Natisha’s Story

“I had a happy childhood,” Natisha began. It was an upbringing she shared with two half siblings, her mom and her grandmother – both functioning substance abusers, a habit Natisha would seemingly inherit years later as she veered away from her happy beginnings down what was soon to become a dark path.

At 18, following her high school graduation, Natisha got a job, married and flirted briefly with crack cocaine. What seemingly began as a healthy relationship with her spouse gradually turned unhealthy. Her husband – a batterer fueled by alcohol and drugs.

After 10 years, Natisha walked away.

She was sober, working. Fast forward three years. A new boyfriend, again an abusive partner, a drug dealer and an alcoholic. Natisha played hard and partied hard, turning to methamphetamine for what she describes as fun, but perhaps more truly, to mask her emotional and physical pain.

So she walked away again –this time with a child – moving in with her mother and grandmother. When grandmother died, and soon after, her mother, Natisha relied even more heavily on drugs to cope with the losses.

Natisha soon met Joseph, two more children and a continuing pattern of drug abuse. Both unemployed and homeless, struggling with the physical, emotional and financial cost of addiction. Child Protection Services stepped in, taking custody of Natisha’s three children.

This was Natisha’s breaking point. She wanted her children with her and she wanted to end her cycle of dependence and poverty. She wanted to share her life changes with Joseph and her kids. At this moment, she made a specific, unequivocal decision that she was not going to live like this anymore.

Natisha’s Real Change

Natisha completed a 90-day rehab treatment program (Joseph is currently in a treatment center), and with three calls a day to Saint John’s Program for Real Change, she walked through its Red Doors last August.

She sought Saint John’s because it offers more than food and shelter. It provides mental health services, parenting and financial literacy classes, childcare, and career training all in a sober environment – allowing Natisha to make momentous life changes for herself and her family. Her children are back with her as she regains her confidence and requisite empowerment to return to a “happy” life.

It takes a strong woman to break away from the destructive cycle of dependency, abuse and poverty. Like all of the women who succeed at Saint John’s, Natisha is receiving the support and guidance to become a self-sufficient member of the greater community. And just as important, Saint John’s is helping Natisha realize the astonishing abilities and inner resources she has…and has always had…to redefine her life.

This post was written by guest writer Laura Wendel, Saint John’s Program for Real Change volunteer.

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