My name is Alisha and I am 25 years old. I was born and raised in Oxford, Indiana. Growing up I lived with my mom, my dad and my younger sister. I also have an older brother who lived with us on and off. My mother and my father gave me a good childhood. My mother was was my rock and I was closer to her than anyone. No matter what I did, I knew she’d always be there to pick up the pieces in the way that only a mom can do. My dad and I went fishing, mushroom hunting and watched the races together. I always took for granted the hard work he put in to supporting our family. But as I got older I started making bad decisions and my relationships with them became strained.
My little sister and I were inseparable growing up. She was my first friend. We were close in age and I always felt protective of her, always looking out. Playing in our back yard as kids, we would make mud pies and just mess around outside. As for my older brother, I always looked up to him because I thought he was cool and he would make quality time to spend with us. But his drinking created a lot of distance. And he entered in to an unhealthy relationship, where there has also been no room for us. I would get my hopes up whenever he would come around. Not having him in my life as much as I wanted him was a constant downfall. Seeing him drunk or in trouble is still one of the only things that makes me cry.
I would say I believed in God as a child, but I only talked to Him when things were going wrong. And it was just about whatever He could do for me and fix my situation. Our family never went to church, but my Grandma always told me about the Lord. I knew that He died on the cross to save us but I didn’t know how that was supposed to affect my life. My grandma was my best friend in the whole world. While my mom was working, she would have us overnight at her house. All night we would stay awake and listen to stories about her childhood and our family. But on October 20th 2008, everything changed.
No one is sure how the fire started, but she was trapped beneath a fallen beam trying to escape her house. She died from smoke inhalation and was burned to death in her home. After hearing about what happened I was devastated and traumatized. It wasn’t long before I started drinking and using drugs. This is when my addiction began. It started with partying, drunkenness and pills. But that quickly lead to cocaine, meth, and heroin.
As time went on I continued to spiral out of control. When I was 18, I entered a mentally and physically abusive relationship. He verbally abused me every day at first but eventually became violent. He was also a heavy user and together our addiction got much worse. The last time he tried to kill me, I finally had enough. He was choking me and put a knife to my throat. Then he took my keys and my phone, saying that I didn’t need it where I was going. He made me drive him around but wouldn’t say where we were going. His mom looked on while he attacked me in the car, saying “it’s pretty sad when your own mom won’t help you get away with murder.” After that I got a restraining order and masked my pain with harder drugs. I was hurt, angry, and self-destructive.
This led to a series of more harmful relationships. I went on to ruin many close friendships and other family ties I once valued. I was drowning in negativity and bitterness. In July 2016 I was arrested for dealing and possession of methamphetamine, among several other charges that were eventually dropped. The first time I got arrested I was with my ex who introduced me to the needle. After he went to jail, shooting up meth became my world and focus. I was not afraid of going to jail because I always got bonded out. I had not actually had to do any time yet.
After submitting to the courts and doing all they asked, I felt my life was back on track to some degree. I was able to remain sober for over 2 years. But I made the foolish decision to reconnect with old friends who were getting high in my presence. I felt like I was strong enough to withstand the temptation at first but it only took one emotional trial to prove me wrong. Come spring, I had to put my dog to sleep. This was my companion for 15 years, since 4th grade, and my next excuse to get high. The day I left the vet office I went straight to heroin and returned to the needle.
I did not want to deal with my emotions. So I continued to numb them out and overdosed 3 times. It didn’t matter that I was on probation anymore because I was so far into addiction that I lost myself in the drugs. Labor Day weekend I overdosed and my mom found me dying on my bedroom floor. I was blue and cold to the touch. After she called 91. I was rushed to the hospital. This was a violation of my probation and led to a new offense. So I spent the next few months in and out of jail. I wasn’t afraid of incarceration or consequences because I spent my time around people living that life and it seemed normal.
Thinking it would keep me out of jail and feeling like I had no other choice, I filled out an application for Through The Gate. I was so busy battling my addictions and brokenness, that when my beautiful niece was born I was not there like I should have been. When she was 3 months old, I was standing outside of the garage smoking a cigarette when an officer came to arrest me on a warrant. Despite the fact that I had received an acceptance letter from Through The Gate by this time, I ended up in hand cuffs. I see that the Lord made that happen so I could get sober, get a grip on life and come willingly because I did not want to go to rehab.
This time I would sit in jail for four months: it was my wake-up call. I knew I couldn’t just get out of it because I had no bond and no one could help me like before. I didn’t know anything that was going to happen to me while I was in there. Then my lawyer withdrew from my case and with no outdate, I was at my ropes end. But sitting in there and getting sober made me realize how negative I had been and how much I took advantage of everything. Like how after all I put my family through, my mom still answered my calls. Meanwhile there were a lot of women struggling in jail who did not have anyone: no support at all. During that time, I became more grateful and started to see things a little more clearly. Watching other women coming and going while I had to stay was humbling.
I started going to church in jail, where working through the book of Job really helped me. I realized what all I still had and how easily it could all be taken away. Seeing what a good servant Job was to the Lord and how much God still loved him in the suffering got me through. Unfortunately, after entering back into society my old desires won out. I returned to getting high and just stopped caring. After being ordered to serve house arrest I immediately failed my baseline drug test and got another PTR. But because of the acceptance letter and my willingness to go at this point, I was sentenced to 8 months at Through The Gate.
This was a day that changed my life forever. Nobody wants to go to rehab at first but this program has saved my life. The first time I got sober I did not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I was filling the void with everything but God. Now that I have the Lord, His word and the truth, everything is so amazingly different.
My convictions have been strengthened here and for the first time, I value accountability. I have learned to read and understand the bible and I learned that God is sovereign. Trusting in the Lord has given me so much peace and I know that He is strengthening me in the trials. When you learn about Him and see and feel the truth in your heart, it is overwhelming with joy. Christ and all His glory and everything He has done for us is mind blowing. I see the world in a different way with God in it, through His eyes. Because of what He’s done and everything He’s given me, I want to live my life to glorify Him.
I can hardly believe that I was living life any other way now. Through The Gate has helped me in so many ways. I've established good and healthy friendships: one’s that are real and genuine. The more I looked at everything around me and saw the way the staff and church and graduates were living, I found a whole new definition of family. They do not have selfish or ulterior motives in caring about you here. You can make relationships and friendships that are long lasting.
Thanks to TTG, there has been reconciliation and restoration within the broken relationships of my past, especially my sister and our parents. I really let my sister down when I spiraled out into addiction, but our relationship is healing. My dad and I are closer than I ever remember us being. And as for my brother, my heart still breaks for him but I have learned that holding on to anger only makes you bitter and miserable. You can’t change what people have done to you but you have the power to forgive them. People I have hurt have also forgiven me and we have made amends. I have come to peace with my past and everything bad that has happened. Most importantly, I have learned to see my wrong and take ownership of my sin: letting go of the hate in my heart.
Now I get to be a proud auntie to my niece who means the world to me and I can really be there to watch her grow up. The old me is gone and I have left my past behind. I have begun embracing my new life and Savior Jesus Christ. I have accepted God into my heart and found peace with all my past mistakes and trials. Looking forward at my future with Christ at the center, I am sure to remember 1CORINTHIANS 15:33, which says “Do not be deceived, evil company corrupts good habits.” Thinking on this verse helps me keep the past where it belongs, behind me.
I am so grateful and blessed to have been a part of this program. I thank God for all the wonderful friends I’ve made and all the people He has put in life. I've learned so much and gained new family members in my church. And am currently living in Through The Gate’s transitional house, working from home as an office assistant for a good company. I plan to stay plugged into the program and attend church here as well. Giving back to others and volunteering is something I am excited about. I want to be there to help somebody that was like me and offer what I was given to other addicts out there. I want to bless other people like that: to have a servants heart and glorify the Lord in all I do