I am very blessed to be able to share my story with all of you. I would like to start by saying I have experienced many different prisons within my life, beginning with the prison of my culture and their beliefs, to the prison of my own addiction, and finishing with the imprisonment of my physical self. These three things played deep roles within me creating me to be the person that stands here before you today.
I grew up in a Hispanic culture that believed girls should be seen and not heard. I was never told I could be anything more than someone’s wife or mother. Those were the only options I could remember being giving while I was growing up. All I wanted was to figure out who I was and I had no idea how to begin, so I always did what was expected of me.
I could tell you about what it was like growing up with an alcoholic father. My father was always gone working, but my mother was always present. I could tell you that violence in my family was normal. I could tell you about the responsibilities of being the oldest child of a family of six. I could tell you about growing up with chickens, pigs and cattle, and having to help care for them. I could tell you about missing out on most of my sixth grade year because I had to have hip surgery, and placed on crutches for six months. I could tell you about missing some of my seventh grade year because I had to have my other hip operated on, and walk with crutches for another six months.
I could tell you what it was like to be kidnapped and held against my will at the age of 16. I could tell you what it was like to have my first child by the man that kidnapped me and be forced to marry him. I could tell what it was like to be in and out of relationships because without a man I felt I could not survive.
I could tell you what it was like to be abused physically, mentally and spiritually, until all I could do was run from everyone.
I could tell you what it was like to have three children and have no clue what to do to be a good parent. I could tell you what it was like to have family steal your children because they felt you were not fit to raise them. I could tell you what it was like to be so lost that when I was introduced to drugs I felt I had found an answer to all my pain. I could tell you what it was like to be set up for a drug deal gone bad, and be forced to work for drug dealers to pay off a debt. I could tell you about being so naïve I believed it was my only way out of my situation at the time.
I could tell you about how I learned to hustle and hustle I did for the following 13 years until I became a problem to Tarrant county, and they began trying to catch me for my illegal activities. I could tell you about how Tarrant County arrested me twice in the same year. I could tell you about how I was placed on probation and sent through out-patient treatment but I could not stop using drugs. I could tell you about how my hustle turned from being a way to make money into a way to pay for my using.
I could tell you about being arrested a third time and how I ran. I could tell you about how I was not only hiding from the law but hiding from organized crime dealers because I no longer wanted to be on the streets. I could tell you about being tired of running after a year and a half, so I turned myself in while being pulled over on a routine traffic stop. I could tell you about being in prison for 18 ½ months. I could tell you about meeting Jesus within the prison walls.
I could tell you about meeting Truth Be Told and learning about the 4Cs: community building, creativity, caring for self and communication skills.
I could tell you about being released from prison and having to rebuild my life. I could tell you about staying in touch with Truth Be Told after my release. I could tell you about returning to a relationship that no longer fit me because he was still using. I could tell you about having to leave the relationship after two years. I could tell you about being at a cross roads with myself, and making the decision not to screw up my life any more.
I could tell you about becoming a part of my community, which I learned from the Short Timers class facilitated by Carol. I could tell you about how coming into recovery saved my life. I could tell you about enrolling in college. I could tell you about completing my parole this past July. I could tell you about receiving scholarships. I could tell you about having a 4.o GPA and becoming part of honor society. I could tell you about receiving awards of recognition for my community activities.
I could tell you about how I will graduate in April. I could tell you about all the support I have received for telling my truth. All of these things that I could tell you about are the things that have made me who I am but most of all I must tell you that my transformation was not possible without God. Nothing is possible without God and everything is possible through God.
I stand here before you to say that those things that I went through are just those things I went through. My decisions were not always the right ones but it was all I knew to do for what I had. Today I would like to think I am making better choices for myself and everyone involved in my life. I feel I am well on my way to being an asset instead of a deficit. I no longer live in any prison and I have become a vessel for God to use for the good of others.
I hope my story has blessed someone because it is my truth and I needed to share it with you.