It was the 30th of November, 2010, and I was using in the bathroom at my mother’s house. I recall looking up at my self in the mirror and hearing my little sister’s voice in despair, crying for me to stop. I lost it, I dropped to the floor and said, “God, or whatever you are out there, I need help. I can’t do this anymore.”
I woke up in my sister’s room at 6:30 a.m . I had started to withdrawal. My bones ached to the core, my eyes watering as I crawled into the bathroom to get high. I had less then a pinpoint left. I began to panic because I knew I wouldn’t be able to re-up until that afternoon, so I decided to save it until later that morning, to ease the symptoms. I curled up into a ball in Gabby’s bed. Little did I know that an hour later would be the beginning of the rest of my life. At 7:30a.m on December first, 2010, the cops raided my mom’s house, looking for me. I had not shown up to probation in over two months. I threw my hands up and let them take me. I couldn’t bear to do this any longer. They charged me with possession of a controlled substance, possession of a smoking device, and possession of a fake I.D. I violated my probation, and was now facing three to six years in prison. For 10 days, I detoxed from heroin, benzos, alcohol and cocaine in jail with no medical assistance. I felt pain I can’t even begin to explain. I thought I was dying, every second of every day.
Then the moment happened where I finally surrendered. I was in a holding cell with another girl in protective custody, waiting to see the judge. I was a mess because I knew that the district attorney was ready to send me away. We began talking and I asked her the one question you should never ask an inmate, “What are you here for?”
This young girl was beautiful, but she began to tell me a story that was so gruesome, I could barley believe it. She had been locked up since she was 16. She was now 21, fighting this same case. Her mother was a meth addict, and began giving meth to her daughter on a daily basis when she was 13. By the time she was 16 years old, she was in such a deep psychosis induced by meth that, when her mother told her that the only way she would be saved from the devil is if she slaughtered the family across the street, she burned the house down and waited for the police. She did just that, and that day I met her, she was being sentenced to four consecutive life sentences. Sarah had a peace on her face when she told me this story, like she knew she was going to be okay regardless of her circumstances. I now know that she was in recovery through a twelve-step program, based on the things she was saying to me. I told her what I was in for, and she had one piece of advice for me that changed everything. She said,“ Just remember you have a choice. You can walk into that court room with God.” I remained silent until they called my case. I had an overwhelming feeling of safety with me that day, and when I walked into that courtroom, I was honest for the first time in years. I said to Judge Espinoza, “I am 19 years old, and I am a heroin addict. I cannot stop using drugs, and I need help. You can send me to prison, but I will remain the same person I am today, I have been institutionalized before and it didn’t work.” Little did I know a man by the name of Greg Hannley was in the gallery. Greg owns the SOBA recovery center. He stood up and told the judge that he would take me. He gave me a ‘scholarship’ to his treatment center for one year. The judge agreed, and I have been sober from all substances ever since, including medications for my psychiatric issues. God answered my prayers that day. That generous man not only put me through his program for a year, but also helped me to get back into school to become a California State Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor, and eventually allowed me to become an intern and run therapeutic groups at his facility.
I entered treatment on December 10th 2010 a scared, insecure little girl, and left December 10th2011 a proud, compassionate, strong woman. For me, the transformation process began when I was willing to come to a place of acceptance for what was. I slowly began to see that I could no longer do this alone, and that I needed to reach out to other women who have had the same experiences that I did. I realized that I was not only dealing with an addiction to alcohol and drugs, but was also suffering from an eating disorder, severe co-dependency, post traumatic stress disorder, and had an all-around spiritual ‘soul sickness,’ and by that I mean that I would look anywhere outside of my self for the remedy, not realizing that I was all that I needed. I had built up so many false belief systems and perceptions about the world and my place in it. These damaged perceptions were what drove me to the place of insanity that I had gotten to. I had to really dig deep to recognize these issues and have them rid from my life. It is a daily process for me, and it is so incredibly worth it. I am worth it. Today I am free. I have found a quiet mind and a loving heart. Today, I have compassion for the girl that I was. I see her as a sick person who really needed love and help. And this compassion for myself has spilled over, and helped me to see others compassionately.