Hi, My name is Chelsea McGinnis and this is my NewDay Story.
I would like to share a little bit about my background to paint a clear picture of how my disease of addiction progressed. My mother was very codependent on men. She was married 6 times. My very first memory is when I was 6 years old. My mom and dad got into an argument and I remember my mother saying, "he's not your real father anyway." I was later told my biological father always knew where to find me but didn't want to have anything to do with me. My sisters would get gifts from their paternal grandparents and I was often left out of their family events on holidays.
Rejection and abandonment were deeply rooted into my psyche at a young age. Domestic violence and verbal abuse were common in our household. I had two sisters very close in age and my mother struggled to maintain a consistent routine through all the screaming and chaos. My mother was collecting child support from three different fathers and we were constantly put in the middle of court disputes. I lacked the social skills to make friends, so I had very few. I didn’t feel like I fit in with any “group” of kids. I had a void and sought to fill it with attention and validation through grades and achievements. I thought love was something you could “earn.” If only I was smart enough, if only I was “popular” or “pretty” enough. It was never enough. My mother still barely held on to her sanity--the kids still did not include me--I was still “me.”
It was not until I was 16 when my manager at McDonalds bought me my first bottle of Mad Dog 2020. Everything changed. I could not stand to be in my own skin. Alcohol provided that sweet escape I was so desperate for. It gave me the illusion of being the life of the party. I was a blackout drunk when I was a sophomore, and I almost did not graduate high school because of my drinking. I was introduced to meth right before I was about to start college. My addiction took over every aspect of my life. I was constantly putting myself in dangerous situations with unsavory characters. I would make reckless impulsive decisions that ended up impacting my life forever in such a self-destructive manner.
While using, I got into several relationships based on domestic violence and abuse because that's what I knew and thought I deserved. I could never live up to the impossible standards I set on myself as a child and for all the failures I was experiencing in my addiction. I was also diagnosed with bi-polar Depression, PTSD and social anxiety disorder. I continued to self-medicate. I could not stay sober long enough to give the prescribed medication a chance to start working. Guilt, shame, and the cycle of trauma and addiction held me in complete bondage. In 2011, Paula Shockey took me to my very first inpatient treatment for residential women at the Light Program on Ave J back when Recovery Resource Council was TCADA. She planted those very first seeds of hope. It must have been a challenge because I was suffering from a condition of knowing EVERYTHING and hearing nothing!
My 20-year struggle has included 13 different rehab stays, 4 CPS cases, being arrested several times, and going to prison. CPS had been involved in my life numerous times, but this last time there was no one left to clean up my mess. I had completely alienated myself. I was spiritually, emotionally, and financially bankrupt. Getting clean to please my family or get my kids back had always been my focus point, but when that fell through, so did my sobriety. The last time CPS intervened, Lincoln was removed from my custody and placed into foster care. I was evicted from my apartment--homeless on the streets of Lancaster. I ended up on the doorstep of Pine Street with nothing but a suitcase. Allie, a peer support specialist with MHMR was able to secure me a bed for the next morning. She became my peer, and that is how I was introduced to peer services! I do not know where I would be if it was not for her persistence in getting me in rehab that day.
After treatment, I moved into Union Gospel Mission. I participated in the Tarrant County Family Development Credential (FDC) intensive program. At this point, I was willing to do anything to stay sober. I decided to focus on my recovery and leave the custody decision to the judge. My service plan included Community Assessment & Treatment (CAT) Outpatient treatment, Individual counseling, FOCUS parenting classes, psychiatric evaluation, medication management, and so much more! One of the programs that genuinely helped me was Focus for Mothers. FDC helped me to create good habits and provided the accountability I needed for success, but there is a discord and disconnect when involving the court system, CPS and allegations of abuse. I struggled early in the program adjusting to the strict rules and regulations. It was very challenging because my mother passed away from terminal lung cancer and Lincoln was diagnosed with severe level 3 Autism. Diane and Dawn at NewDay Services supported and encouraged me to believe in myself. I was introduced to assertive communication and taught to advocate for my rights. The FOCUS class was empowering and uplifting. The course included CPS Navigation, Protocols, how to dress, what to avoid saying…these tools are priceless! Diane stayed with me and became a valued member of my support network during the duration of my CPS case. She attended my Family Meetings and Court Hearings. She believed in me when I did not believe in myself. New Day Services programs center around educating parents which ultimately has a ripple effect on the family unit. They are not just patching up a wound. They are treating the infection.
I was able to obtain gainful employment after being unemployed for over 10 years, get my license back, and buy my first car all before I graduated FDC. I sought a sponsor that had a reputation for working the steps thoroughly. I can honestly say she saved my life. Lincoln is now enrolled in public school in very good ECSC program, a Texas Star Accredited Daycare, he is receiving Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities (IDD) services through MHMR, Occupational Therapy (OT) through Hope Center for Autism, CAP Funding for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy through the Autism Center, and is being seen by a DO at the Child Study Center. After graduation I got a job at MHMR and became a certified Recovery Support Peer Specialist. I currently work for Recovery Resource Council, the very agency that planted those very first seeds of hope 15 years ago! Recovery Resource council has programs for permanent supportive housing, substance abuse prevention and assessment, and veteran services, individual counseling, parenting, outpatient treatment, and we recently acquired grant funding for our RSS Peer Support Program. We provide financial rent, utility, childcare assistance, health and wellness, individual coaching, transportation services and much more to our long-term participants.
It is case workers, mentors and social workers employed with agencies like NewDay Services and Recovery Resource that helped me to develop a strong foundation that ultimately made the difference! I am a better mother, friend, sister, and now I am a certified peer support specialist assisting people like me in discovering their true purpose and guiding them through their journey in recovery!
A far cry from where I was 20 years ago.