By: Jess Gaggi
Yeah, We’re Young: Famous People and Me: Born in 1995
The name is Gaggi, Jess Gaggi. No, it isn’t my maiden name but let’s try for some anonymity here. I was born in 1995. The hollers of old Kentucky is where I burst out. Moonshine and rabbit tobacco abounded. I was a porky little thing, and my peers never let me forget it. Ma raised my brother and me because pa was in the navy. OK, let’s be rigorously honest. I raised me. Ma was often too drunk.
My brother got involved with some guys who were cooking meth. It became a big issue when he got arrested on a federal charge that will see him free when he is in need of Depends and a walker.
Because the people he worked for are sort of dangerous, ma and I were relocated to The Bronx in New York City. I was still fat and began misusing diet pills and later meth to lose weight. I hated the effects of meth, but I loved other substances. When I drank a lot and threw up my meals, the weight stayed off.
I didn’t have a lot of friends though, and ma would get strap-handy when she was drunk. So I ran away to Portland, Oregon at 14. This city was an addict’s dream.
There were people my age gathered in the downtown area every day, there was pot, alcohol, and opiates. The sex going on around me was never-ending. I found out people would pay me to lay me. I developed friendships, and one afternoon I sat with a group of teens and dropped acid by the Willamette River. People accepted me without judgment.
My ma, in a moment of clarity, informed my pa of my running off. Pa told a friend he knew. That friend flew to Oregon and forced me to return home. I wasn’t overly excited, but he wasn’t taking no for an answer. I tried hitting him and got my butt skinned.
The Beginning of a New Life
He took me back to New York, but instead of returning to my mother, I was turned over to another man who was in recovery. He informed me that I was attending AA. I told him to shove it.
While standing at my first meeting (don’t tell addicts to shove it when they outweigh you by 80 pounds, are 26 years older than you and have access to a hairbrush).
I met my first sponsor. She was neither pleasant nor polite. She was in no mood to put up with an attitudinal bitch like me. But, she saw something I didn’t. She saw that behind the tough mask was a scared shitless little girl. Click To Tweet.
I desperately needed help. The two men who saved me, and they really did save my ass, stayed for a week and made periodic visits to Manhattan after that. I was always in trouble, still getting spanked or yelled at. But it worked. Lest you think these men brutes, they actually were not.
They arranged for me to live with my sponsor. One of them learned that I could play guitar and banjo by ear. He took me to a performing arts high school and had me tested. I not only placed into the 11th grade at age 15, but I found out that I can play most woodwind and brass just by listening once and playing. It’s a gift. I’m a talented dancer as well.
I continued to attend AA and began to play music for throw money. I made a fortune at that. One time I attended a party and smoked pot. I felt so guilty that I told my sponsor. She hugged me and grounded me for three months.
This is Now
I’ve never used again. I met a boy in high school, and after we graduated, we moved to Sicily with big dreams. The dreams ended in one way when I became pregnant with triplets.
But, we returned to New York and built a new dream. Today I am the mother of three five-year-olds. I am clean. I sponsor and have adopted 5 other teenagers and pre-teens. A few are at college themselves.
This isn’t anything like easy. It is simple. Don’t use. Get a sponsor. Work the steps. Stay cool. It will all be ok.
- 23 years old with 7 years clean
- Mother of triplets
- Works as a housewife and a street performer
- Former dancer and band musician
- Sponsors young people in recovery