Recovery Changed Me

Submitted on Apr 8, 2024 by  Healing Hope

As part of a collaboration with our longtime partner organization Christie's Place, The Well Project will be sharing stories from their book "Healing Hope: A woven tapestry of strength and solace" as blog entries on our A Girl Like Me platform. The views and opinions expressed in this project are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of The Well Project.

**Content Warning** This piece discusses violence, including intimate partner violence, as well as suicide (resources available at the bottom of this page)

If you are feeling threatened right now, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence hotline in the US at 800-799-SAFE [1-800-799-7233; or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)]. You can also search for a safe space online at Domestic Shelters (


by Amanda
Transcription of Audio Recording
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Colorful illustration of two women hugging, surrounded by flowers.

Illustration by Lena Gacek

Hi, my name is Amanda, and I am 33 years old and a mother of three. I always like to start my story from when I was young. I was brought into this world by two children, my mother was 14, and my dad was 18. Shortly after I was born, both became addicts and had no knowledge on how to raise a child. So, you can imagine how my life began. My grandmother took on the responsibility of raising me. When she passed away when I was 6, it was like losing my mama. After that, my life consisted of bouncing around from home to home, place to place, family to family due to my mom being in and out of jail. At the age of eight years old, I was separated from my siblings. They went to my aunt and uncle, and I went to my dad and new stepmom. That's when my real trauma began. I lost the only security I had when we were separated. I felt so alone and lost. I was returned to my mom around the age of 12, where we resided in a trailer park on the lower end of town, which is where I first began to experiment with drugs in the 8th grade.

At the age of 13, I got caught skipping school, and by 9th grade, I didn't know what the outside of in-school suspension even looked like. I was so out of control by the end of 9th grade that my mom felt it best to send me to live with my aunt. Although my aunt's house was the first feeling of a family home I ever had, I couldn't stay off drugs. I started accumulating runaway charges and theft charges at 14, and I ended up in a Youth Detention Center.

When I was released from the Youth Detention Center, they told me that I needed to go stay with my aunt and uncle in Tennessee (where my brother and sister were residing). My mind was so set on the drugs and bad friends that all I could think about was running away. I immediately got out, violated my probation, and then was on the run. It was a long and exhausting run, and after thinking of going to find my mom or just ending my life, I knew where I had to go

My mom was in Tijuana, Mexico, at the time. All I thought I needed to be better was her, so I found the means to get there at 15. I spent the rest of my teenage years and early 20's in Tijuana. (That's a story for a different day)

While I was there, one of my first boyfriends was a major heroin dealer, so I was exposed to that life very early on. I just watched people steadily destroy themselves on heroin, so I chose not to use heroin and stuck with what I thought was the "better drug," meth. That relationship ended very badly. The police beat him and smashed his head into the curb, and he went completely brain dead. Still, that wasn't enough to open my eyes. I kept on using, and I ended up jumping in and out of relationships with dangerous people, and by the time I was 18, I went to Tijuana prison.

I went to prison for car theft. When I was in there, it was the first time that I ever experienced being sober since I had started using. The mental clarity that I experienced was something beyond anything that I could explain. The fact that I built relationships with women really meant something to me. I wanted to be able to keep that when I left prison, I just didn't know how because I didn't know how to live life the right way outside of jail. When they told me that I was leaving, I cried. I totally had a meltdown. Saying things like, "Don't let me leave, please!" I did not want to go. I pitched a fit and told them to charge me with whatever they needed to charge me with because I didn't want to go and live the life that I was living.

Unfortunately, that was not the reality of the situation, so I ended up getting out of prison and right back with the guy that I was with before I got locked up. I stayed with him for a few weeks. He was back to the same thieving lifestyle, and I tried staying off drugs, but that didn't last long. Right when I gathered the courage to leave him, he ended up going back to prison. I jumped into an even worse relationship with somebody else who was extremely abusive to me.

He would beat me for whatever reason to the point of broken ribs and hospitalizations. I was terrified of him. When friends would ask, I would never admit to him hurting me. I tried leaving him once after he murdered my dog. I survived off being a dancer, but along with dancing came lots more drugs and alcohol, which made me very sick. When I ended up in the hospital, he saw that as an opportunity to move back in. I always looked fine on the outside but on the inside, I was screaming for help. He ended up going to prison for about a year which was the best thing that happened to me. I ended the relationship with him and then got in another relationship. The drugs just consistently kept coming.

With the next relationship, the level of crimes committed changed, and the drugs were even more accessible. Then I found out I was pregnant. You'd think with me being pregnant that I would choose to stop using, but I did not because, as I stated before, it was definitely easily accessible and was a part of my everyday life. I ended up losing that pregnancy to a horrible miscarriage but ended up pregnant immediately after- within a matter of weeks. I tried stopping drugs, but I just couldn't. I didn't know how to live without them, so I continued to use throughout my entire pregnancy despite just having a miscarriage.

I told her exactly what was going on. I told her that I needed help, that I was willing to do whatever it took to get my baby back.

I had my baby in Mexico. They told me to cross the border, but then they had to do an emergency C-section, so he ended up being born there. I didn't register him as a citizen, and I just stayed instead of crossing the border. It was too hard to cross the border because I had no place there to go. Shortly after, I ended up getting pregnant again, and I tried harder with my second pregnancy than my first to stay off the drugs.

The family of my baby's father put me in an apartment, and I stayed clean off and on while my baby daddy was in rehab. After a few months of being clean, I ended up using, and it threw me into labor. In that moment, I knew I needed something to fight for, or else I was going to end up destroying mine and my kids' lives. So, I decided to cross the border and have my baby girl in the US. I left my son with his grandparents in Mexico. I crossed the border knowing that they were going to take my baby away from me, which is exactly what happened. I had her, and then because I had no prenatal care and no history of being seen by a doctor during the pregnancy, they went ahead and drug tested the baby and me.

She came back positive for drugs, and so as expected, they removed her from my custody immediately and placed her in foster care. That gave me a reason to fight. While I was in the hospital, a social worker came to talk to me. I did deny using any drugs because I was scared. Twenty-four hours went by, and I called her up, and I said I needed to tell her my story. She came in, and I told her exactly what was going on. I told her that I needed help, that I was willing to do whatever it took to get my baby back. She recommended that I go into a residential program.

Temporarily, I was placed in an outpatient setting where I was crossing back and forth into the United States on a daily. IT WAS HARD!! It just wasn't working for me. I told a counselor that I needed to get into residential immediately, and that's what happened.

I went into a residential rehab, and I was there for nine months. I was getting my life together! I would see my baby as instructed by monitored visits and then eventually on weekends. I didn't get to see my oldest because he was in Mexico with his grandparents. Every other weekend though, I went down there to see him. I knew he was okay and well taken care of.

Towards the end of my stay, when I was just about to graduate from the program and was doing good, I received a phone call that my baby's dad had committed suicide. I was devastated felt as though my world was put on halt.

I emphasize on these last six months because it was these last six months that completely changed my life- while I was in that rehab and when I received that phone call. I went to his funeral but then I returned because I knew this wasn't the end to my fight. I had enough strength to go back to the rehab; I couldn't give up on my baby. I went back, and I graduated the rehab with a broken heart.

When I got out, after a few months, I went to get put on birth control. There, they offered me STD testing, and it came back positive for HIV. So, not only did I lose my baby daddy, but I was also diagnosed with HIV. I immediately called my kids' family and asked them to take my son get them tested. I also called CPS to take my daughter and get her tested. My daughter came back negative my son came back positive. When I received that notification that he was positive, I honestly felt like it was the end of the world. I felt that for me, it was okay if I was dying, but it wasn't okay if my baby was dying. Shortly after finding this out, I also found out I was pregnant. Could my world become any more challenging?

Immediately, I went in and became a part of an organization called Mother, Child, and Adolescent Program. They educated me on HIV and told me that it wasn't a death sentence (as I thought it was) and that I wasn't going to die. I had and still have an amazing case manager who organized doctors and got the US Consulate involved so that my son could come across the border and start getting treatment. He ended up getting a feeding tube for his medications because when I was giving him oral medications, he fought me, and I didn't want to traumatize him.

I'm such a freaking strong person. It was hard, but I got through it.

It was a lot to take in for a single mom who was expecting with two babies, so I ended up going into sober living. I got my own apartment; I was doing well! I even went to beauty school and graduated. But because I wasn't participating in any type of programs, I ended up relapsing and went into a downward spiral. I stopped taking my medications and I stopped taking care of my kids. Once again, I lost my kids, my home, my car, and my health. My doctors intervened and called CPS on me, which was the best decision they could have ever done because I needed somebody to care.

After much denial and blaming, I ended up going to rehab for a second time. I have found myself, and ever since, I've been clean. I've been in school for five years and am pursuing a career in social work. My babies are extremely healthy, growing, and in sports! I am working in the recovery field now as a counselor. I am so proud of myself and all my accomplishments.

My life couldn't be any better. I just want anyone out there reading this to know that no matter what challenges life throws at you, you are strong enough to get through them, just as I was.

I always get kind of emotional when I talk about those moments- but I'm such a freaking strong person. It was hard, but I got through it. I felt that at one point in my life, there were so many things that were getting tossed at me that were built to just destroy a person. But I got through it. And I know if I can get through it, there are a billion other women out there that can get through it too.

Oh…let me just add the perfect ending to this story… I am currently working at the rehab that saved my life.

If you or someone you know would like resources or support in relation to the themes above, please see:

Submitted by boseolotu

Wow! This is soul touching! Most times in our moments of struggle and when we don't know what to do, we also need to know how to cry out for help. Because it could be a hug a positive comfort from others that heal sometime. Your sharing will definitely go a long way to give others strength and courage!

Thank you

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