Ashley’s Story of Learning Love and Redefining Herself

“She’s dead, give up.” That’s a sentence my uncle once spoke to my aunt about me. I started using drugs when I was 12 years old. By the time I was 16 years old I was abusing pain pills and it just all escalated from there…I did everything else you can think of. I grew up with drugs all around me, both my parents were addicts. I looked around and saw my family and all of our addictive personalities and just thought that was the norm. My mom acted more as a friend than a mom. My dad, well he was the first person to ever stick a needle in my arm, at the time I thought that was a sign of love and bonding between us. I reached a point in my life where I thought all I was ever going to be was a heroin addict…that’s how I defined myself.

My aunt has always cared greatly about me and tried to help me at my worst. I was 22 years old and had lost everything: my apartment, my boyfriend and even my son. I was in an incredibly dark and lonely place and my aunt just wanted to pull me out of it all. One of my aunt’s friends volunteers at City Rescue Mission and told my aunt about the LifeBuilders Program after my aunt had shared that she was worried about me and trying to get me some help. Later that same night after my aunt was told about City Rescue Mission they saw a long-time friend of theirs at dinner who also volunteers at City Rescue Mission and he told them to bring me in. When my aunt and uncle got home from dinner, my uncle turned to my aunt and said, “She’s dead, give up.” My uncle was tired of seeing my aunt in pieces and emotionally wrecked over my life choices. He was worried that nothing was going to pull me out of my darkness and that my aunt would just remain devastated. Nevertheless, my aunt brought me to City Rescue Mission. I came into the Mission kicking and screaming, but now, I couldn’t be more grateful for the day my aunt dragged me to CRM.

There was something missing in my life before coming to the Mission, and I now realize it was God. While in the LifeBuilders Program I’ve found my faith and built a trust in Christ, which has lifted a weight off my shoulders. I learned that there is freedom in obedience to God and His plan for your life. I’ve learned the real meaning of love. Before CRM, I thought love was my father sticking a needle in my arm. Now I know God’s unfailing love and grace. I’ve learned to love myself. I’ve received counseling that has helped me identify the root of my addiction and heal wounds. I’ve seen how the Lord is transforming me and my life and know He loves me no matter what, and therefore I can love myself.

Next month I will graduate from City Rescue Mission’s, LifeBuilders Program. When I think about how that day will feel, I just keep thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I will have accomplished something’. I never graduated high school or accomplished much worth celebrating so this will be so special. I can’t wait to look out in the crowd and see my loved ones staring back, smiling at me saying, “We knew you could do it!” After graduation I will get my 3 year old son back. I couldn’t be more excited to have him back and have the opportunity to be his mommy. He’s going to see mommy is happy with herself. I was never going to be able to love him the way he deserved, until I learned to love myself. My son will also know consistency which is something I never had growing up. I’m going to get my GED, and then find a job where I can provide a happy and stable life for my son. I hope my story shows people my age that they can and should get help and find hope in the possibility of a better life