It was rainy outside when I met Mynica, but her smile immediately brightened the day. Her story, a complex web of ins and outs, ups and downs, struggles and hopes left me wondering just where to start in trying to describe this beautiful lady and her journey.
Mynica was one of three children being “raised” by an alcoholic, drug-addicted mother. “Neenie” was the middle child in every sense of the word. Only a half-sister to her older brother and younger sister, she always felt, as she said, so different. Never knowing her father made her angry and rebellious, and being mistreated emotionally and physically by her mother made a picture of a little girl headed for ruin.
A bright and strong child, Neenie enjoyed being in school, but she did not attend regularly….her mother had introduced her to methamphetamine, and Neenie, at age 12, began her cycle of addiction. She “wandered” in and out of school while selling and doing drugs and alcohol, but also, ironically, being the mom to her mother. The child most mistreated by the mother was the one who became the mother…..doing the laundry, shopping with food stamps, cooking the meals, and ….surviving. Always, however, looking for love and acceptance, but never finding it in the right places.
Her adult life was one of constant struggle as she battled drug and alcohol addiction and abusive relationships while also working and trying to support her children, who are now 26, 19 and 7. CPS was a regular visitor to her various homes, and she lost and regained the children at least three times. In and out of recovery programs every few years, set-backs were at every corner: evictions, serious illnesses, injuries – even a pitbull attack that sent her to the ER – violent deaths of friends and relatives, and more…..and each time Neenie battled back and asked the Lord for help.
Neenie says it was God who brought her here to Saint John’s Program for Real Change; just leaving a short-term recovery program with nowhere to go for her and her young son, she sat by a phone there at the discharge office wondering what to do. Just then, the receptionist thumbtacked the St. John’s Program for Change card above the phone, and Neenie felt it was God talking to her…..she called and was accepted in October of 2018.
What is the difference this time, and why is this the path that will finally lead her to success? Ask Neenie and she tells you that she needed to stop lying to herself, she needed to be fully willing to do the hard work for recovery, and she needed a program with structure and assistance in all the areas of living. Saint John’s is, as she says – with a huge smile, “absolutely amazing; every door in the building is an opening to another kind and welcoming person willing to help.” When you are addicted, Neenie says, you forget what it is to be accountable to anything other than your addiction, so you need to re-learn how to get up, make your bed, feed your child, get him to school and yourself to work, pay your bills – be a responsible person. These life skills, plus earning her high school diploma, attending her counseling sessions, becoming drug and alcohol free, (it has been almost one year of sobriety and she says it feels “so good”), preparing for the work world, and beginning – most importantly – to feel safe, secure and loved…..all make a recipe for success – and all, thanks to Saint John’s Program for Real Change.
With a new driver’s license, a clear credit record, new job skills, a clean and sober life, and a child that is doing well in school, she is excited for the future. “I have confidence now and I know I can do it….fear doesn’t control me, God is with me and I will keep going.” Ultimately, Neenie wants to become a mental health counselor so she can help others see that happiness and success is possible. After sitting with Mynica Roberts, one can’t help but smile and give thanks for her determination, the grace of God that she radiates, and the program at Saint John’s….the future is bright indeed. And this time, I know she can do it!
Ellen Gemma, Retired Educator and Volunteer Guest Blogger
Formerly Assistant Principal at Jesuit High School and Principal at St. John the Evangelist Catholic School