Looking back … looking ahead

Dana started using pills and marijuana at age 11, eventually using heroin and crack cocaine. At sixteen she was stealing to support her habit. At nineteen, she went into rehab and then a half-way house. She got pregnant, turned herself in for a violation, served time in jail, went to rehab, had her son and stayed clean for a year and a half.

Then she relapsed and lost her oldest son … served time in jail … moved in with her father … got her son back and lived 5 years clean. During this time she had another son.

Then she relapsed and the now familiar cycle started all over again.

We first spoke with Dana in 2011, when she had been in the Beth Shalom program for two months. In Beth Shalom’s Bible Study, Dana studied The God Who Seeks You and learned what it really means to enter a relationship with Jesus. She learned that turning to God means turning from something else, and putting her former life of addictions and resentment behind her.

At Beth Shalom, Dana had the time to work on herself, to be quiet and write and talk through the bad feelings that she had held onto for years. She was no longer consumed with the fear of using again and ruining everything. She explained, “At first I didn’t think I could be on my own. But I started getting the energy to do what I needed to do. I go to my meetings, classes and counseling. I’m now able to work on myself in my group.”

We caught up with Dana again and she graciously shared her experience at the recent Beth Shalom dinner in June. Here are her responses to the questions Anne Shannon asked.

Anne: Do you feel the Christian aspect of Beth Shalom helped you? Dana: Absolutely. I grew up in the Church. Beth Shalom helped me with finding a church I liked and finding my higher power.

A: What are you plans for the future? D: Going back to school. My long term goal is to be a drug and alcohol counselor and help people going through what I went through. My short term goal is to work with children.

A: How has this helped your daughter? D: My daughter is my life … she is my world. Beth Shalom was a turning point in my life. I can’t even explain where I would be without her and my two boys.

A: What would you tell other women that are in the Beth Shalom program? D: Hang in there. The few things you have to do to be involved in Beth Shalom … do it. I never would have found a higher power if Beth Shalom hadn’t pushed me to find a church.

Dana graduated from Beth Shalom in 2012. She recently left a full-time managerial job for another job that would allow her to better care for her two year-old daughter. She continues her visitations with her boys, determined to remain a part of their lives. Dana has come to terms with her past and strives to be a good example for her children, “I hope my children grow up and choose a different path then I went down.”

Dana currently lives in her own place, on her own, and is hopeful about the future. “Beth Shalom prepared me by getting bills put in my name,” Dana remarks. “It made me wake up and realize that I had to start doing things for myself. Learning to budget helped me … I make sure my bills are paid before anything.”

Please keep Dana and her family in your thoughts and prayers as she continues her journey in life after Beth Shalom.

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