For as long as I can remember, I have had troubled relationships with my parents. Though I did not know it at the time, I was treated different than my sister because we did not share the same biological father. My punishments were more extreme and abusive. I can remember one night when my stepfather had been drinking and I knew he was going to whip me, so I prepared myself by putting a small book down in my pants. When he whipped me, it was so hard that it broke his hand. I was only 5 years old at that time. He used to pick me up and throw me across the room and call me stupid and other names that I would rather not mention.

My mother came to me one day when my stepfather was at work and told me that he was not my real father. I was relieved and felt like I had always truly known. He had gotten my mother addicted to drugs. To support their habit, they thought they would find my biological father and sue him for child support. I was six years old at the time when I was finally going to meet my real father. It was one of the most exciting times of my life. One morning, my mother takes me to go to the health department, and little did I know that this was the first time I was going to meet my dad. I will never forget the first words that he said to me,

“Don’t get your hopes up, kid. Because I am not your dad.”

I remember feeling devastated, unwanted, and that I would never be able to escape the damaged life I was trapped in. Eventually, my mother, after taking many beatings from my stepfather, ran away with us and moved us to a different part of town. My mother was a drug addict who would do anything to get her fix. I remember taking care of my sister, who was only a year younger than me. I would have to fight my mother on the first of the month to keep her from selling our food stamps for drugs. She would go to local churches and get food donations so that she would be able to spend her money on drugs. Needless to say, I ate a lot of soup beans and powdered milk.

My mother was also in a biker gang and had many different men who were also drug addicts in our house. She would leave and stay gone for days at a time, leaving my sister and me to fend for ourselves at the ages of 7 and 8 years old.

Then, one day, my sister went to live with her grandparents, and I went to live with my aunt and uncle. My aunt and uncle owned a rooster fighting pit and this is where I smoked pot for the first time. It was in that moment that I finally felt like I belonged.

I ended up getting a job and I found a girl who I had a child with. At this time, I was smoking pot and doing pain pills on a daily basis. One night, I received a call that my mother and aunt had been shot. I rushed to the hospital to find out that my mother had passed away. She had been shot 10 times. Although my mother had been irresponsible and reckless throughout my youth, I still loved her with all my heart. I was once again devastated, being only 28 years old and digging my mother’s grave.

My sister was strung out on meth, and I had no immediate family to turn to. If my mother’s death was not enough, not even a year later, I found out that my stepfather had overdosed in Florida. The following year, I came home drunk and was met by friend who informed me that my baby sister had overdosed and was dead. My friend told me that he had a video of her dying, and I was confused. Her so-called friends had videoed her overdosing and were making fun of her and calling her names while she was dying. If that was not enough, they posted the video on the website Topix. I was left standing there watching the life go out of my baby sister’s eyes. This completely destroyed my life.

I started doing meth and going 100 mph toward my own grave. I tried multiple times to take my own life, by doing as much meth as I could put into a syringe. I was in and out of jail and at one time only weighed 110 pounds. When I started using meth, I had a good woman, two kids, two cars, an apartment, and a good job. In six months, I had nothing except a bicycle and what I could fit into my backpack. I was homeless and alone. My girlfriend had left me, my family abandoned me, and I was a thief, a dopehead, and a fornicator. I was the lowest of low. I hated myself.

At times I would do things trying to get myself killed. I’ve been stabbed and shot. I ended up pulling 27 days in jail. During that time, I convinced my girlfriend to let my back in our apartment at the promise that I would stay clean. I ended up staying clean for a week and then I left for three days. When I came back, she told me to leave, or she would call the police. I told her that I loved my kids, but I just couldn’t find the strength to stop using drugs. She said that if I wanted to see my kids again that I would have to go to rehab.

I knew it would take some time to get into a rehab, but I agreed that I would go to one. Little did I know, God was waiting for me to just let go. Within three hours, my pastor and my brothers were waiting in my driveway to greet me with open arms. No matter what, you are never too far gone. You have never done too much, or lost too many people; there is a Father who wants you and loves you. Just put down your defenses and let Him take over.