Te’Ayra, 35, affectionately called “Tee,” was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Her early family life was tumultuous: her mother was abusive, her mother’s relationship with her own family was strained, drugs and alcohol were used by family members, and Tee’s cousin sexually abused her. At 11 years old, Tee was placed in foster and group homes. Estranged, her father was unaware her mother lost custody. Tee kept thinking her mother “would get it together” but eventually she contacted her father. Finally,
the custody judge gave Tee the choice to live with her father, improving her life.
Tee was a hard worker from the start, which led to much success in the restaurant industry and the opportunity to manage new sites at an early age and even earning General Manager certification. However, the stress of the job, working long hours, peer pressure, access to alcohol, and the unaddressed childhood trauma, were not a good combination. At 21 years old, Tee experienced the effects of alcohol, and it was “off to the races,” she explains.
“I realized that I had an addiction when I needed alcohol to get me through the day. Things turned bad when I got into an unhealthy relationship. I was drinking and partying, and I stopped working. I let go of who I really was. It was not the life that I wanted to live, and I was ready for God to take me. I walked across a busy street, and I remember telling God that if it was my time to go, then it was my time to go. Let Your Will be my way. If I make it across the street, I am going to call and get help. So, I just started walking through heavy traffic, untouched. After I made it across the street, I went to my friend’s house, I said call 9-1-1, I don’t want this anymore.”
After a few years of recovery, Tee’s mom passed away due to cancer. Her mother’s death brought up so many emotions that Tee was not equipped to work through, which led her to start drinking heavily again. “I went on a three-day drinking binge. I would wake up and drink, go to sleep and drink, and repeat. After three days, I was broken – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was at my “rock-bottom” and called the University of Maryland Hospital crying and asking for help.”
“When I got to the hospital, I told them that I looked up [Helping Up Mission] online and saw the programs and what they had to offer. I was the last Program intake before COVID –19 restrictions temporarily prevented new clients.”
When Te’Ayra, first walked into Helping Up Mission’s Woman’s Program at our Chase St. Center, after years battling dependency on alcohol, she was excited but nervous where her journey would take her. “I knew that I would have to be open, vulnerable, and willing to make changes.”
“When you first walk into the HUM, you recognize the staff’s loving care. I was in a grief class taught by Ms. Vicki , and the other women were sharing their experiences. Their openness allowed me to open up for the first time and tell my story.”
“Then I got into the Spiritual Life class with Ms. Donna and started opening up even more. She is like my mother and having her in my corner allows me to be heard without judgment. Everyone thinks that I am so happy and cheerful, but I have my bad moments. These ladies listened to me and helped me out by giving me the perfect kind of love that I always wanted. They treated me as a human being.”
“The spiritual aspect of recovery is something that I have never really done before. I was born and raised in the church, but I never thought to involve the understanding of God with recovery. You need God in your life. And once you have God in your life, he is always there, even when you hit your rock bottom. He is always there through the good and the bad; he is your best friend and companion. “
Today, Tee “trusts the process. I am trying to live the straight righteous life with the Lord. HUM means a new way of life and hope.”
Tee works part-time in a little café. As part of her work therapy at HUM, she also works in the kitchen, giving back to the therapeutic community in a way that utilizes her love of cooking! Tee is being offered a position in HUM’s Internship Training Program, which will provide her with a stipend, continued basic needs and comprehensive wraparound services, and a way to give back and build the therapeutic community for women.
Thank you for providing this loving environment for Tee, and all the women gaining hope at our Chase St. Center!