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Finding more than sobriety

“In nine and a half months I lost everything,” said Shena, a program resident at The Rescue Mission’s Charis House. “I lost my kids, my house, and my car.”

Shena had a great upbringing. She wasn’t abused, and her parents didn’t even drink. At the age of 33 she was working at a nursing home and even volunteering in the community. Then all of a sudden, everything fell apart. Shena’s father died, her childrens’ grandmother was murdered, and Shena was raped by a man who was then only given probation.

“I didn’t start using drugs until I was 33,” she said. “I started using with a friend, and the pain would go away, so then I started using more. It got to the point where I couldn’t function without it.”

Shena’s drug use, and eventual drug dealing, led to the loss of her children, home, and car, and even landed her in jail. After jail, Shena tried a few different halfway houses in Fort Wayne, but nothing was working for her. She was still constantly thinking about using, and spent time between houses living out of her car.

In June of 2018, Shena was accepted into Charis House. Although six months clean, she was still lying, still thinking about drugs, and trying to manipulate the system.

At Charis House, that didn’t work. Shena found her real change at Charis House, and within two months even had her children back.

“The staff here, to see them live what they preach, that did it for me,” she said. “I didn’t feel judged, and I was treated like an adult.”

Shena said a huge part of her successful recovery at Charis House was the fact that the women have freedom and aren’t kept “in a bubble” away from the outside world.

“You have to be exposed to the real world if you’re going to stay clean and do right,” Shena said. “If you’re in a cage for months and then get out, you’ll relapse. But Charis House taught me how to stay sober out in the world.”

It hasn’t been easy. Shena knows about a dozen people she used to do drugs with who have overdosed, her husband was in the hospital and deathly ill, and one time she even found a bag of meth on the street. She said she is able to cope with stress because of what she has learned at Charis House.

“Charis House taught me how to deal with what caused me to get high, whereas the other places just preached on staying clean,” she said. “There’s a difference between just being sober and actually recovering. Now I have the tools to live on the outside and not have to worry about how I’m going to handle anxiety and depression. Charis House did more than just get me sober, it made me a better person in every way.”

In just nine and a half months, Shena had racked up 17 criminal charges, mostly felonies. Now, she’s working, has a car, and is getting a house.

“I know it was God,” she said. “I went for checkups even after I got clean, and they wanted to admit me because I was in such bad shape. The doctors called me a walking corpse. I know the only reason I’m alive is God.”

Shena’s got big dreams for the future. She would love to return to Charis House someday as a staff member to help other women.

“Charis House is such a blessing,” Shena said. “I will miss it so much, and I want to be able to give back someday.”