He Kept MeWords are but mere descriptors when I try to describe the impact of the ARC on my life.
Words are but mere descriptors when I try to describe the impact of the ARC on my life. I have been a part of the Southeast Michigan Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) for a little over three years. I am a recovering addict and the ARC has been my home church and the place to which I have gone for solace and spiritual growth throughout the duration of my recovery. I am quite sure that without it, I would not be where I am today.
I began getting high at the age of fifteen. I went to my uncle’s house to baby-sit and he asked me if I wanted to smoke a joint. That was my beginning. It was fun at first, because I didn’t know any better. I got high on marijuana and drank into my early twenties. At that point, nothing was too terribly unmanageable in my life. I danced, partied and played fairly innocently. Then, at one of those parties, I was introduced to cocaine.
I thought I was in love. I couldn’t get enough of it. The highs from alcohol and weed paled in comparison, but I still used it all. I wanted to be as high as possible. I was an addict then, but I didn’t know it. I fancied myself a young, naive girl who was enjoying life with no hard or fast rules. The trouble was there were hard and fast rules. I just chose to ignore them. My rule was, “Die young; stay pretty.” I thought I was on the journey to self–discovery. I explored this self–discovery by letting men explore me. Confused, I equated sex with the love I so desperately wanted.
After The Party
In 1983, I was introduced to freebasing cocaine. Even the first time I just wanted to do more and more. I was waiting tables at the time, and I wanted all of my money to go toward drugs. It was at this point in my life that I began to know better. I knew there was something wrong with my getting high. It was no longer social or part–time. I had to get high. I started having trouble keeping up with my habit. My desire to use had begun to far outweigh my ability to pay for it and to get up for work in the morning. My nights of drugging emptied into my days at work and my appearance and performance showed it. It was the beginning of the unmanageability of my life.
On March 13, 1987, I was standing in the heart of Cass Corridor in Detroit, searching desperately for my car. I had loaned it to the dope man, so I could stay in an abandoned building smoking crack all night. I was tired and scared and still wanted to get high, but I knew the party was over. My car was nowhere to be found and wouldn’t be found until a month later, completely stripped. My boyfriend refused to come and get me, fed up with the constant deceit that I brought to our relationship. My brother picked me up and took me to my first twelve–step meeting. I remember being exhausted with the chase. So I sat down and decided to give staying clean a chance.
Rising Then Crashing
I went to meetings regularly for 10 years straight. I helped make coffee. I did open talks. I got and used a sponsor for a period of time. And I began to get my life back in order. I gave birth to two daughters, got married, started school and began a successful career. I managed to accumulate all kinds of things. But with all this “stuff” I accumulated, I made no room for God. I thought I could handle life, and managed to put together 17 years of cleantime. Yet, I had no concept of “recovery.” I thought I had graduated from the disease of addiction. I was making $130,000 a year, driving a Cadillac Escalade, living in a half a million dollar home, traveling extensively and maintaining a 3.95 GPA in college. But without God and with very few coping skills, I was lonely and miserable. I was merely staying clean and abandoned all twelve–step meetings. My spiritual walk with God was non–existent. And, after 17 years clean, all the “stuff” that I had accumulated fit conveniently right back into a crack pipe.
This time, I fell so rapidly, I was scared to stop and reflect on anything I was doing. I was on a self–destruct mission and the cost was exceedingly great. Eventually, the money ran out. I began watching the prostitutes working up and down the streets, and decided to give it a go. I added heroin to my drug use. Things I said I’d never do for drugs— turning tricks, shooting up and letting men beat me became part of everyday survival.
As a prostitute, I was raped numerous times, forced to perform sex acts at gun point, beaten when I tried to get away. One day while I was working the streets, it seemed rather slow. The Salvation Army bed and breakfast truck stopped to give me a sandwich, wish me a Merry Christmas. I was so lost, I didn’t even realize I was working on Christmas.
I relinquished custody of my daughters to my ex–husband. Having never been arrested, I caught six felonies in six months along with several misdemeanors. I was on and off probation, in and out of jail, able to bond myself out at first, but not even having a dollar for snacks in the end. After a five year run in and out of the legal system, I was homeless. I had become a derelict with only the clothes on my back, and prostitution had become my job. I truly believed that this would be the way I’d die. I didn’t think I had any choice in the matter. But God is merciful.
In 2010, God rescued me. He led me to the Southeast Michigan ARC while I was completing court–stipulated treatment at another facility. I knew immediately that I needed to be a part of this great program and began attending church there regularly, becoming a member and a Salvation Army soldier on September 11, 2011. I returned to my studies at Wayne State University while working at the treatment center where I was once a client. In May, 2013, I graduated with a BA in English Honors, summa cum laude. Recently, I began work at the Women’s Campus of the Southeast Michigan ARC as a Spiritual Counselor, a calling I believe is divinely inspired and part of God’s perfect will for me. I am able to give back what was so freely given to me by the ARC.
Today, I know that God kept me through the storm of active addiction because He had a plan for me. His plan brought me to the Salvation Army ARC where I could truly learn how to recover and not just stay clean–– a place where I could experience and know God’s wonderful grace and mercy and walk a closer walk with Him.