I was thirteen years old, a child still unbeknownst to me. My fourteenth birthday was quickly approaching, but I knew we wouldn’t be doing anything special, since dad was too sick to get out of bed. I was supposed to go to school that day. Dad trusted me to take the bus to school by myself, but I decided to skip it. He was not physically able to stop me.
I couldn’t remember the last time dad wasn’t sick. Mom had never been consistently in my life due to her mental illness. Dad did a great job raising me and my younger sister, playing both roles of a father and a mother. He was such a caring father that the absence of my mother didn’t really impact me until kids at school started to make fun of me for it. I remembered the last time I had seen her was on Christmas when I was about ten years old. She showed up at the door with a social worker. She was not mentally capable of being around us without supervision. And now dad had been sick too, suffering from emphysema.
“Everything in my life sucks,” I thought to myself, sitting in our apartment in great Las Vegas, Nevada. Sin city…go figure.
Walking outside of our apartment, I saw the little girl that I sometimes babysit and her mother sitting outside. “Can you hold Kaleigh for me really quick?” The woman handed Kayleigh to me and motioned for me to go inside the apartment. I watched Kayleigh’s mother as she pulled out what I would soon learn was crystal meth. Having noticed that I was preoccupied with her actions, she turned to me and said, “Do you want to smoke some?” I had wanted to try drugs for some time now, so it didn’t take me long to think and shake my head yes. My life seemed like too much to handle at the time with my dad being sick, so I was looking for a way to escape. Looking back, I think it was a tactic that she was using so that I wouldn’t tell anyone about her doing drugs if I did it too. I placed Kayleigh in her playpen and took over the drug. I had seen people smoke crystal meth before, so I knew the routine. I lit the meth and inhaled. All my worries and strife disappeared. Nothing mattered anymore, not my dad’s being sick, not my mom’s being gone…nothing.
As I sat in their dingy apartment with all those other random people around me, I was grateful. The high was providing me with an escape I was seeking, an escape from the dark reality around me that was my life. I felt as if there were no one. I were alone. Then, I turned to a stranger and asked if he had a pen and paper. From there on, all I could remember is that I stayed up in that apartment the entire night and wrote poetry.
That was the first time I used drugs. I soon realized that crystal meth was in control of my life. I had no choice but to listen to its demands. It wasn’t long before I was doing anything and everything to support my debilitating habit while trying to escape from life. I even found myself being a prostitute at a young age of thirteen just to get my next hit. Most of the time I would trick the men, take their money and run. Nothing mattered to me, not even my own life. I became reckless.
Another time, I tried to steal socks from Sports Authority to sell for more drugs and got caught by the security guard. When the police asked how old I was, I said 18, while I was really just 14. This was a naive mistake made by my drug crazed teenage mind and eventually landed me in the county jail. I was so disappointed at myself when my father had to travel from his bed down to the police station to pick me up with his oxygen tank in hand. However, this was still not enough to turn me away from drugs. My heart was set on using.
At age 16, I got pregnant with my first child, Malakai. I wasn’t close to his father. We were just friends for the most part, and Malakai was not a planned pregnancy, either. Nevertheless, I decided to keep him. I quit using drugs until he was born. But as soon as he was born, I went right back into my old habit, making my dying father’s life a living hell. He cared so much about us. I left my son for him and my younger sister, Lolo, to raise while I ran the streets to do drugs. It seemed I would never learn my lesson. I didn’t want anything out of life at that time. Over and over again, I hurt people around me whom I loved, never learning from my mistakes.
I continued to struggle with drug and alcohol abuse until a year later. At the age of 17, I realized how I was growing closer to death by indulging myself in drugs. I wanted to turn my life around. This time I was sober for three years. I graduated high school and went to school to become an ATF agent. I was on the right track to recovery and productivity, until I moved to California where I met my then husband, Johnny Crummie. Johnny was very abusive and lived up to his last name in every sense of the word. From physical abuse to mental abuse, he never made it easy for me to stay sober. During the few years we were married, I suffered extreme domestic violence, which pushed me back into my drug habit.
When I was 21, my father passed away. He died in the hospital. At the time, I was still married and had two more children. I came to Vegas for my father’s funeral. Johnny did not want me to stay in Vegas. He rented a U-Haul, locked me in the back, and drove me from Vegas all the way back to California. Soon after that, I filed for divorce along with a restraining order.
Life was overwhelming. Drugs became the only relief. On another fateful night, I was driving drunk with my kids in the car. I went over a freeway embankment and got one of my kids hurt. Still, this wasn’t enough to stop me from using drugs. After a prison sentence due to my recklessness, I spent some time in rehab. The rehab process did not work for me, because I did not really want to be sober. I soon found myself sneaking out of the rehab house just to get a drink.
I was no longer hopeful, sinking deeper and deeper, until the arrival of my true love turned things around. At the age of 29, I finally met the love of my life, a woman named Andrea. When we first met, she didn’t know about my drug use. I hid it from her very well. But then I realized I loved her too much to continue lying to her. I couldn’t hurt her any more. I finally confessed to her that I was a drug addict. Out of love she did everything in her power to steer me to sobriety, no matter how much I had hurt her in the process. I asked her to be my wife and she replied, “Of Course!”
There was one accident. One day, I got drunk and fell off a two-story hotel building at the feet of my fiancé. This accident was the “rock-bottom” that finally took me off the path of killing myself and onto the road to recovery. I was forced to lay in bed and learn how to walk again after breaking my pelvis in 22 different places and my hipbone. Andrea nursed me back to health. She was patient every step of the way, making sure I was maintaining my sobriety. Today we are happily married and are ready to start this new journey together.
I have been sober for over one year now and I will never go back to that lifestyle. I want more for me and I want more for my new family. I know it in my heart and head. It is an assurance that I can feel in the deepest parts of my soul. I was tired of “being in recovery” from substance abuse; I wanted to be recovered. It is as simple as that. No one can make you healthy. You have to want it for yourself bad enough to stay away from the drugs. I changed my desires from drugs to love and hope.
I have found something else to enthrall my time with and that is the youth program that I just started. It is called “Experienced Examples.” I want to share what I have been through with other children so that they don’t go through what I have gone through. I want to help children find a way to escape where drugs are not involved. I pray that through sharing my struggle, I can help others learn and use me as an example. I was lucky to have survived my addictions. There are many people out there who are not as fortunate as me. The most important thing to remember is to learn how to appreciate, love, and forgive yourself. After that, find your dreams and switch all your energy from your addiction to your true passion. I am still rebuilding my heart’s resolve. I hope my story helps you figure out yours.
All is self.
February 12, 2018
-This is the Story of Jasmine Simpson-
Jasmine is a thirty-year-old married lesbian who grew up in North Carolina and Las Vegas, Nevada. Jasmine was raised by a single father who passed away of emphysema on March 23, 2009, when Jasmine was 21 years old. After she tried drugs for the first time at the age of 13, Jasmine has struggled a long way to reach her sobriety today. She has started a youth program to help the troubled kids. The main goal of her program entitled “Experienced Examples” is to provide a healthy outlet for children who feel their lives are “overwhelming” to release their frustration. Jasmine’s own drug abuse experience was her main inspiration to beginning this program. She believes that there is a child in all of us and if we address our childhood, we will be successful adults.