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Hello world, my name is Steven A and I am going to share my testimony with you today in hopes that someone reads this and gets something out of it. If it touches even one person in this world I will be super happy!
I was born in a town on Long Island. I was raised on Long Island. Asa youngster I had a rough time in school. I was picked on and bullied a lot, and I was miserable as a child. My home life wasn’t much better either.
I grew up with my three sisters. I was the second child from my mother. My father remarried and I had another sister to total four sisters and me. During childhood, when I wasn’t getting bullied at school, I was getting my butt kicked by my father, who at the time was really a raging lunatic! That’s not an exaggeration either. He and my mom were together until I was about twelve or thirteen years old. They had a very abusive marriage and it was a nightmare for me and my sisters.
My father would beat my mother physically and emotionally. Well, one day my mother had had enough of the abuse and she did what I wanted her to do for so long and she left him. Except when she left him, she left us behind with him. “The devil” is how I viewed my dad. I grew up in fear–constant fear–of getting beaten and experiencing confrontation with anyone in general. I would run from any confrontation I got into. I never stood up for myself as a young boy.
After my mother left, I felt so alone. Abandoned, I avoided being home around my father as much as I could. I was truly a depressed child. Which lead to me struggle in school. As I grew bigger, I started to make friends around my neighborhood. But I gravitated to other children in my neighborhood who also had family issues at home and we would all just chill together and eventually it lead to smoking weed as often as we could and stealing cigarettes and alcohol out of our dad’s stash and trying to replace it with either water or iced tea, depending on if it was clear or dark liquor.
That’s where my addiction began at the age of 13. Every time I smoked or drank, it totally took me out of my miserable life and it also made me feel accepted by people in my hood. I was selling bud (marijuana) at age 14! Somehow, I was passing my classes and progressing in school, though.
When I was 16, my aunt took me to a church service and I heard a man preach some amazing stuff. They told me about Jesus Christ and how much he loves us and what he did for humanity on the cross. I felt accepted in the church. There were other youths going also and so I gave my life to Christ. Of course, my father thought I was out of my mind– I couldn’t understand why he felt that way. I questioned what had I done to my father to make him dislike me so much. Even doing good things wasn’t enough for him to be proud of me.
I walked a straight path for about a year and a half. At that time, my father had met his future wife and so they married. He made me the best man and I didn’t understand why. By that time my father had begun to calm down and actually treat us like his children. I guess marrying her made him realize that no woman is going to put up with the way he was. He did begin to change, but in my heart it wasn’t enough. I still had deeply rooted hatred for him inside, no matter how much he acted like he cared.
We ended up moving in with our father’s new wife’s parent’s home so she and my dad could save for their own house. But because we moved to a neighboring town, I had to switch schools. I was 17 years old in my senior year of high school changing schools. I was actually excited to get out of my old school and make a fresh start even though it would only be about six months till I graduated.
My first day of school I had to see the nurse to check in, and I remember clearly meeting a pleasant young woman named Jackie. She was beautiful and she actually noticed me and said “hi”. I was in shock that she even spoke a word to me. It was awesome and I introduced myself to her and I went after her. I wanted to be with her and I began talking to her regularly. I was making new friends all over– I was actually a very popular kid when I went there. With that popularity came peer pressure and I began smoking and drinking on a regular basis.
I met many people and sold ecstasy in school and of course I had to try it. I would pop a few e pills and smoke some weed and drink a little and it put me in a zone. A place where I felt so comfortable, so happy. I dabbled in cocaine and crack as well. My drug use had elevated itself to new heights and new drugs. I was completely in love with escaping reality and straight zoning.
As my using picked up, those around me became less and less of a priority. I left my girlfriend for one of my sister’s friends after graduation and thought I was in love with her. One day, we decided to run away and leave everyone behind because no one approved of her due to the way I ditched my girlfriend for her. My family had all came to like my girlfriend — she was like another family member, so not only did she take the breakup hard, so did my family.
So my new girlfriend and I stole my dad’s car and ran off to Florida with mad weed and about $1,000. I thought that was a lot. Boy, did I learn a lesson.
I ended up crashing his car in Florida. We were ok, but the car was really dinged up. After a few weeks, we had basically run out of money and I was stealing food from a food store. Our Bonnie and Clyde episode finally came to an end one night while we were sleeping in the car. I was supposed to start working the next day at subway but the police surrounded the car took her away and threw me in jail. I had no idea why I was being arrested but I found out that they were charging me with endangering the welfare of a minor! It was a felony charge, apparently.
I spent a few nights in jail and I didn’t make any calls to anyone. I was afraid my dad would whoop my butt since that was what he did best. But I was bailed out by my father. It was really uncomfortable and yes he was rightly mad because I crashed his car and took off with a minor and was now facing a serious charge in the state of Florida.
Strangely, he instead showed me love and said that he loved me and he didn’t want to lose me. It was weird hearing him talk like that to me, but I was happy we weren’t fighting. it was incredible and I couldn’t believe he wasn’t trying to kill me. I lucked out. I had a good lawyer and my girlfriend’s mom decided not to press charges on me.
Eventually people kind of realized that my girlfriend and I were inseparable, so they just let it slide. I went back home to begin selling cocaine, smoking weed, and drinking. I was getting upset in life– I was way too rambunctious. I wanted to marry my girlfriend and have children, but I needed money for us to build a life.
I decided that joining the Marine Corps would provide me all I needed to get us set up. So I went to boot camp, graduated, and became a Marine. That was a high point in my life. Everyone was so proud and happy for me. I was proud of myself– I felt like a man. I bought my girlfriend a nice ring and we were engaged. I was living the life– I had a beautiful fiancé, a nice car and steady money coming in. I would go drinking with the boys every night.
My master plan was coming together…until my fiancé dropped a bomb on me that was hard to recover from. She had cheated on me with some tool right before I was deployed to Afghanistan. I was crushed and only drank more. I would drink with my roommate…he became a hero and lost his life in Afghanistan and that only added to my misery. I was smoking a ton of hashish in Afghanistan; I was completely crushed.
Before I was deployed, I got to go home and hang with family before heading to the war. I decided to drop by Jackie’s house before I left. I hated being alone and I felt that I always needed to have a girlfriend to accommodate my dream world of having a wife, kids, and a happy little family. But I was still miserable over losing my ex-fiancé. I used Jackie as a crutch to make me feel wanted. She truly loved me though and after Afghanistan I came back all messed up with PTSD and I was just wilding out.
My drug use began again and I was acting out in so many ways. Eventually it caught up to me and I was discharged from the military with an OTH discharge. Everyone was very upset about that, but they took me back. My life was only just beginning to become completely unmanageable.
My old girlfriend became pregnant and I was excited to be a father. We moved into a little apartment together with our little family of three. I was working and she was too and we paid our bills and got by together. Our marriage, however, was struggling because of me. Why else, right? I was so damn destructive and carefree and selfish. I only cared about my desires which was to have sex with as many women as possible, and do as much drugs as I could. I cheated on her countless times and I know she knew– I would always deny it, but it was obvious.
She became pregnant again and we moved into a basement apartment in my dad’s house that we built together from scratch. It was awesome. I must say we rocked that place, but soon after I discovered opiates and Jackie was pregnant again. I was spiraling downhill fast and I knew it. I cried out for help to my father, explaining I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I needed a rehab. I was also convinced it was the town I lived in and all the connections I had made and I had to go far away.
We decided to move to New Jersey with her sister. I went away to Florida for a 28-day rehab. That was my first experience in recovery. It wasn’t easy –it was difficult being so far away from my kids for the first time, but I made it through and came back to New Jersey to try and live clean and sober.
However, I met a lot of people in rehab that were there for heroin and they would glorify it and talk about heroin like it was godly. I hadn’t messed with that stuff because I always thought people who did that were disgusting and I hated needles. But when I got back to working for a hardware store in Jersey, I became bored and started seeking Roxi 30s, which was my thing.
I found out quickly that the prices had nearly doubled due to cracking down of the pill mills and doctors. Who could afford a habit that expensive, right? That’s about when I began sniffing heroin. I didn’t think it was bad because I was just sniffing it. I was 28 years old and suddenly addicted to heroin. Enter Satan.
I had my final daughter and we had moved into our own section 8 housing in Toms River. It was a nice place and had I had my head screwed on straight. It could’ve been a great starting block but heroin interfered. I eventually cracked and started shooting up. I hid my needles in the bottom of my drawer, but Jackie found them. She told my family and kicked me out.
I would go on to bounce in and out of rehabs and sober homes and Salvation Armies, and jails, too—I can’t forget them. Today I am still fighting to regain my life. I am going to a program where I work and make money and save to build a normal life, whatever that is.
That’s the path for me — you may get by in a different way with a different higher power. To that I say, hey, whatever keeps you clean right now– keep doing it. Just know there is a God and He has plans for our lives. We are not meant to be drug addicts, strung out on the streets, homeless. I refuse to accept that.
I have faith today, I have hope. Today I have sobriety. Thank God! If I can do this, you can, too. Trust me. I’m 33 years old today. Starting over doesn’t have to be your story. You can do this at any age. Do yourself the biggest favor and get help today!