Written by: Makenzie S.

Addiction is something that I have known my whole life; I watched a family member struggle with this since I was born, and I have no clear memories of ever seeing him sober. He was so caught up in his addiction, that he was never a part of my life, and still to this day we do not have a relationship in the way that I hoped we would.

This same person introduced me to drugs and alcohol as well as the adults who were using when I was just 12 years old. I remember feeling so cool, being able to hang with all the adults, talk about adult things, have adult men hit on me. I watched this person sell and buy drugs on numerous occasions and thought how cool it looked and how badly I wanted to be a part of it, and I made the decision to start stealing and selling drugs at school. 

When I was a freshman in high school, I ended up in trouble with the police and I found myself trying to figure out what I would tell my mom who had tried so hard to shield me from this very predicament. This is when things really started to go downhill for me.

 Prior to this incident, I was a great student, I got good grades, I participated in school activities, I hung out with the “good kids”, and even attended church. Then I got a little taste of the fast life and that was all it took for everything else to be forgotten. I started using drugs daily, cutting class, lying to my parents about where I was and what I was doing, hanging out with people I knew my parents would not approve of, sneaking out of the house and sneaking people in my window at night. I made bad decision after bad decision.

I no longer cared about my dreams; I did not care that I was stealing from the people I loved. I did not care that I was following in the same footsteps of someone who I used to be disgusted by; all I cared about was finding a way to fuel my habit. I lost all interest in a normal life and this eventually led to me getting involved in some bad relationships, relationships that were full of domestic violence and drug addiction. More bad decisions eventually led me to something that I could no longer escape from: prison. I lost my kids, my possessions, and any dreams I had of the life I wanted.

This is when I realized I had to do something different. Since being in prison, I have made so many changes that there is no doubt in my mind that when it is my time to walk out of these gates, I will be more successful than I have ever been in my life. With the support of Televerde and Televerde Foundation, I have taken advantage of every opportunity to better myself. I have worked hard to gain professional skills, I am learning to face my addiction and continue to address the issues that led me here in the first place, and most importantly I have worked on rebuilding the relationships of the people who matter most in my life.

For the first time in my life, I am making money the right way by working for Televerde, I can support myself, and I am helping where and when I can with my family. I am completing college classes, programming, and any self-help courses I can get myself into in an effort to make the most out of my situation and gain tools I can use in real life. I am going to walk out of the prison gates with Televerde Foundation supporting me the whole way, as a completely different person than I was before and show the world that I am so much more than my past mistakes.

I have made the decision that generational incarceration stops with me. My kids do not have to live the life I did because I can show them a different way. This means more to me than anything else that I have ever done, and I am confident that it will mean just as much to my kids.