After being kicked out of her home as a teenager, Jamila fell into the world of drug addiction. But with guidance and persistence, she maintains her sobriety and now helps others work toward recovery.
Okay, so, when I was about 14 years old, I told my mother the truth about what was happening when she would leave me at home with her boyfriend and go to work from 4 to 12. And when I told her the truth about the sexual abuse, she put me out of the house at the age of 14, and I’ve been on my own ever since. I kinda turned to the streets and I was living from pillar to post and that’s how I got mixed up in the whole drug world.
So from the time I was 14 years old, all the way up until my thirties, I’ve been in every different treatment center in Cleveland—except for the newer ones, anyway. And I’ve been in and out of the county jail. I’ve been to prison twice. I’ve been raped, I’ve been beaten, I’ve been held at gunpoint. My life just became chaotic, and up, down, up, down like a rollercoaster. And almost 5 years ago, I decided that this was it, I can’t continue to live this way. I got to a point where I was really tired, you know, really tired and I came—I heard they had meetings down near Stella Maris. At the time, I lived five minutes away from here, in West 28th projects. I started coming down here. I seen the sign on the door that said, “IOP for Men and Women.” Something told me to walk in. I know today that that was just God doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself.
And I walked in there and I told them, “I need to be in this program,” you know, “I got too much time on my hands. I need something to do or Imma use.” So I started IOP here, and I completed—I built the foundation down here at Stella Maris, cause they have meetings all day, every day down here. I got a support group that was hanging out down here, and they were teaching and taking people through the 12 steps of Cocaine Anonymous. They were teaching us how to grow spiritually. And I sat up under them, I took notes, I asked questions and paid attention, and been sober ever since.
About right around my first year of sobriety, I started losing people really close to me. People just started dying, you know, left and right. And I found myself bothering about them deceased about a year sober, and about three weeks later, they called me to come work here. And I’ve been working here ever since. I started off as a detox technician. While I was working at detox, I went to school to get my certification, my chemical dependency license. I then went further to get my peer support certification, and I worked in detox about two years, and then I got a promotion, so now I’m involved in the partial hospitalization program. So I work here full-time in the partial hospitalization program and part-time doing peer support out in the community, helping other people get sober that way also. So I’ve basically catered my life around helping other people, you know? And that’s pretty much my story.
You know, I came here and followed the directions. That’s all I did. There’s nothing special about me. They put it in a book. They wrote it in the book so that it wouldn’t be forgotten, you know? And, you know, if I don’t know how to stay sober and I don’t know how to grow spiritually and I refuse to listen to the people who have already done it before me, my chances of making it here are slim, you know? And I knew that when I came, because they told me that it was time to follow, you know, something other than my own thoughts and ideas. So I started following the people who had been successful at it, and I still do what I need to do on a daily basis to maintain recovery. I understand that working in the treatment center doesn’t count for my recovery, because I get paid for it. What I do when I’m not on the clock is what counts. And I make sacrifices. When I punch out for work, I’m going to pick women up out of the Hitchcock Center for Women, out of Catch Treatment Center, taking them to meetings, doing step work, and doing for them what they did for me when I got here, you know?