Breaking Cycles: Jamie's Story

website photo.jpg

“Before the program, I was highly addicted to heroin. It brought me to the lowest of the low in my life. I was stealing from my family, from anyone I could possibly get to, which landed me in jail –where I realized I needed a program. 

About a month into my program, I relapsed, but I knew that wasn’t the life I wanted. I felt guilty the minute I did it. I told myself I wanted to go back to the program instead of running and going back to my addiction. So I returned, told on myself, and the House of Hope staff gave me the option of starting my program over.

Towards the end of the program, I got pregnant. The staff allowed me to finish the program because I had accomplished so much. I graduated in February and had my daughter in May. Since then, I’ve gotten my high school diploma and I’m completing college credits in dental school.

Looking at my daughter, I thank God everyday that I had her in a good time in my life, rather than back where I used to be. 

If I had her while I was still in my addiction, she probably would’ve been taken from me.

When I look at her, I see a little me. I want to keep her from becoming what I became. I think she’s what I needed in my life. Raising a kid isn’t easy, but mostly, I just want her to grow up with all the love and support that she needs. I don’t want to be too strict, but I don’t want her to have all the freedom that I did. I had too much freedom growing up and my addiction started when I was thirteen. 

Because I’d been using since I was thirteen, there were life skills I never learned. Being in the program taught me all the things that you’re supposed to know: how to get up to go to work, do my own laundry, cooking and cleaning.

I’ll admit, I’m not attending church as regular as I probably should. It does take a toll on me because I used to attend every Sunday when I was in the program. 

After I had my baby, I went through postpartum. I was depressed and a little different, I lacked the social skills I used to have, and my anxiety grew. I would beat myself up because I wasn’t succeeding in life like I thought I should be. 

So, in a way my relationship with God isn’t as close as it used to be when I was in the program, but I am a firm believer and I hold onto that.  

When I’m feeling down, I have to remind myself that I’m doing a good job. I’m not doing heroin, I’m not stealing, and I don’t hang out with the people that I used to. Even though I don’t have any friends and I’m not social like I used to be, I’d rather be unsocial than surround myself with those people because I could easily slip. 

I have to remind myself that I’m not who I used to be.

There is no relationship with her dad. We don’t speak, he doesn’t see her. He came the day she was born, but hasn’t seen her since then. I came to see him when she was a month old, but he never showed up to his own house. He says he wants to see her, but she’s getting to the age where it’ll confuse her. I told him in the beginning that he’s either in or he’s out. He's not going to call on holidays or wish her happy birthday. I don’t want her to know him, and then one day ask where he is and I won’t know. It makes me sad that it’s just me, but it’s better this way..

Layla means everything to me. She’s a momma’s girl. Sometimes I can’t stop smiling, sometimes I cry, when I look at her. I wouldn’t change anything. I couldn’t picture my life before the program, before her, and without the program she wouldn’t be here.

I want success and happiness for her; to be a kid, to have family that loves her, to one day see me get married, to have a father figure, to grow up and know she had a healthy, happy childhood.”

Jamie Rogers • VRM Life Change Academy Graduate

Ryan Stillwater

Ryan is a longtime Visalian — a graduate of Redwood High School and Fresno Pacific University with a bachelors degree in Christian Ministries. Intrigued by the partnership between the Visalia Rescue Mission and the City of Visalia, Ryan began putting his vision on paper as VRM's Oval Venue Coordinator in August 2013, and has sparked the interest of many throughout the community. Ryan and his wife Amy (a Mt. Whitney High School graduate) have been married for seven years and have three amazing kids — ages 6, 4, and 4.