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Stepheny’s Story

I grew up in a loving home. I moved around a lot as a child, but we landed in a nice suburb. I was a funny and bright kid, and I excelled at pretty much everything. My parents loved me and wanted me to be the best I could be. I tried really hard to be the best, but inside I felt like I was just holding my breath before I failed.

The first time I drank I was in 7th grade; I was hanging out with older kids.  When I drank I felt like I could finally relax; being drunk made me feel better. The problem was, I didn’t have a stop button. When I was 15, I attempted to take my own life. I had gotten into trouble for drinking and, as a consequence, I had to sit out a season of sports. I was told that, if I didn’t quit drinking, I was never going to be anything — but that didn’t stop me from drinking.

I did try to stay sober in my 20s. I met a good man and we were married. I attended grad school, and felt overwhelmed – this time I turned to food instead of alcohol to deal with my stress.  I gained so much weight, that we had a hard time starting a family.  I chose to have weight loss surgery – I thought that would help my marriage and also my confidence.  But I was wrong; my whole life changed again.  I met a charming man who made me feel beautiful; in my weakness, I left everything I had built and everything I had loved behind to be with this new person.  Turns out he was addicted to heroin and meth; and with him, I fell into that life and completely into darkness.

I lost everything. First went my career and then the money ran out…and that man left too. I did what I needed to do, to get my drugs.

My worst moment was in a hotel room with a bunch of other addicts. I was so out of it that I shot up with a syringe of heroin from someone I didn’t even know.  I overdosed. It took 8 vials of Narcan to revive me. It’s truly a miracle that I’m even alive today.

On my 36 birthday, a police officer woke me up on the street and he asked, “Ma’am when was the last time you used?” He could tell just by looking at me that I was an addict. 

Throughout my addiction, I would occasionally ask my parents for help, and usually they would say “no”.  But after a pretty rough stretch of being cold and homeless, I was finally able to convince them to let me stay for one night. I felt so relieved and safe in their home; in that moment my dad was able to convince me to get a chemical treatment assessment. That led me to MnTC.

When I came into Mn Adult and Teen Challenge, I felt like I could breathe again.

The first 3 months I was in the program, I was doing everything I could do to dive in, burning the candle at both ends. And then the COVID pandemic happened and everything just stopped.  My world got very quiet and I had to lean on God. I had to be still and be sober. Not be distracted. This season through the pandemic has been hard, but it’s allowed me to focus on what’s important. My family. God. My sisters. I’ve gotten a lot of great lessons out of this time.

Until I came to MnTC, I didn’t realize how much abuse I had suffered just to survive on the streets. Sexual favors were expected for food, shelter, and for drugs. I didn’t think of it as prostitution at the time, just survival.  But that type of survival comes with so much trauma. Flashback after flashback kept me awake at night. But, gradually, with help from my counselors and chaplains, I’m now able to talk about it, deal with it, and process it.  I’m learning. I’m not alone. God loves me. I don’t need to feel shame.

Restoration with my parents has also been amazing. They are my biggest supporters; they don’t bring up the past but focus on the future; they have visited me at every opportunity.

Today I know that when I’m following God’s cause, I’m filled with peace. The programs at MnTC have made things make sense. I’ve learned to turn to scripture. I’ve been taught that I’m not alone and how to live my life as a woman of integrity. I always tried to find self-worth in worldly things, but I couldn’t find it. Now I know that I’ve been created in God’s image and He is where my worth lies.

This program and my relationship with Jesus have saved my life.