I’m not going to start my story with “I have always felt like I never fit in” or “I have overcome all my struggles” because that wouldn’t be true. I have known since a young age I was different. The things I struggle with are what make me who I am today. I am a foster youth, first-generation, alcoholic, addict and a young person trying to find my path in the world we live in.
My story begins even before I was born but let’s skip forward to the first few months of being in foster care. I remember the feeling of a pit growing in my stomach as I approached the foster group home every time I would come back from AWOLing. I was homesick but I didn’t even know what I was homesick for. I knew I didn’t want to go back to what I once knew as home. After the age of 16, home was never the same concept or idea I had held before. I think that today I still struggle to find the meaning of home. Home is not a place, but more of a feeling. I am 20 years old and I am still in search of that feeling of home. I tried avoiding these feelings of loss, confusion, anger, frustration and sadness in what I thought was the solution. I turned to drugs and alcohol for a sense of home but the results of it took me even further than what home could ever be for me.
Having immigrant parents with very conservative beliefs and at times maybe even unhealthy and toxic, I had to learn what the world would mean to me after being out of their care. I was 16 and I thought I could do it on my own, I thought I knew everything I needed to know at that time. Yet, every day I would learn things and more specifically, things about myself. Today, I can say that I still am trying to find who I am. As cliche as that sounds, my purpose for today and the day after that is to become a better version of myself and come closer to figuring out who I am and who I want to be. I have realized throughout these four years that I will always have people who love and support me but at the end of the day, I really only have myself. I have learned that to actually love the people around me the right way, I have to learn and accept how to love myself first.
My family is like a jigsaw puzzle constantly missing the last piece. After foster care, at age 20, just a few months ago, I introduced myself into my biological father’s life again. The concept of family is still underdeveloped. I try to find that feeling of home through family but I think it is so hard for me because I still am trying to put back the pieces of my broken family. I used to think family were people you shared blood with, but life itself has taught me that family are the people that choose to stay regardless of how ugly or hard things get. Family are people you choose and that choose you. You choose your own family and they choose you.
I want to write for my career and I want to write my story and my feelings in hope that one day someone sitting where I was a few years ago can say, “OK maybe things do get better, maybe I can do this, maybe I can trust myself, and maybe this is only temporary.”
I was involved in a drunk driving car crash, where I was the drunk driver. As I tell this story, I still feel regret, remorse, pain, and most of all shame. While attending the California State University of Chico, I fell down a spiraling hole that landed me at my absolute bottom. I had done something that until today still terrifies me and hits the center of my heart. For months I had been consumed by my addiction and there was a day where fate, God, the Universe, or whatever you’d like to call it, had enough. I had crashed my brand new car I had saved for, and I totaled it. The car being the least of my worries, I was confronted with potentially hurting or killing someone, either my passenger or anyone walking or driving on the street.
In the past, I had my fair share of unpleasant consequences from my addiction, specifically drinking but this was something completely different. This incident affected myself and others, not only that, but this situation I chose to put myself and others in, will forever be one of the demons I carry with me for the rest of my life. I remember the following hours after the car accident, I felt pain and shame I had never experienced before. I was beyond scared, I was scared of what could have happened, what happened, and what didn’t happen. I found out the following day, that the police officers at the scene were shocked that my passenger and I had survived. The cop told us that one foot to the left of crashing my car between a pole and a tree, I would have probably died and one foot to the right, I would have killed my passenger. There were so many emotions going through me all at the same time. I was not able to think, just feel. These feelings continued and I thought I would feel like this forever, but later I realized that everything is temporary.
Although I still feel these emotions today, I am more capable of managing them now. This still makes me crumble, especially when writing about it. The night I got back home, I was so broken, I started to write. I have a few pages saved on my phone where you can read how I was feeling after the accident. I remember deciding to write it all down while it was fresh because I never wanted to forget or block it out as I have with other traumatic events. I needed to be reminded of all the pain and loss, this decision caused me and others. I needed to express myself somewhat and the only way that seemed to be efficient was writing, not talking.
Today, I am still confused and scared. Addiction works by suppressing the memories of the consequences of using and fantasizing about the good times while using. One of the deceptive things about addiction is that even knowing about the irreversible consequences, my addiction allows me to still want to use and think about it. It’s like my brain is on auto-pilot to feed my addiction and avoid all these feelings I feel on a daily basis. Relieving myself from my reality will forever be a struggle for me. I sometimes do not want to be mentally or emotionally present where I am and my brain has trained me that drugs and alcohol relieve that pain, anger, and or sadness, forgetting the cost of using.
This story is not a happy ending story for it still has its course to run. I really don’t know what my story will consist of or how it will end. All I do know is that every day I will try my best to stay true to myself because that seems to be the hardest thing for me.
As of where I am today, I have become devoted now more than ever to pursue my bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting or business administration; I clearly haven’t decided yet. I am currently attending Diablo Valley College as a sophomore and I have two more semesters to be able to transfer to a four-year university. After earning my bachelor’s in one of these fields/majors, I plan to further continue my education and apply for graduate school where I want to master in journalism. This year I came to the realization that education is really all I have and I have everything in my hands to be able to succeed and even surpass what I think I am capable of.
My story extends more than this page you have read. It contains tears, pain, love, loss and overall hope. With the support of the people who genuinely love me, I am able to every day try to be a little bit of a better person than I was yesterday. I am able to question myself and others. I am able to learn how to love and how to most importantly love myself. These past few years feel like I haven’t been living my own life, but today I can say that I wake up to live my life, a life I choose to live sober. I have my good days and my bad days but no matter what state of mind I am in, I am sober, I am loved and I am cared for.