My Rebirth

Submitted on Jan 23, 2024 by  Healing Hope

As part of a collaboration with our longtime partner organization Christie's Place, The Well Project will be sharing stories from their book "Healing Hope: A woven tapestry of strength and solace" as blog entries on our A Girl Like Me platform. The views and opinions expressed in this project are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of The Well Project.

**Content Warning** This piece discusses sexual abuse of a minor, as well as suicidal ideation (resources available at the bottom of this page)


Illustration of a woman with a colorful background.

Art by Lena Gacek

Translation of Audio Transcription
Lea este blog en español

I started my addiction to drugs when I was 14. I never had a problem with my family at home so that wasn't really a reason I started to use drugs. It was the opposite because my family was working class, and they supported me in everything I did. I just started to be rebellious.

I was promiscuous from early on and that's how I got money to get high. I started turning tricks and then I was working as a prostitute for the next several years. When I turned 18, I was legally an adult in Mexico and so I could easily get into bars to meet people. Unfortunately, I was sleeping with different men, but I never used protection.

I also had my first daughter at 14. Thank God for my mom. She helped me a lot with my daughter. My mom was always a great blessing to me, and she continued helping me with my other kids over the years. At 16, I got pregnant again and I was even placed in juvenile detention. When I got out, I kept using even though I was pregnant, and I was even more of a rebel.

When I got pregnant with my third child, they told me I was having a daughter. I just kept using and doing crystal meth but there came a time when I just got tired of using drugs all the time. While I was pregnant, I decided to take care of myself and get medical attention. The nurse told me that something had turned up on my prenatal labs and that I had to be seen by a general practitioner who could confirm the lab results. I immediately thought that there might be something wrong with my pregnancy. It never occurred to me that it could be a sexually transmitted disease.

When I went to see the doctor, they had me join a group of other pregnant women in a pregnancy orientation. While I was there, they asked me if they could do the HIV test again. After they ran the test, they told me to hang out there until the others had gone because they needed to ask me a few questions. I stayed and after they asked me a series of questions, I asked the nurse about all the questions they were asking because in my other pregnancies I never got so many questions. That's when the nurse told me that I had resulted positive for HIV and also for syphilis. I felt like the entire world was tumbling down on me. She explained that there were treatments for me and my baby and that I could continue to live a normal life.

My daughter's father went with me to the appointment that day and he was supposed to be outside waiting for me. When I finished talking to the nurse, I went outside but he wasn't there. The security guard had seen me arrive with him and told me that my daughter's father had left as soon as I went into the orientation. I desperately needed to talk to someone, but I was by myself, and I felt very alone. I walked along until I found myself standing at a bridge and my first thought was to jump because I felt so guilty thinking about bringing a little girl with HIV into this world. I believe in the greatness of God. Just at that moment, an older lady with a cane asked me to help her down the stairs because her feet hurt. I didn't think twice, and I gave the lady a hand. I walked back to where I had been standing and when I looked back, the lady was gone. It was like she had suddenly disappeared. At that moment, I felt like God had sent me a message telling me not to jump.

When I got to my house, I told my mom about the news I got from the doctor. I cried as I explained to my mother that there are medications for my baby and for me. She hugged me and she told me to thank God that I had a mother who would always love and support me.

When my daughter was born, I did everything to make sure that she could get treated and be HIV negative because the first test that they ran showed that she was positive for antibodies. I kept up with all of the necessary treatment and followed the doctor's orders. After seven months of treatment, my baby tested negative; she no longer needed the treatment, and I could take her to a regular pediatrician.

I started to look for information and to learn what I could about HIV and I found a few places with support groups for women living with HIV. I started to realize that I wasn't the only person in this situation and that maybe we all lived under very different circumstances, but we all lived in the same situation. HIV doesn't stay away from people because of their age or any other reason.

After a while, I started to work for an HIV organization where they taught me how to do HIV testing and to provide counseling before and after providing the test results. Unfortunately, after two years I met someone in a rehabilitation center and invited them to live at my house. He moved in and would clean my house while I was working. We became a couple.

One day when I got home, I found him doing drugs. My mistake was to tell him that if he was going to get high, he should do it at home and not in the street when I should have told him exactly the opposite. Then the day came when I asked him for just a hit. He didn't want to give it to me but in the end, I convinced him and he told me all that was in my hands now, not his. So, I used that day and I felt really bad about doing it, but my body wanted more. And the next day when I got home, I told him to bring me more because I just wanted to get high. After a while, I stopped going to work because I was always strung out. I started to lose a lot of weight and I was embarrassed for them to see me like that at work.

I hit rock bottom and I even lost my house because I sold it to buy drugs. I ended up sleeping in the streets and even in the trash. I stayed with the person that I had taken to live at my house and together we kept using. There were times when I would go to my mom's house to ask for food because I didn't have anything to eat. She was taking care of all of my kids and they would see me in that state. My parents didn't like my boyfriend because they said it was his fault that I had gotten back into drugs.

It was so tough on my kids during that time because not only did they see me in that condition, but they also saw how my partner treated me. He was very possessive and controlling. I convinced my partner that we should both go to rehab together. When the day came for us to enter the facility, he went in, but I decided to stay on the streets and I kept using. A month later, I decided to go to rehab and three days later they told me that I had tuberculosis. I didn't have any symptoms and I didn't even know what tuberculosis was. I was isolated for a few months in treatment. And when I was done with treatment, I got to share a room with other women. I helped out serving food. And when I had been there for six years, I worked my way into the medication unit helping coordinate medications for patients. By the grace of God, the director there considered me for a position to be the official medications coordinator. I was in charge of all of the medications. After four years in that job, I was able to raise my head high with everything I had learned.

The person I'd been with continued to use and he was in and out of rehab, so I finally decided to leave him. I was able to keep my kids with me during the 10 years that I was in rehab. And here I am still doing the best I can, enjoying my children and even my granddaughter. I'm a grandma now. My eldest daughter graduated as a psychologist and lives close by. And, like I said, I'm just going to keep giving it all I've got. I'm very sure of myself and I know I'll never turn back. I'm very happy and I've been clean almost eight years now.

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