I grew up with a family full of addiction. Both my parents are addicts but when I was little, I only thought they smoked weed, turns out my dad had been doing meth since 1993 and my mom started doing it in 2007. My parents separated in 2009. Eventually all 3 of my brothers started using meth. I was really close with my mom and eventually when I started using, I used with her and It made us even closer, so I thought.
So now my story starts in October 2012 when I lost my son after 3 days because of complications with labor. I was only 18 at the time. Shortly after I was diagnosed with depression and I didn’t do anything about it. In May 2013, 7 months later, I tried meth and I told myself it would only be every other week thing but that wasn’t the case, I started using it every day and it became my escape from all the pain I was going through. That went on for 2 months then I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter and I stopped doing everything. I had her in March 2014. I stayed clean from July 2013 to April 2014. I started using meth everyday again just 1 month after I had my oldest. I didn’t think I was doing anything to hurt her because I was only getting high when she was sleeping and I would never do it in front of her. Then in February 2015, my now mother in laws house got raided where my now husband and I lived because someone did a controlled buy on him. My mom was also with us at this time. This was the first time I went to jail. I had to do a 12-hour class about alcohol and that was the only treatment I had to do that time. I also had to voluntary comply with Child Protection Service. I was sober for 7 months, September 2015, I relapsed and I went back to using every day. My now husband got kicked out of his mom's house so we had to find a place to live we eventually found a place in January 2016 shortly after we got married. Him and I used every day together. My brothers and mom were always at my house getting high with us. They were a big part in my addiction. So fast forward to October 2016 I got a settlement from when my son passed away. And my husband and I started selling meth, and using way more. The only time I would stop using is when I knew I had a probation meeting and I would only stop for the week before. Then once I got home from my probation meeting, I would go right back to using. In February 2017 my husband and my probation agents showed up at our apartment and did a spot check we both failed and we both went to jail. Our oldest daughter went to do foster care with my mother-in-law while we were in jail. This time I sat in jail for over 2 months and then I went to inpatient treatment. I did high intensity which was where I found out that I needed to get to the bottom of why I started to use. I also did medium intensity. I had an open CHIPS case and ended up getting my daughter back just 8 months after I lost her. I was in the recovery specialist program and graduated from that program in march 2018 they also closed my CHIPS case the same day. I thought when I went to treatment that my mom would be sober with me as seeing as she was getting out of treatment as I was going in so I thought we could do the sober thing together but that wasn’t the case. She started using right away when I went to treatment. So, I was all alone with no support. I had to cut all ties with her cause she kept using and I had to set that boundary, I couldn’t be around her if she kept using and lying to me about it. And I've kept those boundaries to this day. So, Ive made a new life in recovery with my family, my husband and our 2 daughters, and also my best friend and her 2 daughters. I have been sober since February 2017. Ive built a sober community that I can depend on. And that's only way I've been able to do it is with boundaries with my parents and brothers and by putting my recovery above everything and everyone else
My name is Cynthia Townley, I am 31 years old. My story of addiction is not really any different than anyone else’s. I started using drugs at a young age and ended up destroying my life and living in a hell that I thought I deserved. I even walked away from my son when he was two years old because I did not want to stop using. You see addiction runs in my family. Some are functioning while others are not so lucky. The scariest part of it is that the functioning ones enable the nonfunctioning ones. Making the cycle of addiction continue through generations. Until now!
In October of 2017 I found myself in jail on probation violations and refusing to take a UA because I knew I was dirty for drugs and alcohol. You see my addiction became so bad I did not care what I was using I only cared about not being sober. I had no bail set as I had pending charges for burglary and 5th degree drug charges of Methamphetamine. I had been in and out of abusive and very unhealthy relationships. Another thing you could say I was addicted to.
I remember asking my probation officer if I could execute my sentence via email, I had sent her from the Kiosk machine. She had emailed me back telling me she did not think I needed to execute. I had never been to treatment nor tried another way to live. This was all I knew. I signed up for a rule 25 in hopes that maybe if I got into treatment, I could get back to my life. I was not even sure if I wanted to be sober, I just wanted to get out of jail and back to my life. I remember attending an event Day Encountering Christ that was being held at the jail. I had court that day and was hoping I’d get ROR’d like I always had before. I remember coming back to that event just angry because I was not released as I had hoped. I even yelled at a priest telling him I hated God and I was angry with him. The priest looked at me and smiled and said God knew you were going to do this today and you are here for a reason. All I could do at that point is cry. The rest of the day was enormously powerful. From that day on I started working on my relationship with God and understanding him and that everything happens for a reason.
The next time I had court my attorney said they would release me if I agreed to plead guilty to two burglary charges that I had been fighting. The other person involved in this case was my very abusive ex. At that time, I blamed him for everything. Besides, I had already applied for a rule 25 and was hoping to get accepted into treatment soon so I told the lawyer no deal. With my head held high I remember the jailer asking me if I was being released. I looked at him and said no. He asked me why I was so happy then. I told him because I had God and that was not part of his plan. Not really knowing for sure at all I had faith and that is all that mattered at that time.
I had been accepted into two treatment facilities; I chose Lakeplace (to be honest I thought it was going to be a shorter run of treatment). Even though I wanted change, I still wanted to just get back to my life the way it was. I had to go in front of a judge and ask for him to grant me the ability to be released to treatment. He told me I had better make this work because I was on a thin line and would not get another chance. I was excited to be leaving for treatment and prayed to god for help. This is where I started learning to let go and let God. I still struggle with letting go sometimes and need a reminder from time to time.
I was at Lakeplace from November 2017 to April 2018. This is where I learned who I was without drugs and what recovery can do for a person. I remember making an agreement that I would do my best to make this work. I was still very scared that even after participating in treatment I would still go to prison for my part in the burglaries. I received a continuance for court while I was in treatment. I was still unwilling to say I was guilty to these charges. While in Lakeplace I was informed of the statistics for people not using again after treatment. It scared me. I told my counselor, “you might as well release me so I can go get high and come back because according to statistics that is what is going to happen anyway.” She set it up so I could talk to other women who worked there. This woman opened my eyes to see that I now had a choice on what statistic I became. That is when it really hit me hard. I wanted to change. I went from choosing a halfway house in Duluth where I knew I had family and access to drugs to a medium intensity down in Mankato, MN. This place was called House of Hope. I was so scared when getting there I wanted to run back to Lake Place where I felt safe. I could not do that as it was on the other side of the state.
This is where I started to work on my mental health and learn about the power of meetings and a sober community. I did not want anything getting in my way of having a different way to live. I met some amazing people down in Mankato, but I felt that was not my landing spot. I then went to an Alumni weekend at Lakeplace. It was so powerful and fulfilling. Upon returning I knew what I wanted to do. So, when I got back to Mankato, I met with my LADC and told her I wanted to take steps to go back to Grand Rapids, MN. She said, “ok, make the call.” I did just that. Within a month they had me accepted and I was able to successfully complete their program in two months to head to Pear Lake women’s medium intensity treatment in Grand Rapids, MN.
At Pear Lake I continued to work on myself by doing therapy and meetings. My LADC told me that because I came from a similar treatment facility my insurance might not cover my full 90 days there. So worried about that I started looking for a job. I found one but was told I could not take the job because it was during group hours. I was so upset. I even tried going above my LADC’s head and had it planned that I was going to convince that person to let me work. Well that backfired. I was still told no. I then went to my room and packed my stuff; I called my P.O and told her I was leaving. She said yes you can leave but the judge might violate you and put you back in jail. I thought FUCK! I am not going back to that jail. I told her I would stay. I went down and unpacked my stuff; I think I pouted about that for a week. And when I say pouted, I mean I threw a fit. About a month later I found another Job at First Call for Help.
I was so grateful for this job. They are a call center for local resources and mental health crisis calls. Shortly after I started working for them, I found out I was pregnant. I was terrified. I did not want to tell anyone! I told the guy I was seeing, and we went to the local New Beginnings pregnancy center. Sure, enough I was pregnant. My therapist approached me asking that I be honest about it because Pear Lake can really help if I am honest. So, I told my counselor and other staff. I was scared. Yes, I had wanted another kid but not while I was just getting sober.
I graduated Pear Lake at my 90 days and joined a program called Project Clean Start. Matt and I found a small one-bedroom apartment. We worked opposite shifts. Not too long after getting that apartment his ex-wife called him to tell him she needed his help and she asked if we could take the two younger kids ages 7 and 6. Of course we said yes. This was only the start of learning to deal with life on life’s terms while staying sober. I am grateful to this day that I had the support of Project Clean Start and my recovery coach. With their support we were able to make it work.
Sadly, in the month of December the kid’s mom, came up to visit them. She asked if the kids could stay at a hotel with her and without thinking twice, he had told her yes. Once the kids were in her custody, she told Matt that we were not getting them back and we needed to pack their stuff up to be ready to go by the end of the next day. We wanted to tell her no so badly and keep all the kids stuff we had bought for them and struggled to get them over the last couple of months. But as we thought about it, we realized we did not want them going without. So, we packed their things and met her at our church for the kids Christmas program. I remember the anger and the hurt I felt. I remember the pain in Matt’s eyes. We said goodbye to the kids with tears in our eyes. The following couple of days I noticed how lost he seemed now that the kids were not there. I remember having the feeling that something was off with him. When I came home from work one night the apartment was super clean, Matt was still up sitting on the couch. He told me he relapsed while I was at work. I did not cry; I did not do anything. I had no words, no thoughts, nothing. I was 6 months pregnant with our daughter and could only think about her at the time. By the grace of god, he was able to not use again and started attending meetings right away. I am still enormously proud of him for being able to bounce right back as I have seen lots of people use once and not make it back to being sober at all. I also realized just because he used does not mean I have to, and I separated myself from what he was going through and did not make it about myself.
This was just one thing that we were able to make it through after getting sober and getting out of treatment. Little did we know we would have plenty more to come our way. Our landlord decided to sell the house which left us homeless. We both ended up finding new jobs and a place to rent. I was lucky enough to be hired by Hope House of Itasca county/ Project Clean Start as a recovery coach for the same program I had gone through and that had helped me get through so much. It was my turn to help others. I was also offered a stay of adjudication on my charges I had had caught a couple years prior, you know the ones I mentioned at the start of my journey in recovery. Sometime after we had found our new place, we had started seeing signs of drug exposure in Matt’s 18-month-old son during our visits with him. Matt being the deemed the father got a hair follicle test on him and it came back as ever day use. This was devastating to find out. We opened a CPS case that got closed only months after it was opened because they found Matt’s son was in no harm. So that is when Matt hired an attorney and brought it to the court’s attention. This is when he was able to get full custody of this kid. And of course, to keep the chaos going, right after I had started my new job, we found out that his ex-wife was in jail. So, we drove down to get his three oldest kids. We had them for the next year, leaving us with 5 kids, while the older three kids’ mom was able to get sober and turn her life around. To our surprise Matt’s oldest decided to stay with us after her mom was sober. She felt as though this school district had more to offer her for her education and her mom was willing to let her stay.
During all of this I continued to build a relationship with my son and have finally started getting him for visits. His dad is still reluctant and that is ok. I caused a lot of damage and am willing work hard at repairing what I can. I am incredibly lucky that my son’s grandma has been willing to meet me so that I could get to know my son and so that he could get to know his new sister and vice versa. This is something that has not come easily in my recovery, but I will not give up when I have made so much progress in the right direction. I know what a privilege it is to show my son the love I have for him.
When COVID-19 hit, and I was at home with 5 kids doing distant learning and working from home. Lots of people started relapsing and overdose rates in Itasca county started rising. People I had once looked up to were now back using. My heart hurt as a lot of places were shut down. Resources and meetings for recovering addicts were slim to none. There were virtual meetings but speaking from experience it was not the same. So, I put an idea out on Facebook. Little did I know this idea would grow into Mission Restart Inc. The Mission restart board has been hard at working trying to get up and running. At this point we are officially a non-profit business and are excited to see how we can help people who want to recover and those who are in recovery who just need a little more support or want to give back, because we keep what we have by giving it away!