Testimony of the Month
My name is Suzie Gregory, and last July I was out of money, had burnt all my bridges and faced a tough choice: spend the night at Pioneer Park in downtown Salt Lake City or go live at the Rescue Mission’s women’s facility. One choice meant safety, food and support. The other was scary and unpredictable. Still, the one thing Pioneer Park had going for it was that I could continue my seemingly uncontrollable drinking habit, which had come to dominate my life.
Safety won out, and on July 17, 2013, I spent my first night at the Rescue Mission. For the next two weeks, I called everyone I could think of. I begged my ex-husband, my family, the father of my daughter, ex-boyfriends and friends to come get me and let me stay with them.
Nobody came. I had always been able to find someone who would take me in, but this time it was different. I was annoyed, frustrated and angry. I didn’t want to stay at the Rescue Mission one minute longer than I had to. The only thing that kept me there was the fear of having nowhere else to go but the streets.
Looking back, I truly believe it was God who closed all those doors, ensuring I stayed at the Rescue Mission. It wasn’t until I had been there for several months that I finally yielded to God and decided to finish the Mission’s New Life Program.
Realizing I Was Broken
When I first arrived at the Rescue Mission’s women’s facility, I felt out of place. Speaking to the women there, I learned that most of them had experienced traumas in their lives. While my parents divorced when I was three years old, I felt like their split didn’t have much impact on me. Growing up in central California, I enjoyed having a “mommy home” and a “daddy home.”
But when I started to dig deeper, probing my motivation for using alcohol and drugs, I kept going back to the divorce. As a true “daddy’s girl,” I was crushed when my father remarried. It happened when I was in seventh grade and had been living with him in Utah. I went from being the apple of my father’s eye to sharing him with a wife and two new stepdaughters, who happened to be close to my age.
While it might sound silly, my father’s remarriage really crushed me. I wondered why I wasn’t enough for him. Why did he need a wife and other daughters when he had me?! I started acting out with drugs, alcohol and sexual relationships in order to get my father’s attention. When I was a young teenager, I lied about my age so my older boyfriends would think I was over 18. By the time I really was 18, I was struggling to find purpose in life and other people’s approval. I even had an affair with the married manager of the movie theater where I worked, just to fill the void.
Finally, in 1998, I decided to settle down and get married. My husband and I had a son and were trying to make a family together. But instead of being happy, I became more and more miserable. Even as we raised our son, my husband and I grew apart. We worked different shifts and rarely saw each other. Even when we were both at home, my husband spent his life on the computer.
Depression, Divorce and DUIs
I was so depressed: growing up, I had envisioned my life completely different. I started drinking alcohol almost every weekend and I was overeating daily. During the first five years of my marriage, I gained 150 pounds and eventually weighed 340 pounds. I made the decision to get gastric bypass surgery, and in nine months I had shrunk to 165 pounds. With new confidence in my appearance, I had an affair with a married man I met at work. After learning I was pregnant with this man’s child, my husband and I divorced, and I moved in with my new boyfriend.
Unfortunately, this guy happened to be a recovering meth addict, and a few months into our relationship, he relapsed and starting using again. When I found out, I decided I would try meth, too, and for the next several years, we were in and out of rehab, struggling to hold down jobs while taking care of my two kids and the three kids he had from a previous marriage.
Then, in 2008, our lives improved. We both attended a faith-based recovery program and started going to church. We were able to stay sober and did well. My boyfriend started playing on the worship team at church, and I started teaching Sunday school. We were held up as an example in our church: a model of people who had overcome life’s problems with God’s help. But soon we started drinking again. I taught Sunday school hung over, and we attended our premarital counseling classes drunk.
In 2009, I got my first DUI. My son, who was 10 at the time, was in the truck with me when I went off the road and crashed. I thank God that neither he nor I were hurt. Eight months later, I got another DUI and was sentenced to a year in jail. I was released after four months, but never could seem to get my life together after that. I went to the hospital three times for alcohol poisoning. Once my blood alcohol content was over .4 and twice it was over .5. The doctors said I should have died.
I kept bouncing from place to place and got into a couple of relationships that turned abusive. I gave in to sexual assault just so I could have a place to stay. My life had become a total wreck. Eventually, in July of last year, I was in the detox center at LDS Hospital and had literally nowhere to go when I was released. My family and friends couldn’t take me in anymore. They had all given me too many chances and been burned. They had trusted me, only to see their trust misplaced.
And so, with nowhere else to go, my grandmother suggested I try the Rescue Mission’s Women’s Facility. While I hated it at first, I came to realize that the Rescue Mission saved my life. I believe it was God who forced me to come to the Rescue Mission. He closed down every other option I had available until there was nowhere else for me to go.
It wasn’t until I was about halfway through my counseling in the New Life Program that I truly gave my life to Jesus. I attended an event with other program women at a local church. It was a special evangelical event, and by the end of the presentation, I was on my knees with my face down, touching the floor. I was crying and told God that He could have my whole life, my addiction, my hopes, my dreams, everything.
Finally, A Changed Life
While I had always considered myself to be a believer in God, it was in that moment that I truly became a follower of Jesus Christ instead of just a “Sunday Christian.” Since that day, God has changed my life in amazing ways.
On July 12, I will have been sober for one year. I haven’t been sober for one full year since 1998. God has also worked to develop and restore my relationships with my kids. My daughter, who is now 8, comes and visits me almost every weekend at the Rescue Mission. For her, having an addict for a mother is normal. She hasn’t ever known anything else.
Repairing my relationship with my son, who is almost 16, will be a longer process. During my early days in the New Life Program, I called him. He told me to stop calling him and that he would call me when he was ready to talk to me again. I have hurt him deeply many times, and he was especially scarred after my drunk-driving accident. One time, he had to call 911 when I was in an alcohol coma, unable to be revived. After those instances, my son couldn’t believe that I continued to drink. He couldn’t wrap his mind around why someone would continue doing something so destructive to themselves and their family. It hurt him immensely to see me destroy myself, and it undercut my relationship with him.
Today, things are different. I am so thankful that my son talks to me. When I graduate from the New Life Program and move into my own apartment, my son is considering moving in with me. While I know that our relationship still has lots of mending left, I praise God that I still have a relationship with him and hope to continue to earn his trust.
I have a great job at a local staffing company, where I work to help people find jobs. It is so rewarding when I can give someone a job lead that turns into a permanent position. I have been blessed to have a great community mentor, Christina Wanner, whose friendship, compassion and love have been critical to my success. She is someone who hasn’t had any real experience with addiction, but still relates to me and encourages me to follow God and trust Him.
As I graduate from the Rescue Mission’s New Life Program, I do so with a radically changed life and a God-given desire to stay sober. I have my driver’s license back and recently purchased a used car. I have also been able to put money down for my own apartment. I really can’t believe what God has done. Still, I know that as I leave the friendly confines of the Mission and begin living in the “real world,” it will take everything I’ve learned about depending on God to keep me sober and close to Him. So please pray for me. Pray that I would stay connected with my church, Calvary Baptist, and pray that God would help me to stay sober and live for Him.
To learn more about what is happening at the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake in July, check out our monthly newsletter, The Rescuer: