Despite years of estrangement from her son, today Vanessa has a good relationship with him, his young children, and his girlfriend, a college graduate who is about to open her own daycare center. Vanessa is proud of her and has been helping her get the center ready for children.
“When he was little, for so long my credibility was shot with him,” Vanessa says of her son. “He’d heard the story so many times: I’d say I was going to quit getting high. I’d get clean for six months and then go back to it. Addiction had its grips on me. I don’t wish it on nobody.”
One of the pivotal moments of Vanessa’s life occurred in 1988, when she went to check on her best friend and discovered that she and her son had been stabbed to death. The incident sent Vanessa into a state of despair and years of self-destruction. Memories continue to haunt her. “I’ve seen some horrific things,” she says.
Clean and sober for five years, Vanessa struggles to cope with health issues. “I’m bipolar and have psychosis,” she says. “I was diagnosed with this way before my drug use began. And I got hit by a car when I was a little girl, crossing the street. So my back hurts constantly. Still, I wouldn’t trade my life for nothing in the world,” she adds. “I’m here. I’m blessed, and I’m so grateful.”
Three days a week, she takes the bus to her job at a fast-food restaurant. She likes earning a paycheck, she says. Her plans are to save money and to work on improving her communication skills, she explains. Her housing situation at St. Vincent de Paul allows her to work toward these goals. She pays a portion of her income for rent, and she relies on the SRO’s program manager, Hannah Jackson, for guidance and support.
“Hannah helps me a lot,” Vanessa says. “I can go to her with anything and everything.”
This article appears in the February 2013 issue of the ‘Good Samaritan’ newsletter.
To learn how you can help St. Vincent de Paul assist clients such as Vanessa, please call Nancy Naughton at (502) 301-8682.