Restoration and Grace: Leigh’s Story

Grace House, our recovery home for women, desires to see women holistically healed from chronic addiction and restored through relationship with Jesus.

Here is Leigh’s story of how Grace House has impacted her life. She has experienced the healing and redemptive power of Jesus, and has been brought out of hopelessness into a life full of hope and joy.

Describe your early life before addiction.

My first memory is of being sexually abused by a man close to the family. I was also sexually abused by a family member.  So from the beginning, I was led to be silent, compliant and alone.  I grew up scared; scared to be used sexually and scared of the rage that ruled over my family.  Everyone fought.  It was so bad we were forced to go to family counseling.  But I said nothing—I was coached well.  I was depressed, anxious and neglected.

At age eight, I started seeking ways to just make myself feel good.  That same year, my parents decided to separate, and by nine I was moving to El Paso to live with my mom. I began to fantasize and plan suicide at the age of nine. I didn’t have any friends and was teased every day for the next five years.  I started getting violent.

When did addiction first take hold of your life?

I was 13 years old when I realized I was a drug user, though I started around 12. I came to realize the only acceptance and love I would receive was from drugs and other drug users.  That became my identity: I was a drug addict. I only felt happy when I was high and I only felt accepted by others who got high.

What was life in addiction like?

At 14, I went to a mental institution. By 15, I was in my first rehab.  And right before my 16th birthday, I was raped.  In the midst of all this was rage and suicide idealization.  I got into witchcraft, then was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against my sister.  I could not go a day sober, and when I did, outbursts of rage ensued.  I got into cutting, drinking, heroin, meth, sex and never went without weed. I was a blackout drunk and was raped more times than I can count.  Every moment sober, I was overcome by shame and self-condemnation. I overdosed nine times in two months when I started using heroin.  I was in and out of hospitals, rehab and relationships with men who used and abused me.  Caught with heroin while shoplifting, I spent my 25th birthday in a mental hospital and my 26th in jail.  I tried to get help, but I could only ever get short-term care: a couple weeks in the hospital to stabilize meds and bring up trauma, then sent out into the world. I’ve been to rehab four times. If I wasn’t high, then I was having flashbacks.  Eventually, I had to use more and more and started using needles. I gave up.  What was the point?

Where were you last August?

Last August, I was drowning in addiction.  I was shooting up meth every day.  I relapsed on heroin with the intention of suicidal overdose.  I couldn’t die; nothing worked; I failed at everything.  Except drugs. I resigned myself to doing what I knew how to do: drugs and sex.  I was an object for men and women to use and I was good at the drug lifestyle.  I had given up—there was no way out.  I stopped fighting and gave in.

When I failed a drug test with three different substances and was facing my probation being revoked, I was ordered to go to Cenikor, a short-term rehabilitation center.  This was the first time I was ordered to rehab, and the first time I didn’t plan on staying sober.  I had truly resigned myself to my addiction and sobriety wasn’t an option.  “Get high until I die,” was my purpose.

After nine days in detox, I was moved to residential care.  It was there that I finally came out of denial.  I could no longer blame my drug use on my trauma. I admitted I was an addict.  This truth set me free.

I realized my death in addiction would be tragic and prolonged, so I decided I wanted to live.

I became open, willing to listen to others’ opinions and insights. I even started going to Bible study.  Not because I believed, but because I hoped I would get more knowledge.  My roommate encouraged me, because she glorified Jesus in so many ways.  If it wasn’t for her, I probably would not have softened my heart to the Lord.  One Sunday, she pushed me to join her in attending a worship service. A group of men came to Cenikor to share the Gospel.  These men were also in recovery, so I was able to relate. The lesson was good: describing Jesus as the bridge between old self and new self. However, it was something else that captivated me. One man had so much passion for Jesus that my whole body vibrated. He had no shame, but only purpose and fire! He would die for his convictions, not condemn others. Whew! He was on fire!  As the discussion went on, tears started streaming down my face.  I was thinking, “How could Jesus love me after what’s been done to me?  I am nothing.  How could He love me after the abuse of my childhood?  I’m disgusting.  I’m unlovable.”  I was heartbroken, hopeless and full of shame. I wanted what those guys had—I wanted to be loved by Jesus so badly.

Then glory came.

They asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior, and I could not get my hand up fast enough. We circled up, prayed and I was filled with the Holy Spirit. I had a pentagram I had worn since I was 16 and I felt like it was choking me. I ripped it off, went outside, prayed and buried it along with the hold my abusive family member had over me. I was so joyful that I couldn’t stop smiling.  I felt brand new. Thank you, Lord.

I was scheduled to leave Cenikor that Friday and was homeless, but I was so sure that I would be ok.  I had Jesus, and it was well with my soul. An employee at Cenikor got me a phone interview with Missy at Grace House, then we met in person the next day. This place was a dream come true!  A year of true healing, free of charge. Could it be? Long-term recovery, space to heal from the trauma and learn how to walk with Jesus?! The morning I was released, I was packed up, homeless and trusting the Lord.  Missy called to say I had been accepted into Grace House–five days after I chose Jesus Christ as my Savior! That’s the Lord!

How has life been since coming to Grace House?

Since coming to Grace House, I’ve not only dedicated my heart and mind to Jesus, but my body as well.  I’m married to the Lord and confident in celibacy. At World Mandate, I was moved by the Holy Spirit and surrendered all the men who sexually abused me and declared forgiveness. I’m learning what conflict resolution is and how to set boundaries. Through counseling and prayer ministry, I am facing the pain and bringing Jesus in.

I have been delivered from shame and rage.

I was baptized June 12th at Tonkawa Falls, and shared my testimony with all who were there.  My family is being reconciled and generational curses are being broken off.  Grace House is setting me up beautifully for life outside the home. I’m in a great Lifegroup, full of supportive individuals who value and encourage me. I’m working part-time at a bakery, learning how to budget and bring Jesus into my workplace.  When I look to the future, I rejoice at the days to come. Jesus is my future.

Where He goes, I’ll go.


This was previously posted on the Antioch Blog.

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