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Recent graduate Bridgette finds confidence, peace at Lighthouse
Bridgette’s childhood was chaotic, moving between her parents’ houses in different states and experiencing difficult trauma at a young age.
She was born and raised in El Paso, Texas until she was 7, and her family—her mom, stepfather, and two brothers—moved to Pismo Beach. Bridgette was molested from age 5 until she was 10, at which time she returned to Texas to live with her dad.
Bridgette stayed with her dad from 10 to 15. “It was a tough time,” she said. “I was small in middle school and I was bullied because of my height. I had to learn how to be aggressive. I had to learn how to stick up for myself.”
Bridgette started hanging out with the wrong crowd. She started drinking at 12, and smoking cigarettes and snorting cocaine at 13. “The rebellious part came from the trauma I suffered,” she said. “I didn’t know what was happening when I was young. Then, one day, he tried it again. I fought him (off). After I realized what he was doing to me, I became a monster. I was very angry with the world.”
Bridgette was getting into more trouble and told her mom she wanted to come back. “I thought I’d have a fresh start in school and get off drugs and stop drinking, but that didn’t happen,” she said. “I got pregnant when I was 16.”
Bridgette had a daughter in 2005 and stayed sober for 2 years. “I graduated high school in 2007, with my daughter up on stage with me,” she said. The relationship with her daughter’s father didn’t work out, but she started seeing someone else in high school, and they stayed together for 10 years. “I was clean for seven years of it,” she said. “The last few, I was really secretive about my substance abuse.”
The couple had three kids together. After Bridgette’s issues with drugs came to light, the kids’ father got custody. “I attended some classes, but after two months, I relapsed. I gave up.”
Bridgette was working retail and staying in different motels. After getting pregnant again, Bridgette got clean for a year. “When I relapsed then, I couldn’t stop.”
Bridgette spent the next two years in a tent. “I know what it’s like to be with no food and no money,” she said. “I learned a lot down there in the river bottom. I learned to be humble. I learned to be grateful. I have compassion for a lot of people.”
Bridgette said she hit rock bottom when she found out she was pregnant again. “I knew I wanted my baby, but I knew they’d take him away from me. So I went to a program.”
Less than two months later, she went into labor early, and had her son, who was just 4 pounds. “When I left the hospital, I left without him,” Bridgette said.
In July, Bridgette got to the Lighthouse. “I didn’t know what this program was really about, but God knew what I needed,” she said. “I knew I was broken, but I didn’t know how broken.
“I’ve always said that I wouldn’t trust any man—why would I trust a man I couldn’t even see? I didn’t know that if I trusted in him, that he would lift me up, that he would protect me.”
Bridgette was baptized in September. “I’m finding my worth. The confidence I have, the peace I have—I never would have thought it possible. I didn’t know when I walked through those gates that God was already renewing me.”
Three of Bridgette’s kids are with their dad and two are with an aunt. She has regained custody of her youngest son. Bridgette said she has regrets about some of the choices she’s made, but is looking forward now. “The Lord gave me one job: be a mother to those little kids,” she said. “I’ve failed at that. I threw those kids away.
“I’m told I’m not the same person I used to be. The more I sink into the word, the more he shows me I’m worthy. Every time I read, I learn. I pray every night, ‘Anything not of you, Lord, please take off my path.’”
Bridgette graduated last month and is now in the Transitional Living Program. “It’s too early to say everything that’s in store for me,” she said. “All I know is that I’m so blessed to be where I’m at. I can’t believe that I did this. I accomplished something. As long as I stick with him, I can overcome anything.”
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