NorthEast of the Well Testimonies: Pepper
June 2, 2017
When I was 17, I tore my ACL and had reconstructive surgery on my knee. The doctor prescribed me pain killers, with no idea the path it would lead me down.
I moved to Arizona for college and joined the soccer team. My knee got worse, which meant stronger pain killers. Before my sophomore year, the pills became a real problem: I was manipulating doctors to prescribe me unnecessarily high quantities of oxycotin. At one point, my roommate and I were getting a combined 360 pills a month at 80mg each. We were both full-blown opiate addicts by spring semester.
When I couldn’t get pills from the doctors, I began buying them off the streets from drug dealers, and was introduced to heroin. I tried it and liked it: heroin was cheaper and satisfied my opiate addiction. But it cost me in other ways: I flunked two finals as a direct result of my addiction, and I never received my diploma. I was arrested two days before graduation for stealing and possession of drugs on campus. I moved back home to try and get sober.
I soon found out that wherever I went, my addiction went with me. I found a connection for heroin and methamphetamines back home, got in trouble with the law and became a regular in county jail.
I got pregnant and my daughter was born addicted to heroin. The hospital called DCFS (Department of Children & Family Services), but I sobered up long enough to check into an outpatient treatment center. I kept my baby, but felt guilty and depressed watching her undergo methadone maintenance. So I turned to the only coping skill I knew: getting high.
When my daughter took naps, I would tell my family I was “going for a workout”. I would get dressed in exercise clothes but run to my dealer’s house to get high. I would come home sweaty and out of breath to cover my story well. I moved out of the house because I could not maintain my sobriety.
Soon I began missing visits to see my daughter. I can remember texting that I was on my way and “taking a hit” before leaving; I would wake up hours later with my head in the sink. I could not stop using - I WAS MISERABLE.
My social worker staged an intervention and my mom told me she was moving forward with the adoption of my daughter. This was my last chance. If I lost her, I knew I would continue using and wind up dead. I had to try something different. I entered detox and got on my knees for the first time in a long time, crying out for God to help me. I was always someone who sought Him in dark places: jails, institutions – I would shoot up and beg God to take my life because I couldn’t stop using: I would wake up from numerous overdoses, angry that I was still alive.
I entered a residential treatment center in downtown Long Beach for women and children. It was there I met NorthEast of the Well – they came to do ministry with the residents twice a week. I began attending the worship service and bible study.
At NorthEast of the Well, I heard the one thing that changed my life: I was told God forgave me and loved me unconditionally. For the past year I had been stuck in the guilt of having a child born addicted to drugs. I could not forgive myself for what I had done to my family, myself, and to my daughter. HE LOVED ME?? HE LOVED ME!! When I heard these words I was able to surrender to HIM. He saved me! I was baptized by Pastor Laura and began discipleship with the women of NorthEast.
Today, I'm sober and I'm changed. I’ve enrolled back in school and am a full-time employee. I have full custody of my daughter and I’m dedicated to being a good, responsible mom. I stand up boldly to publicly share my testimony. What's incredible is that I get to teach children at NorthEast of the Well about the Lord; I’m pouring into many young lives in order to make a difference for Christ. I tell them the same news I was told: God loves you unconditionally and He is in the business of forgiveness! Learning about God’s love and mercy has the power to change lives, as it did mine. I love my life today. TO GOD BE THE GLORY.