I grew up in a small town in Northern Alberta, with my parents and three sisters. My father was an alcoholic, and my parents were often out during the evenings. Their absence created chaos in our young lives and left us vulnerable to trauma and abuse.
The lack of parental supervision created opportunities for me to try drugs and alcohol at the young age of 11. This introduced me to a lifestyle that wasn’t healthy. I ended up pregnant at 15 years old, and I later had four more children, each whom I love dearly.
Between each pregnancy, I would experience postpartum depression, which would cause me to reach for pills or substances to numb the pain. This became a cycle that eventually turned into a deep addiction. I eventually had to make the hard decision to give up my children, to protect them. I didn’t want them to experience what I had growing up.
After giving them up, I moved away from my hometown to try and have a fresh start. I ended up homeless and would hustle to survive. This is where my addiction to hard drugs grew.
It was scary being homeless. I never knew when I would get my next meal and I was hungry most of the time. I once went four days with only a teaspoon of peanut butter to eat. I didn’t really care about the hunger though; I was always looking for my next drink or high. I had no hope for anything in my life.
This time, I discovered my higher power and I finally learned I needed to let everything go if I was going to change my life. I cut ties with past toxic relationships, and I finally started to heal. I ended up not just becoming sober but becoming a role model to the other women in the program!
My family would try to bring me home for the holidays. I would go and see them, but I couldn’t be truly present with them. The guilt would catch up with me, and I struggled to cope. My kids would try to remind me of memories we had shared together during the holidays, and I couldn’t remember them. This broke my heart, and theirs.
Eventually, after my father passed away, my boyfriend at the time convinced me to go to treatment. I had done treatment before and didn’t really believe I would change this time. However, I was wrong.
After going through treatment, I knew I would need a safe place to stay to continue my recovery. I applied to a few agencies, but the first to reach out to me was the Calgary Dream Centre (CDC).
The CDC is not just a place to live, it’s become a home where I am safe. They have been my landlord, my friend, and my hope. Having the necessities here such as water, food and shelter have been essential for me to succeed in my recovery. Coming here, and being supported with food, has reinforced my belief that there is a higher power watching over me!
Through the care I have received here, the CDC has proven to me that I can get better, and I have! I’m no longer on the streets surviving, I am THRIVING. I’ve gone back to school and have reconnected with my family. I can’t believe where I am today!
I am so excited to celebrate Christmas with my family this year! Now that I’m in recovery, I can focus on my children and grandchildren without the shame of the past. I now remember every moment I spend with them. I especially enjoy playing with my grandson! I’m present when I’m with them, and it’s made a big difference. I’m so grateful for the joy we share in being together now!