Abandoned by her mother at 4 months old, Stephanie was raised primarily by her aunt. About her mother’s leaving she says, “My mom chose to go a separate way and keep drinking and not look back at what she was leaving behind.” Her father struggled with the same addiction as he drifted in and out of Stephanie’s childhood and young adult life. Unable to cope with the abuse she experienced beginning at a young age, Stephanie began “acting out and getting into trouble.” She says that by the time she was in high school “PTSD took over my life.” She joined the track team and excelled at both sprinting and long distance. She quickly realized that if she ran in track after school she could avoid going home where she was often a target for cruelty.
Despite the enormous stress in Stephanie’s life she did very well in school. She enjoyed her studies and won a track scholarship to several New Mexico colleges. She says, “I was looking forward to my freedom.” Stephanie’s family, however, pressured her to attend a local college so that she could live at home–a reality she wanted to avoid. She relented, attended the local university, met a boyfriend (the father of her two sons), and began drinking. She dropped out of college after the first semester. Stephanie would spend the next 14 years of her life battling an intense addiction to alcohol punctuated by short periods of sobriety.
Stephanie had her first son at age 21 and her second by the time she was 29. She was sober for the length of her pregnancies but began drinking heavily after each birth. Shortly after the birth of her second son, Stephanie suffered a stroke. In order to get small amounts of care for herself and her children, Stephanie returned to the home she spent so much of her childhood trying to escape. Her healing process was stunted by more abuse, this time directed not only at Stephanie but at her two sons as well. She says, “I gave up on the healing. It’s an embarrassment to me. I was tired of the abuse and felt helpless. I didn’t want to live.” Once again, Stephanie left her aunt’s home. She and her 4 year old moved to Albuquerque where they moved from shelter to shelter until, shortly before Christmas 2007, Stephanie came to Crossroads for Women. She says, “I never had a chance to really concentrate on myself. The first day I entered Crossroads was the beginning of my chance.”
Stephanie has been sober for over four years. She has maintained stable housing for herself and her sons and has worked diligently with her case manager, counselors, and Crossroads’ family specialist to learn new ways to cope, heal, and parent without violence. She’s proud to report that she recently received an award from her son’s school for “Most Dedicated Parent.” About her life now she says, “I can’t believe I’ve had two years of the healing process. A lot of the staff says, ‘you did it,’ but Crossroads picked me up off the ground and that’s how my healing began. One of my relatives told me that no matter where I went nobody would accept me. But Crossroads proved him wrong.”
About the future Stephanie says, “I got a second chance in life so I’m grabbing that chance and not looking back. I’m moving forward in my life.” She wants most to maintain her sobriety and continue to raise her two boys. She says, “So many people have helped me. My goal is to give back.”
I started off with my family and ended up with “myself-alone”. 1994 was when I let my two oldest sons live with their father. Then, soon after, my daughter followed. I was alone and took the chance to live as I wanted. I drank every day. Then I started using drugs. I was lost for many, many years after that. I went to jail a lot for drinking, charges such as D.I.P, trespassing, disorderly conduct, and assaults. I really had myself fooled. I thought it was okay to live like this. Several years later I found myself in jail because I had a very bad black out which landed me in jail for 6 long months. This was the one time I couldn’t get myself out so easily. I knew I needed help and I decided to participate in the ATP Program.
I spent 6 months there and became a mentor to help new women start their program. Towards the end of my time there I was introduced to the Clinical Director at Crossroads. I was recommended for Maya’s Place and I was accepted. That was the best! At Maya’s, I discovered so many new things about myself. I became responsible for myself. I had to get on life’s track and start making better choices for myself and my children. I also found a wonderful church to go to and to this day I am dedicated to the same church. My eyes were finally opened as I successfully graduated from Maya’s to Crossroads.
In October of 2010, I started a new life journey with Crossroads and it has been such an experience since. With the help of all of the staff and clients here, my life is great. I have this awesome Family Specialist, Andrea, who helped me reunite with my teenage daughter. There have been hard times there but Andrea has always been faithful in helping us get through those rough times. Another person I have worked closely with would be our Vocational Coordinator, Kerry. He has helped me get into computer classes, become a college student and is now helping me with scholarship opportunities. Since I have been at Crossroads, I have accomplished maintaining an apartment, receiving a computer for my home, owning my own vehicle for the first time in my life and being a mom to my children. Also, I want to mention all of the great parties we have. Now I know I don’t have to be intoxicated to have a good time thanks to Crossroads and other organizations who do special things for us women.
In a month, I will be receiving my Section 8 voucher to move to my own place and that’s with all of the help of Maya’s and Crossroads. My journey hasn’t ended. I will be going to school to become a social worker and a motivational speaker to help other women who have struggled with similar challenges as me. I owe the utmost gratitude and appreciation to Crossroads for helping me become a better woman.
“I come from a generation of alcoholics. My parents, brothers and sisters are all alcoholics.” Responding to a sibling dare, Janice took her first drink at 11 years old. 34 years later, on Memorial day 2009, Janice drank her last fifth of vodka. The following morning she woke scared, heart beating “10,000 miles an hour.” Earlier that month she was hospitalized because of alcohol related, health complications. That morning she remembered the warning her doctor delivered— quit drinking or you won’t survive. “Even still I went through all the kitchen cupboards searching for a last drink.” When she didn’t find that drink she sat down and cried. Then she found the strength to go in search of help. She knew she needed a long term treatment center. That very day she was referred to, and accepted at, Maya’s Place.
“Maya’s changed my life. I had time to focus on myself. It was hard. In the beginning, I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror.” By the time Janice transferred to Crossroads she was enrolled full time at CNM and was working part time with the CNM work study program. “Crossroads is like home. In recovery, honesty is crucial. This program gives you time to get honest with yourself. The groups, and friends I met in group, are the main support that keep me strong. I’m beginning to learn how to deal with society and people in a healthy way…I’m beginning to realize who I really am.”
Janice is looking forward to graduating from Crossroads in December. She says, “I’m comfortable flying alone. I am comfortable with where I’m at now.” In the fall of 2012 Janice will graduate from CNM with an associate’s degree in applied sciences. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work at Highlands University. “My dream is to return to White Rock, NM and build a home on the reservation. I would like to get a job with Indian Health services as a substance abuse counselor and outreach to children and the elderly…It will take a lifetime to rectify my old behaviors but I’m grateful that I get a chance to accept myself and my life the way that I am.”