myIAKI // by RAUL V
My Journey to Recovery
On May 31s t, 2018, I was about to hit the lowest point of my life and start my journey to recovery. I hadn’t slept in days. I was beginning to be unable to differentiate the true from the false. There were brief moments of clarity, but they were fleeting and sporadic. I was a passenger on this roller coaster of life, but I didn’t know where the ride was headed. I wanted to stop. I needed to stop. But I couldn’t stop. Drugs were my master and I was to be enslaved for eternity. How did I end up in this run-down motel? Who were these people strewn about my room? When was the last time I ate? These thoughts swirled in my head as I caught a glimpse of myself in the worn mirror.
I didn’t recognize the man who stared back with those empty eyes. I made some hand gestures to see if it could really be me. It was me, and I was broken. I felt the fear of death looming over my emaciated body. Memories of a loving childhood filled with awards and accolades galore flashed before my eyes. Hearing my mother say “Mijo you have so much potential, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.” Now, all I want to accomplish is quieting my uncontrollably loud mind. I knew the remedy to my raucous thoughts. I chased the dragon into oblivion, but this time it was different. The drugs weren’t working anymore, they usually shut off my thoughts. My head became louder with each passing second. I felt like a ticking time bomb as I paced my dingy motel room. I decided to leave this hell forsaken place. Saying my tear-filled goodbyes to strangers I had barely known, I got into my car packed to the brim with all my belongings, and drove.
I didn’t know where I would go, but I knew one thing above all else. If I got a new motel for the night, it would buy me some time, and I could figure out my dire situation. A new motel, that’s what I needed. The problem is that a motel required money, and I was cash poor. I had plenty of drugs, I always made sure of that. Did I mention I was a drug dealer? Drugs had become my main source of income and my largest expense. So, I did what had become an everyday occurrence, I posted an ad on craigslist. I knew the street code which would raise the least amount of concern. I had multiple phones to ensure I was untraceable. I wouldn’t even make the sale, someone else always took that risk for me. I was meticulous in every transaction, but I was not careful on that fateful day. I drove to the parking lot like I had countless times before. I parked and sent my runner on his way, product in hand. I got my skateboard out and rode around, trying my best to look inconspicuous. I saw my guy coming back to the car, time to leave. He gave me my money, minus his cut, and I put my keys in the ignition. My runner asks, “Have you sold to that guy before?” I barely had time to wonder why.
“Costa Mesa PD!! Don’t fucking move!! Put your hands up or I’ll fucking shoot!!” I was paralyzed and staring down the barrel of a gun. Some say that when you have a near death experience, your life flashes before your eyes. I can’t say for certain that I was near death, but I can tell you that I knew if I didn’t listen to what the officer was ordering, he would shoot me. All I could think of was my family, and how I hadn’t seen them in close to a year. I wanted nothing more than to be with them at that moment. I wanted nothing more than to go back before drugs had taken over my life. I wanted nothing more than to be somewhere safe. I couldn’t see it then, but I was finally safe.
The Costa Mesa gang unit had been monitoring illicit craigslist activity. I was using it enough that they knew about my dealings. I thought I was being careful, but they knew all along. As I sat handcuffed, watching the cops take my car apart piece by piece, I realized just how small my life had become. Everything I owned fit inside my small sedan. I had this warped idea that I was important and to be feared. That I could do or say as I please without consequence. There I was, everything to my name tossed out for the world to see, a scared little boy. I knew at that moment that my freedom was gone. My small life was crumbling down, but my pride was immense. I learned what people meant by pride comes before the fall. I fell hard and was still falling. After the longest hours of my life, I was finally moved to processing, and eventually Theo Lacy. The week I spent awaiting trial was the most trying time of my life. I left sentencing a convicted felon, weighing 140 pounds, with four broken ribs. I was broken mentally and now physically.
I thought that May 31s t, 2018 was the worst day of my life. I was incapable of seeing how badly I needed to hit rock bottom. That day marked the beginning of my road to recovery. I was sentenced to 3 year probation, time served, and a 90 day in-patient treatment. I am forever grateful that the judge sentenced me to treatment. Rehab introduced me to a 12 step program that works for me. I found a spiritual connection to the world around me, and life today is amazing. I have come to rely on my spirituality. I have taken a moral inventory of myself and made restitution to people I have harmed. The most rewarding aspect of my life is having the opportunity to help others. My darkest moments have become my biggest asset. I am uniquely qualified to help others recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. I never dreamed of a life without drugs. My sobriety has allowed me to restore the damaged
relationships with family and friends. I am in a healthy relationship for the first time in my life. I have been at the same job for close to 2 years. I am now a reliable, hardworking, and caring member of society. Instead of taking from all situations, I get to contribute to the stream of life. I went from having a small, sad life to having a full life beyond anything I could have dreamed. What I cherish the most today is hope. Hope for my future, and this internal visceral feeling that all will be well. I just try to be better than I was yesterday and help someone along the way.