Against the Gates of Hell: A Crack House Exodus
by Mylow Young
Over the years there have been special days or months of the year to recognize, commemorate or honor a people or a cause. On any given day of the year, if you search, you will find a day for something or someone. There is Big Brothers and Big Sisters Month, Earth Day, Cancer Awareness Month and of course, Black History Month. But many go unnoticed, many of which we don’t have a clue that they even exist.
The one dearest to me and the one I most recently learned about is National Drug and Alcohol Recovery Month which is in September. Like many of the days and months we observe, just as soon as the month is over… so is our awareness. For Black History Month we can be sure to see TV shows that deal with the struggles of Black America. You know “Roots” will be on someone’s network. What unsettles me though, is that there is very little recognition (unless you’re watching BET) or observance at any other time of the year.
But it’s the same with other issues as well, particularly with the issue of drug and alcohol abuse. Let’s bring attention to it for thirty days… then what? What are we thinking or doing during this time? More importantly, what are we doing the rest of the time? More than likely we’re talking about how so and so is “on that stuff” or his brother, sister or even Father or Mother. But how often do we ever try to find help for the one who’s struggling?
As I said, this particular cause is close to my heart. The reason is, I struggled with drugs and alcohol on and off for over twenty-five years. I remember the looks and the treatment I received from family and friends as I resigned myself to a life of guilt, degradation and humiliation. Shame was the only real thing I knew as the hopelessness of a crack addiction became a way of life for me.
What is there for the addicted one to embrace when he or she has concluded that love and acceptance has evaded them? When approval from the ones that mean the most seems non-existent? When rejection has killed a dream or any presence of life? When these most basic needs go unmet, what do you do? You search for the fulfillment of that need anywhere and anyway you can get it! Some try and find comfort from another person, leading often to emotional, verbal or physical abuse, losing themselves further to hopelessness and more shame.
Others look to alcohol which is easily and legally obtained from the corner store but when that’s not enough, smoking weed or taking pills is the commonly preferred method of self medication and even accepted by many as being “okay”. But often, the “occasional” or “recreational” user eventually gives in to the deception and the lure of “pleasure” only to find themselves falling headfirst into crack cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin. The downward spiral has developed into a world of hurt and utter destruction! Now the law is being broken and the risks have taken a much more serious progression.
“I only do it to take the edge off and relax from a hard and stressful day at work” or “to get away for a minute”, some say while others are “only having a little fun”. What we don’t see at the time is that one little trip to Fantasy Land can lead to a reality that will rival your worst nightmare! You can pinch yourself all you want but you’re already awake, this is real! Devastation has become your life! The choice has been made… now your life is over… WRONG!!!!
Yeah, choices were made and the reaction to the cards dealt, to the circumstances of life has landed the addicted one at the place they now reside. It is in fact a choice. They could have chosen to respond differently to the hurt but didn’t. That’s a fact as well, and that’s where we are… for now.
The choices I made stemming from a childhood of rejection and criticism led me to the streets where I found a measure of acceptance from my peers, which, later on only led to more pressure to perform and stay accepted. This is what my life was like at twelve and thirteen. It was unknown to me at the time that addiction was in its early stages.
I made the choices I did as a young man as well as later in life because I was never equipped emotionally to make any other. There is usually the sense of right and wrong but when the pain of rejection is so extreme, in dysfunction, wrong becomes normal.
For twenty six years I lived my life bound to some form of drug. Much of that life I lived destitute and in despair and even homeless at times. I walked the streets of Philadelphia and many times called the crack house my home. Other times I would sneak on the subway so I would have somewhere to sleep for the night. That was my existence… what I called “life”. I was hopelessly trapped in a mindset of rejection and worthlessness and freedom from addiction was impossible for me it seemed.
This was it for me though; this was my life I thought so I had to play the cards that were dealt me. The thing is, I was a very poor card player. Where was hope? It was nowhere I could see. What did I believe in… God? He saw my situation; He knew what I was going through but still allowed the avalanche, this downward spiral of hopelessness to continue.
What would I do? What could I do? I left Philly with a the shred of a glimmer of hope tucked away in the deepest recesses of my soul, in search of a way out of my mess but only found more opportunity to indulge my hunger and thirst for drugs. Even after landing in Lenoir, NC where I heard hope lived, where I had even met hope. Hope resided at a place called Bethel Colony of Mercy, a ministry set apart to show men like myself that there was a life beyond the grasp of crack cocaine and other drugs (and other life controlling issues) and that Jesus was the source of that life. But I had to give myself to Him like I had to the drug but I was unsuccessful. I caught a glimpse of hope but it seemed just beyond my reach.
After going through their program three different times, I left Lenoir for Statesville, N.C. still not free from the bondage of drugs and alcohol. One night, it was around midnight, after spending all of my money on a drug binge I stood on a deserted corner and wondered again what had happened. But God was merciful to me. I had met a pastor of a church who knew of a place like Bethel where I could find my freedom and I was again faced with the promise of hope.
“The Transformation Center” was a place started by another local church that had men of God as teachers and would build on the previous foundation and insisted that hope indeed was alive. And then, through no power of my own, there was that moment… “AH HA!” Everything that I had heard and was taught hit me square in the head and settled firmly in my heart! Hope had found its way into my heart and made itself at home! Slowly, methodically I believed! I believed in HOPE! Hope is a man named Jesus, God in the flesh who, when I thought I was unlovable, loved me all along! Through my mess, through rejection, through my so called failure and perceived worthlessness! I believe! I believe in hope! There IS hope for me! Hallelujah!
I’ve been clean now for about eight years! God restored everything the devil had stolen from me… with interest! I have a beautiful bride – Sondra – of over eight years who is my biggest system of support. I serve as a deacon now and was licensed as a minister by the same church God used to bring me up out of the pit! He is so awesome!
Shortly after learning I was already free because of what Christ did for me that I could not do for myself, I began to walk in that freedom. I wanted to tell others of the freedom I found since surely there are those who feel as hopeless and helpless as I did. People have got to know that there is an abundance of mercy and grace just waiting to fill their lives. That there is a forgiving God who loves them just as they are and doesn’t condemn them. He brings life! So I began to write a book, mixing in some of my experiences. “Against the Gates of Hell: A Crack House Exodus”. The following is a synopsis of the story:
Kerby Wilson had always looked down on those who partook and pedaled drugs which claimed the lives of many in the streets. Now he finds himself duped by his own pride and going down a very desperate path of his own. Distraught over the death of his parents and the murder of a fellow police officer, Kerby alienates those closest to him, pushing them away-his wife, brother, police force buddies and old friends. As the bottom falls out of his life and darkness consumes his soul, he sells all that he holds dear for an elusive state of peace.
Herby, Kerby’s identical twin brother is angry with Kerby for turning on his family, friends, and the police force and for going down this destructive path. As his heart hardens and he is caught up in his own battle of resentment and bitterness, he tries to shut Kerby out. But Rene, his God-fearing wife won’t allow that to happen. Instead she continually appeals to his conscience, reminding him of God’s unfailing love and Kerby’s need for his help.
When Kerby uses his past identity as a police officer to rob the biggest drug dealer in Philly, a price is put on his head. Learning of Kerby’s latest antics, Herby, family and friends are challenged to push past their struggles to help keep him alive and break free of his addiction.
There is a lot of debate on the subject as to why someone living in addiction seems to not want to get out. Let me say that no one wants to be addicted to drugs, and of course that’s never the intention. No one ever wakes up and says “I want to be a drug addict”. No little girl ever says “I wanna be a prostitute when I grow up” and no little boy ever says “I wanna be a liar, a thief and a murderer”. These are all consequences of bad decisions.
But you can help decrease the odds of your kids becoming addicts (yes, your kids as well as you can become drug addicts and alcoholics and everything else in the middle) by first, loving your children. Don’t ever tell your child or teen that they are worthless and will never amount to anything. You’re only speaking death to them and helping to seal their fate. Instead, give them nurturing and support while they’re young.
As they grow let them know that they are your gift from God and that they are significant and have value and potential! When children and teens have what they need at home they are less likely to look for something more outside. Talk with your kids and find out about their lives.
So, if there was hope for me, a twenty five year veteran of drugs and alcohol, then for sure, there is hope for ANYONE dealing with ANYTHING! There is hope for YOU!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Contact Mylow at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.mylowyoung.com for ordering information. He has also written a poetry book “You Can Still Rise Again: A Collection of Poems for the Struggle available at www.authorhouse.com. You can also find Mylow at www.facebook.com/mylowyoung Go to Against the Gates of Hell: A Crack House Exodus “Fan page” and press “Like”.