Sometimes the people who will change your life the most are the ones you meet halfway down your darkest road. Such is the case of Crystal, Janel and Melissa, three graduates of The Women’s Home from very different walks of life. Upon meeting at The Home found a bond they would carry through recovery. The three came to The Home when their lives were at their most difficult, Janel transferred from the Houston Recovery Center in the wake of an overdose; Melissa, struggling with alcoholism and withdrawn from loved ones; and Crystal also facing alcoholism and estranged from her family.
Life had pushed these three women to the edge of their resilience. Together they found the strength in each other to begin pushing back. Both Melissa and Crystal began drinking later in life. Crystal said she “[I] Thought I could keep it in the corner, and then it crept over the wall and took over every place in my life.” Melissa too attempted to hide her illness from others “Before alcoholism, I loved the person that I was. I began hiding things from my partner and was ashamed of my actions. I could not look people in the eye. I stopped taking care of myself. In my addiction I hated who I was.” Janel, who struggled with intravenous drug addiction and the death of her boyfriend also wrestled with guilt and shame. She and the others all are grateful for the shame resilience training they received during their time at The Home. “Looking back,” Janel said, “I was not a bad person, [I] just made some bad choices.”
Together the three threw all they had into the program, sitting at the head of every class and dedicating themselves to their recovery. They took on the challenges of recovery with open arms and always with the determination to push their limits. Each attribute their time in The Cottage Shop with the resurgence of their self-confidence.
Each was also personally impacted by a different aspect of the program. For Melissa, who was quiet and withdrawn upon arriving, assertiveness training gave her the confidence to advocate for herself and set healthy boundaries. Crystal appreciated learning the physiological science behind her alcoholism, how her brain had been altered and contributed to the challenges she faced. As someone who drew strength from her faith she also forged a strong connection to her spiritual mentor, Judy Gilbert, a spiritual advisor to The Home. Janel appreciated the experience of being around other women and watching them interact in healthy ways and learning to have those relationships for herself. She also values the lesson of self-compassion and dealing with grief. “I forgave myself, I allowed myself to be happy, before I thought that I did not deserve that.”
Now after life in The Home, Crystal, Janel and Melissa are each other’s support system and grounding points. They share an apartment together and each have blossomed into prosperous jobs. “We come home and we have each other” Melissa says and Crystal adds “We are accountable to each other. Like we are a family.” The three not only have the bonds they found in each other to draw strength from, but have reconnected with their biological families. Crystal who works as a trainee managing 300 accounts for a family company, is back in her son’s and her mother’s lives and is happy to have him enrolled with programs at her church. Janel is the administrative assistant to a bio technology company’s Vice President of Finance and has connected with her nephew, who has become best friends with Crystal’s son from their visits to the women’s apartment. Melissa was recently promoted in her position working in supervision and event planning for a contract company with Costco. She is reforging her relationship with her mother, helping her mom unlearn her enabling behaviors.
The trio, in graduating and moving forward to thrive in their recovered lives, have not forgotten where they met or the others who come after them. They still volunteer with The Home and reach out to and help the residents who are standing at the same shadowed crossroads that lead them to each other. “We can become resources to help other women. Soak up the opportunities and learn everything. You have to be active and seek out your answers. This is an amazing place where all of your needs are met, where everyone has your best interest at heart. It gives you so many directions to go. It is a place where time is given to learn about you and create yourself.”