Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Oh, But I Do

From time to time, I have the honor of being able to share someone's story of struggle and survival.  It might be my own or it might be someone I love and sometimes, it might be someone I have met but don't know well.  That's today's post.

Many years ago, there was a magical part of the internet called Indy Moms.  Our local newspaper, owned by a national company, started this online community.  It was a place where we could post about nonsense, get advise on serious problems, share stories about our kids.  And the coolest thing happened.  Real friendships were formed.  A community developed.  We came to truly care about one another.  Even those that you maybe didn't get along with - you still cared about what happened to them.  Real life meet ups happened, real life friendships formed.  And a lot of those friendships carry on today - even though the site no longer exists and the community only has Facebook to use as a conversation forum.

One of the women that I knew from Indy Moms was Amy.  I didn't know her very well.  But she was funny and smart and adorable.  She became friends with some moms that I was connected to so I knew her in a roundabout kind of way.  She loaned me a dress for Teagan once.  She was a single mom with an adorable daughter.  When the site shut down and we all stayed connected on Facebook, Amy was one of those moms.  And then she disappeared.

People have asked about her, remembered her, wondered.

So imagine how thrilled I was not so long ago when I got an email from her.  She's continued to be a blog reader (staying connected, even if it was one sided).  And when I last put out a call for guest posts?  Amy wants to share her story.

And I honored that Amy wants to share her story here on the pages of Eternal Lizdom.  I hope you read it, learn from it, feel inspired... and leave her some love and support in the comments.


As I sit here and write this, I have company.  Eighteen homeless women and two homeless children to be exact.

I work for Wheeler Mission Ministries in Indianapolis as a Winter Contingency Monitor at the WMM Center for Women and Children.  Our shelter is the designated winter overflow site for Indianapolis.  During the winter months, women and children come and stay in our building when it is too cold for them to bear it outside.

Some of the women who come to our shelter do so every winter; they are chronically homeless - and they are content with that lifestyle.  Some women come through our doors completely shell-shocked.  They have been evicted, put-out, or are escaping an unsafe situation.

We feed them, clothe them, and give them a safe and warm place to sleep.  We also connect them with resources we offer at WMM or we help them connect with resources that are a better fit for them and their situation.

Once in awhile one of them will "go off" on me.  I don't take it personal; some of these women have very tough personalities from time spent on the streets.  They will tell me I don't have a clue about them or their struggles.  And that is when I say:

"Oh, but I do."

You see, a little over a year ago I wasn't far removed from these ladies.  I was one of them.  In October 2012 I walked through the very same doors utterly broken--I was a drug addict with no place to go.  In the days before, I had signed over custody of my daughter to her dad and called up friends to tell them what was going on.  I had been a drug addict for years.  Pills, mostly.  Whatever I could get my hands on, I took.  I was a typical addict.  I lied, cheated, stole, manipulated, and lied some more.  Later on I learned that I was addicted to other things--being the victim, for instance.  Holding resentment.  Whining and complaining.  I was a mess, and though I had done a fairly decent job of hiding it, what was done in the dark came to the light.  It always does.

As I entered into Wheeler Mission's long term addiction recovery program, the thought of being there for a year plus scared the you-know-what outta me.  I wanted to quit more than once.  There were times I felt as if I were living under a microscope (and in a sense I was) and wanted to go out on the streets and try my luck there.  But I stayed put.  And slowly I began to heal.  It wasn't a steady climb.  It was more like long plateaus followed by realizations that I hurt less.

I faced my demons and slayed them.  My relationship with my family is being restored.  My body is being restored (I have slept better this past year than I have in the previous five years combined).  I learned that I can both enjoy and face life's trials without pills to numb me.  My daughter, Holly, is thriving in her home with her dad and soon-to-be stepmom.  Holly is so smart and beautiful and she is restoring her trust in me.  As I write this she is one week away from turning 9 and I thank God everyday that He delivered me from addiction so that I will be able to be part of her life as she grows up.

As for me personally…I am humbled every single day to know that the place (Wheeler) that literally saved my life had faith in me and offered me a job.

These ladies that I work with constantly remind me of Jesus' commandment to love the Lord your God with all your being and to love your neighbor as yourself.  I am thankful and honored to be able to give back what has been given to me.

I truly love "my ladies" as I call them.  They give me strength to keep loving (difficult as it may be sometimes) and serving for the glory of God.  I believe God also has me in this position to help me be vigilant in remembering how desperate I was when I walked through these doors.  Desperate to live.  Desperate to live free of addiction.  Desperate to heal.

A lot has changed for me in the past year.  Some dreams had to be let go.  But that's okay.  Because right where I am is where I need to be. And it makes room for even bigger dreams. 

- Amy 



Unknown said...

Amy, I am so proud of you. I am so glad to see that you are doing well. I pray for your continued success and healing! Hugs

bttrflybabydoll said...

You are a brave woman! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I'm glad you had the courage to help yourself.

Satchuel said...

Amy, it takes a lot of courage to be honest about the choices we make in life. I applaud you for owning your actions and working to correct your behavior and choices. Continue to work hard. Continue to do better. You are a good person and good things will continue to come to you. I am so glad you are in a better place!

Kara said...

Oh Amy, I'm so proud of you. I've missed you since you disappeared and, while the circumstances aren't the best, I'm so glad to know you're doing well now. You're a strong woman and it's clear you see that now too.

~Tricia~ said...

Simply amazing. To love yourself enough to find the help you needed. I'm so proud of you and thankful for what you are doing now to help other women that are in the same situation. <3 I am so thankful you have found what you needed and are doing well.

Unknown said...

Amy I'm so proud of you. I know we met a few times at CFA & took my kids & Holly to the park. I've thought a lot about you over the years as I know you had a lot on your plate. So happy to hear your doing well.

Mary Neary...marinara...smithers said...

Dear Amy:

I had no idea you were hurting so much back then. I'm so proud of you for overcoming such a powerful thing, addiction. It's not easy. Before I had the kids, Lord knows I was no angel. I continuously call them my saving grace, and I know you feel the same way for Holly. I'm glad her dad came into the picture, and is still around. I hope one day she'll 100% forgive you, trust you, and love you for the strong, brave woman you are today! I have faith in you. You're going places. You're doing things, and best of all: you're turning yourself around to be the best mom that you can be :)

{{{BIG hugs, my dear}}}

Your quirky former fellow forumer:

Mary N.

City Homemade said...


I'm very proud of you! I've often wondered where you went. Thank you for sharing your story that it might touch and help someone else. You're a very strong woman! Keep up the great work!

Frugal Girl said...

Amy- I am so proud of you. I, too, have wondered where you went. Thank you for sharing your incredibly personal story. Keep up the fantastic work. ((Hugs))

Karen said...

I, too, wondered where you had gone, Amy! I'm so proud of you for overcoming this! <3 <3 <3

Maria North said...

Hi Amy,
I've also wondered where you went! I loved reading your story, love that you are doing well. We're all proud of you, but more importantly, you should be so proud of yourself...you are strong and resilient. You are a great mom for putting Holly's best interests first, and recognizing what you needed to do, and doing it!

Angelic said...

I have asked about you a few times and have missed you. So proud of you. I have thought about you off and on since you went off Facebook. Big hugs and I miss you!!!

sharen said...

Amy, so proud of you! You have shown so much courage in sharing your story. I pray that you will continue to be a blessing in all that you do. Sharen

Brandi G. said...

Thank you for sharing your story Amy. You should be so proud of yourself for how far you have come. I wish you nothing but success and happiness in the future.

Nancy said...

Oh Amy, I am so happy to hear that you are doing well. I am so proud of the work that you have done and the work that you are contining to do. You are always in my prayers. Love you so much!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Amy. It is great to "hear" your voice and know that you are doing great things. :)

Abbi said...

I am SO glad to read this!!!!!! Hugs!!!!!

Jessica B said...

So proud of you for turning your mess into your message. Missed you!

KarrieFaBuLoUs said...

I'm admire the courage that it took to share your secret. I wondered where your smiling face and cute stories about Holly had gone. I'm glad that you're beginning to heal and that things are looking up. So happy to hear from you <3

TriciaK said...

Amy.. so glad to hear of your amazing journey. It was really courageous of you to share. I will keep you in my prayers...take care!!!

Katherine said...

What an amazing story. It reminds me of the quote "Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle." We never know what is going on in others lives, what experiences they are having. Thank you for sharing.

Leticia said...

Liz, did you receive a comment from me for Amy? I don't see it now from the day it was posted. Thanks, Lety

Anonymous said...

Love these comments...Have you heard from Amy lately? Just doing a friendly follow-up :)~Mary Neary