Bright New Day Board of Directors Member-at-Large
NoElle Straggi is a student at Seattle Central Community College. Here is her story and why she is passionate about Bright New Day:
Growing up I always dreamed of being the best mommy I could be, a home with a fence in the yard and two loving parents. Never did I imagine that I would be a drug addict, strung out on whatever I could find, homeless, abused, alone, and in so much pain. Something happened to me at the age of nine that turned me to using alcohol, drugs, and sleeping with older men who were abusive, verbally, physically, and mentally. I ran away from home at the age of 11 and was places into a foster home, after my arrival to my new home, I ran away again, this time to an older man’s (29) house. I was used daily for sex, housecleaning, and any other personal needs.
1982 I met the father of my children. He was 16, I was 14, I moved in with his family right away. On my 15th birthday, I was pregnant with our son. Our child arrived in May 1983, 3 months later I was pregnant. On my 16th birthday I choose to have an abortion. I’ve had 2 more abortions, 1984, the other in 1985. Our daughter was born Oct 1986.
Summer of 1989, my girlfriend invited me on a blind date. When I met Brian I thought, you got to be kidding. He’s a miniature Paul Bunyan. Has the beard, hunters coat, and the one thing missing was the ax. Brian was a nice guy, but not my type. He had no temper, did no drugs, he put my children first, asked them what they like, how they felt, or what they are thinking about. We went out a few times, I even took my girlfriends two babies with us, and all he did was show more love and compassion to them all. That’s when I knew he was not going anywhere if I could help it. Jan 1995 we bought our dream home. A four bedroom, two bath, family room, on a quarter acre across from the lake, with a white picket fence. GOD my life was turning out like I always dreamed it could be.
April 1995 Brian was admitted to the hospital with 103.9 temp, was being treated for pneumonia. After ten days with no sign of getting better, they took an HIV test, it came back positive. My life took a turned for the worse. We’ve been trying for six years to have a child. We got married August 13, 1995 and in November 1995, we placed Brian in a nursing home because I could not afford the medicine and he could not be left alone, he was skin and bones, and so fragile I thought he would break. The man I love is dying and there is nothing I can do but watch him die. I am 27 years old, and Brian is 31, Peter Jay is 12, and Annie is 8.
1996, I was introduced to meth and I fell in love with the first hit. From that day forward I could do anything. There was no pain, sorrow, loneliness, guilt or shame, it was me and the dope. I used daily, by myself, hidden for many years, till I got my first criminal charge in 1997. I was now free to smoke in the house, (not in front of my children) have people over to smoke. I spent the next six years in my room smoking, chasing, selling, buying, and sleeping for the drug.
In 2003 I was arrested and given a 36 month sentence to prison. During that time I missed my daughter’s graduation from high school, my son’s 21st birthday, and the birth of my first grandchild. When I got released in2006, it only took six months to be right back where I left off in my addiction, sitting in a room by myself.
I spent the next four years doing the same thing and expecting different results. I was so broken down, the man I was with beat me so bad, left me in a ditch, homeless, and in pain from life and the drug. Thanksgiving of 2010, I was alone, hurting, full of guilt, and shame I took 9 Seroquel 300mg to take the pain away. I just wanted to sleep, I was, sick and tired and just wanted to sleep. I woke up three days later being released from Lewis County Jail and worse off than I was before. A week later I was re-arrested and looking at going back to prison.
I tried Lewis County Drug Court and failed, I was sentenced to 29 months for possession of meth. I received treatment in prison not just for the addiction, but the mental abuse I received over the years. I talked about my guilt, shame, hopelessness, and low self-esteem. It saved my life and I was so grateful that I wrote a letter to the Judge telling him thank you for saving my life.
I have been out of prison now for two years, have four years clean and sober. I will graduated in 2016 with my Degree in Social Service, I am doing my internship with Post Prison where I’m able to go into the institution where I spent time. I am now able to talk to others who are in the Prison system, and who wants help to change their future. The women that are re-entering into society, are scared about their future, housing, income, everyday basic life values. There is a better life than the one they left behind if they chose to see it and take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them. I don’t want another women to go back to the abuse, drugs, or homelessness because they think that’s all there is. We can give them hope, strength, love, and build their self-esteem.
Thank you for listening to my story,