Lifted by Her Father’s Love: Deborah’s Story

DeborahShorten3FINALresizeGrowing up, Deborah was a sheltered straight “A” student. A Daddy’s girl. To make ends meet, her father worked long hours, and she was often left in the care of her much older siblings. Unfortunately, they were dabbling in drugs and as fate would have it, they soon introduced their younger sister to this darker side of life.  By age 14, Deborah was regularly smoking marijuana and consuming alcohol.

For many years, she tried to hide her drug and alcohol use from her father. The decline was gradual. She graduated college and successfully completed an advanced degree. She held a professional job as a pharmacist, and managed her own busy store.  Slowly, however, the weekend “highs” spilled over into week days. A consistent work schedule became harder to maintain. And eventually in the death grip of crack cocaine, she spiraled out of control.  She lost it all…everything. Her car, her home, a rewarding career, and most importantly, her dignity.

“My spirituality left my heart.  I was empty, lonely and tired.”

Shame immobilized Deborah as the years dragged on, difficult and devastating. Her father, however, still believed in her and had faith that she would one day turn a corner toward sobriety and dignity.  Despite failed stints in drug rehab, he never gave up, and constantly reminded Deborah that she had something positive to give this world.  Her experience and education counted for something. Her life had worth.

Still, she hid in the misery of her situation until years later when her father’s continued belief and the expertise of a Houston Police Officer from the Mental Health Crisis Unit finally broke through the haze of despair. The Officer convinced Deborah that it was time for her to require more of her life. It was time to once again believe, to stand strong and to heal. Deborah agreed to try once more, and left for treatment with just the clothes on her back. By this time, her father was gravely ill and she was determined to conquer her addiction before he left this world. He deserved to die in peace…with the knowledge that his baby girl was finally on the right path.

Deborah approached her treatment with renewed vigor. She was assigned a doctor to assist her on her journey and to provide her with the hope she so desperately needed. After three months of sobriety, she followed the strong advice of her case counselor and applied to The Women’s Home. She prayed with all her might that she would be accepted.

And she was. Deborah was welcomed into The Women’s Home in 2010 and immediately took to the structured, disciplined WholeLife program. She had great regard for the WholeLife approach, which she felt addressed healing a number of underlying issues, versus focusing on only her addiction. Deborah was able to find refuge in her new community. She began to understand why and how drugs had taken such a firm grip on her life. She was treated as an individual with her own individual needs, and soon, it all just clicked.

“I could relate to the chemical dependency education,” said Deborah. “My pharmacy training came back quickly and it helped me to understand the information presented. More importantly, I was able to apply the learning to my new life.”

Through her individual therapy, Deborah was also finally diagnosed and treated for major clinical depression. Her counselors were able to reach the hidden places she had walled off for years. Everything was shifting and Deborah began to feel more and more empowered with each passing day.

“I knew I had found my peace when I was able to deal with the death of my beloved father without relapsing,” said Deborah. “The staff and the residents at The Home believed in me. I had the strength to stay on top of it.”

In April of 2012, Deborah moved her father’s furniture, art and keepsakes into her own apartment at Jane Cizik Garden Place (The Women’s Home’s supportive housing community in Spring Branch). At Jane Cizik, Deborah has found a peaceful refuge and a caring community that supports her through her sorrows, pains, and joy. Deborah is also very proud of her steady job at the Goodwill shops. There, she applies the skills she learned in her vocational training at The Cottage Shop and emulates her mentor, Shelley Bridges (the shop’s previous manager). With great humility and gratitude, Deborah has learned that, no matter your circumstance, you can start over.

“This is what it feels like to do what my daddy always wanted for me. This is what happens when you do the right thing for your life.”