When I was a baby, my grandparents took me in and adopted me and raised me as their own. As far back as I can remember I felt safe, loved and wanted. For my entire life, my parents had always worked very hard and sacrificed whatever they needed to give me a solid foundation as well as the best education possible.
So, in response to my dad’s question, there was nothing more that they could have done to give me a better upbringing than I had or guide me in the right direction towards having a bright future. The only negative thing I could think of was that maybe they were too strict and sheltered me a little too much. After we discussed that back and forth for a few minutes, he asked me to make him a promise that I would never go back to the way I had been living—-getting high, picking up more charges, overdosing and every time ending up back in jail. All of me wanted to make that promise to him, but the truth was I had lost control over my life a long time ago and didn’t know who to ask or where to go to get the help that I needed.
It all seemed fun in the beginning. Around the time I graduated high school, I had started smoking weed and drinking. I loved partying from the start and was having a good time while also doing everything else I wanted to. I moved to Vegas, was taking college classes, bought a new car and felt like I was living life to the fullest. Over the next couple years some things changed.
I moved back to California, totaled my car driving drunk and broke off an engagement. Even though I was in the same town as my family, I never really reached out to them. Through all the changes going on in my life, there was one thing that was consistent and that was my daily binge drinking. I never really saw my drinking as a problem until I got a DUI and, then exactly a month later, I got a second one. When I went to jail for my first time and got sentenced to 80 days, I thought I was going to die, and not just from the detox after seven years of drinking hard alcohol. I was in shock that things went bad that quickly and I didn’t think life could get any worse.
Then I got out of jail and tried hard drugs for the first time and was instantly hooked. Three years of my life were consumed by my drug use before I started getting in trouble with the law again and had that more recent conversation with my dad. I left the visit that day and cried out to God. For the first time ever, I fully surrendered my life to Him and was willing to go wherever He led me. That is when doors started opening for me.
When I found out a bed was available for me at Captive Hearts, I was excited but really had no idea how much of a work God was about to do within me. Even though I had gone to Christian school and grown up in church my entire life, 10 years in active addiction had left me so broken. With over a month clean, my brain was still pretty burnt and I didn’t feel there was much I could grab onto. But like my house mom always said, “God will meet us right where we are, but He loves us too much to leave us there.”
One of the first church services we attended was on the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is based on circumstances and can constantly change. However, joy is something that comes from God alone and can never be shaken.
Then I attended class with my counselor Diane, and the first verse she shared with me was Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the ways of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” I felt the Holy Spirit in class that day so strongly and, for the first time in a long while, felt peace knowing God would repair all the damage I had caused by renewing, re-educating and redirecting my life. And that is exactly what happened over the next six months at Captive Hearts.
I always joke around with my parents that they could have saved a lot of money by sending me to the house instead of all those years at private school. And this opportunity obviously wouldn’t have happened had I not gone off the deep end there for awhile. One of my favorite songs says, “Crazy how it took the night for me to get to know the Son.”
Seven months ago when I got released from custody knowing I was going into rehab, I had no idea that I was about to accomplish the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life. We did so many different classes that helped me gain knowledge as well as deepen my relationship with God and others. The women who run the program all helped me walk through some difficult things and always guided me with Godly advice. In addition to doing the classes through Captive Hearts, I was also going to Drug & Alcohol five days a week for the IOT program. From the beginning, God placed special people in my class as well as counselors to encourage me to keep pushing on even when I didn’t think I could. The girls in the house became the best friends I’ve ever had and we all grew so much together. We especially looked forward to Wednesday and Saturday nights at Oasis Church. Having spent most my life in church, I’ve never experienced anything like I did there. There is such a revival of recovery in our area and it’s so much of a blessing to see God at work in so many people’s lives. He set us free from the bondage of addiction and set a fire down inside us.
One day my therapist and I were talking about how during my whole life I’ve always been a people pleaser and tried to be a good person and found my identity in what others thought of me. It’s been so freeing to learn that I don’t have to live a performance-driven life but know that my joy comes from an intimate relationship with Jesus and that I will automatically bless others because His love will overflow from me.
I want to close with one of my favorite verses in the Bible that has really helped me on this journey: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:6-11).
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This type of living lasted for about two years. It slowed after an incident one night. I’d been drinking and three people jumped me and, during the fight, I was sliced through my arm. An ambulance came for me and I was losing so much blood they said if the ambulance had come five minutes later, I could have died.
My parents were at the point where they would no longer help me until I started to get help, but I wasn’t ready yet. I ended up staying with people who used meth since my family wouldn’t come pick me up. I stayed with them several months before I came to the realization that this was not the life I wanted to live. I didn’t want to be this kind of daughter or mother. I found another job and stopped the meth but the alcoholism quickly escalated to more than ever before.
I lived with my boys from hotels to hotels and I eventually got us a place to live but quickly lost it after losing another job. Having nowhere to live, this drove me to drink more. I soon lost my boys, and they were ordered to live with their dad, which was a safe place for them.
I asked God to take me the right direction and in attending Drug & Alcohol Services, I heard about Captive Hearts. And when I learned it was a program that was revolved around God, I knew I wanted to go there.
Since being here, I feel the closest to God that I’ve ever been. I feel my head is finally clear and no longer foggy. I’m not as angry as I used to be and my family is talking to me more and treating me as an adult. I’m surrendered to God’s will and His guiding in my life. It’s because of Him that I have the good things in my life. I get to see my boys every week. I have new friends in my life who don’t use but also love Jesus. Having people around who want to live their life for Him has been an amazing experience, and I’m just excited for the plans God has for my life and the woman He is shaping me to be.
I remember one time when my mom, dad, siblings and I went to Circus Circus. We ran into the family and we stopped to say hi to them. I also remember my dad asking me if I was ok. He could see that something was wrong. I don’t remember my response but I know he could see that something wasn’t right. I remember feeling very scared and it was the first time I ever experienced anxiety.
At the age of 8, I was never touched by my uncle but for about one year almost daily, I watched him abuse my cousin who was also my age. Fortunately, he never touched me.
On my 11th birthday, my babysitter had school and wasn’t able to come watch us while my mom went to play pool for her billiards league. So her boyfriend, who was 19, sexually abused me while acting as the babysitter. I was on the phone with my friend and sitting on Mom’s bed when he came in, grabbed my hand, pulled me into a standing position. He sat down, set me on his lap while I was still on the phone, and put his hand in my pants. I remember grabbing his hand without saying anything, and he stopped and left the room. It never happened again. When my Mom came home later that night, I told her what happened and she told me I was lying. She didn’t believe me and from that moment on, I didn’t trust any females.
At age 12, I used meth for the first time. I walked in on my Mom smoking meth. We looked at each other right in the eyes, and I turned to walk out of the room but she called my name. I turned to look at her and she asked me, “Are you curious?” I never said a word to her but I did what she asked me to do. She had me sit on the bed beside her and she lit the glass pipe.
Another time, I was home alone one night and my Mom’s uncle showed up looking for her. I invited him in explaining that she would be coming home soon. My 7-year-old baby sister was in the bathtub at the time. He forced himself on me and tried to kiss me. I pushed him away; to me, he was an old man. I didn’t know him well, but I do know that he also abused my mother when she was a little girl.
One night we were in Oceanside near Camp Pendleton. I don’t remember what my Mom was doing and why she got out of the car, but she left me with a marine who neither of us knew. I don’t know what we were doing there, but what I do remember was him forcing me to give him oral sex. I was 12.
the house and showed me where it was. When I came out, he forced me into a bedroom nearby. He forcibly removed my clothing and raped me. I remember it was very hot and his sweat dripped all over my face and into my eyes. I remember crying and him biting my hand as I pushed his face away from mine. I never told anyone what happened. I was never sexually abused again from that point on until I was an adult.
As an adult, I was in a sober living home. I had been clean and sober for six months, but had relapsed. A few weeks earlier, this home was broadcasted on the news for a prostitution sting. Sadly, I did not realize the type of living situation I was in. Some of the females from the home were prostituting themselves out to sheriff and probation officers in town. I was sucked back into the lifestyle not yet realizing what had taken place or what was about to happen to me.
I remember being drugged, being video taped, being put on the internet and not really knowing at certain points what was happening to me. There were times where I felt as if I was dreaming, which is the result of date rape drugs. I remember having multiple fits of rage for no reason. I became violent, angry, hateful, and extremely suicidal.
My daughter’s father, along with other men, were taking complete advantage of me. Not only were they drugging me, but I was using multiple drugs as well, including heroin and meth. This lasted approximately 4 months, the first half in this sober living home, and the second half while homeless on the streets. Through my 10 years of active addiction, never did I once use a needle. But I do recall having track marks and bruises from being injected with drugs into my body. I was given different drinks and alcoholic drinks with date rape drugs as well. It was mind controlling though I didn’t know it at the time.
Towards the end of the 4-month period, I moved into the home of a man who prostituted women. He and my daughter’s father worked together in trafficking women. This man takes in different homeless people, has them work for him and has multiple vehicles that his so called “workers” drive. Tasks include driving to different areas in town to collect recycling items. This is how he draws in women to get them into his home and under his control. He puts a roof over their heads, feeds them, puts them to work and completely takes over their lives like they are his tools. The reason I know this so well is because I worked for him. He has a wife, a girlfriend, 3 young children, everyone lives in the same home. He calls himself “Jesus” or “God.” He is a very troubling individual. Because of my boyfriend at the time, my daughter’s father, I was not sexually used and/or trafficked by this man, but I witnessed other women being used by him.
By the grace of God, I was able to escape the lifestyle and start a new path through my discovery of the Captive Hearts recovery program. I moved to the Central Coast and got out of the dangerous area that was unhealthy for me. Thanks to God and Captive Hearts, I graduated the program and am almost two years clean and sober. I am happy, healthy, have a beautiful 4-year-old daughter and a wonderful husband. My life is full again.