This is a continuation of a series every Friday where I will be highlighting the growth and healing of one of my readers, a new reader each week. These, my sweet ones, are their brave and vulnerable stories. Take heart…you are not alone.  -Elisabeth

The program of recovery offered me more than just a life without drugs. And not only is this life better than the hell I lived, it is better than any life I’ve ever known. Of course, I could’ve taken the 5 year sentence but, I wouldn’t have changed one thing about my life. I entered into drug court in July 2013. I was completing a reunification case-plan with OCS in regards to my child custody case and complying with all that was required. The juvenile courts needed me to prove that I was a functioning stable parent to care for my minor children. I went to my last court hearing in June 2014 where I had lost what matters to me the most. My children, they were 5, 7 and 8. In addiction we lose our homes, cars, careers, destroy credit scores, and even damage our family’s name. I lost my son and two daughters, who grew inside of me under my heart. That was my rock bottom. Our entire world changed in a single day. Imagine 3 young children being torn from the only life they’ve known. They were devastated, grieving, confused, angry and hopeless and so was I. I hated the judges, social workers, the OCS agents, even God. But life went on for me and for them. I don’t know how I found the strength to wake up each day without them and move forward. I just wasn’t the same with them gone and I’ve never felt so much pain and despair before as I did then. I often wonder what that must have been like for them. The bewilderedness they must have felt.

It took a while to realize God was all I needed because He was all I had left. My kids were taken, my brothers turned their backs and the husband took off too. I thought with all that my addiction has taken from me. What can it possibly do for me now? The day I surrendered my kids to our foster parent I thought, if I loved them enough to have them then I have to love them enough to let them go. They deserved a fair chance at life more than what I could provide for them. After all I was struggling with trying to find my balance of where I fit in in this world. I was still getting used to a new way of living and I was fragile. I saw my kids 6 months later and it’s a day that I’ll never forget. At that time I had no idea what they were told or what they knew regarding all the changes taking place in their life and mine. I had no idea of what to say. I just stood there face to face with the 3 of them. Hurt, fully broken, scared and scarred me and them. All of us… My daughter took a step towards me where she stood ahead of the other two and she said, “God forgives you for what you do. I do too. I love you, you’re my mom.” I don’t really remember how I responded. I just felt forgiven. I remember hearing our foster parent say, “Mary, I live a Christian life and so will they we just want you to get well. They know where your heart is. They understand that you are sick.” I’ve only seen them twice since that day. For the past 2 years the telephone conversations continued and although it wasn’t the same, I was grateful for even that. In May of 2016 the phone calls had stopped and all contact was lost. I would call consistently and there was no answer. I’d text heartfelt messages and there was no response. On August 31st 2016 I sent my last text message and decided that would be my last attempt for now. At least until I could figure out another method of reaching the foster parent’s heart. It read;

Hi Ms. Powell, I hope all is well for you. I’m doing well other than struggling with why I haven’t heard from the kids. It’s really hurting my heart but, I’d like you to know how thankful I am for your commitment and devotion to DCFS for fostering families.
For Mason, Mascey and Carmella you were a true blessing from God. I too see it that way and I’m grateful each and every day for them remaining in a stable and safe environment with so much love. I’m sure they are not always easy to handle. I cannot tell you how much sorrow and regret I carry each day for the scarring I’ve caused to my kids. As a mother and as a person, the hardest thing to do is wake up each day and move on without them but, I know I can’t lose my faith. Even though God says I’m forgiven it’s a time of our life that I will never forget, neither will they. And there is certainly no excuse for the negligence they have suffered the only explanation I can offer is that I was sick. I see now that although I did the best that I could, suffering with such a detrimental disease, my way of living was all wrong. No child or parent should have to experience what we all have. I can only take responsibility for the bad decisions I have made in the past and accept the consequences I have to pay. That is not easy for me to live with. If only I could have been less selfish earlier on where we weren’t torn apart. The only way I can make sense of this part of our lives is to say that I was spared by God the time to get well and to find myself. And for the kids crossing paths with you well, that was just God’s Grace. Ms. Powell, with all of my heart all that I ask is to have a healthy relationship with them. I don’t mean to cause any further harm or hurt to them or you. So, I’ll wait patiently and never lose hope to hear from you soon. Lots of love Mary. On January 2nd 2017 my prayers were answered. I received that response I’ve waited so long for, it read; keep up the good work Mary those are your kids and they love you. And you all will be together again. I’m praying for you Mary, love you. I’m trying to keep them together for you. They wanted to send them away to Florida, separated. I was not having that so, get yourself together. Be blessed now.
I am no longer that person I used to be. And I’m no longer a victim. I’ve grown in ways unimaginable and most of all I’ve grown up .This program made me realize how drugs caused me to separate from reality, changing the structure of the brain and how it works. Then caused me to lose control of my behavior. I remember how I used to get high and get this burning desire to change the situations in my life. Of course, nothing ever happened. The only change was the high that wore off and I’d start all over again. Feeding the demons inside of me.
After engaging in this program I began learning how to cope with anxiety, cravings, depression and uncomfortable situations that present themselves by attending therapeutic groups. Alcoholics Anonymous introduced me to the idea of God restoring me to sanity and that has been one of the promises that do come true. Working the 12 steps with a sponsor was crucial too. My one-on-one counselors shared their expertise on struggles that I face in daily situations. It was impressive the way I would walk into their office stressed out, fearful and discouraged and somehow that someone would rearrange my thoughts or ideas and I’d walk out of their office feeling free. As I continue on my journey I plan to attend my self- help meetings, it’s a community of people I can rely on. We’re there for each other when life becomes overwhelming and we need someone to reach out to for help. Counseling is going to be a priority with me and my children working through various issues that need to be addressed. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve already been blessed with what I need for survival. So, I’ll strive to make each day better than the day before, never lose my faith and follow my heart.
It must be such joy for the staff, to see the way we transform as addicts and begin living meaningful lives. Because now I’m living! I’ve been granted blessings that I thought I never deserved. I have loving healthy relationships with my brothers today. I’ve reached goals that I thought were not at all possible and guess what? I’m so excited to say that I’m restoring the relationships with my children and I hear from them often. So I give thanks to God, The Honorable Drug Court Judges and the entire drug court staff, for there is too many to name. My counselors Elania, Joe Johnson, Ashley and Tara. My peers, I couldn’t have done this without all of you. My family and children for their support and for believing in me.

And If I were asked what I’m most grateful for, I would say it’s the chance I’ve been given to live again. My last drug use was the day that I ended my addiction. It was the day that a part of me died and I BEGAN TO LIVE… And though sobriety hasn’t opened the gates of heaven to let me in; it certainly opened the gates of hell to let me out!!!

My name is Mary and this is my story.

If this sweet woman’s post resonated with your heart, please know that you are not alone. Here are a few resources for you:

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If you’d like to receive my free e s-book, You’re Going to Make It Through, you can get it here.
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If in a difficult marriage: Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage is available as a PDF/e-book: www.elisabethklein.com/books
If separated/divorced: Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage is available in paperback/e-book: http://tinyurl.com/phowp95
If a single mom: Moving on as a Christian Single Mom is available in paperback/e-book: www.elisabethklein.com/books

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