One of the projects I did earlier this year (April 4th) was putting on an art exhibit. I wanted to post some of the stories. Popcorn, like many of the residents of A New Way of Life, is the story of addiction, bottoming out, and redemption. The full Telling Our Stories gallery can be seen here.
Parents don’t understand children sometimes. Sometimes my mom doesn’t know what’s going on in my life. She just thinks she does. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother. I am her firstborn son. She is a great parent, and she’s been there with me through my recovery. We moved to Lansing, Michigan. I got in trouble for setting things on fire. I ended up in the court system, going into foster care for six years. I lost my family, but I got my education out of the deal. I came back to Lansing in 1987 and graduated from high school. My grandmother passed away and things got worse. I called myself selling drugs. I was doing good for a while but then I tried crack cocaine and I got hooked.
My mother changed my life and helped me recover from addiction by listening. When I was mad, she sat me down and talked to me. She gave me the encouragement to continue. Visiting me at the rehab center, she showed that she understood what I was going through. She never pushed me away because she believed in me.
When I was stealing from her, she could have locked me up, sent me to jail, and she could have disowned me, too. I was afraid I was losing her because I had done so much bad to her. It was hurting her, but I was such a wreck. I was off of my medicine. I was destructive. She drove me to Indianapolis for treatment. She talked to the people that ran the program and let them know what I was on. She gave them a better understanding of how bad I was. She put together a family intervention, bringing in my brothers and sisters. I just listened. I asked them what they thought about me. My mother said I was a good person but I have a drug problem and alcohol problem. I needed help to figure out what I was going to do about it. My oldest sister said that I am smart but I do the dumbest stuff. I know better. She said I needed to change my life before I end up dead. That brought tears to my eyes and feelings of guilt and pain. It broke me down.
My mother changed my life just by being my friend. She had faith in me. She took me to the doctor. She paid for the treatment. She went to church with me. She accompanied me to Indianapolis when I needed help for my addiction. She sat down and prayed with me, and some things just started to happen. After we prayed, I just wanted to be the son I was before I was on drugs. I just wanted to make her proud of me. My mom is the best friend that I ever had.
My mother changed my life by giving me a purpose. I was out of control. I used to drink and drive. I used to fight people. I didn’t care. I was not thinking clearly. Life had no meaning. I was foolish. I would just do stupid things. I would just go into people’s houses, even stealing from my mom’s friends, and take things that didn’t belong to me. Nobody trusted me. I had to be real with myself. I admitted that I had a problem. My mother helped me to believe in myself. I was a user, doing wrong things, doing stupid things. I was tired.
I called my cousin, Floyd Wimbush, who runs A New Way of Life. He told me, “if you’re not serious about it, don’t even waste my time.” But I was serious. On December 30, my mom drove me from Lansing, Michigan to Indianapolis. If it wasn’t for what my mother did for me, I’d be in prison today. I just changed my life. Now I have a purpose: to be clean (I still go to AA meetings) and help others. I sit down with others who need help and pray with them. I listen to them and share my story. I take walks with them. I want to give the gift of friendship. The purpose for each and every one of us is to love one another.
Today I am a caring person. I don’t turn away. I am a loving, giving son. I’m always there for my mother. I am a good friend because I need a friend to be there for me. I love to pay attention to others and give them a shoulder to put their head on, and I am always there for anybody that is a true friend to me. Now I don’t even want to drink. I haven’t had a drink in almost 9 months, and I enjoy it. A new way of life for a new person and that is me. I thank God that there is a place. I changed the way that I think and changed my people. I really feel so good that I am clean and sober and that I’m in a better place with a better life. I am spiritually strong. My health has got a lot better. I really thank my family for their support and there help. I have never been so happy in my life. I thank God for everything he has done for me and my family. I thank God every day and every night for being clean and sober.
The Telling Our Stories Exhibit was presented at Fletcher Place Arts and Books in April 2013. The full gallery can be seen here. The stories presented include: