Faith Put to the Test

Finding Faith in Recovery: Amanda Longe-Asque and Renate Reichs

First Recorded

March 10, 2016

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Amanda Longe-Asque, a professional counselor, spent years feeling silenced and isolated as she struggled with homelessness and drug addiction. In this conversation, Longe-Asque joins her friend and mentor Renate Reichs to reflect on how staying in a faith-based treatment center allowed her to find a sense of self and community while on the road to recovery.

This story was produced by David Dault at Sandburg Media, LLC.

This story is a part of the American Pilgrimage Project, a conversation series that invites Americans of diverse backgrounds to sit together and talk to each other one-to-one about the role their religious beliefs play at crucial moments in their lives. The interview was recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity‚Äôs stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.

Amanda Longe-Asque and Renate Reichs

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Transcript

Amanda: People want to know about this African American woman who has had 16 children, who had five baby daddies, who ran away from home at 15. Really? People care about that? And all I actually did, it was the first time I think, not only was telling my story, but people listening to me. I felt like I was finally being heard. I wasn't silenced by my addiction, my hopelessness, my helplessness, my uselessness. Finally, I felt a part of something bigger.

Renate: Yeah. I remember, Amanda, when we talked about your faith journey beginning on that retreat. If I remember, because it's 10 years ago, but I think you said something about, "I've never shared some of this with anyone before." And I remember being struck by the fact that you felt secure enough todo that there.

Amanda: I hadn't. I never trusted anyone because I was afraid. Fear had me paralyzed into non-action. And then I think also, that my heart had been encased in concrete, which had been built by my insecurities and unemotional unavailability. So, at that point, sharing offered me a way in, to get out.

Renate: Yeah, I remember Amanda, when we talked about your faith journey beginning on that retreat. But actually I think it began before that. I always remember you telling me how you came to St. Martin's, when you talked to Sister Therese. Why don't you tell me about that again? I love that story-.

Amanda: Oh my God. Yeah, well, I would happen to be in treatment. and I think I was coming up on 60 days. And they said, "Well, what are you going to do now?" I'm like, "What am I going to do? I'm going back home." And they're say, "You're going to need some extra help. This is just the beginning."

So someone came out to share... It's called H and I Hospitals and Institutions. And they come out and share their story. And this lady came and said she stayed at St. Martin de Porres, and she got her life together. And these two nuns, I'm like, "That's it. I ain't going nowhere where no nun is." So that was my mindset at the time, and so. But something else, there was this quiet voice inside of me say, "Call, this might work for you. You need discipline. You need steadfastness. You need to go somewhere where you can't run things."

So I called, and of course Sister Therese answered the phone. And I said, I was all crass and cantankerous. I said, "What do I have to do to get in? What is the criteria for getting into your program?", like I'm rich or something and I'm buying what she got to offer.

She's like, "First of all, how many years did you get high?" I was like, that's all righty. I don't like her attitude. And I said, "Excuse me, I got high for 23 years." She said, "Honey, and you say you did 60 days? The math, do the math. That's an improper fraction." I'm like, oh, this is not going to work for me. Because the truth hurt, and all she was doing was repeating back to me what I said to her, but I couldn't deal with it. And so I said, "Well, what's the requirements?" She said, You have to dedicate yourself to a year." I said, "A year?" She said, "You don't know the first thing about living." So I said, "I'll think about it." She said, "Don't think too long."

As a result I was very crass and stoic. They called me a brat, because I didn't want anyone to talk to me, because I was that angry. I think I past anger. I was enraged at the fact that I was 38 with no teeth, no home, no house, none of my children but the last one at the time. And I didn't know where I was going, but I knew that if I left, that I might die. So I stayed. And I think, I want to say, I'm not going to think. I know. Sister Therese loved me back to health.

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