8 years ago today I made a life changing commitment for myself.
There's a lot more than meets the eye when you look at someone and every person has their own story. Before being a successful multi-award nominated and winning Hip-Hop/Electronic Artist and Motivational Speaker, I walked a road early on and experienced things that most people would never even think of. This road plays a important part in who I am and it has allowed me to be where I am today.
When it comes to addiction and substance abuse, I can't help but associate my experiences with both to be connected to trauma. In my past I made a lot of bad decisions, I hurt people, I lived a lifestyle that was reckless, I did things to my loved ones that I'm not proud of and I had a suicide attempt. Portions of my story I've been able to share but others I'm still healing from and am working on too.
Growing up I faced challenges such as racism, bullying, intergenerational trauma due to my father being a part of the 60's scoop, cultural disconnect, loss of cultural identity, depression and substance abuse. These challenges contributed to my use of drugs and alcohol, the use of steroids due to negative thoughts of my own body image, gang involvement, committing crimes, violence and having unhealthy relationships. All of these things were a part of circumstances leading to self destruction.
Without getting into matters too deep, there came a time that I wanted to make a change in my life for the better and it took everything in my power to make that happen. I used to carry a sawn off 22 caliber rifle in the back seat of my car, have sold weapons to various people, sold drugs, broken into places, was a driver for high ranking gang members, committed acts of violence, drank alcohol and used steroids frequently. This is just a glimpse of the chaos I immersed myself in and what I feel comfortable sharing right now. After much reflection on this throughout the years, a lot of it was because I was angry and upset with how I didn't know anything about my ancestors, my culture, my blood relatives, where I came from or how to manifest everything I was feeling. Being bullied and facing racism certainly played a big part in all of this as well.
Being introduced to a way out was when I was charged with mischief under $5000.00 the day after I had my suicide attempt and had hit rock bottom. I remember being in a healing circle with elders, family members and case workers where I was able to share about things I had experienced. After this I went to a sweat lodge for the first time in my life, had been introduced to round dances and had attended pow wows which allowed me to understand that there was hope to get away from the lifestyle I was a part of.
Although this had all happened, I remember exiting gang life and distancing myself from people I would regularly see, often party with and committed crimes with. For a while I had stopped using steroids and made an effort to stop drinking which went well for a period of time but I found myself in a watering hole afterwards. For some reason I found myself back in a bar on St. Patricks Day and I slipped despite trying to stop drinking. That same night I was in a big bar fight and woke up the next morning reflecting about the night before.
After endless thoughts and fighting with myself, I said that enough was enough. From that day forward I made a strong commitment to recovery and thankfully found myself with people who had done the same who then became my supports. My father was the biggest one and I'm lucky to have had him present during these times too. Going to sweat lodges, writing poems and songs and exercising became regulars for me and remain to be.
Closing off, I came a long way from where I've been and it's been a journey in itself to get to a point of sharing. Forgiving myself was the first step and having a support system in place was another but ultimately having the will to say "no" and focussing on living my best life became the strength I needed to begin healing. The choice to navigate my way into sobriety was mine and mine alone, nobody will ever take that away from me and I hope that through sharing my own experiences I am able to help others who have faced those of a similar nature. Making amends to folks that I may have done wrong became a part of this as well and even today I find that I am still apologizing but it's all a part of recovery.
We are the only ones who can make the decision to commit to this walk of life, some are ready and some are not, but no matter the case there is always those who are ready to help and it's important to acknowledge that we are never alone. Mamawi wi chi itata, all together we support each other.