I graduated from the Chrysalis House in 2006. I found out about the Chrysalis House program through pamphlets that circulate in the prison systems. The pamphlets provide women with information about addiction and rehab centers that take recovering addicts and welcome them with open arms. At first I must admit after being locked up for almost 2 years, I was scared and afraid of change but knew I had to get rid of old people, places and things. Once I arrived at Chrysalis House I felt welcomed immediately and met with a counselor and started to work on my treatment plan.
Throughout my process at the Chrysalis House I was given a chance to learn how to become a productive member of society by working on my treatment plan and having access to all the wonderful programs they have to offer. I recently was made aware of Chrysalis House losing major grant money they need in order to fund all these programs to help recovering addicts like myself. I was heartbroken about this news and knew that I needed to take some action and write a letter to make people aware of the lives that Chrysalis House has affected!
I have been clean and sober for 7 years and have been able to be an active participant in my life not to mention the fact that cycles have been broken in my family that date back for years and years of drug abuse. The out pouring of love and the gift of life Chrysalis House has given me is unexplainable. I am a walking success story thanks to them. People always hear about the process beforehand that lead up to the drug abuse but never about the success stories and how programs like the Chrysalis House help change lives.
I am a mother today and know who I am and where I’m going! I have a part-time job as a waitress and am currently a college student with a 3.69 GPA. I am set to graduate February, 2013. As I stated previously I am an active participant in my life today who has been given the chance of knowing a different lifestyle thanks to Chrysalis House who gave me the tools I needed to succeed. Without places like Chrysalis House there would be no more Melissa B. I have overcome obstacles and been given the gift of being the great mother I am today to my children, breaking the cycle and making a better way for my children so they can strive to be the best they can be. Life is not easy but what you make it. For me and my children they have been given their mother back and that’s the best gift anyone could ever give them. My children still attend the Chrysalis House daycare and it’s still the best gift in the world to me to see their smiling faces when I pick them up form daycare. They know momma loves them!!
On May 25th, 2009, I was dropped off at Chrysalis House in Lexington. My step-dad helped me unpack my clothes that I was carrying in garbage bags and the last thing he said to me before hugging me good-bye was, “stay”. For reasons I cannot easily explain, that is exactly what I did. I walked in the door 7 months pregnant and hopelessly addicted to crack cocaine. I have been clean from drugs and many other addictions since that day. I started using when I was about 14 years old; a father in prison and a mother working two jobs allowed me any behavior I chose growing up and for a young girl trying to fit in, drugs and booze seemed a perfect fit.
Over the years I went from smoking a little pot after school and drinking on my mom’s wine when she wasn’t looking, to becoming a cocaine addict with no conscious. I snorted my first line of cocaine off the bathroom sink at my high school. I wasn’t raised poorly; I simply wasn’t raised. I grew up watching TV, fixing my own dinner, writing letters to a father in prison, and taking care of my siblings. Through high school I tried any drug available and by the time I was 19, I was pregnant with my first child and married to a man that didn’t know who I was. I hid my using; was shooting cocaine intravenously during my pregnancy, taking valiums to appear calm when he was home, and often drinking to go to sleep before he came in from his 60 hour a week job. We were absolute strangers and finally divorced. The divorce added to the downward spiral; I left the marriage and my young son behind thinking a life of partying was what I wanted. I had no idea I was about to walk down a path of homelessness, prostitution, overdoses, prison, addiction, and total degradation.
From the time I was 20 years old until arriving at the Chrysalis House in 2009, I checked into at least 8 rehabs. I often went because I was hungry, tired, or running from some sort of criminal activity and needed a place to hide out for a while. During the two decades of my using I not only walked away from my first son, but had a second son while incarcerated at the Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women. I cannot say much about my time in prison; it was not a place for help or finding a better way to live. I did not decide to stay clean after being in prison once or even three times. I was completely destroyed by the experience of giving birth to a child while shackled to a bed and ultimately being taken back to prison while he went home with someone else. This particular thing that happened made me so much more of a destroyed person that getting clean or starting over seemed foreign in many ways. I only wanted to stop the pain and this addict knew all too well how to do that; keep using, right?
The only place I found the desire for a life without drugs was at Chrysalis House. As I mentioned, I came to Chrysalis when I was 7 months pregnant; I was about to turn 34. I was desperate not to lose this child to addiction, but had no idea how to stop killing myself; had no idea how to break the patterns of addiction and the recurring abandonment I had imposed on my children. The days seemed to go on and on through the first weeks and months, but slowly I began to trust the women working at Chrysalis House; I started to realize that they honestly wanted to help me, and not just me, but also my children. This was something I had not experienced before. I started opening my life up to them and in return, the help came. I began to seek a better life and began finding out the truth about why I had used drugs for so many years. I attended classes such as Parenting, Job Readiness, and Relapse Prevention. Chrysalis House was giving me knowledge; educating me with facts about not just addiction, but also about motherhood and employment for a woman in recovery. I felt empowered and for the first time in my life, I wanted something better; something different. I wanted to stay clean. The ‘lights’ came on, so to speak. I started spending more and more time at and around the Chrysalis House community center where I would do anything from scrub toilets to clean windows; anything to be there. I fell in love with the ‘program’ and the women that made it all possible. I then became introduced to the community of Lexington and then even beyond that the world around me. I felt alive and as if anything was possible as long as I stayed on this particular path. The butterfly logo of The Chrysalis House has deep meaning for those of us who have come through the many months and even years of that program. I am no longer the little caterpillar without direction; I am a butterfly; and yes, I can fly.
Since finding Chrysalis, I have become a mother to my two sons who I had once abandoned. I am a mother to my young daughter, who was born while I lived at Chrysalis House. My daughter was healthy and happy and absolutely spoiled by the other clients and the staff; she was held and cuddled and loved; this was the first of my three children that I had an opportunity to bond with. It changed my life. I cannot say the same for my youngest son born in prison or my oldest son I left behind. The three of them are amazing together and each time I tuck them in at night, I say a little thank you to Chrysalis House. I am their mother and that is something I could never say before. We have a beautiful home and this butterfly went back to college. I currently have an Associate in Arts and have continued studying at The University of Kentucky to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree in Writing and Digital Media with a minor in Hispanic Studies. I am working towards owning my own business and just might get my Master’s at some point. The Chrysalis House made these things possible for me and for my children. They are growing up with a mother that works, goes to school and does her homework, pays the bills, and gives back to the community that gave so much to her. What a wonderful example I can be for them now; I rarely consider what they would have had as a mother without Chrysalis House.
Although being a single mom, full time student, and woman in recovery is demanding and sometimes very difficult, I will stay this course and continue to push on. After all, I have been on the other side and without a doubt, the grass is greener right here. The toughest days are just days that I must make time to stop in at the Chrysalis House and talk to one of the many women available and willing to listen; they remind me each time I leave that they will always be there. It is difficult to put into words what Chrysalis House has done for me and in my life; it is fitting to say that Chrysalis gave me a life, one worth living. I sit here at my computer and my daughter is now here patting my knee, “Mommy, you read!” she is asking me to read, of all things, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. The last page is, of course, our favorite!!
Thank you Chrysalis House!!!!
June 14, 2011 was the day my life finally hit rock bottom, I was sent to jail for failing a drug test while being five months pregnant. For two weeks I sat in jail thinking about how my life had become so unmanageable so quickly. Everyday had been filled with lies, drama, and complete chaos. I had lost my trust with friends, family, and most importantly I was spiritually bankrupt. I put myself on the waiting list for the Chrysalis House, expecting not a letter or a call back. Pacing the cell all day long awaiting court, the Chrysalis House called and said they had a bed awaiting me. The judge was hesitant, but allowed it.
When I first arrived I was mad at the world and very resentful, and it was very easy for me to play the victim role. Late at night was the worst for me, I started to feel very homesick and anxious. The staff however helped me no matter the hour of the night. They would always find ways to comfort me and manage my emotions, which seemed to be overflowing at this point. It took me a while to warm up to my therapist, but once I moved the self righteousness, and self pity out of the way I was open ears and open mind! The teachers of my classes were very thorough and serious about what they were teaching me but every single one of them were concerned and affectionate. The rules were somewhat strict and my day was full of structure, which for me it meant my responsibilities were heightened and priorities were altered. Finding out the hard way, it was all for the right reasons.
June 28 2011, my life was re-routed into a direction I could have never have went without this program. Excited but full of fear my journey started. I completed a number of classes, anything from Parenting, Domestic Violence, Computers, Job Awareness, and Relapse Prevention. After completing these classes and meeting weekly with a therapist, I was now ready to get a job. I started working and attending 12 step meetings regularly.
I had a beautiful and healthy son at the end of September and Chrysalis House made it their duty to make sure I had all the necessities. This overwhelmed me with gratitude, to know that these women were showing me a new way to live and to be a responsible mother. Before I knew it residential was over and I was ready to move on into my own apartment. February 14, 2012 I moved into my own apartment with both of my children. I am now working a full time job, attending 12 step meetings regularly, and going to church faithfully! Most of all I am a compassionate and grateful mother of two.
The Chrysalis House and staff without a doubt saved my life, and put me back into the world as a productive member of society, with the tools and knowledge of a complete new way to live!!!