My name is Melissa, though friends call me Missy. I am twenty-nine years old and the mom of a sweet seven-year-old girl. Today I am happy, today I am healthy, today I am sober. But it wasn’t always that way.
My father did drugs and was abusive to my mother. They divorced when I was five and my mother remarried. I grew up in the country, poor but happy.
By the time I turned nine, things had changed. While my mother was graduating from vo tech, my step dad was becoming an alcoholic. They separated and soon divorced. After that, life became chaotic: left alone to care for my sister, brother and me, my mother moved us from town to town as she looked for work, love, and security. Schools changed just as fast as the men in my mother’s life.
As the years went by, my mother turned increasingly to drugs and alcohol. As her drug problems increased, so did her sadness and anger. Mom loved us unconditionally, but that was no match for the demons that dwelt inside of her.
The men, the drugs, the alcohol, and the pain inside my mother made our home a battlefield. On top of all this, my mother had another child. I wanted to be a teenager and do the things teenaged girls are supposed to do. Instead, helped by my older sister, I became a parent to my mom’s baby, our new sister.
I loved school. I was pretty, athletic, smart … there is no telling how far I could have gone if my world had been more stable, more “normal.” To us, this sort of living was normal. It is amazing how well I did in school, considering I started smoking pot and drinking at age twelve. By fifteen I had “graduated” to harder drugs like meth and was messing with older guys.
I didn’t have to leave home to get high. My house was the “party house.” Actually, my first experiences with pot, alcohol, pills, and meth were with my mom and her male friends. And if the house was ever empty of drugs, her male friends were happy to help. I was a young teen and they were in their thirties, but they approached me with these things, in my own home. And I had to meet their sexual advances. I remember feeling like I had to be nice. I had to smile.
When I was sixteen, mom lost our house. My little brother’s dad took custody of him while my mother moved to another state with my little sister. I decided that I could take care of myself. Who else was there to take care of me? Throughout my whole life, my own dad was in and out of prison. And soon my mom was in prison, too.
I didn’t have options, it seemed to me. I moved in with a guy much older than I was in order to finish high school. People cooked meth in the house I was living in and my drinking and drug use increased.
I started taking pills and drank so much that I would black out. Many times I woke up in jail or in a hospital, not knowing how I got there. And I was an “angry drunk.” I fought my boyfriends, classmates, friends, even police. I would explode on everyone when I would drink.
At age twenty I graduated, moved, and met the man who became my daughter’s father. I needed someone to love, and the baby—a special needs child—came soon after. Unhappy, mentally abused, and stressed by raising a special needs child, I feel into a depression. I found myself drinking hard liquor alone. I knew that life with this man was unhealthy, so I packed up with my daughter and left.
Trying to raise my daughter alone, I was lonely and struggling to make ends meet. It felt like I was back in high school, having to smile and endure uncomfortable advances from men to do simple things like get a ride to the store.
In 2011, my mom passed away. By this time she had a relationship with Christ and drugs no longer held her, but the damage to her body had already been done. That was the beginning to my end. My daughter got out of the house one morning, and DYFS removed her from my home. Like a domino effect, the pain and anger caused me to start drinking and using drugs more and more heavily.
I began to do things I would have never dreamed I would do. I was ashamed of and even hated the person I had become. I no longer wanted to fight the good fight. I wanted to die. My family was gone, my beautiful daughter was gone, my home was gone, my heart was gone: all that was left was the shell of a once strong, proud girl. My whole life I was okay with “the struggle,” because “I was strong.” “I could do this,” I would say to myself. But life finally beat me.
I needed a bridge. Time was running out. I only had a little bit left of what made me me. That bridge was jail. I prayed for it. My prayer was answered. When I was released the first time I still had no support; I had the same anxieties, the same pain, the same problems. I pretty much walked myself right back in for a second stint.
I knew something had to change. I was willing to do anything. I just wanted help. I wanted support, love, a chance.
That’s when I found the House of Hope. A safe place, a place filled with love and Jesus Christ. A place whose people would stand beside me to encourage me. A place where I’d be given the tools and foundation I need to become the woman I want to be, the woman I deserve to be, the woman God made me to be.
And now I have a great job. My court troubles are behind me. I have a wonderful relationship with my daughter. I have a church family that loves me. And my problems seem manageable.
My name is Melissa, though friends call me Missy. I am twenty-nine years old and the mom of a sweet seven-year-old girl. Today I am happy, today I am healthy, today I am sober.