I can remember going back to six years old.  My mother decided to get rid of me.  She decided she couldn’t handle me and my three siblings.  I ended up going and living with my grandmother for a while.  While I was living with her she spoiled me and really treated me well.  She was a god-fearing Christian woman who used to take me to church.  That eventually ended up not working out and I went to live with my uncle.  My uncle wasn’t a great guy.  He was as I would say “on the wrong side of the road.”  I remember he was selling drugs when I lived with him. 

Then something happened that would change the course of my life forever.  One night while my uncle was living at a motel there was a pregnant woman and two children and my uncle ended up getting into a fight with this woman.  My uncle pulled out a gun and opened fire on her.  I immediately grabbed a knife and stabbed my uncle directly in the neck killing him.  He bled out right there.  

I was charged with murder and was looking at life in prison.  Then the woman that I saved showed up at court.  She told the judge that I saved her life and that helped tremendously.  My charges were dropped do assault with a deadly weapon.

I ended up doing time and being released into a group home.  I wasn’t really following all the rules.  I wanted to go and see my grandmother which was not allowed.  So they would send me back to jail for a few months and then I’d go back to the group home and I’d break more rules and it was what seemed like an endless cycle.  One time I even threatened to burn down the place in which I was also sent to jail for.  

Another incident I remember was one of the staff members was refusing to give me food and I was starving.  All the food was stored in the garage.  So I decided to grab his key, take his truck, and proceeded to drive it right through the front of the garage.  Then I grabbed my food.  The staff member came out and saw what had happened and came at me swinging.  I started swinging back and the next thing you know I’m having assault charges pressed against me.  I ended up going to jail for a year for that.  

While I was in jail it was either fight or get messed up.  I had to go and fight other inmates to get respect.  There was another inmate who was going to help me out but I had to earn his respect.  Somehow he had gotten a ball from a billiards table and put it in a sock.  He then pointed out a guy and told me to go hit him with it.  After I hit him, I was scared shitless and ran back to my cell.  Because I did that I got a lot of respect but for a month I was locked down for twenty-three hours a day as punishment.  I would do other little tasks here and there to survive.  Believe it or not, the prison took us good inmates, to a soccer game.  I and four other inmates escaped.  I went to see my grandma and as much as she loved me she called the police on me.  I had an extra month added to my sentence for that.

Eventually, I got out of jail and was back on the streets.  I managed to stay clean for sixteen months.  Then it happened, my Grandmother died.  I was heartbroken.  I felt empty inside.  I couldn’t take the pain anymore and I relapsed.

I was introduced to crack at twelve years old.  My uncle used to give it to me  I would snort speed and crack.  Since it was adults doing it with me I thought doing this stuff was okay.  I remember always running errands for my uncle and making a lot of money.  I would do things like taking a book bag full of something I didn’t know what it was and drop it off to someone.  So I got paid a lot and would always have the nicest things.

Eventually, my use progressed to meth and heroin.  One time I was shooting up meth and had gotten a bad batch and my arm.  I ended up going to the hospital.  I was given antibiotics and sent home.  I had a bad reaction and my arm and went to a second hospital and they couldn’t do anything and then finally to a third hospital where my flesh had gotten so bad they had to give me a skin graph.

Eventually, I joined a gang.  I was in and out of jail from the ages of thirteen to thirty.  I remember in one jail I was transferred to it felt like someone was getting stabbed every few days.

I met my mother selling drugs.  I never knew mother so I didn’t even realize it was her.

There were times that I was homeless.  The drugs did a number on me and I ended homeless for quite a time.  I had to panhandle for money and I kept all my belongings in a shopping cart.  I can still remember the time I was out on the streets and overnight it got so cold that when I woke up my pants had frozen stiff.  I had to go somewhere to warm them up.  A lot of the homeless shelters wouldn’t let me stay there because I would be selling drugs to keep up my drug habit.  I could also be quite violent.  If you had drugs on you I would get violent and just rob the person.  One time I had enough and went deep into the woods where I thought no one would be and took a lethal dose of heroin.  It ends up there was a woman hiking with her dog and found my Narcan on me and shot me with it and saved my life.  She thought I was diabetic and that was my insulin.

Eventually, I just got sick of it all, homelessness, shelters, and group homes.   I’ve completely turned my life around.  I’m currently not using and living in a rehab facility.  Today I look back and see a higher power was at play and my life was saved.  I’ve overdosed more than thirteen times and I shouldn’t be here, but I am.

Life is good.  I’m off the streets and finally have a place where I feel safe.  I’m happy and sober and thank God for every day and the gift of sobriety he has given me. This time my sobriety feels different, I feel I’m going to make it this time.