Angie Miller, who was featured in the recent article on Darke County Now on her quest to help the homeless in the Dayton area with her Serving And Loving Together (S.A.L.T.) non-profit organization, can relate to those types of people because she has been homeless herself.
Miller was born in Marion, Ohio, and now holds a certification as a Peer Recovery Supporter in the state of Ohio and is a licensed chemical dependency counselors assistant.
She is married to Ben Miller, formerly of Greenville., whom she met through mutual friends in Marion in 1996.
“We have been married 23 years,” she said. “We have four children (one adult daughter and two teenage daughters and a teenage son). We also have a son-in-law and a 1 1/2-year-old granddaughter.”
A recovering abuser of drugs and alcohol, Angie said her problems began at a young age.
“I was a victim of sexual trauma as a child at 9 years old and then again at age 10,” she said. “I had loving parents. However, my trauma changed me into a confused, shameful and broken child. I never told my parents what happened to me and they thought I was just being disobedient. I was afraid to share with my parents what happened to me for fear that my abusers would come after me.”
She said the family moved to a new school when she was in sixth grade.
“I was a new kid in a small county school where everyone knew everyone,” she explained. “That’s when the bullying began. I endured severe bullying for the next five years which turned me into an angry and rebellious teenager. At around age 15, I found out my mother who was raising me was not my biological mother which fueled the fire and lent way to me having a full on identity crisis.”
Miller indicated she met her biological mother soon after and started drinking and smoking marijuana with her.
“I learned that using helped me cope with all of the out of control emotions I was experiencing,”she said. “I moved out on my 18th birthday and went to go live my life the way I wanted to and spent the next year living a reckless life and experienced homelessness during that time after my car broke down. I experienced some more trauma due to some situations I put myself in during that time which ultimately fueled more drug and alcohol use.”
Her father died when she was 19 and pregnant.
“And, this only continued to add to my despair but I found the strength to better myself to do my best to set myself up to be the best mother I could,” she said. “I had my daughter in 1994 and met my husband in 1996, we married in 1998. I tried my best to move past my colorful background and to be a good wife and mother but I was unhappy on the inside and couldn’t seem to find a way to ‘be happy.’ After two miscarriages, which added to my pain and suffering, we went on to have three beautiful and amazing children closely together and, as much as I thought I should be feeling fulfilled and happy, I was still broken and I had a void inside I didn’t know how to fill.”
Miller said in the next couple of years, she developed some significant health issues including Rheumatoid Arthritis, some back issues.
“I was alone with three small children and my older daughter all alone isolated with little support while my husband was traveling most every week for work,” she recalled. “I was eventually prescribed opioid pain medication in 2007 and my life began to go down a dark road. In 2008, the mother who I called mom — my adopted mother — passed away after infection issues after surgery and I was at an all time low. My addiction spiraled out of control.”
She went on, “I ended up being caught selling my pain medication to make money so that I could try to keep up with how much I was taking and I was charged with possession of a narcotic and trafficking. I decided I had to change or I was going to lose everything. My husband began the process of divorcing me and I made the decision to stop using.”
After serious health issues as the result of withdrawals from the opiates, Miller ended up in the hospital and went to treatment in Columbus.
“I came home and my husband, the kids, and I began putting our lives back together with me back in my right mind,” she said. “I pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation. We moved to Greenville six months into my recovery. My husband was raised in Greenville and we recognized the need for more family support. We also heard that there was a newer church in town that had been planted that the pastor had been killed in a fatal car accident and we felt led to join that church and to help it grow. I came to Greenville and to Gospel Baptist Church very nervous, unsure whether I would be accepted with my tarnished record and felt so relieved when I was fully loved and embraced. I began to grow and heal from the years of pain I had carried around for so long.”
She said they lived in Greenville for five years and now live outside of Springfield, Ohio.
“I had the pleasure working alongside Gospel and to start One City Mission Furniture mission which gave free household items and furniture to those in news in our community. My husband and I also began a Celebrate Recovery Ministry at Gospel, which moved to Another church after we moved away. The five years we spent in Greenville is still precious to me. I was so new in recovery and everything in life felt new and fresh. I wanted to tell everyone I knew that they could recover as well. I made amazing friendships with so many people in the community who I thought would never accept ‘someone like me.’ We moved to London, Ohio, in 2016 to help with a new church plant and it was so difficult to walk away from friends and family/church family.”
Miller said she continued in recovery and on Jan. 1 this year celebrated 10 years in recovery. “Recovery is a gift. God has blessed me with another chance at life, one where I give back and show others around me a new way to live. I know what it is to be hungry, to be so cold that I was worried I’d lose my fingers and toes due to homelessness because I was homeless. I know what it’s like to be so sick and tired of having to use drugs and alcohol to be able to live life but not be able to stop because I’ve been addicted to drugs.”
She added, “There are so many people all around us who are in pain and struggling. No one grows up with plans to be homeless or addicted to drugs. It happens for many different reasons. For me, it was trauma, identity issues, abandonment, and bullying, but there are many many things that lead to these struggles.”
Many people don’t understand why people live that way, she pointed out.
“I am glad they don’t because to understand it is to have lived it. But, the last thing that helps anyone is to judge people. What I can tell you is that if you spend time listening to people’s stories, it’s usually not too hard to understand why they have made the choices they made. Just like there are many reasons people use drugs and alcohol, and many reasons people are homeless, there are many reasons people get better. For me, getting arrested was the best thing that could have happened. It was my rescue and I went back many years later to tell the judge who convicted me ‘thank you.”
Recovery, she said, has been full of blessings.
“I give God the credit for all the amazing blessings I have received through recovery,” Miller said. “I walk in passion and purpose every day and that leads me to ALL people who need to know another way to live as well!”