by Lucy Benka

Patricia has suffered a lifetime of neglect and abuse from those who were supposed to love and protect her. Patricia was abandoned by her mother at age twelve and sent to live with her grandmother. Her first night there she was raped by a family member. Even after telling her family what was happening, the sexual and physical abuse continued and Patricia was made to feel like she was a liar, and a bad person. She had no one to turn to, so she started drinking, “to numb the pain, and become invisible to people.”


The more Patricia drank, the more she got involved with badpeople, including pimps and drug dealers. Still being molested by her uncle,she frequently ran away to avoid going home. Patricia went on to endure manyabusive and destructive relationships, sometimes suffering from black eyes andbroken ribs. She started taking different types of drugs to try and forgetabout her life. Even after the sexual abuse stopped, Patricia could not stoptaking drugs.

The first time Patricia was able to stop using drugs waswhen she got pregnant with her daughter. “Irealized I had a life inside of me and I didn’t want to hurt her,” she said.

Patricia stopped taking drugs, drinking alcohol, and smokingcigarettes without any help. She remained sober until the baby was born, buther problems had not gone away. She started drinking again, until she gotpregnant with her son.

Once again, Patricia quit drinking, until her son was sevenmonths old. At this time, Patricia found herself unable to cope and startedusing drugs and alcohol again. She lost her home shortly after sending herchildren to live with their father. She now found herself in a lonely existenceof drugs, prostitution and homelessness while mourning the loss of herchildren.

At this point, Patricia found the strength to go into adetox program. It was here that she first heard of Meta House. Fortunately, thedetox center allowed Patricia to stay two weeks (the maximum stay is usually threedays), until a bed became available at Meta House.

In 1998 Patricia entered Meta House, driven by the desire toget her children back. However, dealing with her past was painful. She wentthrough the program and stopped using, but did not discuss any of the abuse shehad suffered. Despite this, Patricia got her children back and remained soberfor five years.

However, in 2005 she started seeing her family again andre-living the trauma of her childhood. She once again turned to drugs andalcohol to try to block the memories that were returning. Patricia recalls, “Itwas like I was standing above looking down on myself. I was miserable…Irealized I had to come out of this quickly, before I got stuck.” So Patriciaphoned Meta House and asked for help.

When entering Meta House for the second time, Patricia had avery different attitude. This time, she was ready to confront her past andfully embrace all aspects of the holistic program. She opened up about herabandonment, her sexual and physical abuse and how it made her feel. She talksabout how hard those days were, reliving her childhood, but acknowledged that itmade her so much stronger. Incredibly, Patricia says that she wouldn’t changeanything about her life, as overcoming her trauma made her the person she is proudto be today. Her bright, positive energy is impossible to ignore.

Patricia now takes each day as it comes, and stays inregular contact with Meta House to help deal with the difficulties of every daylife. She mentions one challenge in particular: the stigma that surrounds drugand alcohol addiction. She adds, “I thank Meta House for giving me the tools Ineed to face that challenge every day.”

Each day, Patricia draws her inspiration and motivation fromher role of protecting and providing for her daughter Shinae, 19, and sonBrian, 17. She speaks proudly of them, and smiles whenever they are mentioned.Patricia is thankful for the unique family structure of Meta House, andattributes the success of family therapy for the open relationship she has withher children. She has already passed four of the five tests required for her GeneralEducational Development (GED) credential, and is studying hard to attain thisgoal.

Patricia lives with her son, Brian, who wants to be anAerospace engineer and is a successful boxer. They have two birds, Will andGrace, and just added puppy Duke to the family. They have lived in Riverwestfor three years and really enjoy the friendliness of the neighborhood. Patricialikes to sit outside, talk to her neighbors, and watch children play on herstreet. She does all of her shopping in Riverwest, saying she “enjoys havingeverything at my fingertips … including Meta House!”