“My name is Jessica Youngblood, and I am from the very small town of Kirby, Arkansas. I was raised by my redneck daddy–who has a cute little beard and a tractor. I was ABANDONED on my grandma’s front porch with a note that said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ My own mother said those five words about me when I was only 8 months old. This event would shape the next 23 years of my life. I would take this so personally and filter every hurt I ever went through back through that lens. I mean, if my own mom couldn’t love me, how would anyone else?
I would feel a deep sense of rejection from teachers, peers and even step-parents. When you get sick of being rejected, you start finding things that don’t reject you–and that’s what I did. For me, that began with pornography at the age of 11, drinking at 12. But I didn’t drink like everyone else. I wanted to get drunk. I wanted to drown out the voice that kept saying, ‘This is all your fault. If you would have acted better, she would have wanted to be your momma.’ When the drinking wasn’t enough to cover my pain and was instead causing more pain, I started to look for another fix. At 15 years old, that fix would come through boys. I would sleep with anyone that would give me attention. Once they got what they wanted, they would leave just like everyone else had my whole life. Then I would have all these abandonment and rejection issues again.
I felt as though every situation was a big deal and it always sent my emotions into a downward spiral. If someone made a rude comment, pointed and laughed, or if I was picked last, I would lose complete control of my emotions. As we southerners say, ‘I would flip my lid,’ and it would take over my life in that moment. Then, that moment of hurt would be put into my box of ‘things Jessica has done wrong’ and it would be marked as one more reason I was a loser. I would replay my past over and over when the smallest of things would happen. My mood was dependent on how I expected everyone to treat me, and we all know that in school no one treats anyone nicely. So my hurt was confirmed over and over. I felt I was not worthy of love and this world would be constant in rejecting me. The bottom line is this: my childhood trauma would play a part in how I filtered my life. Everything was rooted in insecurity. Why was I even born? Rejection is like a broken record and it plays over and over in the back of your mind. With these thoughts, my self-esteem went to crap (for lack of a better word), and I became a walking time bomb of emotions.
When I was 19 I started dating a boy and, of course, I slept with him on our first date. Can you guess what happened next? Yes, we got pregnant. I actually thought I had found the one thing to complete me or make me happy. All of my past trauma would go away, right? LOL. I could have this kid, play house and be the mom I never had. Boy was I wrong–this just added more baggage. I didn’t know how to be a mom or quit the cycle that was passed down for generations. So I went back to partying harder than I had ever partied, drinking the most I had ever drank and pretty much slept with anyone–all while I was supposed to be being a mom to my 8 month old son. I had become the one person I said I never wanted to be–my mom.
I needed some way to cope with what I had done. Things I had done before didn’t numb me out like they used to. I needed something more to help deal with life and these emotions. It was the weekend of Memphis in May, a popular music festival. There were bands everywhere. We saw The Dave Matthews Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and more drunk people than sober ones. The ‘hoochier’ your clothes were, the more you fit in to the crowd. It was the life for a partier like me. These famous bands, alcohol, and lots of men who were willing to give me the attention I wanted. We had a full day of drinking and partying this particular day, before going back into the hotel room. This was not a nice hotel. We were sitting in this dark room with only the lamps shining on the tables. That’s when it happened. They pulled out this white stuff and started chopping it up and making it into thin lines. Their exact words to me were, ‘Hey, we are about to do this.’ It was as nonchalant as it could have been, as if, ‘this’ was not a big deal. I asked what ‘this’ was, and they answered, ‘Meth, but you don’t want any.’ In desperation, I told them I did.
The first hit was amazing. It burned as it slid down the back of my throat and then, euphoria; a rush like never before, and the hairs on my head stood up. I could feel my eyes dilating and bulging out. The tingles went from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. My mind was as clear as it had ever been. I fell in love with those little white lines. It was one of the best things I had ever tried. What I didn’t know is, this drug would grip me like a python and it was going to suck the last breath out of my lungs. I would lose everything–sign over custody of my son, moved in with drug dealer, be abused, become hurt and numb and not even care if I lived our died. For months I would stay up 5 days straight, I would eat every 3 days. I was the hopeless case who everyone gave up on. Where would my rock bottom be?
I needed to get high because nothing else was taking my hurt and pain away. One day, I was snorting as much as I could, trying to smoke every last drop in the pipe. At first, nothing seemed to be happening, but then it did. My heart started racing and my body sweating. It felt like a car was on my chest and I couldn’t breathe. In that moment, I thought that was the end and I didn’t even care. I was overdosing and my body was shutting down. But for the first time in a while, I thought of my son. I thought of his sky-blue eyes and sandy blonde hair. I could see his smile and hear his laugh. I started screaming on the inside, ‘Wait, wait! I don’t want to die like this! I don’t want to be remembered as a meth addict with sores all over my body and my face sunken in!’ My son was about to turn one and even though he didn’t know it, his own mother was getting ready to die, not getting ready for his party.
Lying there in that bed, looking up to the ceiling, I was helpless. I realized that I ended up becoming the one person I didn’t want to be: my mother, abandoning her child. A long time ago, I made a promise to myself that I would never become her. I judged her and hated her for the pain she caused me. But, for the first time, in that moment, I had an ounce of forgiveness for my mom. I felt compassion for her story. I thought about the life I was living. How did I get here when I said I would never become this? It was supposed to be just trying it at a little party, I just wanted to try meth once, but it led to this. The truth is, this overdose was an outward reflection of how dead I was on the inside. I was dead inside way before I let this drug control me. The drug was just a symptom of my internal battle and struggle I had been dealing with my whole life.
After this there were a few other times I almost lost my life. My drug dealer picked me up by my neck, threw me across the yard and then pulled a knife on me. He wanted me dead. After all this, I finally realized if I didn’t get sober, I was going to die. Sobriety is a funny thing. We fight so hard to quit doing drugs, drinking, having sex or looking at pornography, but even when we quit these things we are still stuck in our own prison of unhappiness. Just because you get sober doesn’t mean you’re going to automatically have this ‘happily ever after’ life. That is what I had to figure out.
I started my journey to detox. I went to my father’s house and slept for 5 days straight. I was so weak, I couldn’t even get up and walk to the bathroom. I remember crawling across the floor just to go pee. My face was sunken in, I had sores on my face and I was in the worse shape of my life. But I was there to get well. I wanted to quit the 3rd day because to feel the pain I had in my past, sober was unbearable. Jana Ray (a lady from the local church) brought me a journal. On the front of it were these words:
‘Don’t quit when the tide is lowest, for it’s just about to turn.
Don’t quit over doubts and questions for there’s something you may learn.
Don’t quit when the night is darkest for it’s just a while ‘til dawn.
Don’t quit when you’ve run the farther for the race is almost won.
Don’t quit when the hill is steepest for your goal is almost big.
Don’t quit, for you’re not a failure until you fail to try.’ – Jill Wolf
It was like a sign from God that I was going to make it if I just keep fighting. So that’s what I did. My first day out of the house after detox was insane, it was Sept 11, 2001. It was 9/11 and I thought I was hallucinating–these planes going into buildings! At first, I thought detox was the hardest part of getting sober. Not even close–detox is probably the easiest. It’s the staying sober part that is tricky. That next year was the hardest year of my life–relapse after relapse after relapse after relapse. I didn’t think I would ever stay clean, but one day I found someone to help me have a different life. This person told me I had to stop wallowing in my past mistakes and pain and look forward to the future!
I went on this journey of finding me, embracing my purpose and living my best life now. Of course, it’s all about finding Jesus. We can’t do this alone. You can get sober but true joy and happiness and peace comes from a life lived for Him! I have been sober for 16 years. I have been married to the man of my dreams for 15 years and we have 3 kids together. My son Ozzie that I left when He was 8 months old is now 18 and is the most amazing kid ever. I am so proud to be his mom.
For the last 16 years I have been sharing my story with anyone who will listen. I’ve put on young girl events in small towns to show them they are beautiful just the way they are. We supply them with formal dresses to put on and do their hair and makeup. For one night they get to leave their problems at home. I wish I would have had me when I was their age. That’s how I live my life today, I go out to find girls who are living the hell I lived and try to pull them out! Today my husband and I are pastors at a church called VESSEL Church. We planted this church about 6 months ago and have seen so many lives transformed through Faith in Jesus.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Youngblood of Texarkana, Texas. She is the author of “Worth the Pain, My Journey from Meth to Ministry,” available on Amazon. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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