I lost count of how many schools I attended growing up. I lost count of how many boyfriends my mother dated during my childhood. Even to this day, I remember only a few of their names.
My family consisted of my older brother, myself, and my younger sister. My dad was in prison most of my life, while my mother raised my siblings and me.
Growing up, being raised by a single parent was hard enough, when you add the fact that my mother was a drug addict, and dealt drugs to support us and her habit, it gets really complicated. As a family we were constantly moving, and there were always lots of people in and out of the apartments that we lived in. It wasn’t until I was ten or eleven that I really began to understand what was going on around me.
I always knew something wasn’t right with the way we lived and that something wasn’t right with my mom, but as a child I didn’t know what it was, until my brother and I started coming across the drugs and the drug paraphernalia. My mom was arrested during different times in my life, and it made me angrier and angrier at her.
I always thought to myself, “She loves her friends more than her children, she loves her drugs more than her children.” I remember swearing to myself over and over again that I would never do drugs, that I would never become like her.
Moving around from school to school made me very shy and I never really had any friends. So, when I met a boy my sophomore year of high school who paid attention to me, I fell in love. It wasn’t long after that I became pregnant and dropped out of school, by 18 I was married to him and eventually we had two sons. I was on my way to becoming a cliché, I was on my way to becoming like my mother.
During my marriage, my husband became very abusive and controlling, constantly belittling me. By age 22, I finally left, I was young, scared and divorced with two boys, not the fairytale I had dreamed as a child, my life would be. And where did I end up? The only place I had, my mom’s apartment.
I began working retail jobs and found out something about myself, people liked me, and I finally was making friends for the first time in my life. With my mom at a stable point in her life, I basically left the parenting of my boys to her, and enjoyed my new life as a single girl with friends.
I began drinking and partying and was hardly ever at home. Looking back now I realize I had escaped the abuse but was still spiraling downward. I spent a couple years living like this, immersed in selfish pursuits, going from party to party.
I grew weary of the chaos my life had become and so I enrolled myself in dental hygienist’s school and got my own apartment. It was a nice time finally for my children and I…until I fell in love. My boyfriend began spending more and more time at my place until he finally moved in.
Though he had a good, stable job, and was a hard worker, he began to use drugs, something I had steered clear of up until this point. Even though I had promised myself I would never do drugs after being raised by a drug addict, I compromised and began to do drugs with my boyfriend…I was officially now a complete reflection of my mother.
I was treating my boys like my mother treated my siblings and me. I was choosing my boyfriend, and what he wanted, over what was good for me, or my children.
It was shortly after this, I became pregnant, and when he realized I was not going to abort the baby, he left. I was devastated, I believed I was in love with him, and I felt once again so alone and rejected. My father didn’t love me enough to stay out of prison, my mother didn’t love me enough to stay clean, my husband didn’t love me enough to not abuse me, and now this boyfriend just confirmed what I already felt about myself, I was unlovable and I was alone.
After having my daughter, I slipped into self-pity, and went on a partying spree but this one was short lived, I was arrested for drugs, and my children were taken from me. That was my rock bottom. I gladly went into a drug treatment center, and did everything I needed to do to get sober, and get my children back. It’s funny how sometimes you have to lose something to appreciate it.
Upon graduating from the drug treatment program, I came to Shepherd’s Gate. It was my first time being in a shelter, but after my initial visit, I was so excited to start the program, and my new life clean and sober.
When I was a child, neighbors or friends of mine would take me to church with them. I had very special memories of these times, and even as I grew up, I felt God’s presence in my life. As I started the program at Shepherd’s Gate, I fell in love with the Lord, and even looking back on all I went through, I know God had a plan and a purpose for it.
Have I given up the dream of a healthy family and the white picket fence? No, I still desire for my children to have the stability and love I never had and now, with the Lord in my heart, I have the hope that this dream can become a reality.