Hi my name is Jessica Grassel, I’m 24 years old, I was born and raised in Mansfield Ohio, Here’s my story……
Growing up, my family consisted of my mother, stepfather and my older brother. I grew up in a household that had no concept of stability. My house was full of chaos, abuse and fear and confusion. Our home was always a party house. My parents would frequently throw parties. My stepfather was also a drug dealer, so I was exposed to drugs and alcohol at a very young age. Filled with drugs and alcohol my parents would fight. The fights would turn into my stepfather physically abusing my mother. My brother and I witnessed my mom being abused a number of times. This chaos continued until I was about nine. My parents decided to separate. During the separation I was introduced to my biological father Todd. This was extremely confusing to me. I had always thought my stepfather was my real dad.
With my stepfather out of the picture my mom was now single with 2 kids and no hope. She began working multiple jobs to support my brother and I. Her main job was being a bartender at a local bar in our small town. This added more chaos to our lives. My mom would work late, being gone a lot left my brother and I to raise each other. My brother and I would wait anxiously for my mom shifts to end. When she would arrive home she would be drunk and with a man. We witnessed her sleeping with many different men. This life style carried on for about 2 years, until she got back with my stepfather. I was furious, I did not want to relive the pain associated with the two of them being together.
My teenage years our family was united, my parents decided we needed a fresh start. We moved to a larger town nearby. Included in this fresh start was the birth of my younger brother. My parents quickly fell back into their old partying habits. They couldn’t party and raise a baby so I had to step into the parent role for him. The partying led back into the abuse. I remember hiding my brother so he wouldn’t have to see or hear what was taking place. At 13 I found myself in a very low place. I was angry, hurt, afraid and completely hopeless. I tried to conceal the pain I was experiencing at home but it became unbearable. I started drinking and smoking weed. I loved the affect it had on me. I felt empowered and enjoyed being rebellious. This high didn’t last, I needed more. I started using cocaine and fell even deeper in love with this drug and the life style that was associated with it. I began to not only use the drugs but started to sell them as well. Using and selling drugs filled my void for a little while, but I eventually got burnt out. I turned my attention towards men, this altered my thinking even more. They were always telling me how beautiful I was and would complement my physique. I did not see what these men saw. I hated myself and the way I looked. At 14 I developed an eating disorder. It quickly turned into an addiction. My weight became my obsession. The smaller I was the better I felt. This addiction gave me the confidence to pursue men. At 15 I lost my virginity and the eating disorder stopped. My focus had shifted once again. I found myself spending all of my time with this guy. I would do anything to be out of my house. He and I had similar backgrounds so we teamed up and went back into the drug dealing business. I would be in school selling drugs while he would be breaking into homes. This took place for about a year, until he got caught and was sent to prison. Two weeks into his sentence I found out I was pregnant at the age of 16. I could not face my family with this news. I wasn’t even suppose to be around him. I decided to have an abortion. The abortion was terrible I had never felt so ashamed. After the abortion I feel deeper and deeper into darkness. I only lived for partying and getting high. I somehow managed to graduate high school. One night after drinking at a graduation party I decided to drive. I got into a car accident that should have taken my life. I don’t remember much about the accident, I just remember waking up pissed off that I was still alive. The accident scared me, but not enough to change my life.
A few months after the accident a new guy caught my interest. Our relationship was also made up of drugs, sex, and alcohol. Four months into our relationship I found out I was pregnant. On November 22 2010 I gave birth to my daughter Lillianna. Words cannot describe the joy I exp. As I held my baby for the first time, soon after lilli was born her father was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. He was placed in a mental institution and was out of our lives. It didn’t take long for me to find a replacement dad for lilli. I reconnected with a guy I had grown up with. He quickly stepped up and became the father figure in our little family. Like the others with him came drugs. He sold prescription pills, at first we would only use on the weekends. We though weekend use was manageable. This habit rapidly formed into a full blown addiction. We would snort pills, all day. We were together for 2.5 years when our addiction took his life. He died in a fatal car accident on July 12, 2012. He was on his way to pick up more pills when he lost control of the vehicles and crashed. I was beyond devastated. The pain, guilt and shame consumed me. I was now left with a baby to raise, bill to pay and addiction to support. I went back to what I knew and began selling the pills on my own. The pills were not bringing in enough money to support my habit and raise a baby. So I switched to selling heroin and cocaine. It wasn’t long before I tried the heroin. This is something I told myself I would NEVER do. After trying heroin I fell in love once again. In no time I found myself sticking a needle in my arms. I had never been so low in my life. I lost everything including my daughter. My family and childhood friends wanted nothing to do with me. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to I began living in a motel. I was only there a week before I was arrested after being caught with needles. I spent a few night in jail, thinking long and hard about my life and where I was heading. I knew I had to make a choice, either get help or give up and die. Lilli was on my mind day and night. Flash backs of her smile gave me the courage to get help. A few days after being released from jail, I was told about a Christian based recovery program in Chicago. A friend told me this place was called Restoration Ministries. She shared how this ministry and God saved her life. I was skeptical but I called anyway. I spoke with a lady named Sandra. A few days later I was on a plane to Chicago. I arrived at Restoration Ministries on March 3, 2014. Sandra took me to the house and explained that it was called Tabitha House. I was in shock and still very skeptical. Everyone was talking about the bible and God. I knew nothing about either subject. Instead of embracing the unfamiliarly I completely rebelled. My rebellion got me kicked out of Tabitha House and sent back to Ohio. I lasted a total of 25 days. Sandra gave me strict instructions to call her every day for 30 days and then I could return to Tabitha House. I went through HELL that month away but I followed Sandra instructions. I called her every single day most of the time I would be high, but it didn’t stop me. I desperately needed help and a Savior. There was something planted inside of me while I was at Tabitha House and I was so thirsty for more.
After the 30 day time out was over, I returned to Tabitha House. This time I was ready. I came back so broken and so in need of change. A few months after being back and settled I began to read my bible, it didn’t make much since to me at first, but I was determined to find this God everyone spoke of. After asking Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior and to come into my heart everything changed. A few days later I picked up my bible and was blown away. It made sense. I was a little shocked. It was like it was strictly talking to me. Reading my thoughts and emotions, this expr open my heart and mind to believe. I begin to hear God’s voice everywhere, through music, people, devotions and even nature. I was in awe. I would get conformation on my prayers and through struggles. I had never known anyone to understand me and love me the way Jesus Christ does. I then learned how Christ died for me, so I can be free and my love for him grew deeper. Thinking about Christ dying for me made me want to change and be a better person. I’m so unworthy and undeserving for someone to die for me and all of my sins. But Jesus did he loved me enough to die for me. I began to form a deep relationship with Jesus. I could call on him anytime at any hour and he would be there. He became everything to me. Today I’ve been at Tabitha House for almost fifteen months. My life has completely changed. I thank God every day for bringing me here. I’m surrounded by amazing Godly people. I have a whole new family here. I’m free to be myself here, the way Christ see me. I’ve learned to not only like but love myself and the new creation I’m becoming. Jesus Christ is everything to me. He’s the father I never had and the best friend I’ve always wanted. Not every day has been easy at Tabitha House I’ve failed many test, even had a relapse 7 months after being here. The fall l had was so hard but it didn’t keep me down I called on my father and he helped me get back up.
I thank God every night for giving Doc and Barb the vision for Restoration Ministries. Without this place and God grace on my life I would probably be dead.
At this point I’m filled with so much hope for my future. I’ve seen stepping out in faith paid off in my life so that’s what I will continue to do. I’ve never been so excited to live and have a life. I can’t wait to be lillis mother again. I want to teach her about Jesus Christ and watch him transform her life like he did with mine.