I used to wish I was never born.
My mom was out digging clams when she gave birth to me on a rock in the ocean. That’s how I got my name. And that’s where I got my lot in life. Things were always rocky.
I never got to go to school. I grew up on the West Coast, and from the time I was just a kid, I was dragged out on the fishing boat with my mom and dad. They made okay money, but they were both alcoholics and they’d just throw it all away.
My dad was always so angry. He’d try to drink away his problems but that just made him angrier. He’d take out his anger on my mom, on my siblings, and on me. I would try to protect my mom, but that just meant that I’d get hit harder.
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Mom tried so hard to do good things for her kids. She was the light in my life. She told me to never hurt the people in your life and always try to be a good person.
When she died, I felt like I lost my whole world. It was like the only light I ever knew went out forever. Before she passed away, she told me I needed to go somewhere where I didn’t know anybody and start over. So that’s what I did. I came to Edmonton 37 years ago. But the hard times followed me.
I was on the streets for two years when I first got to Edmonton. I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t have anywhere to go. And living on the streets is scary. You never know if somebody is going to try to attack you or stab you. There’s no one you can trust.
Like my mom, I tried to do the best I could. But just like my mom, I had a hard time. Those old ways that I learned from my parents got the best of me. I was so angry. I started drinking and doing drugs to try to stop the pain. Alcohol helped me forget just how worthless everything made me feel.
But I became a devil when I drank. It didn’t make me feel any better. I’d get so drunk that I couldn’t care for anyone. My family. My partners. My kids. Myself.
People make you feel so useless when you have a hard time. “You’re nothing but an addict” they say, and they put you down and don’t want to see you as a person. But people like me with addictions aren’t bad. We just need someone to help us believe we can be good. That we can change. I have changed.
I’ve been sober now for more than 20 years. I still feel angry and hopeless sometimes, but I got help. Bissell Centre helped me find my hope for something better.
This is why I love Bissell Centre. Their doors are always open. Instead of telling me I was nothing, they listened to me. They helped me break the cycle of violence and abuse I was born into. They took my hand and held it and never let it go.
I’m talking now and because of help I received at Bissell Centre, I am beginning to understand. I had to talk about all the abuse I suffered and all the rage I felt. I had to come to terms with my past before I could do anything to make something better happen.
I cry when I think of what my dad went through in residential school. It is sad that he never got help and he took all of this to his grave. I pray for him, and I am grateful that I found the help I needed to try to turn things around.
I’ve met people who are just as angry and hopeless as I was. People who are hungry every day. People who turn to drugs and alcohol to try to cope. People who turn to crime and violence to keep supporting their habits. People like my mom and dad who just can’t seem to escape the cycle.
I’ve made it through this life and I survived. I’m grateful for the second chance Bissell Centre gave me. My life can be something different now.
I want to make a difference. I’d like to help others just like me, who didn’t get a childhood and who can’t get out of the dark. I want to go to school and become a councilor. I want to help others just like Bissell Centre helped me.
Thank you for helping me feel at peace for the first time in my life.
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Your gift will mean Bissell Centre can be there again for someone like Rocky, when they need a caring person to listen and offer them a second (or third) chance.