A story of transformation.

Dignity Breakfast
by British Columbia
Categories: Feature

“My name is Nicole. I grew up in East Vancouver with fairly wealthy, very young parents. My parents were the ones who had the big parties, so I saw a lot of pot smoking and drinking from a very young age. I started smoking pot at the age of 13 and that became a regular daily activity for many years. I also started taking pain medication as I was in gymnastics and the circus much of my young life and had a few accidents. I started doing acid and drinking every weekend also from the age of 13. I thought life was one big party. I moved out when I was 15 with a guy who was 24 and I started doing cocaine on a regular basis. This went on for many years. I was what people call a “functioning” drug addict. I had jobs, and a car, a home, but never held onto these things for very long. I had a son at the age of 28 and that’s when I fully understood the meaning of the word “love” I did my best as a mother for him but didn’t end up staying with his father too much longer after he was born. I kept our son and his father took him on weekends.

Through the years I still partied, HARD, every time my son left with his father for the weekend. It started to boil over into the days where I had him but I still was managing. When my son was almost 10 his father and I agreed that he would now go live with him and I would take our son on weekends. This was the hardest decision of my life but my sons dad loved him just as much as I did, he was a great father and who was I to say that I was the only parent who deserved to take our son full time. I had him for the first 10 years and then his father would take him for the next 10 or so years of his life. Little did I know the pain that would soon be too much to handle. Not that I regret it, he is still in great hands at his fathers but still absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. That same summer he moved into his fathers I would take anything I could get my hands on to numb the pain. It started with pain pills mostly and soon I became addicted. When I could no longer get pain pills from my Doctor, I became very sick and was told that heroin would take that sickness/pain away and was offered it right there and then. That was the beginning of my serious addiction. Within 6 months I lost my job, my car, and my house.

I ended up stealing from my job in order to provide for my heroin addiction and eventually got caught and was charged with fraud. I was given a conditional sentence order, which is jail time within the community and let go with a ton of conditions. Being as I was homeless, and a heroin junkie, I couldn’t stick to them. I was constantly on the run, hiding from the police and ALWAYS eventually wound up getting caught and would come off heroin in jail.  I was then ordered to complete treatment or face 18 months in jail. On my last day before I had to be in treatment, I knew I had no more options, I was staying at the Abbottsford shelter and I called a treatment center in Maple Ridge. They came and picked me up and there began my life of sobriety. I was on house arrest at the treatment center and didn’t know I couldn’t get methadone once I was there so I ended up coming off heroin in the treatment center. IT WAS AWFUL!!! I thought that once I was done with treatment I would just go back to my regular life of addiction and life would just be that way for me but something happened. On one occasion while I was so sick and angry, I fell to my knees and I said out loud, “God, if you’re real, please give me a sign, I can’t do this anymore, if you’re real you have to show me otherwise I’m bolting out that door and getting heroin because I’m done.  Give me a sign, let me look at the clock and have it say 2:22 or 3:33 or 4:44, please God” then I carried on about my business. The next day while folding my laundry I checked to see what time it was and the clock said 2:22, and I thought, hmm, what a coincidence!  Later on when I checked the clock again, it said, 3:33.   I brushed that one off too until I looked at the clock again later and it was 4:44.

I dropped on my knees and started crying, shocked that God first of all existed and that He gave me, a nobody, a sign. It was then and there that I started trying, trying to do my chores, trying to do everything I was supposed to. I started reading the Bible, praying and things just started to change. When I finished treatment, there was a spot available at the Genesis program which is at the Salvation Army Caring Place. I went for the interviews and was accepted in. That was almost 2 years ago.

Being in this program, I now have a relationship with God, I have REAL friendships, I’m surrounded by loving people who sincerely want the best for me. I’ve paid off all of my fines with ICBC, gotten my license back for the first time in 12 years and am trying to save for a car now. I will be able to apply for a pardon in the next year and I plan on doing that. My friend and I are trying to start a cleaning business and it’s coming along slowly but of course, good things take time. Being in this program is like being surrounded by family, we’re all here for the same thing, to fix our lives.  My son is allowed to visit and stay with me on weekends and we have a great relationship. I’ve mended things with my family and now have a better relationship with them as well.

Being in this program has saved my life. I think that 30 or 60 or even 90 days of treatment just isn’t enough. We spend years wrecking our lives and things don’t just “get better” in 30 days. The Genesis Program is a 3 year program. The first year you are not expected to work, you are to go to meetings, follow special guidelines and hopefully build a relationship with Christ. The second year you start looking for work, still going to meetings and what not and the third year you prepare for living on your own. I am going to utilize the full 3 years here as I have never been so fulfilled. I know who I am now in Christ, and that is something I’ve never been able to say.”

– Nicole A.