Finding the Light

“She saw a light in me, and I’m forever grateful to her.”

When Kelli came to Cedar House amid the darkest days of her addiction, she couldn’t see the beautiful light within her. But her caring and compassionate case manager Salena could. In uncovering the rubble of Kelli’s depression and addiction, Salena discovered a spark of light and encouraged her to shine.

Kelli started drinking when she was fourteen years old after her parents divorced. At the age of sixteen, she was raped which triggered her drinking habit to worsen. She said, “I was partying every weekend. I didn’t want to feel, and drinking was my escape from reality.”

She made the decision to enlist in the US Army at the age of 24, but that plan was thwarted when she found out she was pregnant. Her drinking continued, and four months after her first son Micah was born, she found out she was pregnant with her second son Jonah. Kelli was a severely depressed, single mom. She said, “I felt hopeless, and I wanted to die.”

When she told her mother that she didn’t want to live anymore, Kelli was placed on her first 5150. While she was in the hospital, her youngest son’s father went to court, exaggerated her condition and got full custody of their 18-month-old son. After months of fighting with Jonah’s father, she was finally granted 50/50 custody back.

Kelli said, “In 2020, that’s when my drinking career took a turn for the worse. I was constantly arguing with my mom and Jonah’s father and his girlfriend. In September of 2020, I was ready to end my life. I called my sisters to let them know how I was feeling and was placed on my second 5150.”

That’s when she made the decision to enter into rehab. On September 25, 2020, she began residential treatment at Cedar House. She said, “I remember being terrified and scared and sad all at once, especially leaving my boys, but I also knew they didn’t deserve a mother like that.”

Regarding her time at Cedar House, Kelli said, “My case manager Salena was everything I could have hoped for in a situation like that. The staff were wonderful. They really helped me find my voice and myself again. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”

Kelli graduated from Cedar House on November 27, 2020. In January, she gained custody of her younger son, but the battle continued with his abusive father. When the court decided against her when they reconvened in February, Kelli used the tools and techniques she learned at Cedar House to embrace the pain she was feeling. When she returned to court in March, she was able to prove that she had finished rehab and continued going to meetings. She was granted custody again and faithfully documented evidence going forward to ensure that she maintained full custody of Jonah to protect him from harm.

She said, “I truly believe God got me sober for this, to fight for my son and to be his voice. I had to fight for myself so I could fight for him. Just because you get sober doesn’t mean bad things aren’t going to happen to you, but you can have a new way of handling hard situations that I learned from rehab and AA.”

Kelli is now 16 months sober and is studying psychology in school. She is the secretary for her Wednesday night meetings and loves being of service. She said, “I love sharing my story because I want to give people hope.”

She offered this message to people battling addiction: “Don’t ever be afraid to fight for yourself because you never know who you’ll be fighting for. If you’re serious about change, get a sponsor, work those steps, go to a meeting. Today my boys are happy and healthy, and they are my why.”