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Brittney has the life she wanted

​What happens when, as a young adult, you contend with opposing forces that have the power to shape your entire life? If you’re Brittney, you keep questioning and learning and working until your path becomes clear. 


As she approached adulthood, Britney wanted most to become an independent woman. She had witnessed her mom having children early and doing the best she could with few resources, as her stepdad struggled with addiction and prison. Brittney vowed to give her future family a more stable start.

Brittney had a high school sweetheart she loved. The couple had a baby daughter together, but the young man passed away suddenly just after the child’s first birthday. Brittney then reunited with another high school friend and would stay with him for most of 10 years. This relationship produced two more children. (Brittney also had a fourth child with another man when she and her 10-year partner separated for a while.)


Brittney says that for a time the second relationship felt like “a fairytale world,” and “it was great until it wasn’t.” As her partner fell into using drugs, a familiar family pattern exerted a strong pull on Brittney. Watching her stepdad struggle with drugs just made Brittney want to save her partner more. She chose to stick with the relationship because she loved him and wanted to help. She says, "I tried hard to keep him sober."


Over a decade the relationship was full of ups and downs. During a period of relative calm about three years ago, the couple finally married. But the peaceful days didn’t last and Brittney started to recognize that her husband could have been “a clone of my dad.” The addiction gradually took over, and eventually Brittney’s husband seemed like a shell of his former self. Brittney felt like a single parent even when he was around.


Brittney now realizes her husband was using drugs earlier and more heavily than she knew at the time. Because he worked while Brittney cared for the kids, the couple’s income was unsteady. Brittney and the children lost their home in Burlington during this time. “Addiction is truly a destroyer,” she says.


Once she lost housing in Skagit County, Brittney did the best she could to provide consistency for her children. She stayed “here and there” while the kids stayed with friends and relatives who could keep them in the schools they attended. When the school year ended, Brittney took the family to a town near the Idaho border looking for a fresh start. She had friends in Idaho and taking time away from the area where she had experienced so many hardships was appealing.


After a while, Brittney and her kids missed Skagit County and all the loved ones they had here. Plus, though living near her Idaho friends was great, Brittney realized friends can't normally provide the tools and resources people in crisis need to work toward self-sufficiency. She had made contact with Community Resource Manager Nina along the way and knew about AFC's program. Although she was scared of failing, Brittney admits, she ultimately decided to take the spot in the Emergency Shelter Nina was offering. She and her four kids came to AFC with just a car, a few clothes, and a backpack.  She was sharing with her children the vision she had: that even through hard times, the most important thing is to be strong and independent and to love yourself.


At AFC, Case Manager Rachel encouraged Brittney when she felt overwhelmed. "Rachel is the reason I made it through," she notes, “she is a great listener and so compassionate.” Brittney attended every class, knowing she wasn't alone in her journey. After five months in the Emergency Shelter and two months in the Family Transformation Center (the "Transitional Building"), she was ready to come through on the promises of independence and stability she made to her kids.


An experienced caregiver, Brittney now has a good job with a local agency and clients she loves. Her kids have ongoing school and daycare arrangements in Anacortes, and Brittney rents a home she thinks she may be able to buy in the not-too-distant future. She's joined a gym and invested in her health, and she plans to attend beauty school in the fall. "I will never let anyone again have the power to take things from me," she declares. Brittney is setting a new example for her children, and she finally has the life she wanted.  "I'm thriving, I'm happy."

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