I took this picture on a good day. I was feeling confident and pretty. For once in a long time I was comfortable in my own skin. It felt amazing.

I am far from being the perfect role model for anyone to use as an example to live their life by. That’s when I realized I actually wanted to be that person so it was time for me to change. I had to learn to get my shit together with a quickness. It didn’t come as easily for me as it did to some. I was stuck in the past and I didn’t know how to move forward in my own future because I wasn’t mature yet. My sister died in 2003 from injuries she sustained trying to save her 2-year old son from a house fire. Sadly my nephew perished that night unable to be saved by firemen. She was flown to Vanderbilt hospital that night because they had the means to care for burn victims better than any other facility. I was 20-years old when my sister passed away and I was pregnant with my daughter at the time also.

I was heart broken and in complete utter dismay knowing I had to continue living my life, moving forward, without her in it with me. I didn’t know how so I shut my mind down and I stayed that young 20-year old girl that lost her sister in such a tragic way. Not only did that happen to our family but the night the fire itself happened I was witness to all the horror and sadness the firemen were too. My neighbor had just saved my 15 month old nephew and he was clinging to his wife with the chaos going on all around. They kept people back a distance of course but not far enough back to where I couldn’t see the rescuing firemen bring my nephews body out of the fire on to the front porch where they carefully laid him down making sure it was in fact him. After seeing that image, in that moment, I knew it would forever be branded into my brain. I let out a yell, or a scream, but it was a scream that came from the depths of my soul. One of complete and utter sadness and sorrow. In my mind I mentally stopped growing and maturing into the adult that I am now, that I was then but didn’t know.

Years go by and I’ve let myself become a drug addict using my sister and nephew’s loss of life as my excuse to get high and stay high all the time. I was barely there and even when I was I wasn’t fit to be company for anyone. All I did was spend my time fucked up by any means necessary and nodding out when trying to be roused by those around me. The relationship I was in was so toxic I couldn’t even talk about them and how sad I was without it making my spouse mad because it would make me cry. But that’s what I needed was to cry and cleanse my soul. Allowing myself to grieve properly may have made a difference in the choices I made, but maybe not. Needless to say I was in and out of the county jail numerous times in the years following my move from the street that held all those sad memories. It was this last pass through the county jail doors when I realized I had to change myself. If I wanted better I had to be better and couldn’t anybody do it for me. This was one thing I had to on my own with positive help reinforced all around me.

The last year of my incarceration sent me to a women’s prison in Louisville, KY. PeWee Valley Women’s Correctional Detention Center. I was made to participate in a substance abuse program and I felt I didn’t belong in it with the other women in there surrounding me. Not because I thought I was better than any of them but because where they only had an addiction to drugs, I suffered from mental health issues along with being an addict. For me just participating in a normal substance abuse program wasn’t going to get me the help I obviously still needed. So I was moved to a different program called The Willow Program. This was the program I desperately needed in my life. It was in this program where they taught us how our mental health disorder led us to the addiction phase in our life. We chose to use drugs because we were already suffering silently so why not suffer out loud. By that I mean letting people see us use not trying to hide it.

I never got to complete this program because I was released earlier than expected. Even the prison didn’t know I was going to be released when I was. As far as they knew I was there for the remainder of my 7 year sentence. In the short time I was there though I got a routine set for myself. Every morning I woke up I’d make myself a cup of coffee while I read my bible. I had a private bible study every morning with only me and God. I couldn’t skip over it either, not without feeling guilt. My relationship had grown very strong with God during my incarceration. I was only released early because this time around when I promised God I’d do better, He knew I meant every word I said about it. I said and made those promises having a pure heart and I was coming from a real place that I wanted for myself when I got out.

Since I’ve been home I have tried my hardest to live by the promises I made back then. No I’m not perfect and yes I have messed up lots of times, but I am not, nor will I ever be again, known by anyone in my family or anyone else for that matter, as a fuck up. I can understand there are some people that will never have anything to do with me anymore, I get that. You’ve exhausted all your second chances and give a fucks. I’m truly sorry to those people I have hurt. I for real feel there are no words in our english language that could touch base on how regretfully sorry I am and how I wished it wasn’t me that caused you to doubt in others’loyalty and kindness. There are millions of good people still in our world and lives today. Don’t let what I have done to you turn away from other people who really love you and picked your heart up after I broke it. I’m so terribly sorry.

I made it home just in time to see my son graduate high school and walk across that stage receiving his diploma. My daughter moved in with me shortly after that and we became inseparable. Today our bond is so strong and growing more so everyday that goes by. I’m surrounded by love and a family that cares about me. I have the support I’ve always had, I just couldn’t see it for what it really was and instead saw it as them wanting to take the drugs from me. I was hard headed as hell but I finally learned.

My daughter and I were outside sitting on the porch one day when I asked her to help me come up with a name for the group I started on Facebook. She asked me what this ‘group’ was for, and the kind of people I wanted to attract. I didn’t put that spin on it when I was trying to think of it myself and I raised my eyebrows letting her know that was a damn good question. I told her people like me that suffer from mental health issues plus they’re a recovering addict, or even still active in their addiction. She said two words together making one name, “SafeSpace”. I felt in my belly that it was the perfect fit. She told me having the word safe in its title automatically tells other people its safe to talk about whatever they want.

From using Facebook’s platform to create a small group people actually joined to creating this whole website I unknowingly challenged myself to take on. SafeSpace has come a long way since 2020. It can be a bit overwhelming at times, I’d be lying if I said otherwise. I’m still in recovery myself and I attend group meetings every week. When I’m with other people like me I’m comfortable enough to speak without stuttering. Since my bad drug abuse I have left my body permanently riddled with problems due to the side effects of using. I’ll probably have to live with some of them for the rest of my life. Seizures are the worst and I hate them. But they are controlled with medicine I take every night before I lay down.

Now, SafeSpace is its own creation of beauty with my blog temporarily being the main thing others see when visiting. I’m about to change all of that around and put it the way it’s supposed to be advertising SafeSpace as the place where people can come to talk about whatever they want to. You can also visit and talk to us if you haven’t ever done drugs before in your life. There is no dress code. Come as you are to SafeSpace. Meaning imperfections and all. I wouldn’t have you any other way.

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