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7 min read

Breaking Free of Addiction: Anjelique's full-circle story

Written by former UGM resident Anjelique Pennington, December 2022

Hello, my name is Anjelique and I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. 

Before I came to UGM, I had struggled with alcohol, drugs, and relationships for over 20 years. I had been in and out of four treatment units, one psychiatric ward, and a prison I had built up within myself that I could not escape. I was in a hole so deep I wanted nothing else but for it to just be over. I tried four different times to end it all. But God had other plans for me. I was abusing alcohol and prescription medication. I tried cutting and I tried four different marriages. I tried quitting and living for others but nothing worked.

I dealt with guilt, shame, fear, and remorse. Deep down, I was a scared little girl, fearful of life, of the unknown, worried about what you thought of me and of what God thought of me. I started drinking at 13 and I had my first morning drink at 16. I was buying my alcohol at a local convenience store before and after school or I was asking others to get it for me. If neither of those worked I stole it or I convinced a guy to buy it for me. It made me feel accepted... for a little while. But alcohol quickly turned on me. At 17, after overdosing at school and ending up in the hospital, I started my first treatment center. But I was not ready. I had to go through many more valleys before I wanted recovery. 

Angelique

Everything but God

I have three brothers and two sisters, and my parents have been married now for 50 years. I struggled growing up, though. I never felt like I fit in. I married at 18. It was good at first, but things started breaking down. We fought a lot and there was mental, physical, and sexual abuse and promiscuity going on. The marriage was not healthy, but we tried to make it work. I have my four children from that marriage. I continued for the next several years trying to fill that hole with everything but God. I was mad at God, and I had a love/hate relationship with Him for a long time. I stopped and started drinking several times. I even strung together three years of sobriety at one point. But I did it for my husband and everyone else, not for me. I ended up going back out drinking, and I fell hard.

At the age of 39, I finally decided to reach out and get help. By then, everyone had given up on me. It seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t escape. Romans 7:15 says, "For I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."  

A genuine cry for help

I had used God as a "911 God" many times: If you get me out of this one, I will stop. But it never worked, because I was not genuine. Until the day I cried out to God in genuine desperation, "PLEASE HELP! I can’t do this anymore." And I meant it. I was ready! I had tried everything else. I needed Him to rescue me, to restore me.

“PLEASE HELP! I can't do this anymore.”

After calling my doctor and spending days in the hospital detoxing. I, with tears running down my face, was driving to Coeur d’ Alene with a broken heart and a broken right arm in a manual car. I was coming here for treatment, once again. But God knew I needed more. He had also lifted the obsession to drink from me at that point, but I didn’t realize it yet. A couple months after finishing treatment at Kootenai Behavioral Health alcohol unit and living in a safe house then couch surfing with friends I’d met in the program, I had one friend say that I should go to UGM. There was a new building being put up here in CdA. So I decided to walk through the construction site as they were working. I ran into one of the counselors. Maybe I could get a job here, I thought. After much talking, she said, “I think you would be a good candidate for our program.” So instead of getting an application to work here, I got one to apply for their 18- to 24-month program. That seemed like an eternity at the time.

I got accepted into the UGM Center for Women and Children in 2012—a little over 10 years ago. I was the first resident to enter the building.

The journey had just begun

When I first started, I was lost and needed a lot of direction and motivation. Two years was a long time, and I couldn’t work or have a relationship. It was meant to give me time to focus on me. How was I going to get through this? It seemed like an eternity. I am and was very independent, and I liked to work alone or with very few people. I had to learn to work as a team, to let down some of those walls I had worked so hard to build.

UGM gave me the opportunity to rest and to recuperate what I had lost. I came up here with my car and a few belongings I had packed in it, but what I lost was far more than material belongings. I had lost my children, my hope, myself. UGM was going to teach me how to gain that back and also get a spiritual toolbox in front of me and break vows I had made growing up. 

“I had lost my children, my hope, myself.”

Coming here was the hardest decision I’ve made. But also the best. I was ready to get my life back, to climb back on top. I had left my four children with their grandparents, I had a 16-year-old boy, Cody, and 13-year-old triplets, Kevin, Kyle (who are identical), and Katarina. They are 28 and 25 years old today and Katarina made me a grandma this summer. I am now a significant part of my children’s lives and granddaughter’s life, Leia, Because of God and my recovery. 

Learning to depend on God

UGM taught me how to weather the storm so I could see the rainbow on the other side, to trudge through the valleys until I could reach the mountain top, to break free, it taught me to love myself again and to be a God-dependent woman. It built my confidence—I am emotionally and spiritually becoming secure in who God has made me to be.  This program has changed my life, it has given me a relationship with God, a friendship I never knew I could have. A Father and a hope. 

“UGM taught me how to weather the storm so I could see the rainbow on the other side, to trudge through the valleys until I could reach the mountain top, to break free.”

When I moved forward into transitional housing. I did hit a spot where I went into a deep depression after moving out, and I had to stumble and slog my way through it although I felt alone and fearful. I was scared to reach out, thinking I had to learn to stand on my own feet. I had been isolating from everyone. But that was a lie from the devil, which is why our mentors, sponsors, friends, and family are there for us as well as UGM Aftercare. It’s said I can’t fix this with this, I need you, I need my mentor, I need my sponsor and I need God. With a lot of prayer and staying close to the Lord, after about six months, I came out the other side.   

Through a lot of hard work and dedication I started breaking down strongholds, and I began to gain a relationship with my children and my family. I no longer was in a deep depression and wanting to end my life. I was learning to let go of anger and work through my anxiety. I was learning to be a contributing member of society with God at the core.  While here, I gained some values like dependability, family, love and acceptance, individuality, and more importantly, a Christ-likeness and a reliance upon the Lord.   

I commenced in 2014 with six other ladies.   

Anjelique

A new life, clean and sober

When I was two years sober, shortly after commencing, I bought my first motorcycle, and I started riding. When I’m on my bike, it’s one of those times that I talk and listen to the Lord. I feel close to the Lord on my motorcycle. I feel at peace. I feel like I can climb that mountain.  

I did my internship at Hospice of North Idaho and acquired a position there for over eight years. I became healthy and whole and I knew my worth.  After commencing and being clean and sober for over 3.5 years, I met a man that would honor, love, and cherish me for who I was, Terry. We devoted every part of our lives to each other and to the Lord. In September of 2018, we moved into a beautiful home that we won in a NIC house raffle. God is always providing a home for me. He is helping me stay on top. I still live there today and I rent my rooms out to traveling nurses and to those in recovery. Terry passed away on February 12, 2019, five months after moving there. In honor of my husband, I would like to share a morning prayer that we prayed together:

Good morning dear God, I offer to you my thoughts, my words, and my actions in all that I do and say, just for today. Please guide and direct my path, and put in front of me those I could help or be of service to. Thank you for all you do and for who you are, and for dying for our sins, in Jesus name I pray, amen.

We only have today. God has never stopped working in my life, and over the last 10 years, He has been working beyond measure. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future."  And Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good for them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose."  

A lifestyle of giving back

Having brought me through so many challenges, God has now placed me back here where it all began. Eight months ago I came full circle and started working at UGM—on my 10-year sobriety date! Today, I work at the Center for Women and Children, the place where my hope was found.

I have been blessed with an amazing family, friends, and home. Both here and in my outside programs. Thanks to God, staff, volunteers, family, and friends who never gave up on me and who continued to be persistent, loving, and exceptionally devoted to my recovery and my life. Today I am proud to call CWC my home, my family, and my future. I get to walk beside other woman going through the program, to remind them that this is only a temporary break in life, to give them the tools they will need to succeed for a lifetime. 

If you or someone you know is struggling to dig their way out of the hole they are in and are thinking about starting this program, I would have to say this is the best place to come. 

May God continue to bless each and every one of you in all you do.  Thank you! 

 

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