Jennifer B.-Thursday Nighters
The fact that I became an addict came as no surprise, but it was never my intention. Born into a family with rampant drug addiction, I found myself at a young age saying, “I will never be like my parents” and “I will never do the things they have done for drugs.” Growing up a child of addicts, I was gifted at making outward appearances appear normal, when in fact everything was turned upside down. I was a dutiful daughter and cleaned up well.
This served me until I turned eleven years old. My life was turned inside out, but this time I couldn’t set it straight.
Having been abandoned by my mother at one month old, and now my father who had become homeless, I traveled from Phoenix, AZ to my new home in Hutchinson, KS with a grandmother and uncle I barely knew. Leaving my life behind had become second nature by this point. We had done it so many times that I had whittled down my meager possessions to fit inside a small duffel bag.
It took no time for the disease to take hold of my life. Between the feelings of despair and rage for what my life had become, the opportunity to get high presented itself. I took it and recanted on all the ‘nevers’ I had told myself as a young child. The drugs offered a reprieve from the feelings of abandonment. Soon enough, I was going to any lengths to get high.
Using at a young age, the grave I was digging wasn’t any shallower than any other addicts. I just dug it a lot faster. In five short years of using I found myself in a long-term juvenile detention center and a ward of the state of Kansas. I had few legal rights as a juvenile and the state would decide my fate. I would either stay indefinitely in Bob Johnsons or be transferred to the Beloit Girls Prison until the age of 18.
One night as I was preparing my bunk for bed, the warden came in and told me to pack my bags. Unbeknownst to me, during my incarceration, my father had returned to Kansas and had gotten clean. He had gone to court and the judge granted him temporary custody on a few conditions; he had to stay clean, I had to continue drug treatment, and he had to take me to Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
With just a few weeks clean, he picked me up that night and gave me the gift of recovery. He gave me the gift of life. He took me to a Narcotics Anonymous convention and that is where the story of my recovery begins.
Early on, I said “I will never be able to stay clean for that long.” I felt like I would never amount to much or have peace in my life. Twenty years later, I am still sitting in meetings, working steps, sponsoring women, and doing service work. I am living a beautiful life I would have never imagined for myself. Today, I never say never.