My father left our family when I was six years old, and my life was never the same. I spent my entire childhood wondering why I wasn’t enough to make him want to stay. When I finally turned eighteen, I couldn’t wait to run from the house and start my own life.
After I left home I met a man I thought I loved, and moved in with him three weeks later. Less than a month into our relationship, he began to abuse me. Something as simple as not smiling at him would get me thrown into a wall, but I was too afraid to leave. At this point in my life I thought women had no other purpose other than to serve men; therefore, leaving him was never an option. The night he pulled out a gun and threatened to kill me, I knew my life was out of control. Somehow I found the courage to leave.
After the relationship ended, I had absolutely no self-respect and I believed that the only way to find love was to earn it by performing. The one thing that made me feel better was my drug of choice, crack cocaine. I knew I was a slave to crack, but I also knew I would do whatever it took to recapture the feeling of that first high. I had been a stripper for three years before I began selling my bodyto buy crack.
When I had been using drugs for five years, my parents did an intervention and sent me to Michael’s House. I had no interest in going to treatment. I thought I would stay in detox for a week and then be back to my old life. After running from everyone and causing a huge scene at the airport, I finally arrived at Michael’s House on October 20, 2008, which is also my sobriety date.
During my first two months at Michael’s House, my mind and heart were completely closed. I called my parents and begged them to let me leave. Then, after 60 days, I truly heard the message of the program, and I surrendered. I began to focus on my recovery, and for the first time it was something I really wanted.
My therapist helped me find hope. The staff at Michael’s House was attentive to my needs. When I learned that many of them were also in recovery, it was so encouraging. Listening to the other people in my process group helped me realize I wasn’t alone, and other people were struggling with the same problems I was. I remained in treatment for four months.
I met a man in the program named Ben. He was patient, loving and kind. More importantly, he loved me for me. I was rigorously honest with him, sharing every truth I had ever falsified. I was finally free from the bondage that held me captive for so many years. Shortly thereafter, Ben and I discovered we were pregnant. I had only four months of sobriety, but I was determined to have our child and give her a beautiful life. A few months later I gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
Becoming a mother has given me a whole new perspective on life. In AA, they told me I would become a lady, something I never thought possible. I am here to tell you, not only have I become a lady, I have received the best gift—I have finally found self-respect. In my recovery, I am able to be a sponsor, a mother, an employee, a daughter, a sister, but most importantly, I am able to love myself.