My name is Angelenea and I’m a follower of Jesus Christ that has struggled with both alcohol and drug addiction. I’ve been trying to get and maintain a life of sobriety for the past 10 years, being to 13 recovery houses and treatment facilities.

The insanity and circumstances of my life in the past basically began at the age of four. My uncle was both molesting and having sex with me for about nine years. During those years about a handful more people – babysitters, neighbours and other family members were also molesting me. There was a lot of neglect and sexual abuse.

I remember feeling numb, different, unloved, damaged and even invisible. I acted out a lot and was very attention seeking. My addiction started at the age of 12 or 13 with my mother giving me and my sister a bottle of booze to drink on New Year’s Eve. I instantly liked how it made me feel, or I should say how it didn’t make me feel.

By the age of 16 I was smoking crack cocaine, homeless, and because of the abuse in my past, prostitution seemed like a normal, natural thing. It was like breathing and I told myself that at least I was getting something out of it. I would sleep with people for drugs, smokes, food, a place to stay or just so I wouldn’t be alone. It really didn’t matter, though, because I always felt alone, even with a crowd of people.

When I was 18 I became pregnant and gave the baby girl up for adoption at birth. I was afraid to slow down because I might have to think or feel.

At 21 I was living in East Vancouver in a crack shack, doing break and enters during the days when normal people would be at work. At night I was working at escort agencies and massage parlours. It didn’t matter how much money I made or how much dope I had, it was never enough. I felt empty, worthless and disgusted with myself.

I used as much and as often as I could. Although I didn’t like who or what I had become, or the things I was doing, I thought it was still better than being sober.

At 23 I was beaten and raped by two men – a date gone wrong. I moved to Chilliwack to try and start over, maybe get a better hold on my life, slow down a bit. I stopped prostituting and smoking crack. I did, however, start drinking everyday, which was convenient because I started working in a bar.

Two years later I got into a relationship and had my son, Cayden. When my son was six months old I was first introduced to crystal meth. I was wondering where this drug had been hiding all my life. Meth made me feel confident. I didn’t feel so dirty or damaged. It helped me not to feel and stay away from thinking about my past. I began using speed all day every day and selling it to support my habit.

My son was removed by the ministry at the age of three. I went to treatment and had him back within a year, only to continue my use like nothing happened. I had him back for four years and at the age of seven he was removed once again. By this time I was already shooting up crystal meth thinking I could stop at anytime, if I really had to or wanted to. I couldn’t be more wrong. Over the next year I would go to many recovery houses and treatment centers. I would do OK for awhile, but as soon as I felt anything or became uncomfortable, I would always run and seek the sick comfort of my needle – crying my eyes out, thinking of my son, and hating myself for being so weak. By the time my son was eight years old he was adopted and I was cut off any and all contact. I had never felt so worthless as I did then. I felt there was no point to my existence. I had lost the only person that ever mattered to me. I felt like I only hurt, wrecked and destroyed anyone or anything that came into contact with me. I was toxic! I was poison! I began doing heroin and prostituting again. I had nothing live for. I felt hopeless. I would beg in my loneliness for someone to take my life. I didn’t want to live. It hurt too much.

Over the next years I would have many rock bottoms, being homeless, being raped, being so run down and exhausted by the chaos and lifestyle, trying to please other people and keep them in my life, or to make my family happy. I was using recovery houses and treatment facilities as a ‘get outta jail free’ card. My life consisted of going to jail, being dope sick, feeling better and promising myself I was done with dope for good, only to be released and have it be the first thing I hunted for. My first time going to jail, I said that I was never going back there. But that is all I did for the next two or three years. I was doing crime during the mornings and spending the rest of my days and nights nodded off. For me it was the closest to being dead as I could be – not thinking, not feeling, not remembering, not existing. I was invisible and that was comforting.

The last time I went to jail in 2008 I would find out I was pregnant. For the first time in a long time I was terrified. What was I going to do? It had been all about me for longer than I could remember. I couldn’t go through it again. I couldn’t lose another child. I wasn’t getting any younger. I was sick and exhausted. Deep down for the first time, I realized maybe I wanted to live, if not for me, for this baby inside me. It was now or never. I eventually got released from jail and went to Life Recovery. I completed the program and had 14 months clean. It wasn’t too healthy though. I basically isolated and hid out from the world with my baby. With my baby’s dad soon to get out of jail I coped the only way I knew how – I used. Because of my past with the ministry, I had to go to treatment. My son went to stay at my ex’s Mom’s. I went to live at Solace House for almost seven months. I passed my hair strand test with the ministry and started unsupervised half day visits with my son and eventually overnight visits.

I’m not going to tell you that it was easy. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I’m not going to tell you that my life is perfect because it is not. I thought that if I quit drinking and drugging my life would be perfect. I found out that yes, it would help if I quit, but it was more about learning how to deal with life instead of using what happened to me as

One of the major things that helped me is having a relationship with God. I had a lot of resentments toward God and honestly had a lot of fear, too. I was afraid to talk to God out of fear He wouldn’t answer or worse, what if He did answer! It is truly no coincidence the things that are happening to and in my life. I’m truly blessed to have people in my life that love me enough to tell me the truth. I’ve been learning how to live a life of sobriety, through example, to ask questions and at times, challenge myself and make myself uncomfortable.

I have so much gratitude today and would like to thank everyone for their support and for me this simply means giving back and helping others. For the month of January I have been given the opportunity to facilitate the “Extreme Weather Shelter” here at Sevenoaks Church. I know all too well what it is like to have nowhere to go, to feel desperate, empty and broken. I used to think I was alone, forgotten and no one cared; but people did and they do! I used to feel hopeless and that I had no chance. The truth is I was afraid to try. I always listened and believed the negative voice in my head. I gave up before I even tried. It is not about failing. It is sometimes about failing and trying again and again.

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