After growing up in foster care, and having 2 children by age 19, on my 20th birthday I enlisted in the Army. My mom took both children. I made 22 certified parachute jumps. I served in Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort Hood, Texas; and Kuwait.
Unfortunately, I got hurt and was honorably, medically discharged in May 2009. That’s when I began taking a lot of pain medication.
I was born in Park Ridge, Illinois, in 1985 and raised in foster care from age 5 to 13. My mom was not addicted to drugs or alcohol; she was addicted to men. Her first priority was pleasing them and I was taken away due to neglect. I moved back in with my mom when I was 13. I had already had a steady boyfriend since age 11 and we had our first child, a special needs daughter, when we were 15. My mother kicked me out and I legally emancipated myself. My boyfriend and I got an apartment in Chicago, on 72nd and Harlem, and really tried to raise our daughter. We had our second child when I was
18, a perfectly healthy son. We had both dropped out of high school at 15. I enrolled in a
Christian, online academy, from which I graduated at age 19.
We split up right before my 20th birthday in 2005 and I enlisted in the Army. My mom had started making better choices, so she took both children. I was a 92-A, which is logistics. I made 22 certified parachute jumps. I served in Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort Hood, Texas; and Kuwait. Unfortunately, I got hurt and was honorably, medically discharged in May 2009. That’s when I began taking a lot of pain medication.
After my discharge, I moved back to Chicago with my children. One day there was a blizzard that annoyed me, so I packed up and moved to Arizona, where we stayed from 2010 until 2014. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and PTSD. Once I got the right medication, I lived a more normal life again, although not realizing I had become dependent on pain medicine. When I returned to Chicago in 2014, laws about pain medicine were different from Arizona and were beginning to change everywhere.
I realized I had become dependent, but thought I was different from everyone else and did not need treatment. The result was I became addicted to heroin. I had to resort to burglary to support my habit and got into legal trouble. My children ended up with their father.
In September 2017 I met Charles at an Alcoholics Anonymous convention at Kennedy-King College and we got married in November 2017. He turned out to be severely abusive. He became Muslim and wanted me to, also. Because I refused to wear the hijab, he held me down and shaved my head. A little later, he said he realized he had a problem and begged me to take him back. We moved down to Decatur where he had family and he again began abusing me. I found out in July 2018 that he was having an affair and in August I found out I was pregnant.
My pregnancy changed everything. I quit drinking and using and really worked hard to get my life together. Staying at the Careage House is what kept me sober, while I was on the wait list to get into God’s Shelter of Love. Charles kept calling me and I really hoped to be able to raise my daughter with him, so I went with him to his relatives in Louisiana. I knew he had been in prison, but I thought it was on drug charges; I found out it was for attempted murder and that he had a felony warrant out for him.
Knowing I was still on the wait list for God’s Shelter, I returned to Decatur, just hoping and praying
that I would get into the shelter before my due date of April 7. I got in on February 5!
God’s Shelter has been awesome for me and my daughter, Myleah Grace (pictured at about one hour old). The house supervisors had a shower for me, including gift-givers I had never met before. The director’s wife, Crystal, offered to be my birthing partner and she has done so, so much for me, including taking me to St. John’s Hospital for Myleah’s birth on March 21. My daughter and I have everything we need and I thank God for that. Thanks, also, to all the people who give to support God’s Shelter and Careage House.