Heather "I can. I will."

Photo by  Randy Bacon

Photo by Randy Bacon

I grew up without much supervision. My mom never really gave us any guidance or cared what we did so me and my sister did whatever we wanted for the most part. By the time I was 11 I was already drinking and smoking weed. When I was 15 I had my first daughter, and I was 16 when I tried my first hard drug which was meth. That’s pretty much when my life began to spin out of control. The state tried to take my daughter when she was 3 and my grandma stepped in and took her for me, I was in and out of jail from then on. At 26 I was introduced to heroin, and I’ve never seen the depths of hell like I’ve seen with heroin. It was nothing for someone to overdose and die in the same hotel room as me and everyone just run off and leave them.

In 2013 I was clean and sober and I intended to stay that way and I had my 5 year old daughter, Lyric. She was born early and the first year of her life she was in the hospital a lot. I was on methadone, which is taken to help you stay off of heroin. It was free in St. Louis, but it wasn’t when we moved back to Springfield. Without Methadone I had started on pain pills again. Next thing I was strung out on heroin again and running from Springfield to St. Louis from the police. I was caught and arrested and my grandma took care of my daughter.

Photo by  Randy Bacon

Photo by Randy Bacon

I got out of prison in 2016 and got engaged to my fiance now, William. I thought I had it this time. We got into a fight and I left his house again and sooner or later I was running around and using drugs again. He was a recovered addict and he started using again as well. Will and I got pregnant with my youngest daughter, Harley. I was using again and I had run from the police probably 16 times but I had never been caught. We had gotten in a fight and the cops got onto me and I was arrested after I tried to run and crashed into a telephone pole. I was in jail for 6 months while I was pregnant with Harley. I thought I was going away for 10 years to do my time and that I was going to lose my baby and that was that. So I got to court and my attorney tells me, “I’m so sorry, there’s nothing I can do to help. We’ll try to get you out next time.” It all happened so quickly that I didn’t realize he just got me released to pretrial services to have my baby. That doesn’t mean I get to stay out, that just means I get out to have my baby. I got out and did everything my probation wanted and then some. I did so much that my probation officer said that if I kept up with what I was doing she may change her recommendation of sending me to prison. So I just kept on, I kept being a mom and going to my drug classes and kept doing what I was supposed to. At this point, everyone around me was still doing everything the same. I just kept all of my thoughts on my babies.

I still go to court, I’m on probation for forgery and possession and I’ve been to prison a total of 6 times. The last time I was in court for a probation violation I thought I was going back to jail. The attorney representing my probation officer stood up and said that  said that I have made extraordinary changes and that she wants my probation to be continued, so later that day my probation was continued and I just haven’t looked back. I don’t want to look back. Now I have my job, my freedom, and more than anything, I get to be a mommy to my babies.

Photo by  Randy Bacon

Photo by Randy Bacon

I’ve been sober for two years. I’m a productive member of society, I work, I pay my taxes, I can take my kids to school, and my whole life its been my grandma providing for them. I’m not rich, I live paycheck to paycheck but my bills are paid and my kids are taken care of and clean, and that’s all that matters. They’re happy little girls. I’m not going to say I don’t struggle but I know one thing, I’m not going to pick up heroin and I’m not going to pick up meth. I’m not going back to what I used to know because I have a new life and new meaning. And my new purpose and meaning in life is to see those little girls through. I have to see them graduate from high school and go to prom and all of that. I have to give them the things I couldn’t give my other kids because I didn’t have the resources to. I’ve never gotten to raise a baby all the way through before. I’d have them for a little, then go back to jail. So now I have to see them through. ‘

One thing I have to say is that there is life after meth, there is life after heroin, and there is life after anything you’ve struggled with. You can get your life back if you just grasp onto it and wake up every morning and tell yourself you can do it no matter what obstacles life puts in your way. You have to want out of the depths of that hell and if you don’t, you’re not going to get out. I could have given you every reason in the world that I used drugs. But at the end of the day I did them because I wanted to. I just don’t want it anymore. If you want to get better you can. You may not think so, and you may use every excuse there is to keep doing what you can to keep doing what you can, but that won’t get you where you want to be. And there’s always someone who will help you if you ask, even though sometimes it’s hard to.  You just have to go get it. Wake up every morning and say, “I can. I will.”

Photo by  Randy Bacon

Photo by Randy Bacon