The household I grew up in consisted of myself, and six siblings. Since we lived in a two bedroom house, all the children shared one room, with the boys in one bed and the girls in another. Religion was optional so I chose to attend Catholic Services with my father. Growing up, I felt sheltered because I was only allowed to play with my siblings. My parents didn’t allow me to go over to friend’s houses or for them to come visit me. Due to their strictness, I first ran away from home at the age of twelve. My mother would always find me, which made me happy since I needed food, a bath, and some fresh clothes.

As the second oldest, I babysat while my parents worked. Due to his lack of education, my father worked jobs where he would get paid under the table. He also gambled as a side hustle to keep food on the table. My mother worked as a medical assistant.

When I turned fourteen, I left home and never returned. I met a runaway, named Walter, who left a group home in search of his parents and siblings. After we found them, we stayed with them. His parents were really nice people who treated me as if I was one of their own. Unbeknownst to me, they were using crack heavily. Because of this, we went to stay with his sister, who smoked weed everyday. It was doable since I had a roof over my head, but we got evicted. We went back to his parents until they got us an apartment of our own.

In addition to selling drugs, Walter began drinking resulting in abusive behavior towards me. At a very young age my life quickly spiraled out of control. I had been gone from home for so long that I felt there was no turning back, especially since I felt so ashamed. So I stayed in an abusive relationship. At seventeen, I became pregnant which prompted me to call my mother. As the result of a bad childhood accident, I was told that I would never be able to have children so my mother gave me a pregnancy test at the clinic where she worked. Despite having grandchildren from her sons, my mother was ecstatic that one of her daughters was pregnant.

My pregnancy did not stop Walter from abusing me. I finally told my parents what was going on, and they encouraged me to return home, but fear kept me from leaving. Although I sent Walter to jail for fighting me while I was pregnant, I bonded him out. He was sent back to jail for assaulting his parents.

The weight of being with Walter lifted and after giving birth to my son, I reveled in the freedom. Every weekend I left my son with my mother to go out drinking with my siblings.

One night while we were out riding around, we stopped at a bowling alley to use the restroom. Unfortunately, I made the decision to participate in a robbery resulting in a life being lost for nothing. At eighteen, my life ended before it even had a chance to begin.

Despite my mother’s influence and encouragement to finish school and  to be wherever I wanted to be, I felt influenced by the neighborhood I grew up in on the north end of Detroit. The constant shooting and drugs that were sold on every corner had an impact.

As a child, I loved to play doctor, which was a dream of mine. I also loved cooking and I learned various dishes from both my parents.

As I reflect back on my life, I wish I could have told myself to stay a child. I would tell myself not to rush into being grown because you’ll get caught up easily in something you can’t get out of. Now, I have to live with regrets everyday for causing pain to my victim’s family.