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I’m still here, and stronger than my struggles.

by Matt Pappas

I’m proud to introduce Jenna, who submitted her story as a guest blogger.  Being able to connect with so many amazing people, just like Jenna, who want to help encourage others by sharing their story, is a very humbling and validating experience. I hope you will feel encouraged as you read her story, and remember if you would like to share your story, just contact me anytime.

jenna white - guest blogger on surviving my pastMy childhood was a nightmare with dashes of happiness. My late father had extreme chronic body pain, hooked on painkillers and overall unhealthy. He took a lot of anger out on me, my brother and my mom. My mom wasn’t a peach, either. She was one of the most manipulative, passive aggressive women I had ever met. After my 24 years of living, I can look back and understand it was the way we needed to live to survive.

When I was 13, I started showing signs of mental illness by the way of manic and depressive moments. I would be awake for weeks at a time while going to school, hockey, basketball, work, and doing homework. I was given heavy sleeping pills that made me hallucinate and antidepressants to keep me “level”. My parents thought it was a hormonal issue, but they were wrong, I went from being on and off medications due to a controlling father and boyfriend(s). I began self-medicating by the age of 13 with pot, then a year or so later with ecstasy, cocaine, speed-basically anything I could get my hands on. I had attempted suicide before the age of 16 by downing a whole bottle of Tylenol and getting into a bath.

Living with the constant emotional abuse at home and from outside sources, I moved out of my parents’ house at age 16.  I had already been arrested and charged with mischief for smashing my ex-boyfriend’s car after he left bruises on my arms, ribs, and legs, by kicking me. I lived in a small city where family names still matter, so I was told to drop the case at the police station. This was my first encounter with a miscarriage of justice involving domestic violence.

Life moved on. I stayed with sports, school, and work after I moved out. I was the assistant Capitan for the school and played for another team in a league. For awhile, I was doing good. Only smoking pot, trying to stay on medications and proving to everyone that I could manage life on my own without fucking it up.

The good years vanished and drugs came back into my life. I was a junkie again. I managed to keep up appearances with my prior responsibilities but I was a wreck. I almost didn’t pass High School because I was “suspended indefinitely” for beating up a guy who called me a cunt 2 weeks before final exams. Yet, I still graduated high school. I had 3 charges on me and was getting closer to the age of 18.

By this time, I had been basically on a year and a half long bender with no end date in sight. I sold, smoked, snorted, and popped drugs all the time with anyone who would join me. It was drawing closer to the end of my probation and I hadn’t completed my mandatory community service hours. My probation officer informed me that I would be sent to a federal prison at the end of a 50-day mark unless I completed them. It scared me so bad, and I paid my way out of it by a charitable donation. But now, I was free.

It took me until 5 years on drugs every day to finally see that I needed to get clean. Going to school, hockey games, hockey tournaments, long trips to see family, everything I did, I was high. One day when I was walking home after a night shift; I was on a week or so long bender when I passed out from exhaustion and woke up in the hospital.

After that day, I realized that my body could not handle the drugs anymore and I was going to end up a drug addict forever unless I changed. I knew I was going to end up like a girl I knew; injecting drugs and close to death with hep c. I had to make something of myself so I cut down on the drugs and moved to Toronto Ontario with my ex and his kid. Which clearly didn’t work out because it ended with 2 hospital admissions and a fractured cheek bone. I was homeless in Toronto Ontario in the dead winter of February 2014.

I was in college and was taking Community and Justice Services courses. I could stay somewhat on top of my school and move into residence with a big discount from college stronger than your struggles - jenna whitebecause of the extreme circumstance. I am happy to say that with a few slips of other drugs I realized that being a youth probation officer is what I truly wanted to be at that time. From a youth degenerate drug addict to a college student with dreams, it still was a huge step. Unfortunately, with the abuse from the ex and such a chaotic life at home with my parents again, I ended up being homeless again almost a year later.

I moved to Belleville Ontario with the BF at the time and put my life back 2 full years. He was emotionally abusive and physically controlling. When physical abuse came into the relationship, it took me until 2 years into it all for me to snap. I was so depressed and unhappy, so I broke up with him. Two weeks later my dad passed away suddenly so I went to the funeral and my mom asked me to move back in, so when I returned to work I informed them of my choice. The next day I was fired. No union. Nothing I could do. I was in a terrible place in life.

After that crazy month in 2016, I moved back home to be with my mom. I relaxed, traveled most of the summer. It was a memorable summer for me because I was single, owned a car and was free to make decisions on what I did. I had never had that before. If I had known where my life would take me, I would have wished to fast forward to now.

I was lucky enough to reconnect with one man I had never thought I could meet. Chris and I met online through a mutual friend 10 years ago, fell for each other, spent most of 2 years talking every day until we lost contact. He had moved to my province of Ontario and for 8 years we were silent. One of the best things that had ever happened that summer of 2016; Chris found me on Facebook and we basically picked up where we left off, with the notable exception that we were older.

We Skyped, messaged and called each other all the time again. In October I flew out to Newfoundland, Canada to finally meet him. The moment we met, I knew he was the exact person I was waiting for. He was the one I went through all this hell for. He was my twin flame. Months after October, me, Chris and my mom worked together to fly/drive across Canada to move him back home with us. It was crazy, stressful, but so worth it.

I am now in a wonderfully supportive and healthy relationship with the love of my life and in college for Child and Youth Care. I never thought I would live past the age of 18 with all the crap I’ve been through. and that makes every accomplishment that much sweeter. I’m still me, stronger than my struggles!

-Jenna

You can follow Jenna on TwitterInstagram, and her Blog.

 

Images of or by Jenna White used with her permission. Feature image courtesy of Pixabay. Social media images created using Canva. 

 

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1 comment

squidgy2016 April 15, 2017 - 6:44 pm

Jenna ((((((((hugs)))))))))) so proud of you. Thanks for sharing your story.

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