On December 22, 2015, about 90 residents and staff welcomed local author Amy Atwater to our Chicago facility. Amy spoke about her memoir entitled Jesus in My Face: A True Story of Addiction and Redemption. Afterward, she answered questions and made herself available for residents who wanted to talk one-on-one.
Amy’s story of addiction began at age nine when an older sister started mentally and physically abusing her and forcing drugs on her. Out of fear, Amy told no one of the abuse. For two years, the abuse continued until Amy succumbed. At age 11, she began using – and dealing – drugs by choice.
As she puts it, “At the ripe age of 11, I was no longer a victim when I chose the identity of extreme party girl.”
Her new identity, birthed out of bitterness and anger, had manifested itself as rebellion. That bitterness, anger and rebellion dominated her life for the next 30 years.
During that time, Amy’s life revolved around using cocaine, methamphetamine, a combination of both, alcohol and every other type of drug imaginable. She sold everything she owned – from TV’s, clothes and jewelry to her own plasma – all for the buzz she craved.
Interestingly, Amy never found herself involved in the criminal justice system despite years of illegal behavior.
At age 41 and on the brink of her third marriage ending, Amy entered rehab at a local treatment facility in Kalamazoo. She was very serious about wanting to change and said she went there to learn. She was surprised when they spoke about a higher power. Amy couldn’t understand what God had to do with her sobriety. The next two years consisted of repeated relapse and recovery.
At her 60th consecutive AA meeting, during her final attempt at recovery, Amy described what happened to her as “miraculous.” At the end of the meeting, they were reciting the Lord’s Prayer and those words she had learned as a child penetrated her heart like she had never experienced before. At that moment she remembers being “brought to her knees.” Amy says, “it was painful and incredible all at the same time.”
It was at this time that Amy says God called her to write a book. She admits she never passed an English class after the seventh grade, however she knew her new identity as a child of God – and the grace that came with it – would allow God’s command to happen. Amy wrote the book, which was published in 2013, and recently started her “Jesus in My Face” ministry. Her goal now is to share the lessons she learned and the tools she used in her quest to overcome her demons.
We thank Amy for sharing her powerful and relevant story with KPEP residents and staff.
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