Content Warnings: Substance use, domestic violence, sexual assault
My name is Denise, and I am the youngest child of three. I have a brother that is 2 years older than me, and my sister is older by 4 years. My parents divorced when I was in about the 2nd grade. I lived with my mother who was only 15/17 & 19 when she had us kids. My Mom was a devoted Mother, and she took the utmost care of us as young children. She did have a full-time job. However, it was very understandable that she had to work. We lived in a small 2-bedroom apartment. I shared a room with my sister & brother. Although my mom kept us in the same school district and close to my dad, my dad began playing sports as the divorce was hard on him, so he wasn’t around much. For the most part I had a good childhood or so I thought. I began being sexually abused when I was about 4/5. I thought it was normal as that’s all I ever knew. It wasn’t until I got older, I knew that this was not the way other families lived. As I got older the abuse got worse and worse. I was a teenager in high school at the age of 16 until this was so crippling to me that I had to get it off my chest and tell someone. The perpetrator was then prosecuted. I went on to have 3 wonderful children and had a decent marriage. I was successful with full time employment, and I was financially stable. At 27 I was sexually assaulted again by the same perpetrator. I again pressed charges and he was prosecuted. This assault was different, however. I didn’t know how to cope with this, so I turned to alcohol. I drank myself into oblivion every night. My husband and I broke up and got divorced. We shared custody of the kids. I put my kids through lots of unnecessary trauma, as they watched me drink time and time again. I exposed them to things they shouldn’t have ever seen. My oldest son had to take care of me at times, while my younger two kids watched with confusion as to why their Mama was always drinking. I would black out doing things I don’t remember, waking up with so much shame and embarrassment. My sister had taken my oldest son to provide him with a better atmosphere and I shared custody with the other two kids, sometimes only seeing them on weekends. My ex-husband and his family helped raise my children. I felt like a failure as a mother. As much as I loved my kids, they could not keep me sober. I was unable to get and hold down a job, I couldn’t make it through an 8-hour day without having a drink. I was in housing, so the rent was paid. This just enabled me to keep drinking. In 2014 I was charged with my first DUI; I had children in the car at the time (not my own) I was in big trouble for that. I tried to complete 2 years of probation successfully with fail as I could not stop drinking. I was arrested 2 more times, for non-compliance. After several attempts of many rehab stints, I finally found the right one for me in May of 2015. I haven’t had a drink since. I developed a cross addiction to meth, after a year of using, I went to another rehab and got clean. I had about 3 years clean when I had another cross addiction to fentanyl. If I was not drinking or doing meth, I was high on pills. In October of 2021, I relapsed on meth. I was just 2 months shy of 5 years clean. I relapsed based on pure opportunity. Again, I became unemployable.
In September of 2022, I was heavy in my meth & fentanyl addiction, I had been kicked out of my sister’s house as a result and I found myself living in a truck at the Walmart parking lot with my boyfriend. However, I had been able to ween myself off of the fentanyl from 12-15 pills a day to just a half a pill a day. I took my last pill on October 16th. I had, at a time went 3 weeks without a warm shower and yet my only worry was my next use. I was behaving in a way that didn’t go with my normal personality. I was pretty sure that anywhere I went, that I was being harassed by strangers. I was hateful to everyone and anyone who crossed my path. I would shout vulgar slurs at them, flip them off, yell at them and even threatened physical harm on them. I was paranoid about everything and everyone. I was becoming more and more suicidal as the days went on. My mind was in psychosis, I was experiencing hallucinations. My children found out about my use after 7 years of being free from alcohol and they were devastated. My daughter, the youngest of 2 brothers, was particularly upset about my use and threatened to never speak to me again. I did reach out to my mental health team only to be told that the only help that I needed at the time was that of impatient. I began looking for treatment but kept putting that off time and time again. I was afraid to give up the only thing that was thought was helping me survive. I picked fights with the one person who stayed by my side and for the first time in my life “protected” me every day. In December, my boyfriend obtained a job in the mountains where he would work and live working at a stable with animals. I had lost my shelter. There was only one thing left for me to do, check into a hospital, and get help. I knew this was the right thing to do if I wanted to live again. I was accepted at a sober living facility. I now live in, and I am thriving at Gail’s Place Sober Living, where I am now the House Manager. This is an all-women’s sober living and it is my home.
I began my journey the Women’s Bean Project in January of 2023, I set some goals for myself. My long-term goal was to get my property casualty license back. I received trauma therapy, which has helped me get through some of the abuse. I learned some sensitivity exercises that I can practice when I have anxiety or fear. I have learned how to better budget my finances. I have learned how to be punctual with my time management and I have changed my life getting places on time. I began individual therapy to help me navigate life in general. I joined 2 therapy groups. I took advantage of the time so that I could get my health and wellness in order. I had carpal tunnel surgery. I even got assistance from WBP to help me pay for glass contact lenses for my eye care. WBP has also been able to provide almost brand-new baby items for my new granddaughter. I was able to slow down and let the process take its course. As the path I was on was not going well for me. I took continuing education hours for my Property & Casualty License and was able to get that renewed. This has helped my relationship with my children, as they are proud of me for all that I have accomplished while I have been at WBP. I updated my resume, and I began searching for a job. Within 15 minutes of applying for an insurance position, I received a phone call and had a phone screen. I then was invited for an in person interview the following day. I was invited back to the same Agency 2 more times, before they offered me the position. I am now on my way to my new work home and I will be graduating successfully from WBP. Thank you, WBP for helping me navigate life and helping me realize that I am somebody important and that I can accomplish my goals if I work hard at them. My self-esteem has improved, and I believe in myself in more ways than I ever thought I could. I could not have been successful without the help from Staff, Volunteers, and Interns from WBP. Thank you for advocating for me, for encouraging me and most of all for believing in me, when I could not believe in myself. I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. I will continue in my recovery, as I have been very blessed. As for myself addiction, I have another relapse, but I feel as though I do not have another recovery in me.