Jessica graduates, hopes for restoration with her family

Jessica grew up in Santa Paula, the youngest of three. Her dad was “out of the picture,” and her mom remarried when she was 2. “My stepdad was very abusive,” said Jessica, who clarified that she was molested by him. “He mistreated me and I wasn’t comfortable in the home.”

Jessica started using when she was 16. “I started hanging around with the wrong people and getting into trouble at school. I wouldn’t go, to the point where my mom got fined for it. I started using hardcore drugs. Sometimes I wouldn’t come home.”

Jessica was in and out of juvenile hall. “My behavior was out of control,” she said. “It was a pattern. I was doing destructive things. I was using. I’d go to jail, and the first day I came out, I’d go back to the drugs. It was a pretty hectic cycle of behavior.”

Jessica had a son and raised him on her own for a year. She continued to use and Child Protective Services got involved after an altercation between her and her mom. “My son was sick and I was supposed to take him to the doctor. I couldn’t get up due to drugs. My mom kept waking me up. I was tired and coming down. I was full of anger. I was always full of anger because of the (molestation).”

Jessica continued to struggle with her addiction. “I was so depressed. I was really confused. I didn’t know how to get clean. I had been using since I was 16. The only time I was clean was when I was incarcerated. It was just really hard. I felt like it was impossible for me.”

Jessica had burned bridges with her family. “I was homeless for a week,” she said. “I was so lost. People wanted to help me, and I was pushing them away.”

Jessica’s dad had come back into her life when she was a child, and at this juncture in her life, he took her in at his house in Ojai. “It was a way for me to clear my head,” she said. “I was on a ranch—it wasn’t what I was used to. I found out I was pregnant with my second son. I enrolled in an outpatient program and was going to classes five days a week. And then I’d do NA and AA at night. They slowly gave me Daniel back and then I had Isaac in October. I had both the boys in my care. I got a job and a car. Things were going good.”

But raising a 2-year-old and a newborn with nearly full-time work hours was difficult. “I started using again,” she said. “It started with a day, and then I’d stop. Then it became more than that. I tested dirty at probation. A few days later, they took my kids. After that, I didn’t even try anymore to get them back.”

Jessica’s older son went with her aunt. And Isaac, just nine months old, went to Jessica’s mom. “I continued to use,” she said. “For almost a year I just wasn’t doing anything I was supposed to do, like get clean, go to meetings, get into a program.”

Last year Jessica tried a secular program. “I was really unstable,” she said. “I was there two months and relapsed again. I’d go out on the streets, use again, go back and then relapse again.”

Finally, Jessica’s rights to her children were terminated. “I came to the Lighthouse seven days later,” she said. “Being here has definitely changed my life. I got to know the Lord here. I got to know what true love is.

“And the sisterhood here is amazing. It’s so different than how it is in the world. I got baptized here. The staff has really come alongside me and they always point to Jesus. They genuinely care. We pray for each other. We encourage each other. I’ve made really, really strong relationships here with the women.”

It’s been over a year since Jessica arrived at the Lighthouse. She graduated the program in March. She’s living at the Lighthouse and looking for a job. “I really wish my kids could see me now,” she added. Daniel and Isaac are 4 and 2, respectively. “I get to Facetime with them. But my kids, they can never come back to me. Hopefully I can get more time with them. I just want to restore that relationship with my family and my kids. I love them. I trust God that he’s going to come through.”