“I always told myself that I didn’t want to end up like my father”. Those were Sonja’s troubling words as her story began to unfold. Growing up in a small, rural community, the product of a broken home and an alcoholic father, Sonja recalls the constant fighting and ever present violence. She took her first drink when she was 12, used alcohol again on her 16th birthday, and experimented with drinking throughout her high school years. 5 years after graduation, and subsequent to employment at various small jobs, Sonja attended a local community college and successfully completed her Associates Degree in Liberal Arts. She began her first substantive job when her first child was just a baby and worked for that same employer for 10 years. But Sonja was a functioning alcoholic who didn’t think she had a problem because she was only drinking on the weekends.
In 2002 Sonja was arrested for DUI (Driving under the Influence) and spent some time in the county jail. Although she was worried about the prospect of spending more time in jail, riddled with guilt because her family had trouble reaching her during the time of her arrest, and apprehensive that she might lose her job, Sonja continued to drink and did not seek help for her growing dependence on alcohol.
And then came the pivotal moment in 2009 when Sonja was arrested with her 2nd DUI and had no choice, a felony record with 6 months incarceration or commit to entering Palmer’s intensive, residential treatment program for women who are pregnant or parenting. This program, the Tulsa Women and Children’s Center (TWCC), is often a last chance for mothers to turn their lives around before they are sentenced to jail or have their children take away. When Sonja made the decision to enter TWCC she told herself again “I don’t have a problem”, but after 30 days she quickly came to the realization “hey, I do have a problem and this is where I need to be”. It was then that her healing journey began in earnest.
When asked about her time at TWCC Sonja will immediately declare her graduation date, August 16th, as a turning point in her life. She will walk you through her heart-breaking decision to choose post-graduation housing away and apart from her previous living situation to begin building a new foundation, one that supported her sobriety. “I’m moving towards being sober and bettering my life”. And Sonja will praise the expertise of her TWCC counselor, Linda, who was an instrumental part of Sonja’s recovery and was always there to listen to her. “Miss Linda was constantly telling me that I deserved better.”
After successfully completing TWCC’s residential program, and with generous help from the University of Langston, Sonja is now pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Rehabilitation Services and is excited at the prospect of helping more women choose a path to recovery. Sonja continues to work on her sobriety and her future through TWCC’s outpatient program and is looking forward to a new life.
For more information about Palmer’s intensive, residential program for women who are pregnant or parenting, please contact Patty Crisp, TWCC Program Director, at 918-430-0975 or via email at PCrisp@palmertulsa.org.