“I lived in a dope house when I was eight years old,” Angela remembers. “I try not to think about it too much. Things are so much better now.”
For Angela, she has to work hard minute by minute to put life in perspective. She has come so far from her life of addiction. She remembers a time when the meth she craved seemed to be the only thing she could think about. She wrote poetry to help her work through the emotions and the struggles of that time and what it took for her to break free (see Angela’s poem below).
Before the dope house, Angela and her younger brother witnessed their father getting shot and dying right in front of them. She was seven years old.
“I have been through a lot, but who hasn’t,” she says. “I have PTSD, anxiety … It was pretty horrific.”
“My mom has never done drugs, but her boyfriend sold drugs and he went to prison,” Angela says. “I had the wild streak though. I started doing drugs.”
“I lost everything. I lost my home. I lost my marriage. I’ve lost relationships with my family and with friends. I lost my kids for 2 and a half years,” she says.
When she went to jail for two weeks for a drug possession charge things changed. “I planned on getting out and things not getting any better, but the only way I could get out without paying the $10,000 cash was to do a bed date … I went to rehab for 16 days successfully and was released.”
A month and a half later, Angela made the decision on her own to go back to rehab and she stayed for six months. That is where her way of thinking, her choices, her way of life really was challenged and she began to see her life ahead in a more positive light. She still had 32 months of probation to serve because of the drug charge, but she was clean and on track to get her children back.
One day she was sitting and talking with her probation officer about work options and he recommended she go through the Culinary Cornerstones program with NourishKC, a Reconciliation Services’ partner organization. She learned basic culinary skills, got her food handler’s certification, and began interning at Thelma’s Kitchen at Reconciliation Services. After her five week internship in Thelma’s Kitchen, she was hired on as Kitchen Assistant.
“I do have a passion for cooking,” she said. “Growing up … I don’t come from money at all.” Angela said she remembers mostly eating McDonald’s or Pizza Hut. “My mom would cook, but she never used fresh garlic. She never used fresh herbs. When she did cook, it was only with salt, pepper and garlic powder.”
She said she loves being at Thelma’s Kitchen. She loves getting to cook and try her hand at new recipes. “This place means a lot to me. I have learned a lot and I love the people here.”
However, this isn’t the end for her. “I hope someday I am able to open my own restaurant. I want to go to college,” she said. “I want to be a chef. I want to go a lot further, but I am grateful for where I have been and where I am now.”
“I’ve had a rough life,” Angela said. “When I was at my worst in my addiction I was afraid I would die like that, but I was even more afraid that I was going to live like that forever. I didn’t know any other way to live”
Life is different for Angela now. Being clean, having her kids back, being employed, being surrounded by positive people, having goals … “I have a lot more clarity now … I see things really differently. Before, I lived in such a small world in my head. Now, there are so many doors open to me.”
“My life … I don’t consider it a sob story. I consider it more of a victory,” she said.
At Reconciliation Services, we strive daily in our interactions with our neighbors, guests, clients, interns, and volunteers, to see their strength. Sometimes strength is hidden beneath years of struggle, addiction, or trauma, but we believe it is there waiting to be revealed. Everyone has a “victory” story waiting to be written!