My name is Amy. I am currently 38 years old. I am the oldest of 3 full blood sisters. I was born in raised in Grand Rapids, MI. I spent my childhood summers near the Native American reservation in Sutton's bay which is in the Traverse City area. I spent my time there with my Paternal Grandparents and was very involved in the church. I was born to 2 parents with severe addiction issues. Unlike my amazing care free summers the rest of my life was the complete opposite...
With my parents I was raised in the bars and surrounded by a partying life style. Without proper supervision in the home I was hurt by men who were family friends. Some of the pain I endured was so that I could protect my little sisters and they wouldn't have to know just what kind of evil was out there. At the age of 8 I witnessed my father murder my neighbor. It was later that I learned it was at the request of another family friend and the payment was meant to be applied to more use of drugs and alcohol to feed his addiction. At the age of 12 I was sent off to sell drugs for my step-father. By 13 and 14 I was getting further away from the church and my childhood was gone.
At 14 my older half-sister, who was also my best friend, was killed in car accident at the age of 17. It was at that time that I completely walked away from God not understanding how he can allow such awful things to happen to a still so innocent girl. By growing up in an atmosphere where the adults partied the way they did and not a single person ever talked about their feeling and even showed affection for that matter, I followed right behind the only influences I had. I began smoking weed and drinking every day because it was all I knew, however it didn't take long to realize that the pain I felt didn't hurt as bad when mind and mood altering substances were involved. With such horrific traumas etched into my memory, a terrible present situation and a lack of understanding how to process feelings or a positive adult to talk to, at 15 years old I decided numbing agents weren't really doing the trick. I had no desire to continue living. I swallowed the contents of 3 bottles of pills and proceeded to cut myself hundreds, doctors say maybe even more than 1,000 times and laid down to die. I was hospitalized for a couple of weeks but just like that I was returned to the world where I felt all alone.
At 18, I met the father of my 3 adult children. Following behind my parents footsteps I endured what I viewed as "normal" severe domestic violence for the next 16 years. Through that chapter of my life I held long term employment and our same residence for over 12 years. I obtained my GED at 22 years old and went on to enter the Community College for a semester. However between the violence and with no knowledge of how to communicate or deal with my feelings I often found myself self medicating and doing so in excess at times to relieve the pain I felt.
At 34 I found that I was pregnant with my little juicy fruit daughter who will be 4 in August. She brought much needed joy, however I was still not coping properly with the let downs and trials of my childhood and adult life.
A couple of years ago I realized my life had become beyond unmanageable through MY ways of problem solving, or lack thereof. I had an amazing person in my life who understood my struggle and could see the good in me. She knew I was not happy with the way I was living and believed in me enough to point me in the direction of MTM. (Thank you Sarah) Coming into the program here I was beyond rock bottom. I hated myself. I had no will or drive to continue to breath…but there is more to my story.
I choose not to be labeled by my choices of the past, but recognized for my successes of today and tomorrow.– Amy
Within a few weeks of being here my physical appearance came back, I regained my self-esteem little by little. I was finding my way, one step at a time. After a chapel service I felt the need to go up for personal prayer. I felt a chill run through my body that I did not understand or recognize, but I knew it was a good thing. Following service I was introduced to many of my now church family at Lake Effect. It was through this new relationship that my spiritual mentor Susie Renzema sponsored me on my Decolores weekend. Being in program here has helped me create new healthy bonds, relationships and friendships. Since as far back as I can remember I have dreamed of becoming a hair stylist. I shared my dreams, goals and aspirations with those around me with those around me. With much love and support from my new spiritual community I enrolled into hair school with Pastor Leonard actually walking me into the school to finalize my enrollment. It was great to have someone who cared enough to share that milestone with me.
I was now fulfilling my dream and excited to be working as well. What I didn't realize then, but I now know as facts today, is that fresh out of treatment I jumped head first into a completely hectic schedule with very little, if any time, for self-care. For the first 9 months I was actually living a life in recovery, but in the months to follow I was just sober. I was no longer attending church or meetings on a regular basis because I was too tired from over working myself between my job and school. I was no longer, as Charles says, "Taking my recovery medicine that helps keep me well." They say relapse happens gradually before the actual act itself. I am a firm believing and proof of just that.
A short while after returning to active addiction Sarah once again helped me reach back out to Janice to try and return to the program that gave me so much hope and knowledge before. MTM welcomed me back with an abundance of hugs, smiles and support. They understand that although it does not have to be, relapse is a part of recovery. I chose not to stay sick. Fearful of people's disappointments I swallowed my pride and asked for help. I know what I am capable of and just how high I can soar with this program as support. A program where the CEO gives me high fives and asks how I am doing, not just as a greeting while walking past, but because he truly is interested and cares. Reverend Leonard greats me with a hug almost every time our paths cross. Staff members from Clinics, to Outreach, right down to HR tell you how much they believe in you and actually mean it with all honesty.
My story isn't much different than those around me. I was sick, we were sick, sick but getting better. I choose not to be labeled by my choices of the past, but recognized for my successes of today and tomorrow.
I leave you with this...
The life we are given should never be taken for granted. Of the many battles we engage in, whether it be money, control, or matters of the heart, very few of us know how to fight the right way or understand who we’re really fighting against. To win any battle, you have to have the right strategy and resources because victories don’t come by accident. Be victorious my friends.