My dad’s training of me created a monster – but now I see myself as a blessed man!
My name is Ed. I’m a Columbus native, spending most of the early part of my life in the “‘hood.” My dad was imprisoned for murder for most of my childhood. He was my hero and taught me how to be a man, by his prison standards. Although he was trying to help me, he created a monster. My mother was an ambitious, hard-working Christian woman who tried her best as a single mother. She hired a very young babysitter to care for me while she worked, and it wasn’t hard at all to slip past her. At age 9, I was already a burglar; I was caught and spent 6 months in juvenile detention.
At age 15 I was introduced to marijuana by a neighborhood Vietnam vet. That was my introduction to drugs. My uncle was selling and influenced me to go to New York City for the summer at age 16, where I sold heroin. I came back at the end of the summer with lots of money – and a drug habit. I sold drugs to keep up my lifestyle; I’ve always liked clothes, and like to look good. Soon I was in some more legal trouble for theft and spent ages 17-21 in jail.
Upon release, I went back to crime, living basically in a fantasy world. Many of my family members were contractors, so I learned the brick-laying trade, using drugs the whole time. I married, inherited my mother’s house when she died, and turned it into a dope house. Because they loved me, family members kept up with the taxes and keeping the place going, including getting me out of jail when necessary. I see now that they were enablers, although I appreciate the love shown. Finally, in 2003, I got tired of getting high and hurting the people I loved. I joined Valley Rescue Mission’s men’s substance abuse recovery program. I’m sorry to say I “faked it till I made it”; I learned a lot about God, but never got to know Him.
I returned to brick masonry, staying clean for a while. I forgot about God when I started making money, leading a double life. I went to church and worked hard, but lived on the streets at night. It wasn’t long until I grew comfortable around drugs and started using again. My marriage was over and I met a wonderful, innocent woman (now my fiancée) who knew nothing of the drug life. I loaned her car to someone who was picked up for drugs, and the car was impounded. In order to avoid her, I came to Valley Rescue Mission again, for emergency shelter. I was encouraged to join the program once more; since I had nowhere else to go and didn’t want to live outside, I decided to get clean again.
I was assigned to the dining hall for my work therapy, where I heard devotional messages on a daily basis. Some of what I was learning in classes started to stick and finally, when I went to the Crossroads facility in Hamilton, I gave my life over to Christ. This was during the summer months when Camp JOY was taking place and I worked security for the camp. I really grew a lot from joining in the times of praise and worship that took place there.
Valley Rescue Mission saved my life. I’ve been fed, clothed, and grown close to Jesus Christ. I now work for the Mission as a truck driver, which I love. I plan to marry, but I am trying first to become a whole man, learning patience as I wait on the right timing. I’m a blessed man! Thank you for your part in helping me finally find happiness.