Ashley’s journey to recovery at Triumph
Ashley poses for a picture before her interview with Triumph
Ashley had big plans for her life. She was in culinary school in Seattle. But school became too expensive, and she had to drop out and go live with her mom in Quincy, WA.
“I was partying, just drinking, and having fun, but I was also working three jobs. Then I got pregnant with my son in 2012, so I calmed down a bit.”
Noah’s father didn’t stick around. Ashley was on her own. Then she got pregnant with her second and third child.
“My second baby, that father was an addict, but I didn’t know it at first. We had a really nice house, five bedrooms and a garden in the back. Then three months after I had my daughter, Miley, I got pregnant again, with Jazlyn. The dad, though, got arrested and was deported.
“We lost everything. All I had was a baby in my belly and my clothes. I had to move back in with my mom.”
Ashley, with family help, tried to work her way out and up. She got a job as a home health care provider, an apartment and a car. “When I had the kids I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t drink. I worked and I came home,” she says.
Then she met another guy. She thought for sure he was the one. “He put on a really good front. He was charming. He was nice. He helped me with the kids. He swept me off my feet. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was an addict, too.”
Ashley describes the pair as a power couple. In 2018 she had a fat bank account, a car, her job. But the relationship quickly went from dream to nightmare. “He was lying to me. We had a fight about his drug use, and he beat me up. I couldn’t even get out of bed. He said he was really sorry, that he didn’t know what he was doing. And he said he had something that could make me feel better.”
Within three months, Ashley lost her car, her money and her patient-care job. The abuse grew worse and more often. And now she was addicted to the thing she thought would make her feel better — heroin.
“I was still able to parent, work my second job at the Gorge, take classes to become a certified nursing assistant. I got a new patient-care job. I felt normal, but now I needed drugs so I wouldn’t get sick.
“I tried to get clean so many times but I couldn’t. He kept coming back into my life, and my addiction got worse. Now I’m living in a van with my kids behind Walmart.”
Ashley kept trying to get help, trying to find a place for herself and the kids. Eventually she found a house, but it had been stripped down to the studs and had no hot water. Again, she got a job in health care.
“I’m working for hospice, traveling, keeping up this persona. The doctors and clients I worked with didn’t know I was taking a hit of heroin to stop the shakes and sweats. Then I moved to anything that would get me high so I could be up for my kids and my jobs. I started mixing heroin with meth. It got really bad.
“I always had a great work ethic, friends, I’m close with my cousins. But after meeting Anthony I lost 40 pounds, had scabs on my face and bruises all over my body. We were living in motels and cars, stealing food out of grocery stores.”
There were more attempts to dig out, but Ashley was addicted. And when she got pregnant with her fourth child, Olga, she used drugs throughout her pregnancy. “My head told me if I stopped using, my baby would die. I would die. I didn’t go to doctors. I was too ashamed. “
While back at her mom’s Ashley got really sick. Her mother thought it was Covid and sent Ashley to a doctor. “Right away they said, ‘We have a center for women to go who have addictions.’ I thought, OK, but nobody knows I’m an addict.”
They did. Olga was born addicted and spent her first days in intensive care in Spokane.
“Triumph called me while I was there and said, ‘We have a bed ready. Can you be here on Tuesday?’ That was the next day. My kids went to live with my family. I knew I had to do anything I could to keep my baby and the kids.
“The moment I got here, on Oct. 26, 2021, I was welcomed by the other women. I had no idea other women were going through the same thing. Triumph is a place where it’s OK for others to know.
“It was like I found a home.”
Ashley completed her treatment at Triumph on Feb. 26, 2022.
“It seems like forever ago. I had a really tough social worker, but Triumph was like an army behind me. They told him, ‘She’s proven herself. She’s gone above and beyond. There is no reason she shouldn’t have her kids.’
“Triumph taught me that I am enough. I am worth love, honor, trust, dignity and respect. They made us say that every day. It’s how we started our days. And we did it until we believed it.
“We learned how to parent all over again, because when you do drugs your brains turn to mush. You need to be rewired. The kids and I have all had therapy. I feel now that whatever I bought into therapy I left it there.
“Triumph walked along side of me. Through shelter, mental health care, anxiety. I now have people who will help me anytime I need it. I still reach out to Triumph if I’m stuck or if I have questions. I show up. I call. I text.”
Triumph helped Ashley get into an apartment and her rent paid for a year. Now she’s starting to look for a job and plan her future. “Today I put myself first. That’s how it has to be. If I’m not OK then my kids aren’t OK. I hope I can become an advocate for women. I would like to go back to school for that so I can give back what I was given. Mental health and addiction do not discriminate.
“I can’t thank Triumph enough. I just can’t.”
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