When I was young, things were pretty good until I was about 12, but then my parents’ fighting escalated dramatically. One night, they were fighting with guns and they shot each other. Neither of them was seriously injured, but I didn’t feel safe at home anymore. I started to hang out on the street, smoking cigarettes, drinking and smoking weed.
I used drugs to have fun and to soothe me. It began as a weekend, binge-using thing.
Eventually I started using cocaine. It’s the devil’s candy. Doing it gave me a momentary sense of control and power. There’s nothing good about it and I knew it could kill me, but I didn’t care. I still did it.
The worst thing that I remember happening when I was under the influence took place when I was with my daughter. We were in the car and she asked to see my gun. I was so high that I actually gave it to her, thinking it was unloaded. She pulled the trigger. The gun went off and a bullet went right through the ceiling of the car. I did that. I was so out of it, that I gave my daughter a loaded gun.
At some point, I just realized I was tired of being broke and broken.
I was tired of not being a good man and feeling so worthless, so I gave treatment a chance. When I first came into Mn Adult and Teen Challenge I didn’t like it and I wasn’t planning to stay. But near the end of short term treatment, something broke in me. Suddenly I felt all my shame and anger just begin to lift, and I was finally able to submit to authority and to do what was being asked of me.
It was at this time that I started to believe in God.
This year and the COVID pandemic have been hard on everyone. I tested positive for COVID when I was in the long-term program. Early in the summer I was able to visit my family on a pass; one day my wife checked my temperature and I had a fever. As days went by, I felt worse and worse. I had trouble breathing and it felt like I was drowning. I was admitted to the hospital for a time, but I got healthy again and returned to MnTC. Now, every single day I count my blessings. Through the isolation and COVID, I leaned on God; He got me through.
Since coming to MnTC, I’ve learned what peace feels like. I didn’t know before that I could feel peace in the smallest things, like just being present for my brothers in the program. I’ve been able to mentor some of the younger guys here, and to let them know there truly is a better life ahead.
And, now that I’m not using, I’m able to see my kids and talk with them. My mind isn’t cloudy anymore; instead, I’m just calm and peaceful.
I’m praying today for people that I don’t even know, and for the people that help us. I’m praying for peace.