressed nice. He was gonna come, but he didn’t, we couldn’t find him. Five days later he was found drowned at the North Bridge over here. Uh, to this day we do not know if he did it on purpose. And I really kind of think he did it simply because the next day he was gonna be facing court.


    But I don’t know. And in that time, the depth of what God did for me is something that changed my life forever. Because the deepening of the faith and the way God showed up in my life. One day I was at work and they’re like, why are you here? Go. It was just a few days and I’m driving across one of our beautiful bridges here. And as I’m coming down the other side, I get this vision. God gives me this vision. I don’t get visions. And this vision is of my brother laying in the marsh face up with his beautiful blue eyes looking up and somebody was holding them so I could see from behind this person holding them. And that was the vision. Now, later on now we go through the services and I get in the car when I’m leaving the services and I turn on the music.


    And the first song I’ve ever heard, I think it had just come out, I don’t know, called Oceans. I don’t think my brother experienced death. I think he just went on. And by the way, my son now is nine months in recovery. I did the family program changed me and few weeks later he started seeking recovery. So this stuff really works. And Alcoholics Anonymous. My medicine is not insulin for diabetes one, it’s not any other medication. It’s to connect with other people. God and myself. And the hardest person to have learned to love was me. But I always say to people, now be good to you. Cuz if you’re good to you, he’ll be good to others. It just works that way. But it takes time. The stuff work that I’ve done, the therapy that I’ve had, the beautiful victories, the tough stuff, what I experienced in my brothers and my grand nephew’s death and my mother passing this past year because of the people I work with, because of the people that I love here, my friendships and alcoholics and honest, my sponsor, my therapist, all of that. I was prepared for my mom’s death. So by the time she passed, I had a crying moment. But since then I’ve known this, I’m gonna see her again and I know where she is.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (41:09):

    That’s beautiful. And I know the work that you’ve done and you know, you talk about these moments of difficulty and I think that’s a really important piece of this, which is that you get sober and the expectation shouldn’t be that everything’s gonna go your way, that it’s all gonna get really easy. The expectation is it’s gonna get different and you get different and different positive things out of it. And recovery is the same way. It just gets different. And the first year of recovery is you’re just trying to make it through the first year. And as you, you know, the longer you’re in recovery, you’re trying to stay connected with what it used to be like so you don’t forget. And it’s just, it’s so beautiful that you’ve been able to do that and that you get to help other people and have been able to ride out, you know, that storm and keep coming back to program in your recovery. Thank you so, so much for sharing your story with me and with the listeners. I really, really appreciate it. If people want to get a hold of you, is there a way or do you have social media or some way that people can get ahold of you if you want them

    Judy Wilson (42:17):

    To? I am not anonymous. I’m Judy Wilson. You can have my phone number. (843) 607-6709. I’m on Facebook. I have nothing else that I’ve done that I don’t check LinkedIn at all. So you can reach me on myself. Do you wanna email me? It’s j a w i l s o nine gmail.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (42:40):

    Thank you Judy. Thank you so, so much. Oh God, that was so boring, right? Am I right?

    Scott Drochelman (42:48):

    <laugh>? Yeah, she’s, she, I mean, just live a life, you know what I mean? Yeah, right. Like do some things, get out of your house and live a little Geez. No, that is

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (42:57):

    Boring. Hasn’t been anywhere done anything

    Scott Drochelman (43:01):

    <laugh>, you’re hearing her story. You’re like, how has one person done this many things? It’s incredible. It’s ridiculous. You’re like, you were everywhere doing everything all the time. Huge life. Huge,

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (43:13):

    Huge life. Yeah. And imagine had, if she hadn’t been an alcoholic <laugh> <laugh> or like doing drugs or whatever, I was like, yeah, I, I think that’s two things, right? It’s like in some ways, because she’s an alcoholic, you, you get that outcome, right? You get this like mm-hmm. <affirmative> compulsive says yes to everything, five jobs working too hard, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So you get all of that, but you also get the downside obviously, and you and the dysfunction, you know, we are, we’re like this cursed people because we have part of what makes us sick also makes us great. You know, you have to figure out how to control it, which is the exact thing that the thing doesn’t want to happen. It doesn’t like to be controlled. What, who

    Scott Drochelman (43:56):

    Is talking? What

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (44:00):

    Is that talking about me? I mean, I, I’m okay, but like I hear from the, I hear from other people, they don’t wanna be. So I, I heard that a lot in her story. I also thought it was interesting that, you know, a couple things that stuck out to me. I don’t, I don’t know if this stuck out to you, but I really thought it was interesting how, you know as well, I love that she went to Florida State. I just, Florida state’s like a serious party spot

    Scott Drochelman (44:25):


    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (44:26):

    Serious. And I was like, I don’t hate it. I don’t,

    Scott Drochelman (44:30):

    I love, the reason was there’s more guys there. I was like, I’m pretty sure you can find thousands of men at any university in America. But no, I’m with it.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (44:38):

    No. Yeah. Like, whatever, whatever the reason was, I, I approve of this admission <laugh>. But the, the, you know, interesting things. She talks herself, she goes to the hospital, she gets discharged the same day after a, a suicide attempt. She goes to the therapist after they pull her off the streets, you know, akin to pulling her off the streets. And the therapist’s like, yeah, you’re good. I mean you’re, you know, like all these different circumstances, all the car accidents where they just are like, yeah, totally get it. Sometimes you just gotta total a car. So there was all these ways that people were like, no, you’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine. And I think it had a lot to do with probably her presentation as, you know, she’s getting away with things is the wrong word, but she’s being passed over for being identified as needing help from many people and then not offering her help after her boyfriend dies in a fire.


    That whole thing. Like there was no therapy, there was no anything. Of course she’s gonna be looking for the, the coping skills. So I mean, in that moment I was like, yeah, okay, you have to do something. If you don’t have the skills, you’re not gonna know how to manage a loss like that. And then the geographical differences that I hear and how geographics can affect substance use disorder. So what I mean by that is, and also timeframe. So it’s the eighties and she’s in New York City, there’s cocaine everywhere. I was like, this sounds so good, <laugh>.

    Scott Drochelman (46:02):

    Oh my goodness. The glamor. The glamor.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (46:05):

    I know, I know. Meanwhile, like my using is so lax glamor, I can’t, I just, I can’t stress to you how not glamorous it was, but I was like, yes. Like, you know, disco and trays of blow and whatever, and I mean, can you, and now what are you gonna like, test a whole? So you’d be like, can you come bring that tray over here? I’m gonna test it for fentanyl. Uh, anyone what looks like a problem in that situation when you’re not driving, you have money. When everyone is doing it, it’s available everywhere, blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s going to look very different. If you’re living rurally and you have a really bad drinking problem, you’re gonna be driving a lot. You’re gonna get into more car accidents, it’s going to be harder. And I think there are different geographical contexts that push people into unmanageability either more slowly or more quickly.

    Scott Drochelman (46:55):

    Yeah, I think that’s really fair. I mean it case in point, just how much moving to San Francisco opened her up to all these things. Right? It was like not even on her radar. And then it’s like, oh yeah, everybody’s doing this. Okay. You know, and that’s, I think that’s so normal for people to do is to just look around at the people in their circles and say, all right, well, it’s cool what’s not cool? So yeah. Yeah. I think it certainly has the ability to kind of pour gasoline on some of those things when you’re just like, no, I’m just doing what everybody else is doing. Maybe I’m a little bit more than everybody else, but like, you know, she kind of, she just described herself the way she’s like, you know, I’m kind of like, you know, I’ve always been a little kind of push it a little, there’s a little wildness or whatever. And it would be so easy to just kind of explain any of that away when what you see around you is that this is all commonplace, this is just how we do it. We, you know, I, I hate the expression, but we work hard and we play hard. You know, like it’s, it’s just like part of the thing.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (47:45):

    There’s this, there’s this, I’ll have to find it for you. There’s this amazing meme that’s like, anyone who says we work hard, we played hard, just is saying, we do drugs. <laugh>, <laugh>. It’s like not, no, not,

    Scott Drochelman (47:59):

    No, not, no. But they’re getting a lot done. Get a lot done.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (48:02):

    Yeah. But they also work hard.

    Scott Drochelman (48:04):

    They also work hard. But you hear that part,

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (48:06):

    It, it’s what makes each story interesting because you have different dynamics that contribute to either the shortening or lengthening of someone’s time drinking or using mm-hmm. <affirmative> and all these different variables. I, I find really fascinating and, and it’s not a sure, you know, the other thing is it’s not a sure thing either direction, because in, I know lots of places rurally where the only thing to do was drink. And so part of the reason that everyone drinks so heavily was there was nothing else to do. So it’s not like, it’s not about a formula, it’s still about the person. You know, you can find a person who’s thriving in a person who’s a hot mess express in any of those places. But it’s, it’s interesting how different circumstances, uh, manifest for people.

    Scott Drochelman (48:56):

    Something that I just, I kind of noticed about her story, which is what really drew me in is just like the, just the kind of searching piece of this. Like it’s this, uh, sort of like once her world’s expanded and then it, she just kind of like keeps trying to expand it over and over and over again. And it’s, and then it’s like in this moment where it’s literally she feels smaller suddenly because of the domestic violence that she’s experienced. Literally her brain, the capacity for her brain, like starts to kind of close her in. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it, it was almost, it was like in those moments, in that really small place where she found something that felt like epiphany and felt like some sort of peace or finally the thing she’d been looking for. And while it’s not a perfect trajectory, and it’s not as if it all went smooth from then on out, I think there’s just something really interesting about just expand more and more, more thing. And then it’s in this moment where it’s really, it’s gotten really small where she kind of finds this thing that she’s been looking for all along. I, I find that really interesting. And, but I think that’s, I feel like that’s like a common story oftentimes for a lot of folks.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (50:00):

    It’s extremely alcohol and drugs are eventually extremely isolating. Depends how long that will take. But it, it, that is the

    Scott Drochelman (50:08):

    Case. It makes me so happy. And like, I think it’s the reason that people probably could let her get out of things and whatever is she’s just got like this kind of energy, this like spunkiness mm-hmm. <affirmative> it’s like, makes me some of the happiest that I ever feel is when I bump into people. And they’ve been through all that and it’s, and it’s still there. Like it has not been extinguished. This the, the little wildness. Oh yeah, the little, the little, oh yeah. Something like, it’s something that, you know, five seconds into talking to her, you’re like, you got

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (50:34):

    It. The first time Judy and I hung out in person, I was with a group of, you know, millennial ish range women, and Judy and <laugh>. I don’t know Judy at this time. I don’t know what we’re, you know, and she is, she’s very put together. She’s, you know, clean cut, pretty, and <laugh>. I, I won’t tell the joke that she said or what she said, because it’s not appropriate for radio waves, but I was like, I love you so fucking much. She just, I get everybody else kind of knew her as that spunky, you know, but I didn’t. And so I was, this was fucking left field <laugh>. It was like, it was, it was, I was like, holy shit, she’s in there, woo. We’re gonna party. And she, Judy is just, she’s so funny. The things that come out of her mouth, you don’t expect it, which is better and you don’t expect it. And it, and it doesn’t like the face and the things don’t match. I

    Scott Drochelman (51:32):

    Love it. I love it so much. Well, as always, we hope Judy’s story was helpful for people and it brought some hope. And if anybody out there is going through a really hard time, we’re, we’re rooting for you as always. Ashley, anything that you’d like to leave the listeners with this week?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (51:48):

    I hope you laughed. I hope you were entertained and I hope you were inspired by Judy’s story. I know I was. And I hope that you have a wonderful, successful week. Please reach out if you need help.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (52:05):

    This podcast is sponsored by Lion Rock dot, life Lion is a diverse and supportive recovery community offering weekly over 70 online peer support meetings, useful recovery information, and entertaining content. Whether you’re newly sober, have many years in recovery, or you’re recovering from something other than drugs and alcohol, we have space for you. Visit today and enter promo code courage for one month of unlimited peer support. Meetings free. Find the joy in

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