Here I am, sitting here staring down at this blank piece of paper… I find myself without words, completely stunned with gratitude. I guess I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I try to explain all I’ve gained, what I’ve learned and how much I’ve changed, words could never describe what Captive Hearts has done for me.
I swallow hard, take in a deep breath, and whisper, “Lord, thank you for bringing me to Captive Hearts. Please God, help me find the words I wanna say, to somehow take my new heart and put it onto this paper, Amen.”
I see an image in my mind of the girl that walked into the Captive Hearts office on June 18th, 2012. The person I am today is not the broken, empty girl who walked into the office that gloomy Monday morning. Have you ever been so tired and exhausted that you couldn’t even sleep? Have you ever felt so much pain, that it hurts to breathe? That was all I knew…
I knew how to exist and survive in places that far pass even the worst of nightmares. I knew I would never be anything but street, junkie gutter trash. I knew everything in this world and on the streets came with a price, and that was even my own body. I knew that I didn’t care what I did out there to get drugs because heroin and anything else that took me out of myself (no matter the cost or how much it hurt) was better than the pain inside.
But what I also knew was that I couldn’t go on any longer, and the only thing that made sense and seemed right, was to kill myself. But God saw something more than garbage.
I walked into Captive Hearts completely desperate for one last chance in this world, and if they didn’t take me in, I could at least always end it. I walked in ashamed, dirty, scared, track marks, infected abscesses, pale, and shaken… but worst of all, I was hopeless.
I am again taken back, by feelings that are new to me: emotions I have yet to even identify, but all I can tell you is they feel fuzzy, warm and flutter all through me when I embrace them. They make me smile and laugh from the belly. They make me want to breathe people in when they hug me today. And they tell me “It’s okay to hug back, Eli…” I’ve learned I am worth something today.
Captive Hearts has taught me love and how to hope. I’ve learned to slowly take the stones out of my backpack and replace them one by one—with smiles, laughter, dreams, and gratitude. Each day, I awake in a real bed, with crisp, clean sheets, and soft pillow cases. I still awake in shock that I didn’t have to put a needle in my arm or didn’t have to wake up with some stranger.
The best part about it all is every time Chaplain Judy tells all of us, with tears in her eyes, that we are valuable… I believe her.
But instead, you hurt me in every way.
You lied to me, cheated and beat me up too.
When I swore I was through, I still stayed with you.
You took my laughter, my hope, and my time;
Time I can never go back and rewind.
You led me down dark, weary streets,
to places that still haunt my sleep.
My life became a game of Russian Roulette
as you hung that price-tag around my neck.
I told myself I didn’t care,
trembling there, naked and bare…
Insane I became, so desperate to run from the pain.
But still, all I cared for faded away.
I’ll never forget that last gloomy day I went with you.
The sky was gray. You were the predator and I was your prey.
You took my hand and led me away.
But to you I have to tip my hat,
because I almost never made it back.
So good-bye to you, I say again,
good-bye old friend, my Heroin . . .
-— Eli Rose