My name is Lei*, I’ve been married for ten years and have five beautiful, smart children. This is a story about how my family life was turned around.
About five years ago, my husband and I had a drug problem. What started as infrequent usage eventually led us to becoming homeless. We were living in a comfortable home, with two bedrooms and a beautiful yard. Both my husband and I had steady jobs.
If you don’t know already, doing drugs is expensive and really adds up! We went from paying bills, shopping and spending money on mind-altering substances to not paying bills, shopping a lot less and spending a lot more money on drugs. All we could think of was “WANT-WANT-WANT”. We quickly realized that lifestyle was impossible to sustain. We would go to work “hopped-up” or sometimes not even go work, and then what? Well, then we lost our jobs and were left with no money. What the heck, right?!?
After years of stable income and living comfortably, we became homeless. To make matters harder, it was a just few months before our oldest child’s graduation. The hardest part of this situation was having to tell her that we lost our jobs and would be without a home. Even though she had a part time job and had planned to attend college, we couldn’t afford to help, and she had to go and live with her father. Facing my daughter’s disappointment was devastating. Thinking back on that time makes me frustrated with myself.
There we were, with 4 children, living in a tent. We had blankets, pillows and clothes, and did our best to tell the kids what was going on.
The reality was that we were still using drugs and trying to hide it. I remember being in denial, thinking we had it all under control. For the next two and a half years we faced a lot of hurdles, trying to find stability for our family. We tried to find places to live (in a tent), we had to fetch water, get food, find batteries, figure out transportation, etc. Our whole family was stressed out.
Meanwhile, we were trying to be good and civilized parents, so that nobody watched us too closely. We tried to ignore the haters, steer clear of those that judged us and even avoided Child Welfare Services. Eventually, we started to try and kick our drug problems. We focused on living day by day, going to family functions and started attending church.
Over those two and a half years, we received support from programs like Child & Family Service (CFS) Nana’s House.
People like Aunty Momi, Stephanie, Cousin Annette and Julie helped educate us on how to improve our quality of life. William and Jennifer got my husband and I jobs again, and Aunty Aida helped us apply for housing. The rest of the crew made us feel welcome. They all called us, followed up on us, and even gave us rides to our appointments. They truly went the extra mile for us.
Our church family supported us with prayers and in any other ways they could. We are eternally grateful to them, to our family and other members of the community. Through their contributions, we were able to regain a stable life.
The counseling at CFS offered what we needed to face our addictions. We were finally able stop using drugs. We had the realization that for the past 10 years we were living for ourselves and it was time to live for our kids. God showed us his light. We now share our story, through our heart and soul, and give others advice. We support people that are going through the same hardships we experienced.
We are proud to share how far we have come.
Soon, we will be moving into a house of our own, I have a full-time job and my husband is working on his job too. Our relationship with our family and our children is better than ever. My message to others is that anyone in a situation like ours can get help! You can get help in your life. You can make changes in your life, too. Just try it!
*not real name.
For more on the CFS Nana’s House Family Center, click here.