Today Kendra is a graduate of Hillcrest Hope with so much to look forward to but her story of hope is a journey of fear and a hard fought battle to overcome.
As I sat with Kendra in her carefully, intentionally decorated studio apartment, she began her story explaining that her childhood was one surrounded by a family struggling with addiction and depression. Her mother was very blunt with her that Kendra could not go near drink or substance because she, like her family, would lose control.
“I grew up with the awareness that family members had lost control, wasted their lives, and some even had taken their lives. But, like every young adult, I thought I would be fine. I was very social and intelligent. I loved school, faired will with popularity, and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from the University of Missouri.”
Kendra father had been distant all her life, lost in his own addiction and demons. “I had an inner desire to figure my family out and one day be my dad’s conservator.”
“By the time I had graduated college, I had started drinking, but I thought ‘I drink and I am successful, so what had happened to so many in my family just wasn’t going to happen to me.’”
Kendra, from Booneville, started looking for work after college and took up a job at a casino with the goal of returning to school for her Master’s degree. But school lost focus to the drinking and partying environment of the casino business. Kendra advanced to Marketing Supervisor, continuing to think that drinking was just something everyone did after work together.
“From there, I followed a boyfriend to Kansas City and felt lost. I hated being somewhere that I knew no one. He moved forward professionally but I felt stuck. I took a job in the mental health field but the money was so much less than I had made in the casino business. I hated it here, had taken a job to find a place to be, but drank to deal with everything.”
Things got rocky in the relationship and Kendra was asked to leave. Her family helped her get into a place of her own from a distance, but alone and unhappy, she went back to working at a casino.
“At this point, I tried hard to get sober. I reconnected with a guy from college and things moved fast but because I wasn’t drinking, I thought it was good. I hid my problem from him because I didn’t want him to know I was an alcoholic. But I was and I lost control.”
“I then caught him in lies and unfaithfulness. I wanted to leave but I stayed because I felt trapped. I moved up the ladder at work, gaining promotions and bonuses. I convinced myself my problem was under control because I had never been written up-I was praised at work! I got to the point where I thought I was doing my best work when I was drinking. Yet, I started getting sick at work. I found out I was pregnant, though I was always told I would not be able to have children.”
Kendra quit drinking completely when she found out she was pregnant and stayed sober for a year after her son was born. Yet time took its toll. As she uncovered more unfaithfulness from her son’s father, felt the inadequacy that every parent struggles with, and fought to balance being a working mother, she broke.
“These were the darkest hours. So dark that I can’t remember them entirely. From running out of money to a DWI, physical altercations with my son’s father to driving intoxicated with my son in the car…. Everything fell apart and I returned to rehab after so many other failed attempts. It was there that I heard about Hillcrest Hope.”
Kendra completed rehabilitation and stayed sober. She applied to Hillcrest Hope and looked everywhere for work. She lived in a sober living home for months without her son.
“When Hillcrest Hope accepted me, I felt like I had truly done something right. I knew it was hard to get in and for some reason they would take me in and care about me. I was terrified because the opposite might be true, I might be a failure, if I didn’t get accepted. Looking back, it was a sign from God that I was doing the right thing and could continue taking the right steps.”
“I realized, looking back, that my family truly thought they were going to have to plan my funeral. They really didn’t think I was going to survive. Yet, I finally surrendered. I am one that has never liked change but I started to grasp hold of the fact that I did want to live and I did want to take back control of my life. Not just survive but actually enjoy life with my son.”
Kendra began to learn, through surrender, that asking for help is healthy, that living to please others only makes a mess of things, and that she can speak up for herself. She has learned that selfishness can be good when it is about being selfish with her time with her son.
“God knew what I could handle when He gave me my son. I had never thought I wanted a child at the point he came into my life. But now I know that he is exactly what I need and love. He is smart, articulate, he loves school, and through everything I have taken him through, he is still so happy.”
“I have learned how to put him first and we are the living the life I always wanted us to have.”