Crimes against children are so heinous that it can be difficult to process. That being said, please be aware that this story contains content that is troubling to read.
Tina’s family situation was pretty common. She had never been around her biological father, and her mother had eventually remarried and had 2 more children, giving Tina a half-brother and half-sister that were several years younger. She immediately took on the role of protector and mama bear for her siblings, but that’s about where “common” ends. At the age of seven, she knew that monsters were real. No, not the monsters under the bed, or ghosts hanging out in the closet, but terrible people that were as real as me or you; people like her stepdad. He was abusive in every form: physically, mentally, and worst of all, sexually. She would blockade her door the best she could at night to keep him from coming in, but it wasn’t enough. When she was 13, she ran away. She knew she had to get out. When her mother finally found her, although Tina shouldered the burden of this secret for years before she would tell her mom, the one thing she did say was that she wasn’t going to live with her anymore. So, she went to live with her biological father, whom she didn’t know at all, but anything was better than living with a monster.
At 18, she was living on her own, working as a server, and paying her own bills. She was starting to form relationships at work, and before she knew it, she was out drinking with everyone after work. Then she was drinking when she got home from work. And then she was drinking pretty much all the time. To top it off, prescription pain medications were floating around the restaurant, and Tina found herself addicted to those as well. This went on for several years until she ended up in trouble with the law and in a faith-based rehab facility in her home state of Missouri. You would think that this would be a terrible thing: a pending court case, locked up in rehab, and going through withdrawal with complete strangers. A shift in perspective was about to come for Tina though.
She was introduced to God and became saved there during what should’ve been one of the toughest times of her life. And while being a child of God didn’t cure her of her addictions or instantly put her life back together, now she had a good foundation to build on. It would be a long road, but at least she wasn’t traveling it alone. She also was diagnosed with depression and PTSD. Through this time of her life she attempted suicide three times, two which nearly ended her life. She said, “My therapist told me, ‘Three times you shouldn’t have been here, but God intervened every time.’” Truly God must have a special calling for her, and it would only be a matter of time before she would realize exactly what it was.
She wound up in Wagoner, OK staying with her biological father for a short time. She started attending a church in Wagoner and built close relationships there, forming a tight-knit church family around herself. Remembering the help she had received from the facility in Missouri, she found the Gospel Rescue Mission and came here. Unfortunately, hanging around with the wrong people while you are in recovery can prove to be detrimental, and Tina relapsed. Because we are a sober living facility, and drugs and alcohol are prohibited, Tina was exited from GRM.
At first, she was bitter and resentful about it, but after a couple days, she realized exactly what was happening. Others had been enabling her and made excuses for her drinking, which had worsened her addiction. GRM wasn’t afraid to share the truth of her behavior with her, because it was coming from a place of love for her and protection for our other guests that also struggled with alcoholism. “It made me come back stronger,” she told me. “I had to own it.” Eventually she came back, because no one is ever permanently exited from here, no matter how many times a person makes a mistake. We try to reflect God’s spirit of grace, just as he has done for all of us. Not a single person here is perfect, and we all could use a second chance. Some of our guests have had four or five chances, but sometimes it’s that last try when something clicks, and lives are changed. For Tina, this second chance might be the only other one she needs.
So, what is different this time around? Part of her program is counseling and through this, she was re-diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and manic depressive, which helped them find a medication better suited for her mental health needs. Since being on the medication, she has made great strides. Upon getting her new and correct diagnosis, she said, “I could feel feelings, and they weren’t going to kill me.” So often, people that have suffered trauma in their lives use things like alcohol and drugs to self-medicate and numb feelings of anxiety, anger, or sadness. They feel that it’s better to feel nothing at all than to feel those emotions. Tina is now better equipped to deal with the monsters in her closet though. So, what does her future have in store for her, and what is this calling?
Her full-time job is treating her very well, and she is slated to be able to move into a place of her own in February. “Gospel Rescue Mission has really opened a lot of doors for me.” We were able to help her get on a great plan for her mental health, help her straighten out her legal issues from Missouri, and being here has helped her grow her faith through programs like Doorways of Hope and chapel services led by local pastors from the area. As a Native American, Tina is using what she has learned about faith, addiction, mental health, and abuse to pursue an opportunity in North Carolina doing Mission work on reservations.
God has great things in store for Tina, and we are so excited to see how far she has come!
If you or someone you know are struggling with mental health, addiction, or abuse, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233