Struggling with Poverty, Drugs in the Family

Commentary by A. J.

My dad is homeless.  Both of my parents were drug addicts as I grew up.  My mom was young when they married, she married to get out of her home.  Dad was addicted to crack cocaine, he introduced my mom to drugs and she ended up getting strung out too.  One of my only positive memories as a child is sitting and watching wrestling on TV with my parents. Fun times! Other memories include an argument which erupted between my parents and I watched my dad beat my mom.  Another time, I watched him throw my little sister across the room, and stab my mom as my other sister and I hid in a closet.  I remember the SWAT coming in and dragging my dad out.  He was in and out of jail and ended up in prison for a couple years. 

My mom prostituted to keep up her drug habit, she never tried to hide that fact.  She used to leave for days, we would call it the “three day store,” she would leave to go to the store and we wouldn’t see her for three days.  When I was in middle school, I remember seeing her standing on the street corner in her nightgown strung out.  Years later as I was on my way to college, I saw her on the street corner strung out yet again.  My mind became flooded with bad memories, I remember the rejection I felt as she pretended to not know me and I pretended to not know her.  I had to remind myself, this is not my life anymore, it’s hers and I kept driving.

I knew at any minute I could bury them.  I had to be honest with myself.  This life my dad lives is his choice, he chooses to be strung out on drugs, homeless, he can die, suffers depression, he drinks alcohol and smokes crack.  My mom chose to be a prostitute, left her kids with neighbors, relatives and in foster care, went to jail and prison.

My dad’s life is a cycle of jails and treatment centers to sober up.  He’s then funny and smart, a cool guy, the life of the party and very charming.  He has to face his issues and choices which lead to depression and drugs, then anger usually leading to domestic violence and then back to jail and treatment. 

My mom tried to commit suicide, was raped, abused, stabbed and a victim of domestic abuse.  The abuse took a toll, she has physical scars that constantly remind her of the shame and embarrassment. She was a prostitute and crack addict that frequently visited the “three day store.” Editor’s Note: hunger centers typically offer three days worth of food.

The best years of my life came when I was in the fourth or fifth grade, my mom decided to get clean.  My mom, sister and I stayed in shelters in Columbus and Cincinnati.  There was no man with my mom, just us!  She was there!  We went to school every day, we ate regularly and there were activities for families.  My mom was happy and smiling.  She enjoyed being a mom.  She had worked hard to get us back in her care.  She was working at Burger King.  We got into public housing, things were so good!  She wanted to help other people who were going through what she had been through! 

So where did this leave me?  I felt rejected, asked myself, what is wrong with me? I felt that no one cared about me.  I felt unloved, I was searching for love.  I fought with the thought that I was all alone, I felt lost and confused.  I did not know who I was, I had no identity.  I wanted to scream, YOU LEFT ME, YOU WERE NOT THERE.  I put on a mask, I was tough mentally.  The mask was to hide the broken child.  I had no options on who my parents were, how I lived or where I lived.  I was in an awful, abusive home with addicts as parents.  I had no options!  I developed a bad attitude, I didn’t care, became hard and nobody was going to see me cry.  I was angry, as I was driving one day, I was swerving on the road and told God to save me as I was intentionally swerving in traffic.  I heard a voice say, YOU ARE NOT A VICTIM, YOU ARE VICTORIOUS!

Today, I am 31 years old and have 4 children.   I go to Believe Worship Center Church.  It is there where I started to recognize the truth with the help of my pastors, Apostle Timothy and Prophet Nicole Reynolds.  They assisted me, a woman who was broken, to have a personal relationship with Christ, to face the truth of my past and to stop lying.  It happened, I am now free!  I am a minister helping other youths and young adults who have similar thoughts and situations through our Theatrical Arts Ministry.  I am sharing what I have learned on how to be victorious through traumatic childhoods, homelessness and addictions.

  • I was not going to be another statistic.  I had to get out of the victim mentality.  I am victorious!  I learned about drugs and what they do to people through a program called Straight Talk.  It taught me even though drugs were part of our daily life, we had to face them, and that we didn’t have to be like that.  Even though I was the daughter of two drug addicts, a teen mom, suicidal, molested, fearful and depressed, the TRUTH was, “I AM VICTORIOUS, NOT A VICTIM”
  • I learned how to fill emptiness with the love of Christ.
  • I had to get out of survival mode, I survived my childhood.  I had to stop hanging onto guilt, condemnation and the past.
  • I had to learn how to not fear failure, but to stop recognizing how many times I fell, instead of how many times I got up.
  • I had to learn to stop focusing on the problem, and focus on the solution.  You will become what you focus on.  If you focus on drugs or failure…….
  • You have to let things go with truth and let God be your strength. 

My dad asked to come live with me, I took him in.  After two weeks I asked him to leave.  Again, it was messing me up, and messing up my family.  There is help for him, he chooses not to get it.  I had to make a hard decision.  The roles were reversed, I was now having to be his parent.  I told him if he wakes up or has breath, he has another chance.  He doesn’t have to live his life ashamed and embarrassed, addicted and full of guilt.

My mom is now in church and she is doing well.  She is learning to live a victorious life.

As a child I was afraid I was going to be taken away, I was miserable, defensive and had low self-esteem.  I saw no chance of getting out of that lifestyle.  Today, I can say this is the first time I am living and not existing.  I look forward to helping teens going through similar lifestyles with addicted parents or facing homeless issues to understand this is not their end.  They don’t have to become what they have seen, but they can say, I am not going to become this.   I will help them find the bridge to success.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved