What kind of mother uses while she’s pregnant? What kind of mother would continue to use, knowing she had four babies already removed from her care by “the system?”
Looking back at a life I can no longer fathom, I am forever grateful for the Real Change I have finally been able to achieve. At 32 years old, I was homeless, pregnant and strung out on meth… while pregnant with my fifth child. Having already lost four children to Child Protective Services, I felt that the baby I was about to bring into the world would be better off without me, too. Somehow, in my twisted, drug-induced rationale, that knowledge gave me license to continue to use throughout my pregnancy. When I gave birth to a “pos-tox” baby, meaning drugs were found in my baby’s blood at birth, my fifth baby was whisked away. I couldn’t even hold him. I felt so worthless and lonely. There I was, all alone again, after just giving birth to another baby. I was desperate for change.
I arrived at Saint John’s with no baby, no money, no car, no driver’s license and no high school diploma. All I had left was my will to change, my faith, and a smidgen of hope.
I was at Saint John’s for 16 months, where I learned how to be more kind, more patient, more loving and more understanding. I learned how to put one foot in front of the other, and to never give up. I always loved my kids, but the truth was I didn’t know how to be a mother because I was so heavily into my addiction, and because of my own upbringing. I was the third of seven kids, and my mom left us when I was a junior in high school. . After she left, I was being molested by my dad’s cousin, and I turned to drugs to help me cope. There were so many things I didn’t know that I had to be taught at Saint John’s, like making my bed every day and chewing with my mouth closed. And most importantly, how to parent, sober. It’s sad, but true.
Today, here I am with my high school diploma, full custody of my baby Amilio, a good job, my driver’s license, a car and my own apartment. I’ve been working for Walmart for two years now, and I’ve been promoted to a personal shopper. I now have healthy relationships with my sisters from the program, and I’ve left an unhealthy relationship with my baby’s father. Saint John’s provided me with the structure, the classes and the services I needed to become sober and to function sober. Through Saint John’s, I received the guidance and support I needed to live the way I was intended to live. Amilio and I have not stopped smiling since!
Sandy is one of 24 Saint John’s clients who will graduate from the program on Thursday, April 4.
By: Sandy S., Graduate, Saint John’s Program for Real Change