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Graduate reclaims sobriety and her relationship with God

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Chrystina grew up in a Christian family, attending church and taking ballet lessons. But her idyllic family crumbled before she was even 6 years old, when her father raped her older sister. “She miscarried his child,” Chrystina said. “She was only 13.”

Her parents divorced, but her mom still put her through private school, and continued their classical ballet training. “For her being a single mom, we still had a really good upbringing,” Chrystina said. “But I’ve always dealt with depression since the whole thing with my dad. When I was 9, I started cutting.”

In high school, Chrystina started experimenting with drinking and drugs. And at 19, she met John. “He was my first love, and it was a really bad physically and emotionally abusive relationship,” she said. “There were three pregnancies, all aborted. I held on to a lot of self-esteem issues from that relationship. It just got really ugly.”

At 22, Chrystina moved to L.A. with her sister. “I drank, and it wasn’t a problem, until it was. My sister would find me just passed out in the middle of the bathroom. Or I’d be cooking and I’d leave pots on the stove. But it was just kind of laughed off. It was like that for a long time.”

At one point, Chrystina rededicated herself to God and quit drinking for two years, but eventually she picked the habit back up. She became a legal assistant at the Walt Disney Company and held that job for a few years before her anxiety and alcoholism progressed. “I went on medical leave,” Chrystina said. “I was having anxiety attacks and
I just couldn’t go to work anymore unless I was drinking. It’s still hard to admit that today. It’s shameful. After my 30-day medical leave, I couldn’t go back, and they had to terminate me.”

At 38, Chrystina had to move in with her mom back in Ventura. She started drinking again, hiding it from her mother. “Sometimes I’d steal from her. I would take what I could and get those big things of cheap vodka and just binge drink. I was just really angry. I was angry at myself but I was lashing out at everyone else. One day, I was throwing stuff and cutting myself—I was out of control. My mom called the cops and they took me to the (psychiatric) hospital. My mom said, ‘You can’t come back here. You can’t be in any of our lives Chrystina until you get help. I took that in and cried and cried.”

When Chrystina first arrived at the Lighthouse, she didn’t think she belonged. “I was really stubborn at first. I felt like I did the whole Christian thing and it didn’t work. I’ve gotten to a place now, thank God, where I’ve surrendered. I can be at peace with my past. It’s behind me and I’m forgiven for that. I’m hopeful for the future. God has really just really protected me,” Chrystina added in tears.

Chrystina graduated and is now in the transitional housing program. “The relationships here have really helped me. The relationships with the other women, the focus on God—he’s really at work here. And the staff, you can go to any one of them for counsel. They’ll help you if you’re feeling down, or if you have questions. The environment is just really nice.”

Chrystina still sees her psychiatrist, but hasn’t cut herself. “I don’t have an urges like that. It’s all behind me. I feel like I’m finally free from that bondage.”

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