The Road to Recovery — Prisoner to Parolee

I couldn’t believe my mom was right. Here I was, 25 years old and I was headed to prison.

I got my sentence and my mind immediately began to wander. I started thinking about everything I had seen about prison on TV. I started thinking about how many fights I would get into, because I ain’t no punk, I knew I was gonna fight. I thought about the “Don’t drop the soap” jokes. I talked to other inmates to hear what they said prison was like. I tried not to show them the fear I was feeling as I asked my questions, but I needed to know what it was going to be like.

With shackles on my arms and legs, the TDC guards loaded us up on the “Blue Bird.” That chicken fence you see on TV, that’s the real deal. I tried to mask my nervousness and fear– you could see the fear in other people’s eyes. It was easy to tell the difference between those like me and those who had been before.

We got to the prison diagnostics unit, the unit where all the prisoners go to get labelled, numbered and assigned a unit. The diagnostic unit is kind of like herding cattle, but for prisoners. There are men everywhere.

At the diagnostic unit, you learn the rules. You learn about the hallways and which side of the yellow line to walk on.

“There won’t be no troubles, there won’t be no problems, it’s just y’all inability to do one simple thing. You gonna get up off that head runnin’ in my hallways.”

I busted out laughing. This man was black and he sounded country as hell. It was the first time I knew I was in trouble, he chewed my a**.

I was assigned my 6 digit number– 51- – – – . I wish I could remember the whole number but all I remember is that it started with 51. After I got my number, I became “Inmate 51 – – – -,” I was no longer Timothy Parker and they let me know it.

My first unit was the Mark Stiles Unit in Beaumont, TX. I was sent there because it was my first time. There were a lot of other first or second time non-violent offenders trying to do what they need to get home.

In prison, everybody is whatever they want to be. No one tells the truth about why they are really there. I wasn’t going to tell them I was a dope fene walking the streets and stealing inspection stickers to support my drug habit. Nobody there was what they said they were. To the other inmates, I was “Fast Black.”

~

Back then, one month served was equal to one year served. I learned quickly if I did everything I was supposed to do, I could be home in six months.

The Mark Stiles unit wasn’t what I thought prison would be like. The blacks and whites mixed, people weren’t fighting, and everyone there was just doing what they needed to get home.

This was my first exposure to prison and I was out free in less than a year. I was home so fast it was pitiful. I think I did more time in county jail than I did in prison. Needless to say, I didn’t really learn the lesson the Judge thought I would learn.

As I neared the end of my sentence, I prepared to be released. They tell you to have a plan. My plan was to go to day labor to make enough money for a bus ticket then go stay at the shelter.

I went back to the diagnostic unit to book out, got my $200, and walked through the “Golden Gates.”

I had gone over a year without any dope or alcohol and they handed me $200!

It was so hard to fight the urges that filed me instantly as I walked through the Golden Gates. I managed to resist the urges and got on the bus but the whole way back to Dallas all I could think about was getting high. The urges got stronger and stronger as I got closer. I went to report to my parole officer and made it to the halfway house still sober. The next day, I went and checked in with my parole officer then walked away to go get high.

The entire time I was in prison I never worked on what caused me to be there. I never thought about it, it was never a conversation I had.

“I had only been out of prison for 4 days before I was back in jail.”

This time, the sentence was 10 years. I was headed to prison for the second time but I still didn’t think the problem was me.

Those white folks were racist. That woman lied on me. The system is messed up. I was full of excuses but I had no idea it was the drugs.

This time around, I was one of the guys in the “Blue Bird” that didn’t have fear in his eyes. I knew what to expect. I had been here before. This ain’t sh**!

The second time around, they sent me to the Beto Unit. Beto was nothing like the dorm that I was in before. Beto was a walls unit. There were bars. You could hear the doors shutting– it was totally different.

I immediately started getting into it with the guards. I quickly learned the term “14 and 1.” It was in closed custody that I realized I was a damn fool. Not just a fool, a DAMN FOOL. I had heard people say “You’ve crossed the line from being a boy to a man,” and I always wondered where that line was. It was at the Beto unit where I finally understood what they meant.

At this point in my life I started thinking about God. I was still carrying a lot of anger and I was mad at God but I wanted to understand why everyone had a belief in something and I didn’t. I learned about Judism, Hidnuism, and the Nation of Islam. I decided to follow the Nation of Islam because they were saying the stuff I wanted to hear. The Nation of Islam had a lot of rules. I didn’t understand all the rules and why I had to follow them. I started questioning the rules and that led me to following Islam. I started reading the Quran and really got into it but I felt burdened again by my inability to do what was expected. Once again, I wandered off of the spiritual journey.

Two years. That’s how much time I did on my second trip to prison. This time, I was prepared to go through those Golden Gates. I knew I had to have a plan. I wanted to do right. I couldn’t afford to mess up again. The plan was for me and two other guys to get on the bus and go straight to Dallas. We were there to support each other and that was going to be difference this time. But TDC had other plans. They threw us a curve ball. I went to get my papers and my $200 and they said “You’re going to Fort Worth.”

Fort Worth? Why was this happening? I had a plan for Dallas. I knew how I could make the $200 last me for a month in Dallas and I was going to follow that. At least, that’s what I believed. I didn’t know anything about Fort Worth. I was scared, nervous, and had nothing to fall on.

It wasn’t long before I found myself in county jail… again. I hadn’t talked to my mom in years but for some reason, she was the one I wanted to talk to. We cried together on the phone and I told her I was tired– the drugs were doing me in and I was sick of it.

“Baby, you gotta pray and tell God how you feel, from the bottom of your gut. God will relieve that craving that you have. You gotta believe in the power of prayer.”

So I prayed, “God, I need you to help me remove this craving of crack cocaine. I do not want to live like this no more, I mean it.”

I started to see some signs that God was real. My dad… I don’t know how… found my parole officer and helped me get back to Dallas. I was staying with my Aunt, working construction and life was getting so much better. I thought, “Wow, God’s really doing His thing.”

“But the devil was working too and he got me again.”

I was driving down the highway with my cousin and the urge to use was so strong. I needed to get out of the car right then. I needed to get high.

That was November 12, 1992.

For the next 2 and ½ months, my life spiraled completely out of control.

After a few months of being homeless and living on the streets without a shower, people could smell me before they could see me. My hair was knotted, and my clothes were dirty and ripped. I was sweating dirt. If you looked at my feet you would have looked away. The sores were so bad I could barely walk.

I remember seeing my reflection in a window and thinking to myself, “Wow, you actually look the way you feel on the inside.”

One time, I ran into this guy on the street who knew me and when he said hi, I pretended I didn’t know him.

“I denied who I was because I didn’t want anyone to see me like this.” 

Do you know what it’s like to be so embarrassed by your life that you deny who you are?

Talk about rock bottom. I was there.

I was desperate.

So desperate.

This dope dealer kid would taunt me and tell me he had a present for me. He had crack crumbs in his hand and as he dropped them to the ground I raced to get the little bits of crack I could gather.

“At one point in my life, I was doing hundreds of dollars of crack, and now I was begging for the drug dealers crumbs.”

I was so angry with God.

“God, what happened? I said I didn’t want to do this anymore. You ain’t real!”

I remember walking through the streets, hitting the crack pipe and screaming at God, cursing him out.

“The devil’s gonna get you with what you do. He got me with crack.”

January 28, 1993 – I never thought I would be so grateful to be arrested.

Back in county jail, again, I was standing next to the trash can asking for the vegetables the inmates were throwing away when this white kid walked up to me. I could see the bible in his hand. Steve, this skinny little white guy, says to me, “I’ve got something to tell you, it’s important. The Lord told me to tell you that you don’t have to be mad at him anymore.”

His words messed me up.

Bad.

No one knew I was just cursing God out. No one knew! Why would he say that? I ran to my bunk that night and cried myself to sleep. This skinny little white kid might as well have been the biggest black guy in the jail cell because I was scared straight. The next day, I asked him why he said that and he said, “I don’t know, I just felt God nudging me to say that to you. God is going to keep you where you are closest to Him.”

I had no idea what he meant, I thought God was getting even with me for getting high in church. What did he mean, “God is going to keep you where you are closes to Him.”

“You have been found guilty and I sentence you to 30 years in the penitentiary.”

That’s when it hit me.

This is what the white boy meant!

(This blog is Part Two of a three part story. To read parts ne and three, follow the links below.)

The Road to Recovery — Part One

The Road to Recovery — Parolee to Peer Specialist (Part Three)

The Road to Recovery — Part One

Brandy Coty: “Tell me your story. Whatever you remember, whatever you want to share.”

Tim Parker: “If I had to go back, the first thing I remember is my mom and dad fought, a lot. I’m not sure why they fought. I don’t really remember, I just remember a lot of screaming and yelling. One day, I guess my mom had enough because we got in the car, drove off, and the next thing I remember is waking up in a new place.”

~

It never seizes to amaze me how when you ask someone to share their testimony some of the worst memories of their childhood are the first things that come to mind. The bad memories are the memories that stick out amongst the rest.

For Tim, this detour to an unfamiliar place would set an ironic tone for the years to come. For Tim, this memory is important because he went from living with his father in a middle class black home, witnessing the abuse of his mother– to the poverty stricken projects, being the sole target of abuse perpetuated by his mother.

In part one of his story, you will get a glimpse at the deep seeded emotional struggles he dealt with as a black child growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. You will learn the power and weight the words we speak over others can carry, and you will be exposed to a glimpse of his early criminal history.

Take special note of the parting words of his mother and his struggle with identify as the irony of both will carry throughout his story.

This is part one of Timothy Parker’s story.

~

Born in the peak of the civil rights movement, I grew up in a world where I was keenly aware of my skin tone. I always felt different. I felt like I was too dark and my lips were too full. I had prominent African features that made me feel out of place. The guys in school even drew cartoon characters that looked like me. I didn’t understand why I felt so out of place, I just did. I knew something was wrong with me and I wanted to fix myself.

I grew up in a middle class black family. My mom and dad had their problems but our needs were always met. That is… until… they couldn’t make the relationship work and my mom packed our stuff and we drove away. After the adjustment of moving to the poverty stricken projects of Liberal, Kansas — life became more challenging. I began searching for validation and acceptance. I was desperate to fit in with the “Michael Cooper’s and the Kevin Livingston’s” of the world.

From Elementary school to Middle School, I experienced another change in environment. Having gotten used to attending a school where 90% of the other children were black or Hispanic, I went to a junior high school where 99% of the kids were white.

Trying to find ways to fit in with the white kids was much harder.

I remember the first time I heard ACDC’s song Back in Black– I listened to that song over and over again so I could impress the fly white guys at school.

Dancing was a bond I shared with my dad. Once or twice a year, he would come to Kansas to visit. During one of his visits, I was dancing and my dad told me he and my mom were the best dancers in school. I loved hearing that my dancing talent came from them. This passion for dancing worked to my advantage in High School and I became known as “Dr. Jamminstein.”

The search for acceptance was a theme throughout my life. I was very impressionable and would listen to what people said. One time, the kids in school told me drugs would help me dance better and that’s all it took for me to be curious enough to try weed.

But, as all drugs do, it came with consequences.

Living with a single mother, I was expected to help with household chores. I knew that the clothes were separated on Fridays and my brother and sister were my responsibility. I learned to master my mother’s expectations to avoid getting whooped, but sometimes my recreational smoking interfered. I tested the boundaries too much and one time, I pushed my mom too far.

The incident with my mom took a toll on me, both physically and emotionally and I began to have a disdain for my mother. That hate I started to feel showed itself when I was 18 years old. I don’t even remember why she was mad but when she started to come at me with the buckle of a belt, her anger met my frustration and I grabbed her and pushed her against the wall. I couldn’t believe we had let our emotions get so out of control. That’s when my mom decided I couldn’t live with her any more.

“You ain’t no good, you’re just like your dad.

You’ll pull this same crap on him because he don’t know who you are.

You’ve only caused me pain.

I don’t even know if you’re mine.

If you keep all this up, you’ll be in jail 6 to 7 times and you’ll be in prison before you’re 25.”

 I boarded the plane and thought little of my mother’s words. When I got to Dallas, it didn’t take long before I started slowly realizing parts of what she said were true. My dad knew little about me but I was desperate to impress him. I wanted him to think I was worthy of his affection.

I saw the way my mom looked at me, with disgust– like I was nobody. I didn’t want my dad to see me that way. I wanted him to be proud of me.

I remember the moment I first feared my dad would begin to have those same feelings of disgust I felt from my mom.  He asked me to help with the car but I didn’t know anything about cars. I could cook, clean and tell you how to sort the laundry– but cars, I knew nothing about. He kept yelling at me to pop the hood — I didn’t even know the hood could open. He kept calling me a punk kid and told me I didn’t know nothin’ simply because I didn’t know how to pop the hood.

~

Falling back into feeling there was something wrong with me, I slowly drifted back to my old ways. I started stealing again, getting high on weed, and skipping school.

Going to clubs, meeting girls, and getting high – life was fun.

Until life took an unexpected turn.

“I’m pregnant…”

Denial is the feeling that came over me when my girlfriend told me she was pregnant.

“You can’t be pregnant. It’ll make what my mom said about me right.”

I spent the next 3 months avoiding her until she called my dad and he forced me to man up. During her first trimester, I was angry. I continued smoking weed and even tried drinking. That didn’t last long because I didn’t handle liquor well. During her second trimester, she became the sexiest woman in the world. My heart and attitude were changing and I was beginning to embrace the pregnancy—that’s when she told me the baby might not be mine.

Crushed and unable to handle the news, I went off and started experimenting with new drugs. I tried the hottest drugs on the street but didn’t like any of them so I kept going back to weed.  If I didn’t like it, I immediately stopped. Why keep doing something that doesn’t feel good?

In all the times I tried different drugs, I always stayed away from crack. I knew better than to try crack. I saw what crack did to people. But when my cousin uttered the words “Cuz, you don’t need to do this, you won’t be able to handle it,” I didn’t care what he was referring to, I was determined to prove him wrong.

I hit the pipe and I didn’t understand what all the hype was about. I didn’t feel anything. Then, he showed me how to do it right and that was the moment that changed my life forever.

“It was the best high I’d ever felt. Better than sex, better than any other high, better than anything I had ever experienced in my life. I had $90 on me that day and before I left his house, I spent the whole $90 and owed the guy $50 more.”

                                                                                                ~

The crack train was running through my brain and every time the sounds of the bell started to dull, I needed more. My whole life, I had been able to walk away from all the other drugs and so adamantly say no if I didn’t like it, but this one was different.

Pay check after pay check disappeared and after 3 months of using, my girlfriend couldn’t take it anymore.

Three months!

Not even a year!

Three months, that’s all it took for crack to ruin my life and take a turn for the worst. I was going downhill fast.

With my girl gone and my addiction growing exponentially, I was spending all the money I had on drugs.

“I had money in my pocket but I was eating out of trashcans.”

I started stealing license plate stickers to sell in exchange for drug money. I got caught a few times and added four arrests to the possession of marijuana charges I had picked up in the past. Slowly, I was starting to see my mom’s premonition coming true.

Having already been to county jail 6 times, the consequences of my actions weren’t really affecting me. Get arrested — get out – go back to the same behaviors.

The street value of license plate stickers was going up but so were the value of inspection stickers. They were a little harder to steal but with a bigger reward in store, it seemed worth it. Little did I know, I had crossed the line from petty misdemeanor theft to a felony offense. This time, I was arrested for burglary of a vehicle and I was headed to county jail for my first felony.

At 24 years old, with six prior misdemeanor arrests for theft and possession, the Judge was ready to teach me a lesson.

On August 20th, 1989, I turned 25 years old.

On September 3rd, 1989, I was sentenced to prison for the first time.

“Are you f’ing happy now? You were right. I’ve been to jail just like you said and now I’m on my way to prison.”

End call.

(This blog is Part One of a three part story. To read parts two and three, follow the links below.)

The Road to Recovery — Prisoner to Parolee (Part Two)

The Road to Recovery — Parolee to Peer Specialist (Part Three)

Her Name was Heroin

I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. My mom was an Attorney and my dad was an Architect. Life was pretty good for the most part. I took care of my younger sister and got good grades in school, life was pretty good. Everything appeared normal on the outside but my dad was doing his best to keep a secret, he was Bipolar.

Chaos became normal.

Never knowing when he would come home calm or come home screaming, I grew up expecting the unexpected.

The chaos of my home took a toll on my emotions and created a lot of anxiety. I tried to keep things in our home peaceful, I tried to make sure my dad was always happy so he wouldn’t start yelling at my mom and sister, but nothing I did was ever good enough. It wasn’t long before I started drinking to numb the emotional pain I was feeling inside. Shortly after high school I joined the military and moved away from my family. I finished my Bachelor’s degree, met a girl and ended up getting married. Life was going really well until the demon of mental illness crept into my own life.

Up and down and up and down, I could never seem to find a happy medium. I tried my best to keep things under wraps. I was a soldier, soldiers have to keep it together.

I did a pretty good job hiding my emotions until my wife got pregnant. I was excited. I dreamt of they day I would be a father. I wanted to shower my child with the affection and love I had always hoped for, but I never got the chance. My spirit was crushed when my wife told me she didn’t want to keep the baby. I didn’t want her to have an abortion but I loved her and I knew she wasn’t ready, so I agreed to support her.

After she had the abortion, I began to carry a lot of guilt and shame. I felt we made the wrong decision. I couldn’t live with the choice we made and I carried regret with me daily.

The guilt and shame made it harder and harder to control my emotions and the mental illness began to show. I didn’t want people to think I was weak. I didn’t want them to know the real me. I tried to hide it, to suppress my unstable mood swings, but it didn’t work.

Life was slowly starting to spiral out of control and I didn’t know how to manage the chaos.

That’s when I found her…

Heroin.

Oh the euphoric feeling she brought me.

The escape and release I felt when we met face to face. It was just what I needed, a temporary escape from my dreaded reality. My world as I knew it was crumbling to pieces and heroin was the only thing that made me happy.

My marriage was soon over. My family began to disown me. I lost my job and had no idea how to support myself. Life became too much to bear. I felt like a burden to everyone in my world and couldn’t find meaning or purpose in life anymore.

So, I did the only thing I knew to regain control of my life, I tried to end it. But it didn’t work!

“Stupid idiot! How could you not do it right the first time?”

So, I tried again. “I don’t want to be alive, life is meaningless, just let me die! I’ll get it right next time, you watch!”

But the third time didn’t work either.

It was at that point, that I realized I wanted something more. I couldn’t go on living the way I was living anymore. I desired a better life. I desired stability again. Independence. Sobriety. I wanted to be a productive member of society. I longed to feel worthy, needed, loved.

I longed to be married again. To be the father I always wished I had. To share the love I was so eager to give, with a wife and children of my own.

So I tried. I really did. I tried to stay sober. I went to meetings. I was vulnerable and shared the demons in my closet and I learned about myself.

I grew.

I changed.

But the progress didn’t last.

The dark cloud continued to hover and the emotions I had suppressed all my life all began to resurface. The chaos returned and everything I had worked so hard for was slipping through my fingers. I was in a state of panic and I didn’t know what to do.

Amidst the chaos, I could hear her calling my name.

“Chris… Chris… Come back to me, you know you miss me…” — Heroin

Prostitute With A Purpose: The Soraya Hicks Story

 

Adopted shortly after she was born, Soraya was gifted with the blessing of an extended family. Little did she know that extension would be instrumental in shaping the story God was piecing together for her life. Identity crisis, addiction, abusive relationships, and selling her body for sex are just a few of the things you will read about in Soraya’s story. As you read, I want you to remember something—God wrote each of these things into Soraya’s life with a purpose. He knew the choices she would make, as well as the points along the journey where He would need to insert a detour. I praise God for pointing her in the right direction and I am grateful for the opportunity to share her story with you.

Here is Soraya’s story…

Photos 069.1My birth mother was 15 when she found out she was pregnant. My grandmother couldn’t believe it. Not only was my mother pregnant, she was pregnant by a white man. Filled with embarrassment, my grandmother sent my mother away to have me and give me up for adoption.

“She’s too white.”

“We’re just not sure.”

“She’s mixed, how dark will she get?”

As the social worker heard each rejection, her heart was breaking. She asked her supervisor for permission to adopt the baby she was trying to find a home for and they agreed. I grew up with 5 sisters and 2 brothers; 3 Costa Rican sisters, 1 Costa Rican brother, 1 American Indian brother and 2 white sisters. I always knew I was adopted, I would say I’m adopted and special before I even knew what it meant.

Growing up was hard sometimes. I was teased a lot. One time, in 4th grade they called me Orphan Annie. Every time they picked on me, I would get angry and sometimes anger turned to fighting. I struggled a lot with my identity, not really understanding where I came from and refused to complete school projects that involved a family tree. My adoptive mom thought I was struggling so much because I was trying to get in touch with my black side, so she reached out to my birth mom so I could meet her.

I had dreamed about the day I would meet her. I wondered what she looked like. I wondered what she was like. I was anxious to know. The moment I laid eyes on her, I was surprised because I looked just like her. I was in the 5th grade when I first met her, and it was the first time I had a relaxer put on my hair.

My identity crisis worsened when my adoptive dad got a job in Tennessee. We moved to Tennessee from California and it was very different. The school I went to was primarily white. They did not have any Mexicans, there was only one black kid, and then there was me. I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere. I started refusing to go to school, getting bad grades and getting into fights. My parents gave me a choice; I could go live with my sister for the summer or stay with my birth mom. I was mad at them so I chose to stay with my birth mom out of spite.

“Girl, white and black families are different.

Neck bones, ham hocks, chitlins.

Even though people ate those things, I was revolted.

I was used to eating baked chicken and healthy food and they expected me to eat neck bones!” 

After the initial shock of temporarily staying with my birth mom wore off, I decided to stay with her permanently. We moved to Dallas right before I turned 13. I struggled with the transition to live with her permanently. I was really angry and mean to her, I felt like she owed me. I started running away, got involved in gangs, was having sex, and tried weed for the first time. I caused a lot of trouble for her.

When I was 18, I was walking down the street when this guy offered me a ride and showed me a big bag of powder. Three months after meeting him, we moved to Jacksonville, TX. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Demetrius drank a lot, and beat me, and locked me in the room so I couldn’t get out. He took long distance off the phone so I couldn’t call my family. The abuse was bad, and he always had me padlocked in the room so I couldn’t go anywhere. The only time he let me out was to eat, so I ate and gained a lot of weight. One time, the police were called and they took me to a battered women’s shelter. I was able to call my adoptive family and they bought me a greyhound ticket to come home. I got on the bus and was eager to get home to them but when I got off the bus, Demetrius was at the bus stop with a ring. He told me how much he loved me and how sorry he was and asked me to marry him.

I believed he wouldn’t hurt me anymore so I went back to Jacksonville with him. When we got back to Jacksonville, it didn’t take long before the abuse started again. We were supposed to get married in the church but all I could think about was my adoptive parents. They had a great relationship and I thought of them as an amazing example of what marriage should look like. I knew I only wanted to be married once and wanted to do it the right way, so I backed out of the church wedding. When we got home that night Demetrius whooped my ass bad for backing out. So, I got up the next day and went to the court house with him.

I moved back to Dallas after Demetrius got locked up and started smoking wet again. I lost a lot of weight when I started using. I couldn’t hold a regular job, and was getting high every day so I started stripping. I worked at 9 different strip clubs and got fired from all of them because I was using drugs in the bathroom. I went to rehab a few times while I was stripping but rehab didn’t work for me because I didn’t think I had a problem.

I was young, and cute and had money, that’s not what an addict looked like to me.”

Prostitution was delivered to me on a silver platter with money wrapping and a money bow. I had been stripping all night and hadn’t made any money and one of the guys offered me $300 to come back to his room. In 6 hours of stripping I hadn’t made that much so I said yes. After that, I decided I would strip all night and would turn one trick a night. Whoever had the most money was the one I would trick with. I was using $200 to $300 of wet a day, making about $600 stripping and turning one trick a night.

When I was 21, I started smoking crack. I saw what crack did so I never wanted it. These girls were pretty as shit but stank or had their wigs all over their head, it made no sense. But I couldn’t find wet that night and needed to stay high so when they handed me the pipe, I said why not?

I stopped stripping because the addiction to crack was so bad I had to hit the pipe every 2 minutes. I needed the instantaneous high. I knew Demetrius would be getting out of prison soon and the plan was for my husband to save me– I guess I forgot who he was. He said he didn’t have time for a dope fein wife and after that, I spiraled out of control. I was living in a hotel, turning tricks, lost contact with my family and went to state jail for the first time.

I was arrested 6 times before they actually sent me to state jail. I was scared of going to state jail. I heard the stories. But when I got there, my sugar daddy and my birth mom came to visit me and I had money on my books all the time.

I didn’t learn anything or get anything out of it—this is what I was scared of? This ain’t shit.”

 I got out of state jail and was sober for 3 weeks until I found out my Sugar Daddy got life in prison. I was driving to the dope house when my sister started blowing up my phone. I broke down and went back to my mom’s house. But I didn’t stay strong for long, and relapsed the next day.

After my 8th arrest for prostitution, I figured the neighborhood was the problem. My first six arrests were in North Dallas, so I declared North Dallas as the problem. I moved from North Dallas to East Dallas, East Dallas to Pleasant Grove and Pleasant Grove to South Dallas… but vice was everywhere! I decided to stay in South Dallas because I knew so many tricks there and I could trick all day without having to trick with someone I didn’t know. I was turning ten tricks a day and using the money to support my addiction.

During this time, I met Yelley Yell. He was high on power. He beat me a lot but only beat me in front of other people. He had this call, he would come out on to the street and yell “Lookout You.” Whenever I heard him yell “Lookout You,” I knew I was about to get beat. One time I was so scared I pissed myself. I was terrified and felt like I didn’t have anybody. I was always messing up so that’s what I thought I deserved.

“My 10th arrest, I went to state jail again and this time it was awful.

No one put money on my books.

No one came to visit.

No one accepted my phone calls.

I got to see what jail was really like and that shit wasn’t fun.

I got out of jail that time and found a good man. Things were going good and I was sober for 4 months. But I relapsed again and 9 days later got arrested again for prostitution. This time, I decided not to take state jail but to try for rehab. I went to treatment and the counselor told me she understood my addiction because she had an addiction as well… to coca cola. I couldn’t believe she thought they were the same.

“She’s probably never walked in the rain with some flip flops on, lookinf for a van of Mexicans to ho herself out to so she could get money to buy a soda. 

Who trained her to think it was a good idea to say that? TThat’s not a fair comparison at all.”

 After rehab, something changed. I was tired. Tired of not having a life. Tired of not being around my family. Tired of my mom saying the only time she ever heard from me was when I was in jail.

While I was in the specialty court program for prostitution, I caught my last prostitution case. As I was booked into the jail, it was the first time I had ever gone through jail intake sober. I always put prostitution into this box of things I did because I was high but as I was sitting in jail, sober, it was the first time I was able to see the addiction I had to prostitution.

When I first started working the program I went hard on them. I went hard on Ms. Singleton, I went off on the judge and the bailiff and told them to kiss my ass. I went hard on my probation officer and she went hard right back at me. When I said no, she wouldn’t take no for an answer. My probation officer had heard me talking about being scared of going back to school so one of my conditions of probation was to enroll in El Centro College. She made me go to school and it’s the best thing that could have ever happened. I started to see hope. I started to see I could do something more. I started to see that I could have a real life.

Between Star Court, New Life Opportunities Group and the support of my family, I found the strength I needed to keep going and finally get help.

Photos 080.1Tell the readers about what you are doing today;

Today I work as a Peer Support Specialist with people coming out of jail who have a drug addiction or mental illness. I love my job. My job has given me an opportunity to bring things full circle. Now when I’m at the court, I can say I’m there for work, it’s not because I’m there for a case. My job gives me purpose and makes me feel like I’m somebody important. Even if I won the lottery, I wouldn’t quit my job, I love what I do. Money can’t give you what my job gives me. It makes me feel like it was more than wasted time when I reflect back on my addiction. It’s not a waste, I can use it for something.

What keeps you going?

I’ve been clean for 4 years now. One time, my niece told me she thinks I’m perfect. That gives me the drive to stay on track. Knowing that she thinks I am somebody pushes me to do better. I have options today. Not only do I have a career, I have changed my degree plan 4 times, I never thought I would have a career and definitely didn’t think I would be taking my time to decide what I wanted to do. I’ve celebrated so many firsts. My first time sober, my first time to go to school, my first time to have a job, my first real paycheck, the first time I’ve held a job for an entire year. There are lots of things to be celebrated.

What are the benefits of NA/AA groups?

You get to see faces that you love and people who care about you. They were there when I first came and they are still there. We are walking through life together. It gives you hope. When I was first getting sober, I didn’t have anything else to do so I would go to group and play cards all day. It gave me a place to be where I knew I wasn’t going to get high.

You mentioned feeling like you have a purpose, what do you think that purpose is?

I think my purpose is to help others, to be of use to people. For so long, I was living a selfish life, now I’m able to be selfless. I’m not wrapped up in my own stuff anymore. I want to help others feel like they have someone who understands. The first time I was triggered to relapse, I called my sponsor right away and it was nice to have someone to talk to. I want to be that person for other people.

What advice would you give to people who are struggling with addiction?

I want others to know there is strength and hope in their story and that freedom can be gained from sharing it. I used to be ashamed and scared that my past would always define me until I realized that embracing my past helped me move forward. Don’t be ashamed of your testimony, let God use you. That is the way to make all the wasted years and pain and disappointments not be all in vain. Give someone what you wished someone would have given you—hope. I want people to know it’s not always easy and life still shows up and shows out but I wouldn’t trade my best day high for my worse day clean. Recovery has opened doors I never imagined were possible. I wanted to just stop getting high. Thank God He doesn’t always give you what you ask for. I have learned to live life a different way. Take chances, allow risk, be vulnerable, and ask for help. These previously foreign concepts to me have become the foundation of my recovery. Life won’t be easy but it’s worth it.

The Beauty of the Unknown

Anxiety, nervousness, anticipation, fear, worry. Those are the feelings that usually come to mind when we think about the unknown. Our desire to know and piece together what happens next usually drives us to a place of increased anxiety, anticipating the outcome.

As we wait to hear the results of our biopsy, MRI or CT scan we are filled with nervousness and worry. With no understanding of what causes certain illness, we can’t even begin to wrap our minds around how to react when our friends and family are diagnosed. As we wait in singleness for the Lord to bring us a spouse our impatience manifests in feelings of anxiousness and sometimes fear that we will be alone forever. The unknown is scary.

But today, I found myself longing desperately for the unknown. In the field I work in, more often then not, we play a temporary role in someone’s life. Sometimes my clients circle back to me but many times that’s not the case. There have been many clients I have worked with over the years who I’ve often thought about, wondering how they were doing. I desire to know if they are still stable, if they’ve stayed on their medication, if they’ve stayed sober, if they’ve stayed out of jail. I want to know they are doing well, but the update never comes. I hope and pray for the best but that’s usually all I can do.

In my mind there are always happy endings because I never actually see or hear about life after I work with them. I get to stay in my happy place, a place full of rainbows and sunshine and healthy people. I know that’s not reality but it works for me, it helps bring brightness to the really ugly world I live in. But today a tornado of darkness trampled in and ruined my rainbow and sunshine filled happy place.

Two weeks ago I transitioned a client after spending 3 months working with him. 3 months of fighting desperately to keep him alive. 3 months of fighting desperately to keep him sober. 3 months of intense conversations trying to provide him with new coping skills to keep him from returning to old habits. 3 months of an intense emotional roller coaster that left me feeling emotionally and physically drained. After 3 months, we transitioned him knowing there was nothing more we could do, we had given him all the tools we could give him and it was up to him to put the tools to use.

Sometimes no amount of new coping skills and tools in the toolbox can help, and today I find myself longing for the unknown, because reality is depressing, ugly, sad and difficult to hear. I learned today that despite my best efforts to keep Chris alive, he reverted back to his old patterns of behavior, resulting in the loss of his life. My heart is breaking and I wish I didn’t know the truth. I want to return to my rainbow and sunshine filled happy place. I want to live my life thinking Chris is somewhere in the world, sober, happy and doing well and I can’t. That’s been forever taken away from me and it makes me so sad to know Chris’ life has come to an end.

My happy place has been torn down and it will never be the same but the memories I have of Chris will be filed away in that happy place because I am still so blessed to have had the chance to work with him.

Chris, I told you how proud I was of you the day you reached 100 days sober and I am still so incredibly proud of you. It hurts my heart to know you felt you needed an escape from your reality and I’m so sorry you couldn’t find the strength to fight this battle any longer. I know this battle was hard for you and I know every day was a struggle. I’m happy you aren’t hurting anymore. I’m happy you aren’t in pain. But I’m sad that you’re gone. You helped me grow in my therapuetic skills. You challenged me to become a better case manager, and you taught me so much. Thank you for helping me understand the ugly side of addiction. Thank you for being raw about your struggle and letting me in to the vulnerable side of you. Thank you for letting me know you. You will be missed.