Tyhria (Ty) Williams spent Father’s Day 2018 at her son’s place in Atlanta. She met his two sons, her grandchildren, for the first time. One child is on the way.
Williams’ years of drug and alcohol abuse put a grand-canyon divide between herself and her children. Her current state of recovery has mended the fences.
“All of my kids are back in my life,” Williams said. “Even if you don’t lose them to the system, you lose them with respect and trust.”
During her interview, Williams’ mother, Brenda, kept quiet. “So much that happened to her, I wasn’t aware of it. Some of the stuff makes me so sad. I haven’t really adapted to it,” Brenda said. “Every time I hear her talk I go off into another zone.”
Williams has written about her experiences of addiction, molestation, and rape in her first self-published book, “Pure Gold: Processed in the Fire,” available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Williams is also a recognized public speaker. “Talking is what keeps me good: talking. I don’t want to be holding nothing in and let someone take my voice,” she said.
Williams has a lifetime of unresolved issues to deal with and to make amends for. She was born and raised in East Chicago, Indiana. She started drinking at 16. One night, her best friend passed her a primo, a joint mixed with cocaine, during the puff-puff-pass. She liked the combination. “It was another thing to go high [with] or away,” Williams said.
She graduated from high school a full-blown addict. But life showed up; her new husband wasn’t an addict himself but was abusive, thought he could punch, kick, and spit the addiction out of his new wife. Drugs were Williams’ comfort; she initiated arguments just so she could go “to that place.”
The couple was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia (her husband was in the military); Williams didn’t know anyone but was well familiar with the clutched fists, holding product, of a drug dealer on a corner street. Her nice car was the first point of suspicion. “I never really looked messed up,” Williams said. “I was always a diva [concerning my appearance]. The average person on drugs don’t look like me,” she said.
The drug dealers, thinking she was a cop or maybe she was carrying a wire, made her strip naked and do the drugs anywhere. Williams was an addict, perpetually chasing, so of course she acquiesced. She got so tight with the dealers she lent her car out to them.
A move to Texas didn’t fix her first marriage, but her second marriage was an improvement. After her first marriage, “I thought this guy was my knight in shining armor. He wasn’t spitting. He wasn’t cursing. My name is actually my name,” Williams said. “To this day, the best man I ever had.” But this new guy didn’t tell Williams of his HIV status; she opened a letter, from the hospital, and read it for herself. She felt betrayed, but the new guy was better than her last. So she stayed and learned how to care for a HIV victim.
She is HIV negative, as are their two children. Her husband recently just passed due to complications from the disease this past March.
Williams has two separate prison stints for shoplifting in Texas, starting in 2001 and ending 10 years later. The misdemeanor charges became felonies when she used force while resisting arrest.
While incarcerated, Williams began to write. “It was like a movie in my head,” Williams said. Reliving those moments with each letter, without the grace of God, can be detrimental too, she said.
When her father brought her to Fort Wayne in July 2017, he enrolled his daughter in Genesis Outreach at 2605 Gay Street. Genesis is an outreach program that provides, among other services, addictions support and permanent housing assistance. Williams was given her own house while she recalibrated her life.
Through the Genesis Outreach program, Williams was told that she would have to relive her experiences again in order to process them and heal properly. To do so, she penned letters to her father, but left instructions on the envelope’s front telling him not to open. Her broken bones had mended wrong and healed incorrectly through the work she did in prison. At Genesis, Williams was able to heal properly. The right way, for the long term.