The power to be vulnerable is so amazing. We need more of it.-Shaletta B. Sumpter, OR
“We grew up fairly poor. My parents joined the military so we moved around a lot and finally landed in a suburb of Yakima. In high school I was a pretty much a goody two shoes. I just tried to do everything right. Addiction runs heavy in my family so it made me extremely judgmental of anyone involved in substance abuse. It was my motivator to make sure I got good grades, participate in sports, and stay on track. I had this boyfriend from when I was 14 to 20 years old. While I was in college and working. I was again thinking I was doing everything right. That year, my boyfriend committed suicide. And that really changed the trajectory of my life.
I had been a Christian my whole life, but I did not have a solid relationship with God. At that moment I was really angry with God, that He would take away the person I loved when I was doing everything right. So I said to Him that I didn’t need Him. I didn’t need anyone and I was fine on my own and I lived like that for six years. And in that time I did things that I am not proud of. I did things that compromised who I am and what I valued. I got into partying. Now I see it was to numb what I was going through, but at the time I found that it worked. It took away the emotional pain I was having. And that partying led to drug and alcohol addiction. And to a really messed up, traumatic life experience with abusive relationships. There’s a cycle of trauma that comes with it.
When I was 26 I got in trouble with the law and I went to jail because that also comes with it. I went to jail and ended up in a faith unit. There aren’t a lot of jails that have this. They call it God Pod in Yakima County. When I was in there I met Christie who ended up becoming a mentor to me over the next couple of years. She’s very important because she led me back into a relationship with God in that cell. And I got baptized in that cell, and I was out 30 days later, and went into treatment. It changed everything because it wasn’t just that I believed in God like I had before. It was that He radically pulled me out of something dark. And I felt hope again for the first time in forever. Building my life back from there has been difficult. I never dealt with my mental health issues or PTSD and trauma from everything before, but it all came out.
When I got out of treatment I started a recovery blog. I had hidden my life from pretty much everybody because during this time I wasn’t living in Yakima. I was telling everyone back home that I was doing good and posting all these highlight reels on Facebook. So when I got out it was really scary to tell people, but I needed to share because it was a part of my life. It was a huge chapter and it changed me so dramatically. And because I knew there were other people struggling that were afraid to talk and afraid to get help. I got a lot of messages saying: ‘I’m dealing with the same thing.’ I’ve helped a lot of people through the agony of telling their family and going into treatment. At first I didn’t think that was going to happen. The blog was mostly for myself, but it turned into something that was for other people and that changed everything for me.
It was about being real with other people and showing the whole story not just the great, right, fun things because it’s easy to do that and not share what else is going on. I’m always honest about my recovery, but I don’t lead with it because, although it is a huge part of my life, I don’t want it to be who I am. It has shaped me, but now I’m a mother and a wife and a friend and a daughter, and I appreciate that because it helps me love unconditionally and have understanding for my family and for friends and neighbors. When I talk to someone I want to know why you are who you are and who you want to be. I think people miss that and we keep our relationships on the surface and that power to be vulnerable is so amazing. We need more of it. So I’m happy today. I work really hard. And I’m proud of overcoming my struggles and so thankful for the people who gave me a chance here in Baker County and in other places.”