I remember being homeless and pushing my now 6-year-old daughter in her stroller through the snow feeling no control over my life. Being a single mom is hard enough. The only thing harder is being a single mom battling a substance use illness.
I fell into a pattern of frequent meth use and eventually social services got involved. My kids were taken away from me and put into foster care. It’s hard for me to believe that this disease can be more powerful than maternal instincts, yet my desire to use overpowered everything else in my life.
I was pregnant with my youngest son and trying to get clean through the Drug Court Program through Arapahoe House. One week, I decided I wasn’t going to comply with the requirements and I skipped my required urinalysis and group therapy sessions. However, I did attend my weekly court appointment so I could yell at the judge. I told him that all of this was a waste of my time. He held me in contempt and put me in jail for 48 hours.
During that time in jail, something happened to me. I realized that during all the times I tried to get clean, I was doing it for other people or to comply with the multiple systems I was involved with. I looked down at my belly, six months into my pregnancy, and knew I had to get treatment for myself. I knew no one was going to pick up the pieces for me. I wanted to get healthy and was ready to give treatment a real chance.
When I left jail, I realized this was the first time I was truly reaching out for help. I committed myself to the Drug Court Program. It was really intense, but it turns out I needed intense. I was also placed in Arapahoe House’s Special Connections program for pregnant women.
This time, everything I learned in drug treatment was making sense. Sobriety came before everything else. The judge noticed a difference; my counselors noticed big changes. Here I am, 18 months later, a fully-employed single mother living in recovery.
I’ve grown so much since that night in jail. I take full responsibility for my disease and my actions. I have full custody of my kids and this holiday season we are going to make things extra special. I didn’t used to put any effort into the holidays and now I’m making up for lost time. We are getting a real tree this year and we can’t wait to decorate it as a family. I have Christmas themed pajamas for the kids and I’ll probably end up taking hundreds of photos. We have so many new memories to make.
Starting with nothing, now I feel like I have everything. Arapahoe House gave me treatment, they helped me with housing and they helped me get my kids back. I couldn’t’ ask for anything else.