Image of a hand reaching out and being met by its own shadow

Why Me?

*By Tanya DeGroat, Crisis Intervention Team Diversion Program Manager at Independent Living, Inc.

Growing up I remember always thinking and feeling like life is not supposed to be like this. In the middle of all the confusion as a child and enduring so much abuse I had to grow up very early. I remember always taking care of my parents and siblings but in the back of my mind still thinking “life is not supposed to be like this”. Very young I grabbed onto the first sign of what I thought was love and continued this life of abuse that I knew was wrong but it was all I knew at the time and it felt so familiar.

I got pregnant at 16; I was being mentally, physically and emotionally abused daily. At 17 I gave birth to an amazing handsome son and that is the day I said to myself I’m going to break this cycle, I have to protect this innocent child, I have to give him the life he deserves. For the first 5 years of my son’s life I struggled emotionally and went through a lot of lows and I asked God everyday, “why me?” “What did I do to deserve all of this trauma and abuse?” That’s when I decided to exit the path I was on. I decided to be a voice for other single mothers. I took that passion and I worked on myself. It was hard; I worked through a lot but I never gave up.

In 2019 my mother passed away unexpectedly and I was angry, I was depressed, I was lost. I fell in a deep depression for a couple of months. My angel my son helped me through that and my purpose changed in life. I found a job as a Peer Bridger. After interviewing, I remember saying to myself, “This is why! This is why I went through what I went through in life to get well and through my trauma I can help other people.”

I’m a peer to be the small change that the world needs. I’m a peer to motivate other people. I’m a peer to make sure no one ever feels alone or feels like they have to navigate alone. I’m a peer to help people find and, most importantly, never lose their voice. I’m a peer to be a shining light to show individuals wellness and recovery is possible