She has an honest job at the Waynesville Huddle House, goes home every night to her husband and 17-year-old daughter and enjoys regular visits with her two sons.
But not that long ago, Rupe’s life was heading down a very different path- a dark trail riddled by sexual abuse, drug addiction, crime and prostitution.
Today- nearly one year into sobriety, Rupe is alive and better than she’s ever been.
She credits Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher for helping straighten out her life.
“I think God sent an angel – Greg Christopher – to help people,” Rupe said. “Without him and his (jail) ministry, I’d be dead or close to it.”
Through the years, Rupe has been in and out of jail for various things. But, her latest stay made the biggest difference. Locked up for failure to pay child support, Rupe began to participate in the jail ministry program established by the sheriff. With the help and support of a new group of friends, she made the choice to live a clean and honest life.
“None of my so-called friends visited me or sent me money,” said Rupe. “But the women in the jail ministry gave me their numbers, wrote me letters and visited me.”
It was a stark contrast to the life Rupe had always known. The dream-life she knows today was once a nightmare of sexual abuse that began when she was five and continued until the perpertrator died six years later. He was never charged.
“I had a real reckless life after that,” she said. “I was very promiscuous.”
Rupe started abusing pills at the age of 12. That slowly became a crack habit and eventually led her to meth. She quit using during her first two pregnancies (4- and 7-years later), but continued smoking crack and cigarettes during her third.
Aware of the risks that come with using drugs while pregnant, Rupe said she thanks God her son was born without health issues.
From the outside, her home life seemed ideal. But even with much to be thankful for, she began using meth again.
“I did a lot of different drugs and I lost my family,” she said. “I lost my husband, my kids. I met a new crowd of people. They were my mom’s next door neighbors.”
As her drug habit increased, so did her need for money. Rupe said she turned to prostitution to fund her habit. Soon, she was back on the same familiar, dark path – buying pills, cooking meth and shooting up crack.
“I stole clothes and paid for everything else by using my body,” she said.
In a matter of time, she became part of the judicial system. She was in and out of jail- serving time for meth possession and distribution, breaking and entering, drug paraphernalia, marijuana and possession of Suboxone (a schedule III controlled substance) without a prescription.
Her last stint in jail was for a child support violation. Finally, she decided it was time to come clean. She began participating in the jail ministry where she experienced authentic love for the first time.
“They bring in men and women who love you and care about you,” she said. “They love you for who you are.” When Rupe got out of jail, she called on the women she met in the jail ministry for support. She now attends New Covenant Church in Clyde and remains sober.
“It’s totally different,” Rupe said. “My whole life has changed.”
Today, she has custody of her oldest child, a 17-year-old daughter. Her two sons, 12- and 14-years old, live with their father, but Rupe has visitation rights. She’s even helped her current husband, Grant, to get sober.
“He went to rehab,” she said. “We’re clean together. It’s nice.”
For the first time, Rupe has a legitimate job at the Huddle House. The IV scars on her arms are faded. Going to work each day for an honest living reminds Rupe that there is life after drugs.
“We don’t have a lot, but everything we have, we’ve worked for. It’s a different kind of security I never had,” Rupe said. “I do enjoy working and I enjoy earning what I get and have. (Working) gives you pride.”
Although the details of Rupe’s life aren’t all pleasant, she wants people to hear her story in hopes it will encourage others to turn their lives around.
“If my story can change even just one person’s outcome, it’s worth sharing,” she said.
A WORD FROM THE FUZZ
Angela Rupe’s determination to turn her life around is what’s right with the world.
Despite a troubled past that no 5-year-old would choose, Rupe is rising above the trauma of her childhood and the painful choices of her past and choosing a new way. With a little help from her friends – members of a Haywood County Jail ministry- Rupe found the support she needed in a group of volunteers willing to show her genuine love and acceptance.
She’s living proof that there’s no road too dark for the light to shine a new way.Angela Rupe’s determination to turn her life around is what’s right with the world.
SHARE YOUR STORY AT: WHATSRIGHT@FUZZBUSTEDONLINE.COM