My name is Carmalita, and I’m an addict. I grew up in Southern California, I was loved and a really happy outgoing kid. I was a big time daddy’s girl, my dad was everything to me, so when he passed away a month and 4 days before my 13th birthday, I took it extremely hard. That’s when I began using. It started out simple enough, drinking and smoking pot, but it became a daily thing. I started getting involved with gangs and rebelled against everyone and everything. I did whatever I wanted whenever I felt like it. My first boyfriend was a 19 year old gang banger. Right after Christmas he was shot and killed right in front of me by a rival gang. My mother was worried about my safety since I saw and knew who shot him and she decided to send me away to live with my sister. So, here I was in a new state, my father had passed and 2 months later my first boyfriend killed right in front of me. I was traumatized, hurt, angry, sad, and I was a kid who thought she was grown. I of course instantly got in with the wrong crowd, and started using other things I’d never used before. That’s when I started using opiates. Not too long after living there I dealt with sexual abuse and ended up going back to live with my mother, who was moving back to Tennessee where she was from to be closer to her family. Also, now she was alone to raise 3 young kids who had gone through a lot and she felt Tennessee was just a better place in general to raise kids. To say moving here was a major culture shock doesn’t even begin to cover it.  I  was bored, depressed, and had already gone through so much pain and trauma, and all I wanted to do was bury it way down deep and cover it all up, and using did exactly that for me… Not long after we moved here I met a guy that lived on our same road that was older, had a car, and sold drugs. Eventually, I’d grown to trust him and be comfortable with him, which was hard for me to do at that time. We ended up dating and then after about 6 months of things being great, he started getting really possessive, and controlling, then eventually it turned really abusive. He put me in the hospital a few times, and even after all of that I still married him the second I turned 18 despite the protests from literally everyone in my life, including people in his own family. I thought that was what love was supposed to be like, I really had no clue. Eventually, it got to the point where I was afraid to leave him. He’d threatened to hurt my mother and my sister. It was just easier to stay. When I was 24 he set a house on fire with a 9 year old boy and an elderly woman inside because of a drug deal gone bad, and ended up going to prison and that was my way out. By then I was so far gone, most of my life had gone by in one big blur. Everything that happened in my life was just another reason to use. By that time I had already been using drugs intravenously, and  sold drugs to support my drug habit and had jobs here and there, but because of my addiction would lose them, because going to work dope sick just wasn’t an option. By then I had been in and out of jail for various things, I manipulated everyone in my life, I stole from people I loved and cared about, from stores, I robbed people, I was just not a good person at all, I had no conscience. My life had turned into a daily hustle from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. I  had gone from pills to heroin, and that became the monkey on my back from then on, nothing else mattered to me. I stole my mother’s bank card and took everything she had, sold anything she had of value, and because of that my family cut me out of their lives completely. For the first time in my entire life I didn’t have my family to turn to and that really sent me off the rails. I burned every bridge I had, and felt like I had nothing left here so I decided to move back to California. I started transporting drugs for some really bad people with no regard for my family’s safety. During that time I started using meth intravenously just to stay awake to drive, and the heroin just to not be sick. I wasn’t even getting high anymore, I was just getting better. I became incredibly paranoid of everyone, I didn’t know who I was anymore, I didn’t recognize the person staring back at me. While I was in California I was attacked in an alley by four men, beaten unrecognizable, and brutally sexually assaulted and left naked bleeding to death. The person who found me and called the police actually believed I was dead. I was taken to the hospital where I spent the next couple of months, and then my family brought me back to Tennessee. When I got back I was terrified to be around anyone, my family included and I became extremely Isolated for a very long time. I ended up getting arrested for assaulting a police officer, I was so high and out of my head that I took a tree limb to an officer’s face. I was so high that I don’t even remember doing it. When I got out of jail I had nowhere to go and my brother said I could stay with him as long as I stayed clean. I started going to meetings and eventually picked up a 90 day key tag. But I wasn’t doing any of that for me, I was doing it because I knew that’s what my family wanted for me,and I ended up relapsing, stealing my sister in law’s car in the process. While I was out during my relapse I overdosed more times than I can count, then I found out that my best friend and her husband were killed in a car accident. The day of my last overdose, I woke up in the hospital, and for the first time in a while I was afraid. I was afraid of dying alone, I realized at that moment I didn’t want to die, and I didn’t want to live the life I was living anymore, bouncing from trap house to trap house, waking up in hospitals not remembering anything after sticking the needle into my arm. I didn’t think my brother would ever let me come back. When I was released from the hospital that morning, I called my sister in law and told her where I was so she could come get her car, and instead of hating me for what I’d done, she hugged me and told me to come home. I didn’t think I had a home to go to anymore but I did. I  left the trap house that day, and went home and I haven’t looked back since! I was so ashamed to walk back into that house and see the looks of disappointment on my mother, sister and brother, but all I got was love and relief that I wasn’t dead. I was ashamed to walk back into the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous for the same reasons and all I got from the people in those rooms was love and acceptance,  and they all loved me until I was able to love myself again. Narcotics Anonymous saved my life and I am eternally grateful. On October 27th I will have 1 year clean! I have days that are harder than others, but I wouldn’t trade my life for any other. I  am the woman I am today because of all that I’ve been through and survived. Today my family is back in my life and they are so supportive! I have so many people in my life today that love, support and encourage me to be my best self! I have an incredible sponsor, and work hard for the life I want! I know that as long as I continue to do the next right thing, there’s no limit to what I can do. And I truly believe that no matter what, I never have to use again!!

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