Ever heard the phrase, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?” Have you wondered if maybe the apple could fall near the tree, but then be moved? This is the story of Melanie; the daughter of two addicts, the sister of more addicts. Her family tree had a debilitating disease, and it had passed onto her. Her parents “functioned” with their addiction, holding down full-time jobs, but no supervision just made it easier for Melanie to fall into that lifestyle at a very young age.
When Melanie was 13 years old, she had started going to church, and reluctantly at first, her parents joined her. Melanie was still living a life of drinking, smoking pot, and theft, despite her involvement in the church, but her parents were beginning to experience an incredible transformation. God was starting to move in this family, but it would take a terrible accident to get them fully on the path to God.
One night, 16-year-old Melanie was in a bad car wreck. The car she was driving flipped 3 times. The scene was something from a parents’ worst nightmare. The car was a bent-up jagged mess, smashed and mangled. They were so astounded and grateful that their daughter had somehow miraculously made it out alive, but after seeing the wreckage, they were puzzled. How could she have? She should’ve been dead, and then they knew. It could only have been God. The years of partying, drug, and alcohol abuse came to an abrupt stop. But what about Melanie?
The wreck hadn’t done much to phase her. She partied herself right into an abusive relationship that drug her into a dope addiction, which cost her a good job. She moved on from her abuser but didn’t move on from the dope. She was hooked. She met her first husband, they got married, and she became pregnant at 24 years old. She had 2 other children, but despite being a mother now, the addiction stuck with her. She was thrown in prison for possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of marijuana, paraphernalia, and cultivation. She lost all three of her children, and in her depression, she just got further into addiction. She had no job and no place to live, so she went from couch-to-couch, eventually finding herself in a drug house, raped and beaten. “That’s where our addiction takes us,” she said as she reflected on that night. She had nowhere to go, both of her parents had passed away, but she knew she needed to get off the streets. She wanted change for her life, she wanted the kind of change her parents had, but did she have the strength? She came to the Gospel Rescue Mission.
Now, friends, I’m going to take a quick pause here. At this point in Melanie’s story, she was an absolute wreck, something that we like to call an “unfinished story.” She wanted change, but no matter how hard she tried, she just kept back-sliding. This is not uncommon here. We see people everyday that come here genuinely wanting and needing to get clean, or get their lives together, but it’s very hard. Unless you’ve dealt with an addiction yourself, you’ll never know the internal struggle that happens or how easily a trigger, such as seeing a simple spoon, can send you to relapse. We see several guests come in, make bad choices, leave, then come back and try again. Here at Gospel Rescue Mission, we understand that this IS part of the process for some people. We wish it wasn’t, but without hitting that rock bottom, most people never will make that change. Fortunately, we believe in second chances! For some, it might take just two. For others, like Melanie, it might take four or five. So, if you see us post a story, or know someone with a story, that is “unfinished,” just remember that wherever you find them in their life, it’s not over yet. Just wait till you hear how Melanie’s story turns out…
Melanie and her second husband, who was also an addict, were in and out of Gospel Rescue Mission several times. She was arrested for various offenses, mostly drug-related, and warrants for failure to appear were issued. She tried to run from them, hiding out here or on the streets, but they eventually caught up to her. She ended up in drug court and that level of accountability is where things started to change. Now she is living here with a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, plus drug court where she is subject to constant drug-testing with a threat of jail time if she can’t pass them. Her husband tried to get clean as well, but his path is different from Melanie’s. She has the strength of God now running through her. She is reconnecting to the God she knew in her teenage years, and He is giving her the power to overcome her demons. He is still struggling and at this moment, relapsed, and living on the streets. Melanie continues to pray for him, hoping God will work in his life the way He worked in hers.
“It’s minute-by-minute for me. That’s what it’s like for an addict,” she told me.
“What advice would you give to someone in those same shoes?” I had asked her.
“Don’t give up,” she said. “To the addict that’s still suffering, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help.”
Where is her path headed now? She works full-time, and wants to become a Peer Recovery Support Specialist, get her GED, and then go to school to become a case manager. It looks like even though the apple didn’t originally fall far from the tree, a storm came and blew not just the apple away, but the tree itself, and replanted them into better, healthier, and more nourishing soil. Now the little apple is taking roots in the good ground and starting to sprout!
If you, or someone you know, is needing help with addiction, reach out to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline to find help near you.