I spent a lot of my childhood very confused. Some of my earliest memories was going house to house with my mom. She would ask people for drugs. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I know now what it was happening. When I was 5 years old, I was taken away from my mom. One of the houses we went to, where she was asking for drugs, called the cops. I remember being at an apartment complex and the cops showing up and her being arrested in front of me. There was a girl cop with me, and I all I wanted was my mom. I was so confused, very scared, and I felt all alone. I didn’t know when my mom would come to get me or if she would return at all.
I was placed in a foster home. My dad wasn’t in the picture. He had his own family; my mom was a one-night thing for him. Eventually I did go into his care, but he wasn’t ready to be responsible for me, so my sister’s mom raised me until I was in 6th grade. I just kind of bounced around a lot.
When I was 15 years old, I met this girl at my school. She was really pretty and on the outside, she looked like she had it all together and I looked up to her. I didn’t have very many friends. I was always close to the school staff, counselors and even the principal. I told my new friend that I wanted to lose weight. That is how I was introduced to drugs. She would hit up older guys and they would pick us up. We would do drugs in the orchard or an abandoned house, sometimes we would just drive around the outskirts and smoke in the car. I got very good at hiding my addiction. I would also keep my distance from my family.
I think my family was in denial about what I was doing. They tried to keep me from the route my mom had gone down. When the father of my children left me, my actions were exposed.
I got pregnant when I was 21 years old. I met my kids dad when I was 15 years old. He knew everything I was doing. We tried to make our relationship work because of our children. Eventually my drug use led to the relationship becoming very toxic. He would smoke weed here and there, but he was never an addict.
In 2017, he left me and took our children. I finally realized that if I continued my behavior, I would never have the opportunity to have my kids back in my life. That is what motivated me to start my journey toward recovering from my addiction. My journey started in Sacramento; I went to a rehab there twice. Then I went to New Jersey, and last year I went to Lake Arrowhead and transferred to the Salvation Army. I kept trying to run away from my problems. I kept leaving the area. I was maintaining abstinence from drug use, but not really recovering from the trauma. I kept leaving this area, I would always come back. This is where my family is and where my children are.
I have been in the Visalia Rescue Mission’s program since March 12th. I feel like this program is working because I have God in my life. I have surrendered everything I can, everything I have, to him. My relationship with God isn’t as strong as I want it to be, but I know eventually it will be. I am not going to say it is not a struggle being in the program. The first few weeks, I wanted to leave probably every other day. I feel like I’m in a good place though. I have a routine going, structure and a great support system. I think I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. My favorite part of the mission classes is the Trinity class. I really feel I am working on myself.
My relationships are not where I want them to be yet, but I have faith that they will get to where they need to be. My dad and I are good. He really supports me. I just saw the rest of my family a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t seen them in years. It was really good to be around them again. Right now, I get Friday phone calls with my kids. It was granted through the courts in February. I’m really thankful for that time. I haven’t seen my children since 2017. I really miss them and I can tell they miss me too.
If I hadn’t come to the mission, I would be lost. I would be more broken than I ever had been. If I had stayed out there, I don’t know that I would have been able to come back from that life. I’m really thankful I’m here.
My first future goal is to graduate from this program. After that I want to go into transitional, find a job and I really want to go back to school. I feel going back to school will help me find my purpose. I long to understand my place in this world.
I am really grateful for the staff at the House of Hope. They have helped me get through a lot. What they are doing is changing lives. Whether someone comes to this program and graduates or they come to this program and stay a few months, they are going to get something out of it. Somehow and some way, something is going to stick with them, and I am so thankful for that.