Real Change: Getting serious and taking responsibility

It goes without saying that the long road to sobriety is not without its challenges.

Terresa walked through the Red Doors of Saint John’s, April 21, 2021. She was still trying to make sense of what brought her to this point and what it would take to move forward.

Looking back: “What do I have to lose?”

When asked what life was like before coming to Saint John’s, Terresa summed up her life with one word, “Horrible!” As she began to elaborate on what she meant, her eyes filled with tears, the emotion of it all spilling out. Three years ago her husband died and drugs became her coping mechanism. As a result, she lost her job and her home in the same day and spent the next few years homeless. Referred to Saint John’s by a friend, she thought, “What do I have to lose?”

The biggest adjustment for Terresa at the time had been learning to live in a shared living space with three other women and just being with other people all of the time. Her life was one of solitude, and learning to be around other people was an enormous challenge for her. “It’s hard being here and I want to stay, and I hope I stick it out. But it’s just hard right now,” she said. The relational class was helping Terresa to naviagte group living and getting to know complete strangers. Learning to trust others and be part of the community did not come easy for her.

Dealing with a setback

For six months she followed the program and was making great progress, even becoming a Dream Builder. But it only takes one bump in the road for someone in recovery to relapse. In October of 2021, Terresa found herself out of the program and sleeping on a friend’s couch. It started with a glass of wine every evening, eventually escalating to a full-blown return to drugs. She found herself sleeping in her nephew’s truck, then sharing a trailer, all the while seeking to numb her pain as she nurtured a broken heart. After living in her car for a few months, Terresa said, “Enough is enough!” She made the call that would eventually bring her back to Saint John’s and for a second time, she walked through the Red Doors in June of 2022.


When asked what’s different this time, Terresa was quick to say, “I was ready! It was like a giant weight being moved off my shoulder. Now was the time to be serious and take responsibility. I realized I could not be around family members who are toxic to my recovery.” She added that coming back was like coming home to a safe place. She is using the tools that she has learned at Saint John’s and this time, she has a sponsor. “The key to my recovery is reaching out to my sponsor, attending AA via Zoom every day, and journaling.” You’ll also see Terresa walking the perimeter of Saint John’s every morning which she says gets her day started in a positive way and gives her the energy for whatever the day brings.

All of this was put to the test recently when Terresa lost her brother. She shared how despite the sadness, Saint John’s has been a safe place to process her grief and she is daily moving forward. Terresa recently completed her Employment Training and is currently in Job Readiness, preparing herself to begin the application process to enter the employment world! She is also very interested in attending American River College in their American Sign Language program or Culinary Arts program. She hopes to graduate from Saint John’s in the spring and move into Saint John’s Square. Wherever she lands, the biggest lesson Terresa has learned is that she can’t do this on her own. She affirmed, “Going forward, I will reach out for help when I need it!” And we’re all here for you, Terresa!

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