You wouldn’t be able to tell through Madysen’s sweet smile and gentle presence that she had been raised in a drug house. She has a way of talking with you that puts you at ease and makes you feel like you are already friends. I’m talking to her through the screen while her twin babies nap away in the background. She begins by telling me about how her life altered after her parents’ divorce at 9 years old. Her mother’s drug and alcohol abuse soon defined Madysen’s childhood – Madysen was forced to start drinking and doing drugs as an adolescent. Madysen’s mother then began prostituting her daughter to the men who would come in and out of the house. When remarking on this relationship, Madysen explained that she lost her childhood and innocence because of her mother’s actions. She became depressed and hurt.
“I wanted to help my mom. I wanted her to get clean and get better because I believed that the drugs turned her into this evil person. I tried to keep her alive as long as I could until I got so drained. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want help. I tried to always have that mother-daughter relationship but she didn’t allow it most of the time. She was my best friend at some points and at other points, she was the monster I hid from.”
This continued until around age 14 when Madysen was able to get in touch with her dad and she went to live with him. While she was not forced to do the same things that her mother had her do, Madysen fell back into similar patterns to those her mother had developed in her. Unfortunately, problems arose with her father and he released his rights to her. At this point Madysen went into foster care. She moved to a group home in Mt. Vernon where she met a woman she developed a close relationship with – Kayla. While the group home mandated she attend therapy once a week, she did not find the therapists to be trustworthy and was uncomfortable talking to them. But Kayla was different. Kayla formed a relationship with her and earned her trust. It was within this relationship that Madysen was able to open up for the first time.
So when Kayla told her that she was leaving the group home, Madysen was understandably upset. Kayla told her about the organization she was going to work with but Madysen was reluctant to follow her. Kayla kept encouraging Madysen to come join I Pour Life, genuinely believing Madysen would benefit from it. Reluctantly, she went. Once Madysen began to experience what I Pour Life really was, she discovered something different than she had ever experienced.
Madysen describes I Pour Life as a family, as people who genuinely care about her well-being. They have cared for her through many seasons of her life, including her pregnancy with healthy twin babies. She talks about how Julie Higgins, the founder and CEO, recently came over just to see her babies. Madysen smiles as she recounts how during a very emotional time in her life, she came to the I Pour Life offices and was consoled by the staff as she cried upon the couches. Madysen is reluctant to let many in her life, but welcomes those she trusts – like the people who make up I Pour Life. She also points out that the LifeStrengths program is unique to other programs because you do not age out. They are with you for the long haul – they are the stand-in for family that she never had.
I Pour Life has become a community for Madysen. She has been so impacted that she wants to eventually become a LifeCoach like Kayla. For now, though, she’s focused on her twin babies and getting back in school after taking a semester to take care of them. She will soon enroll in a program to become an ultrasound technician, inspired by the visits she had when she was pregnant with her babies. She’s also soon to be married and says that the most lasting impact the LifeStrengths program has had on her life is her ability to form healthy relationships through good communication. She credits the health of her current relationship to the program she went through with I Pour Life. When recounting her childhood, Madysen explained, “[my mother’s actions] took away my childhood and innocence… I had to grow up very quickly… And because it started at such a young age I believed that this is what my life would be forever.” Now Madysen says that she doesn’t have to let her past define her. Sitting across from me is an incredibly competent, warm, giving, and driven individual. For Madysen, the power of positive influence in her life has made all the difference.