Editor’s Note: This article is the second in a series. Each one has intentionally been left in its original, unedited state to preserve the tone and voice of its author.
My name is Anthony, I grew up in a small-town environment in the state of Washington. There were four kids in the family. My older brother and I were from one dad and then I have two young siblings that are from another dad. I thought I had a normal life, it was not as bad as it could be, but it was not as good as it should have been. I was basically raised with drugs around me my entire life. It was the life I knew; I went with the flow. I was never a leader, it seemed that I was always a follower, I lacked the family life and hung around my friends and did what they did to feel part of the group. I always looked up to my older brother, he too was into the drugs and alcohol. When I was 11, I started smoking weed with my friends and brother, by the time I was 13, I was smoking meth. I began to break into cars to help fund the cost of the drugs and eventually I began to break into homes as well. That was when my criminal record began. It was common to smoke meth with my mom too, since it was just lying around the house. My dad was not in the picture all that much, and when my brother was in jail I became the man of the house to my young siblings. My mother lost her house and we began to live in motels, while my younger brother and sister were with my grandmother. For a season, it was just my mother and I, smoking and getting high all the time. Over my life I have spent more than a year in Juvenal Detentions.
When I was 16 years old, I stopped using the drugs and started to turn my life around. I was working at a car wash when the police rolled in. My boss hid behind the counter and told me to tell them that he was not there, come to find out they were there for me for parole violations. I had an on-going residential burglary on my record that I served some time for that they picked me up for as well as an assault against my brother. My girlfriend at that time was already in juvenile hall for grand theft auto and was looking at a two-year sentence for her crime. I was going to be in juvenile hall for up to 2 months for the violation of my probation. My girlfriend was going to be moved to this co-ed jail to serve her time, so I thought if I got into more trouble while in juvey, I too could be sentenced to the same place she was going to. I decided to assault the largest guard there. Not only would I get respect from the others that where there, I also would get additional time to my sentence, so I punched him in the face so bad that he needed stiches. After I hit the guard, everything was taken away from me, including my mattress and toilet paper, I had to ask for everything, but the one thing that they could not take away from me was the Bible. I started to read the Bible, I think I started with Proverbs and Psalms and through that I think I found a better way to live, through my higher power, God.
The guard that I hit started to befriend me, he took me out of the jail ceil every once and a while and we got to talk some. The morning of my court date my lawyer called and told me that I was only getting thirty days and to sign the form. I was devastated, the plan that I had to spend time with my girlfriend did not work out. We were going to be together and we were going to stay clean. I really had no other option, I had no hope, I knew I was just going to go home after I got out and start smoking dope with my mom and my brother. I went back to my cell, dropped to my knees and began to sob and pleaded with God. I thought about asking the judge to give me the year, my lawyer said I could. After praying, I felt that I had to trust God.
After I got out, I only felt anger. I was angry at everyone, even beat up some of the people that came to my mom’s house that where tweaking out. Since the time I was released, I have not used meth since. For the next couple of years, I stayed clean, but I did sell marijuana to make some money. I also met a new girl, the one that I thought was the one. Just before I turned 18 I knew I was going to be kicked out of my mom’s house. My stepdad hit my head with a baseball bat a couple of times. My home life was falling apart. I ended up moving in with my girlfriend, her mother and grandmother. She was my everything, so I thought, she was going to help me stay clean and live a good life. During this time, I was able to get my GED. I aced all my GED test, except for the math, it took me 4 months to pass that. Once I received my GED, I was able to start working at Burger King through the program that I got my GED through. During that time, my faith in God was put on the back burner because I never developed a relationship with God and my focus was on my girlfriend. I ended up moving out of my girlfriend’s place about a year later because her mom and grandmother did not agree with me and the things I was doing. After moving out of my girlfriend’s moms place, I got my own place. Everyone said they were proud of me because I had my own place, I was working at a place I loved, but I never thought anything I was doing was great. I was just living life day by day and without any hope.
I began to start to drink and smoke cigarettes. I began to fall back into my old patterns of life. My relationship with my girlfriend was on and off throughout the next 3 years. We would be together for a while and then we would be apart because of one reason or another. My world began to fall apart, I began to do Heroin even though I had a great job that I enjoyed.
A few months ago, my brother and my friend started to put a plan together to move to San Diego, my relationship with my girlfriend was not going well, I did not have a job, and honestly, I really had no hope and no direction in life, why not, I wanted a change in life. We thought we would get down to San Diego and spend some time there and then spend another few months traveling, hiking the Pacific Trail. My brother and my friend bailed on that idea, but I was determined to still go. I purchased everything I thought I needed. The plan was in action. My brother decided to take a week off work instead and he, my friend and I headed down to San Diego for a vacation. After a week, my brother flew home, my friend left on a greyhound bus up to Portland to join my brother in the Transitional Youth program that he was in. I cut my plans down to only a few days on the trail, it was the time of my life…it was me and God. During that time, I began to draw close to God. After my time on the trail my girlfriend and her mother drove down from Washington to California to pick me up. She wanted to put our life back together again, growing a family and all that stuff. I wanted to share with her my life that I found in God with her. It was a plan I was thinking of. We got back home, and all hell broke in our relationship, it was not going the way I thought. I had no place to go, so I called my brother. He was the one person that I knew I could talk with and he would help me with my life.
He told me that I should move down to Beaverton and join him in the Transitional Youth home in Beaverton. I knew that my brother had grown so much and had turned his life around since he was in the Transitional Youth home. I wanted the same, he called the house director and talked with him about me coming into the program. My brother called me back and told me that I had to call the house director. Reluctantly, I called, I really did not know what he would say. We talked for a while, and at the end of the conversation, he told me that I would be welcomed into the house. My brother, his girlfriend and my friend, came up and picked me up.
I have been in the Transitional Youth house for 3 weeks now, during this time my relationship with God has been stronger than it has ever been. I find myself growing in His word, enjoying going to church and weekly bible studies. I have found out what God’s mercy and forgiveness is like and try to extend the same to all those who have been part of my past. I am thankful for the way God has worked in my life and the new family He has called me to be part of.