Youth Stories: Terrence

Well, where can I start off? I grew up living a tough life. I was born in Norfolk, Virginia and moved to D.C. after my grandmother died. I was 3 years old. When we moved here things weren’t sweet at all. My mother started using drugs (crack) and our life just came tumbling down. Moving from place to place, shelter to family’s houses; things just weren’t right. Then my mother found a place in northeast D.C., a place called Lincoln Heights. That’s when she started using heavy. She started selling our things, such as TVs and things of that sort until she said enough is enough and admitted herself into rehab. That’s when I moved in with my cousin in Baltimore.

Things there weren’t stable. I was sent to an aunt’s house where a stayed a year. I felt like a bastard child, something like a male Cinderella. After my mom’s got out rehab successfully, we moved to southeast D.C. My mother found it hard to take care of me, my sister and her two kids, so she started using again. My sister would leave her two children with my mother for days at a time. My mom was stuck with a terrible dilemma–to take care of us or work. So she decided to call foster care on my sister’s kids and had them taken away. It was pretty hard on my mom and me trying to cope with it, but she had to do what she had to do. To this day my sister hasn’t forgiven my mother.

With my mom’s using and not having a job, she and I were in the same boat again going from house to house. We found another apartment, but our relationship was wearing down. I finally said enough was enough and I ran away to live with my aunt in Maryland. She really didn’t want me there, but I was family and she took me in. About that time I started using drugs (weed) to ease my mind. Soon, I was just cold abusing it, smoking all day every day. School wasn’t working for me so I decided to go to Job Corp. It was an experience I will never forget. I was on my own at the tender age of 17, still smoking and even selling weed. I spent a year in Job Corps until I got kicked out because of the weed, but I was able to complete most of my GED work and I earned a certificate in culinary arts as a prep cook. I left Job Corp and went to live with my sister in D.C. That was one of the roughest times of my life.

My sister was getting benefits for me (money), but all I had was a cot on the floor and I had to leave on the weekends. I got fed up with that and moved in with my godfather. He was a terrible drunk. One day the police ran into our house because of all the activity going on–smoking, drinking, etc. They locked up everybody, including me. After all the stealing, smoking weed, and other things I had done, I came to the conclusion my life was messed up; so I devoted myself to God and things started looking better.

When I was released from jail I went to the shelter to start over. I went to the 801 M Street Shelter. I was truly blessed by the people of Covenant House when they came and said they had a place for me. They took me to the crisis center and I was like “thank you God for this salvation.” Since then I have done more than ever before to work on getting my life back on track and my relationship with my family is growing.