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“I was able to gain my peace back.” – Johnna’s Story

Johnna is a Maternity Program client at Crittenton of North Carolina. She is 30 years old and is currently set to deliver her baby near the end of March 2024. We sat down with her for an interview to learn more about her life, goals, and how Crittenton has helped her overcome the obstacles she’s faced.

What was growing up like for you?

It was hard. Even though I had family, my mom died when I was three months old due to breast cancer. So, it was difficult not knowing who I was and not knowing my mom. When it came to my brothers, they kind of blamed me for our mother’s death. The doctor gave her the option of doing chemotherapy treatment or continuing her pregnancy and birthing me. She chose to have me, and it was like a sacrifice – that’s how my brothers look at it.

It was difficult growing up knowing that she did that, and at the same time not having that mother figure growing up.

Then, I went to go stay with an aunt that was abusive. My dad was also generally very violent and abusive – sexually and physically. That led to the Department of Social Services (DSS) gaining custody of me and placing me into foster care. That was around age 9. Ever since then, I’ve always been in the system.

A lot of people view their trauma as negative. I try to look at mine as something positive, especially with me being pregnant now. The motherhood that I didn’t receive is what I’m trying to give to my kids.

What was the situation that brought you to Crittenton?

Prior to coming to Crittenton, I was in a relationship with someone who abused me mentally, emotionally, and physically. I had multiple miscarriages previously due to stress from this situation. I had to leave for the safety of myself and of my unborn child. At Crittenton, I don’t have to wake up or sleep with one eye open. I can stay here rent-free, stress-free, with food provided, and can come and go as I need to. It has definitely relieved a lot of stress and anxiety. I was able to gain my peace back.

What do you hope to achieve in life?

My main goal is to keep my kids from going through what I went through as a child. When I got to Crittenton and started therapy, I learned that for me, the most important thing is to stay healthy. I can work my life away, but if I’m not healthy while doing it, then it’s pointless. With me being pregnant in addition to already having a son, I had to ask myself, “If I’m not here, who is going to be here for them?” Now, I’m not saying my mother made the wrong decision by choosing to birth me instead of doing chemotherapy. But being the parent that I never had is my number one goal.

No matter the situation, I want to be a supportive, independent parent. Having my kids with me, seeing them smile, and being able to comfortably provide for them without having to live paycheck to paycheck is my goal. I don’t want to have to come back to Crittenton for anything. I want my kids to see from my example that they are strong people and no matter what obstacles come their way, they can always overcome them.

Is there an achievement or contribution you’re most proud of? Why?

I would say being able to speak up. I was always a shy kid that didn’t say anything. When I was first introduced to therapy at Crittenton, I was that person like, “I ain’t talking to nobody!” But therapy definitely opened my eyes and allowed me to have the space I needed to speak.

I’m also proud of my educational accomplishments. With me already having a child and being 30, I would have been “stuck” at a job instead of being able to focus on my career. So, coming here [to Crittenton] allowed me to use that platform to get my career started, be able to build on it, as well as get a job within my career field. It definitely put a spark in my life to keep me going and doing better.

I’m really trying to break generational curses. By that I mean: I graduated from high school, and I went to college. Even though I got pregnant during my sophomore year, I still went. Considering that nobody in my family even attended or graduated from high school, I felt like that was a big change and accomplishment for me. I ended up looking towards helping other people. That’s how I landed in the nursing field. After I have my little one, I’ll be going back to school to become an RN. I’m just trying to do something that I wasn’t guided to do.