I was 4 years old and scared.
I didn’t know what was going on or what to do.
But I knew that I wanted to be home and not in a run-down house in the drug-infested projects of Russellville, Ky.
I knew my life was about to take a drastic turn in a way I didn’t want.
I was born in Russellville and lived in Auburn with my father and mother for the first three years of my life. When my parents divorced they decided that I would continue living with my mother in Auburn and stay with my father every other weekend in Bowling Green.
I enjoyed living in Auburn with my mom because we got along great, she took great care of me and I had my grandparents living just two houses up the road.
Everything was great in Auburn and in my young life — until it wasn’t.
Drugs and alcohol and my mom and my life.
I came home from school one afternoon and walked into a living room now missing things. The television, the couch, the computer and desk disappeared. Only a small loveseat and a chair or two remained in the living room that I left when I went to school that morning.
Belongings kept vanishing.
A week later the living room sat nearly empty.
Food became scarce, and I overheard my mom and granny having an argument because my mom lost her job as a dental assistant.
My fear grew.
Most 4 year olds — if in my position — wouldn’t have understood what was happening. I did, and I’m glad I did. I knew that things weren’t supposed to be the way they were.
Why did we have no furniture? Why did mom not have a job anymore? Was she in trouble?
Those are all questions I consistently thought about while I was supposed to be in my room playing with my toys or PlayStation but was actually sitting on my bed worried about what was going to happen next.
I was living in a constant state of worry.
A few days later, a Saturday, my mom told me that she needed to leave for a few days and that a friend would care for me. She gave me a hug and kiss, and the “friend” — an older African American man — told me, “Stay in your room and leave me alone.”
For the week mom was gone, the man wouldn’t open the door for anyone — including my granny.
I missed school that entire week.
I ate “Lunchables” that entire week, which I got from the fridge myself.
I spoke with no one and lived without a phone.
Mom returned and told me to pack some toys because we needed to leave soon.
We ended up in Russellville and in a small old house, and she told me to stay there and play.
For a few days I slept on a little couch and ate brown gravy every day made by an old African American lady who lived there. That’s probably the only thing she could afford.
I missed school. I did not know what was going on.
I knew that I just wanted my dad.
My dad and his mother wanted that, too.
They searched for days and decided to go to Russellville and by chance noticed my mom’s car and saw her outside. My dad pulled up beside the house, and my mom handed me to my nana through the car window.
We gathered my things in Auburn, and I moved in with my dad in Bowling Green.
He took full custody of me and raised me — with the help of my nana — from that day forward while my mom has since spent a majority of my life in-and-out of jail — and out of my life — due to drugs and alcohol.
I don’t know what would’ve happened to me if my dad and nana hadn’t found me.
But I do know this:
I am 21 years old.
I am happy and healthy.
I am blessed and thankful.
I have used what I’ve been through as motivation to always work hard, stay on the right path and not follow in the footsteps I witnessed so young.
I sometimes wonder how I’ve gotten to where I am today considering what I went through.
Life hands us obstacles.
How we handle them turns fear into favor.