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Lisa's Story

I grew up in domestic violence. Since I can remember I used alcohol from a very young age in grade school. My mom always provided us with a home and structure, but no emotional support. She wasn’t there emotionally for us, which I think is what led to me drinking and using drugs. I was never happy at home so I ran away and got in trouble a lot. I was really smart in school. They wanted to advance me to the 2nd grade, but my mom didn’t. By the time, I was in middle school, I think I was bored.

I dropped out of school and started getting in trouble. I never went to high school. By 18, I had my first baby. She passed away. From 16 to 18, I wasn’t too heavy into drugs. But after 18, I had my baby and I really wanted a baby. I was with the kids’ dad. He’s the father of all my children and we have seven kids now. She passed away at 11 months old. I didn’t know how to deal with that. I was very unhealthy emotionally. I didn’t know that then. I didn’t know how to have relationships or communicate.

I started using drugs heavily after I lost my baby.  I went to treatment when my two oldest kids were about 1 and 2. I went to treatment in Seattle, but I never really worked on myself. I just went through the motions and tried to do what people wanted me to do. Ever since I was little, I just wanted to be okay. I wanted people to be happy with me. I never felt okay with myself until I started here with Kim.

I’ve only been sober for about three years out of my life except for now. I got my GED really easily and took the test without studying. I’ve always been really smart and logical and independent. When I set my mind to it, things came really easily.

In 2012, I went to the University for about three years. Then I got back with my kids’ father and started using drugs again. We had three more kids. We were just using heavily and drinking. I never knew what a healthy relationship was. I repeated what I grew up with and my mom lived in domestic violence. I saw the same cycle with me. Eventually I got to the point where I left and wanted help.

I started doing outpatient. I knew I needed help and knew I needed inpatient. I was at a very low point in my life. I still continued to use and I was only sober for a few months. Then CPS took my three little kids and that was devastating. They’d never taken my kids. I grew up here my whole life. They had my kids for two months and then I got them back.

Maybe that’s what I needed, but it was really hard. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been working on myself a lot. Kim has really helped me with both mental health and addiction. I’ve been through a lot of addictions and trying to come off of drugs and be sober and have a good life for my kids. You can’t do it unless you take a look at yourself and be accountable for the damage you’ve done to yourself and your kids. You can’t get past it unless you own it and be accountable for it.

I want to break the cycle of addiction in my family. I have an 18 year old. On her birthday, she made the decision and she and her daughter moved into a group home. She had started using meth and I was scared and didn’t know what to do. I had to get myself healthy. I didn’t want my kids to start using. Now, I’m 40 years old and just getting the skills I need.

I knew I needed help. My daughter was out there using and she lost her daughter. She got an opportunity to be responsible. On her 18th birthday, she took that opportunity and went to a transitional living center in Missoula. I am so proud of her. My other daughter is very proud of me and I see the hope in their eyes again, because I’m here in recovery and sober and doing what I need to do.

I’ve always wanted to break the cycle of dysfunction in my family. You just need to work on it honestly and work on yourself. What keeps me sober is the desire to have a good life and I don’t want my kids to go through what I went through. My mom did the best she could with the tools she had. I know if she had better tools that she would have used them.

I’ve used drugs a long time in my life and I’ve had a lot of highs and a lot of lows, but nothing feels better than being sober and in recovery and celebrating life. Nothing feels better than being proud of my part in my kids’ lives and I want them to be proud of me. It feels a lot better than drugs.

I’m learning the skills and using them and passing them on to my kids. Everyone makes their own choices and they’re going to do what they want, but at least I know I did my part. It’s all about empowering myself and my kids. It’s about being assertive and setting boundaries.

It’s usually been easy for me to get back on my feet but I finally got to the point where I couldn’t do it anymore. I was doing it for everyone else and couldn’t do it for myself. All I’ve ever wanted was to have my family together, have a piece of land, and have a house. I had all of that and I wasn’t happy, my family wasn’t happy, so I had to make the decision to let it go. If you’re not healthy, it’s not going to work.

From here, I want to finish school. I just have a couple of semesters to get my business degree. I want my own business. I want to be able to support myself and be there for my kids and my life and my granddaughter. I think God sent me a gift right here. My tubes were tied and I still got pregnant with her so she’s a miracle baby.

If it wasn’t for the Nest, I don’t know where I would be right now. I was angry, upset, and I needed help and somewhere safe to be with my kids. There need to be more programs like this because there are a lot of mothers who want to be with their kids and they don’t know where to go to get clean and be with their kids. I want the other mothers to know that there is help out there. I know a lot of people feel hopeless, but there needs to be more help like this.

I didn’t realize how I wasn’t a good mom until I came here and realized how much they were missing. Just the reality of taking my kids from me, it made me work harder at getting to where I am today. I couldn’t stand life without my kids. It’s not easy, but it’s a lot easier than doing drugs the rest of my life.

I have 18-year-old, a 17-year-old, a 15-year-old and one that’s 12. These two are five right now and then the baby. I can call them at night and tell them I love them and I’m proud of them. The 17 and 15-year-old are with my mom until I get out of here. I thought maybe I needed to get away from home for treatment but I’m actually glad I stayed, because I grew up in this area and I feel really comfortable here. It’s nice to have this opportunity to get help here. Having the services right here on the Reservation is really awesome. I want to be around my family so I’m happy I’m getting the help here.

I want to help people express themselves and their artistic abilities. I’m going to help people make clothing and jewelry to express their own artistic abilities. There are a lot of people with a lot of skills who don’t use them. I know how to bead and make jewelry, and I know a lot of people who know how to do that and they deserve credit for that. I want to give back to the community. So I want to learn grant writing and give back to the community.

I felt hopeless. I was in a relationship that was going nowhere. We were miserable. We love each other, but we were miserable. We were both using. I didn’t want to live this life and see my kids suffer. I was losing all my self-respect and confidence. I tried on my own and I couldn’t do it. I learned about the programs through word of mouth and then Kim told me about the Nest where I could have my kids. I thought I was going to have to go out of state. I had no strength, no hope, no self-esteem and I knew I needed help.

If this wasn’t here, my kids would have been in foster care longer because I really didn’t know where to go or where to turn. I was losing myself. My cousin was just honest with me and said if you don’t straighten up and do this, you’re going to lose everything. I knew it was true. I was going to lose my kids and I feel so bad for women who have lost their kids. They just don’t know where to go for help. I found the help I needed and I wasn’t going to stop until I did.

My kids love it here. They feel safe. They’re happy. They’re just happy to be here with their mom and be safe. They weren’t safe when I was using. I feel like there is hope now. My older daughter is following my example. This was what I needed to do to become the mom I needed to be. If I was still using, she’d probably be following me in those footsteps. I want to be a support for my kids and other women.

I don’t know one woman who lost their kids who would choose that if they had their kids. They just don’t know what to do or where to go. They don’t know how to deal with their lives. Some of them have been through so much trauma and abuse. I was lucky to have role models for morals and values. My grandpa was a really good man and he was always there for us, but some people don’t have that.

If I stay honest and accountable then my kids will respect me and look up to me. I’m really excited about my life now. I’m excited to see what we’re capable of. We need to break the cycles of our families’ addictions and dysfunction.

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