For February 2022, Fellowship RCO would like to recognize Ashley Messer

My name is Ashley, I’m originally from Kansas City Missouri. I’m a 34-year-old mother of 3 boys 15,12 and 8. My clean date is July 19, 2019.
At the age of 5 my father went to prison for 10 years for raping my aunt. As a young child I was very confused at why my father was not around anymore. I thought I did something to make him leave me and brother. My father was my whole world, I was daddy’s little girl and it destroyed me when he left. From a very young age my life was hard, I didn’t come from money by any means, but my mother did the best she could for us. We had a roof over our head and food in our bellies. We lived in hotels, cars and even garages. I was bullied in school because I had Walmart clothes and payless shoes. I would try to find reasons to stay home from school to be with my mother because I was scared that I would come home one day, and she would be gone too.
I remember when I was in 3rd or 4th grade my friends and I would all meet on the playground before school started and eat happy crack (Kool-Aid and sugar) we thought we were so cool. At the age of 15, without me realizing it; my addiction started with drinking. I would sneak out to my friend’s house, and we would drink the alcohol in her dad’s cabinet. It felt great because it got me out of myself and the issues I had at home. I started skipping school, acting out and ended up running away from home. My mom called the cops and I went to a Juvenile Detention Center for the first time. My father got out of prison that year and our relationship was never the same. I looked at him differently because he was now a registered sex offender. I was embarrassed and ashamed despite the love I still had for him. He was still my dad and there are three sides to every story.
At the age of 17 I met the love of my life and the father of all my children Timmy and moved in with him and his family to get away from my mom and her boyfriend at the time. At the age of 18 I got my first tattoo and that started another whole addiction but a good one. When I was 19, Timmy, his family, and I moved to Las Vegas, NV. Five months after we moved there, I found out I was pregnant with our first child. Our relationship had started to become toxic and abusive; mentally, verbally, and physically. I remember one specific time when I was about 4 or 5 months pregnant, we got in a bad argument, and I was sitting on the bed when he pushed me and into the closet door. I blamed myself, assuming the changes in my hormones caused me to act crazy.
After our oldest Joey was born by C-section, we moved into a house, and things were going well until I found I was pregnant again, which ended in a miscarriage. I slipped into a deep depression. Eventually, I got a job working at Wells Fargo as a Teller and got pregnant with our second son Jacob, when I came back from my maternity leave, I was let go from that job. I decided to go to college and become a medical assistant, I completed the schooling and externship for and got a job working as a medical assistant when I met the man I cheated on Timmy with. I was keeping secrets and hiding things from Timmy like taking pills, smoking weed and cheating on him. Timmy found out about what I was doing, which created more toxicity in the relationship. 
My grandma was becoming very ill, and we decided to move back home to Kansas City to be with my family. God forbid something happened while I was living so far away. Shortly after we moved back, I found out I was pregnant with our youngest son Justin, I was scared to tell him because I did not know if it was his or not. By the third C-section I was deep into my addiction but still did not realize what was going on. My grandma passed away a week after Justin was born, and that destroyed. My Grandma was one of the most important people to me, and I spiraled after she died; I blamed God for taking her from me. 

Mine and Timmy’s relationship continued to get worse. I had a mental breakdown probably a year after my grandma passed away and found myself sitting by the lake crying and talking to her. I wanted to die, and something told me to look up treatment centers. I knew nothing about treatment or what I was doing, but I called the first place I found, and they answered. Before I knew it, I was setting up a plane ticket to come to Florida and get help. I went to Lake Worth for treatment and did 35 days. While I was there, I meet a guy named Rane who was also from the same state as me and we made plans to go to meetings when he got home. I was home for a month and got dental work done and got narcotics prescribed, I had an AA sponsor at the time who told me it was ok to take the medication, but it only was a matter of time before I was taking more than prescribed and still didn’t know I was an addict. I had started buying pills off the street and taking the boys with me to get them because. My thinking told me that it was ok because I wouldn’t be sick, and I could be present with them. 

Timmy and I got into a bad fight one night and I decided I couldn’t deal with it anymore and decided to leave that night for good, I had no idea where I was going to go or what I was going to do but I didn’t care. I left the boys with Timmy because they would be better off and safe with him instead of sleeping in a car. It was wintertime and very cold. Rane and his mom let me stay with them, so I wasn’t sleeping in my car every night. Rane and I started using very heavily together and it progressed to more, stronger, and cheaper drugs that officially owned my life.

Rane and I decided to go back to Florida and get help. This time I went to a detox, then treatment, and then I moved into a halfway house for the first time. Rane and I were not in a relationship, but feelings started to develop on my end but not his.  When Rane talked to other girls it hurt me, and at some point, I stopped caring. As soon as I stepped back on attempting to force a relationship, he wanted to be with me. I was very guarded.

I lived at Fellowship RCO’s Recovery Residences at the time and thank God for them because when I had 4 months clean, I got one of the most devastating calls of my life. My mother had a massive stroke and although she was stable, she was paralyzed on one side. A few days after the first stroke she had a second stroke and was pronounced brain dead. I was her oldest living child, so I had to pack up and drive to Johnson City, Tennessee to take her off life support. Once again, I blamed God for taking my mother from me, during that trip Rane and I officially became a couple. 

I came back to Fellowship RCO’s Recovery Residences and decided after a week it was a good idea to move back home to Missouri against people telling me it was a bad idea, I kept telling them I’m ok I got this. Two weeks after Rane and I moved back, we both started using again, and this time was worse than any other time. I was on an 8-month run of using against my will, depressed, and just wanting to die. I would go see the boys high out of my mind and nodding out. Thanks to the support I had in Florida, Rane and I were able to go back to treatment.
My mindset this time was different, I can’t explain it or describe it, but I knew I was done. I did detox, treatment, php and went right back to Fellowship RCO’s Recovery Residences. I went full force into working my program to the best of my ability, I did 90 meetings in 90 days, I started working my steps again with my sponsor, reaching out to my support system when I was going through something, and told on myself when I was not ok. One huge thing I did differently this time was for the first time I did this for myself and no one else!
I stayed in halfway for 13 months and didn’t move back home as hard as it was to be away from the boys. Today with, 2 1/2 years clean, I still go through stuff. I’ve lost a lot of friends to overdose, my family still doesn’t talk to me, and that’s ok.

"The only ones who matter are my kids. I have a relationship with them today and I have their love and support."

On March 21,2020, I got that phone call I was always worried I would get from Broward County Sheriff’s Department. They had to ask me for the contact information for Rane’s next of kin. He, unfortunately lost his battle to his disease. The pain I felt was indescribable. I wanted to give up and stop fighting, but the support system I had behind me held me up when I wanted to so desperately fall. They brought Austin into my life, not to replace Rane, but to help support me through my grief, and remind me that Rane will always be with me.

I am so grateful to tell you all that I used the tools to keep my foundation solid regardless of how my disease wanted to use Rane’s death to destroy me. I haven’t picked up another drug despite the loss and heartbreak I have endured. I refuse to let anyone, or anything take me back to a place I worked so hard to get out of.

I have a life today that is well beyond what I thought possible. I am forever grateful to Rick, Susan, and Sara and Fellowship RCO for saving me more than once when I had nowhere else to go and giving me a second chance at life. I have a supportive group of ladies (Switz, Kandi, Shannon, and Jules to name a few) that carry me when I feel a bit unsteady.

I owe my recovery to God, but also myself. I continue to stay steadfast in my recovery to honor the ones who lost their lives trying.
I am honored to be Fellowship RCO’s Recovery Hero for February and to share my experience, strength, and hope. More importantly if you get anything from my story, I hope you see how much love I felt throughout my recovery journey no matter where it took me, and that you can be sure that the love at Fellowship RCO’s Recovery Residences and the rooms of whatever meetings you attend is unconditional. You will be loved until you can love yourself. We are all worth it!