Tenisha grew up in a less-than-ideal home. Her single mom was addicted to crack cocaine, often smoking in front of her daughter. And she was abusive.
In that environment, Tenisha ended up a crack addict too, making poor decisions. She had a child at 14, a boy given up to social services and the foster system. When she got pregnant with twins at 16, she knew she should quit the drugs.
“So I called the police on myself,” she says. “I told them to take me to jail because I didn’t want to get high anymore.” She was booked on a possession charge, and then told the judge she wanted help. Those twins also ended up in foster care, but Tenisha soon kicked her drug habit and stayed clean for seven years.
She ended up in an abusive relationship and dove back into drugs — this time, crystal meth. She eventually left that relationship and moved in with her mother. Both continued abusing drugs, and Tenisha’s mom remained abusive.
“I finally thought, ‘Maybe I need to get help,’” she says.
When she first came to the Mission, Tenisha — who prefers her privacy — was overwhelmed by the number of people at the facility. “Being around a lot of people makes me nervous,” she says. “I kept saying, ‘I’m leaving, I’m not going to stay here.’”
But the love she felt, especially from staff, convinced her to stay. A couple of counselors in particular had shared their own stories with Tenisha — stories of difficult pasts, stories of recovery.
“They were just like me,” she says. “They’d been right where I was. That made me more comfortable.”
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