I Found My Person - Sabrina's Success Story
I’ll never forget it: the date was November 17, 2006, and I was in jail for drug charges.
A lady was doing HIV testing at the prison, and I’d wanted to get tested for a while just to know; but I also had this “feeling” lately, because I’d had symptoms of thrush and didn’t understand why. I wanted to die when she told me I was positive! I felt ashamed, because I knew that my addiction was behind the choices I’d made that brought me here.
I’d started drinking and doing cocaine in my late twenties, but when my grandmother – who raised me – passed away in 2004, I started smoking crack and just gave up on everything. My life had changed so much that I couldn’t look in the mirror, because I didn’t want to see the person I had become. I was out on the streets trading sex for food, drugs, places to stay, or even just companionship. I tried to kill myself once by taking pills because I couldn’t deal with life on life’s terms.
Once I got out of prison, I bounced around between living on the streets and in shelters, my life going nowhere. It was my therapist who told me about Broward House’s drug treatment program. Before Broward House – at 48 years old – I’d never lived a life that I wanted; but better late than never!
The program at Broward House gave me confidence and a sense of direction. It brought out the best in me, taught me that the shame I felt for my past didn’t matter, and helped me look towards my future. With their help, I also learned how to reach out to the right people and surround myself with positive people. Now I have a whole other family I can depend on for support! It has been so helpful to know that I’m not in this alone.
I also now have a better understanding of HIV. I’ve learned that being HIV positive isn’t a death sentence: it’s an eye-opener, because it made me contemplate my life and how I got to where I am. Now, my goal is to inspire people by becoming an HIV Advocate. The simple fact is that it’s hard, and a lot of women don’t have help or know where to find support. My goal was to successfully complete the program and maintain my sobriety, and I just graduated! I’m proud of myself for staying clean and sober the entire time. I’ve also started working again, and I don’t worry about getting fired, because I’m no longer drinking and getting high. I’m taking care of myself, taking my HIV meds and building my self-esteem.
Recovery and knowledge have set my soul free, and I feel like I have transformed into a butterfly. I am out there working for a better life. I like to smile. I like to dress up. I like to be pretty. Just looking in the mirror is a blessing. I’m finally free!