I grew up in Los Angeles in a very dysfunctional family. My father is one of us and he did a lot of time in prison, so that was the mentality I was raised with. That led to me searching for the love he wasn’t giving me. It started with violence, lying, stealing, and trying to fit in. As early as fourth grade, I remember feeling different – ugly – not knowing why my family was outcast or why I was wearing Payless shoes while everyone was wearing Nikes. I did whatever made me look cool. That led to using and homelessness: trying to figure out night by night where I was going to sleep and burning every possible bridge. I kind of ran with it. I didn’t think there was much more to life. I didn’t think I could live a different way. I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t know recovery was possible. I didn’t know what recovery was. Everybody somehow – some way – used some kind of drug to cope.
My family moved to New Hampshire and I refused to go. I was scared to leave because it was the only thing I knew. I didn’t think I could get high if I left. I did the whole cycle of probation and jail. I got bribed to go to treatment: I was told if I went to treatment in New Hampshire, I’d get my first car. So, I did, thinking I could drive back to California. That wasn’t the case. I instantly picked up with the wrong people. I’ve been in New Hampshire since.
Within six or seven months of being in New Hampshire, I was already back in a treatment center. I did the halfway house shuffle and thought I was unique. I didn’t think a program worked for me. I thought as long as I didn’t use, I’d be okay. I didn’t think everybody who had time knew what they were talking about. I thought I knew everything. That wasn’t the case. I had to learn for myself and try to prove everyone wrong. I paid for it every time. That led to having a kid. I thought it was love at first sight. It wasn’t. We were together for three months. I used the whole pregnancy and I used after he was born. I started the cycle of treatment again. I would go to please my family. Once they would trust me again, I would use. I wouldn’t take any suggestions.
I did that for a long time. I just bounced around. I never really stayed clean. I’d get six months and relapse, nine months and relapse. Every single time it would be because I’d stop going to meetings or I would get in a relationship with someone I shouldn’t. I’d be doing everything they suggest you not do, just because I thought I could. I was a self-seeking missile.
I managed to put together nine and a half months; I was in college, I had my son, I had my own apartment, and I was working full time. I relapsed – again – and I lost it all. I went on the most vicious tear I’ve been on my whole life. It went on for seven or eight months. I had the option to go to treatment in California or New Hampshire. I chose California. I saw it is a vacation rather than a “get better” kind of thing. I AMA’d after two weeks of being there. I hung out with all my old childhood friends and picked up right where I left off. I ended up staying out there for about two weeks. When I got back, I went straight to my doctor and manipulated him, lied to him, and got all these medications I shouldn’t have had. I ended up driving my son’s mother’s car when I had no license, and I crashed into somebody. They ended up dying. I just remember thinking, ‘why not me?’ I was more upset that I didn’t die and he did. I was jealous, I was pissed off, and I didn’t stop using.
On Christmas, I wasn’t allowed to see my family and I wasn’t allowed to see my son. I spent it in a hotel room detoxing. I did a home invasion. It didn’t stop. It just kept going. Finally, a few nights later, it all sank in. The pain got great enough that I could finally see where my addiction takes me. I wanted to get clean. I called up a treatment center and I went into detox. I went to Rise Above Sober Living and thought I was going to be Mr. Recovery. I thought I could shoot steroids in safety. I thought that was clean. It wasn’t. I lost the inside work and started focusing on outside appearances to make people love me. People started complimenting me and noticing me. I lost myself and I got high.
I called the Process Recovery Center every week. I would get a bed and I wouldn’t show up; I’d find a new way to get high that day. My last day using, I was on the floor in the shower – half way in and half way out – because I was sick and I had cotton fever. I couldn’t stop shaking. Everybody hated me and no one wanted to talk to me because I did them wrong. That was enough for me to go to detox and come to the Process.
I planned on staying for thirty days – maybe sixty – I didn’t really want to stay clean. I just didn’t know how else to get high. I got indicted on all my charges. They put me in jail and the people from Process and Rise Above bailed me out. I came back to the program. I still wasn’t doing the right thing, but Eddie and some other people started helping me and carrying me. I started going to men’s meetings, talking to my sponsor on a regular basis, and doing step work. I just tried to do everything completely different. I don’t know what it was, but somehow the desperation hit. I was clean and still feeling like I wanted to die, and that kicked me into gear. I was really open and willing. I told myself if it didn’t work this time, I would never try it again. I dove in as much as I possibly could. I was still resistant in certain areas, but I just didn’t get high. I started asking everyone who had what I wanted questions. I would call them on a regular basis – and I would call men instead of calling women. All these things started changing my perception and working in my life. Seeing it made me believe this thing works and it could work for me.
I was going to court every month and I didn’t really know what was going on, but I started seeing my son every weekend, going to meetings every week, and doing all the things I’ve never done. It filled my soul and my spirit. I tried to stay busy as much as possible and not get complacent. I’ve done a lot of things wrong in recovery; I’ve definitely hurt people and people have hurt me. But I’ve just not gotten high. That’s the bottom line: as long as I do better tomorrow, it will be okay. If I get high, it will ruin all of it.
Two months ago, I took a plea agreement for a prison bid. I have to go for three years. I haven’t gotten high since I did it. I have to go in two weeks, but the program is working in my life and people are loving me up. They’re keeping me clean. If it wasn’t for the program, I wouldn’t be clean right now. I just try to do things that make me happy and not base my life on others’ opinions – not be the toughest person in the room or ego driven. I just try to fill my soul with happiness. I just want to be better. I want to be free.
I actually sat in the courtroom with the victim’s family. They all got to tell me exactly how they feel about me and how I affected and changed their lives forever. They told me they hope I get punished, but also that my son never loses his father and I stay clean and share this experience with others to give them hope.
I recently got to reach out to somebody who went to prison for three years and got out clean. I get to sit down with him so he can give me the rundown on how to do it. Don’t be scared to reach out. My pride and ego tell me not to do it because I want a persona; I want everyone to think I’m okay. That always gets me the most. People are scared to reach out and ask for help, and it’s killing them. I wouldn’t have known someone did the same amount of prison time – and made it out clean – if I didn’t reach out. That makes me feel like I’m not alone. Just give it a try. I tried for years and it didn’t work, but it was really just me who wasn’t working it.