My Life is not My Own

                                                                  * Names have been changed in order to protect identities.

My Life is not My Own

As I recall… it was warm, bright and quite beautiful one evening during the fall some twenty years back. A stunning haze of dazzling light blanketed the sky as midnight approached over highway 2, just northeast of Westlock Alberta. Now follow along, as I am let out near a junction to some dirt country road by a fairly grizzled gentleman driving a rusty old suburban choked with an odor of dust as well as mold. A road that lead to this fingernail of a dark blue horizon which exploded into a disarray of sparkling stardust.
 I remember this particular ride not only due to the smell, but because he strangely enjoyed my often dry jokes, which I dare to say have improved over the years. He even threw in a few calloused knee-slappers himself. This came about from opting to hitchhike the return trip to Edmonton after delivering a car out to the Rez for my Kokum.
The few vehicles that were on the highway later that night seemed quite content to simply pass by my outstretched thumb, which I really didn’t mind despite the late hour. Calm weather matched seamlessly the pleasant nature of my journey with its spectacular dance of moon and stars, aiding to highlight the various colors of turning leaves which loosely hung upon the trees. Then for reasons unknown, I found myself saying in a trance-like awe… my life is not my own.    
Walking along to the sweet music that is nature, with a slight breeze upon my face, I begin taking stock of the location and so stop that I may look around and listen with intent. Savoring the majestic beauty, my mind begins to drift even further into the moment… reveling in the amazement of His work. Trees and brush with their rustic scent and pollen drifting upon the wind, the earth and moon… the stars… oh those magnificent stars.
Adolescence began to seep into the dark recesses of my mind. I believe it was a memory of traveling this same highway as a child. Small enough for my upper body to fit into the dip on the floor of the backseat, I snuggle at the feet of my older sisters and stare out the passenger window to the stars as they slowly moved about with each bend in the road. Daydreams drift in and out between conversations and naturally, I am compelled to add my usual smartly remark to elicit some sort of boisterous laughter. It was my job after all.
 Suddenly I’m drawn back into the present, considering how remarkable I’m on this same road years later, alone… a man. Marveling how for the life of me, I could not remember through all of my youth, of ever being on my own. My family, my sisters and friends were always there with me. Now, as many years have past, there is no one. Not my dad telling me to take out the trash, or mom cooking and cleaning up after me. No sisters to fight with or boss me around. Just me… no longer that dependent child but a grown man, basking in the glory and awe of creation on a long dark highway with a deep sensation of having lived a pretty cool and full life. I held to the feeling of being the only one on this huge and magnificent planet, if only but a moment. In a solar system which is but a mere spec near the edge of a galaxy that is but a single element of a grand universe. One can’t help but feel infinitely insignificant and small, yet enormously special and blessed at the same time.
Now I am left to ponder… as spirit, would we really and truly fully appreciate all that is God. Would we be able to experience emotion as we do now with all those chemicals that get released by the brain? Affecting vital organs and glands to react, producing physical manifestations of sweat, a faster heart rate and chills up and down our spines. Will we be able “feel” that awe which is so much apart of all creation? One has to wonder if the fall was all so much of a curse, as it was a blessing.
This is an opportunity to experience life, not just to live but to really experience it with all the senses that come with this imperfect body. A chance to have a perspective in which we are able to smell, hear and feel a world plagued with such hard edges that can harm, as well as drive us forward. This is a true and perfect gift people, from a truly wondrous and perfect Father. Scripture says that one day we will trade in this imperfect and flawed body in for a perfect one without blemish. And although I so do look forward to that day, I have to remind myself that I may never be able to experience living as I do now. Oh I am sure it is going to be better but still, will I miss much of those things that make “this life” worth living. Yet more to the point, will I appreciate that which has been gifted me, which is to know... if only but a portion, of the alternative to the kingdom of heaven. Would, or more appropriately, “do” we fully appreciate even the most trivial things… such as pain?
  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

There are more to my thoughts on this subject to which I’ve written some notes, as well as a few pages geared for a future book. Though for the purposes of this story, we’ll keep it somewhat limited. After all, I really should leave some insights so you’d have something to look forward to… no matter how outlandish you may consider them to be.
Now, just as with the euphoria that comes with being in love, there is also that deep and overwhelming sting of heartbreak. In my experience, one of the greatest joys I know is the agony of love, or the loss thereof. I’m sure that you too can relate to lying on your bed, perhaps curled up with a pillow in your arms and crying out in pain. Heartache truly does manifest itself as physical discomfort and not just a psychological one, and I don’t give a damn what any quack job shrink might say. Oh I know you may not agree with my statement of it being one of our greatest joys but consider for a moment and recall if you will, those times when someone tried to console you. Did you not simply wish to be left alone? No matter what anyone said, nothing could remove that profound longing and hurt. But it was more than that. I remember wanting to feel the pain, to just lie there and wallow in self pity for a while and reminisce over that love lost. It was sort of a cozy comfort. Strange I know… but it was.
It is a revelation of sorts to realize we had that corporeal love to begin with. Perhaps in part for the very reason of those times we were alone. Gentlemen …are there not times of wishing we had those eyes to stare into while our loved one tied our tie and the scent of her perfume wafting up into our nostrils, enhancing her beauty. And ladies, how about when you shared that gift of chocolate covered strawberries with your man, or waited anxiously for him to return home from work. For those precious moments of having that warm body to hold and curl up with… becoming one. Having someone to share our hopes and dreams with in this reality is a good thing, for God said it is not good for a man to be alone. Which, as it is written, the reason He created Eve for Adam. Although we are never really alone in this world, we cannot help but to overlook that fact at times because of this physical body of which you and I roam around in. We have eyes that, for the most part, perceive only the material and tactile senses which simply translate the physical. This is where we have this unique opportunity to experience an inglorious and underwhelming precept of a marginal existence. Perhaps it is in order to appreciate even more the glorious eternal life which awaits us. Praise His name.
This brings us now to my reason for opting to become homeless in the spring of 2013. I promised some friends I would explain what brought me to the streets at the time, so here it is… love.
I gave up the idea of working to acquire my own apartment last spring because I fell in love with a beautiful Russian native named Nina. I’m not talking so much as beautiful in the physical sense, although she was not all too lacking in this area. I mean beautiful by way of the creation in which God the Father meant her to be. But then, as is the case for many of us, she did not accept this view of herself or even portray that beauty to the world around her. It is my belief though, that God had given me a glimpse of that hidden beauty in the hopes that I might help to awaken some of that knowledge deep within her. This is the only explanation that I can think of for what transpired that winter. Well… it’s the one I like so it is the one I will go with.
 It was a strange love, mixed up and turned around to resemble something straight out of a disaster/spoof movie… allow me to expound.
I met Nina while living in Millwoods during the fall of 2012 and though she was much younger at 33, I felt there was something about her the moment I laid eyes. But it wasn’t until about the third time we met, this woman truly started to dominate my thoughts. Nina was a friend of Ryan’s, a buddy to one of my roommates in a boarding house and one afternoon she stopped over to see if he was there. Well he wasn’t, and as I watched her leave she turned back to say that she had wanted to ask me something but forgot, then thought for a moment while I waited in eager anticipation. Suddenly she batted those beautiful eyes at me, smiled and said “Oh yes… how was work today?” Well that was it, I was hooked from then on let me tell you.  
Moving into Ryan’s apartment in November of that year was when the real party started. Although I had relapsed a couple months prior for reasons which presently escape me, perhaps out of pure boredom, it wasn’t near as much as I smoked at Ryan’s. There were a group of us and we all did our thing, whether it was beer, pot, crack or crystal meth (pin + t = pint). It seemed to go pretty much on a daily basis, though I did tend to be little more conservative than the others.
 Nina would come over and go on about the dysfunctions of the relationship she was in, and told me how she wanted to leave him but didn’t know how. Too afraid of that life change was how she put it. There’s something else I should also mention… she was pregnant, and not at all certain as to whom the father was. To me it mattered little though, I was falling for her. Funny thing was I had always avoided getting too close, let alone involved, with women such as her. Though I sensed that our Lord allowed me to see something in her few others saw for some purpose.
We would have our little talks and the more we talked, the more I wanted give her the love that she wasn’t getting with her common law. From my standpoint, I just couldn’t believe it was God who brought them together in the first place. Something I wouldn’t really care to go into here. Nevertheless, in my eyes she deserved better than he or even I could ever offer. She was the first woman in a long time that made me want to be the kind of man who would do anything to ensure she always felt loved, her and her child both. There was so much keeping us from being together though, myself being one of those reasons. She was in a relationship and no matter how ugly it might have been, I could not impose myself between them.
On the other hand, I’m not one to hide much of my feelings these days from anyone. Then one day while we were smoking a joint on the patio, she relayed to me the low self esteem which she felt about herself… so I felt compelled to tell her. I confessed how great I thought she was and that I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Immediately her face lit up exposing a grand smile and then, with her spirits lifted, we returned inside.
What… you were expecting fireworks? Well sorry to disappoint but this isn’t some harlequin romance with the heaving bosoms and hair blowing in the wind crap. It’s just not that kind of story.   
Anyway, the next day Nina came over looking more beautiful than I’ve ever seen her before. She obviously had a few beers before arriving and after about a half hour and a line of speed, she propositioned me. Feeling uncomfortable, and not just because she did it in front of Ryan, but also of the manner she did it. It was as though simply because I was a man, and knowing of my feelings for her, I would just accept the offer, drop drawer and give her what she wanted. It reminded me of the same sensation as when I’d get propositioned for dope as a runner. Disappointed, I declined wishing our circumstances were not as they were.
We carried on as friends for she understood why I refused her advances, but our conversations would always drift towards some possible future. Then one day she said something that hit a switch, “It’s not such a good idea for a couple of addicts to get together anyway”. Well I agreed of course, but then thought. I never really sought a relationship while using because of the use, and while clean, well… let’s just say things didn’t work out. Now, having a chance to love again, I had better make a decision. Carry on being a shit or straighten out and show this woman who I felt so much for, the man I could really be. Then yet even more than that, to show her what love is truly capable of.
After a couple of false starts I did quit, though it was not an easy beginning. After work there would always be somebody doing chemicals, be it crack or pint. Then one evening upon my return from a hard days work, Nina was sitting at the dining table with Lionel. An acquaintance of hers from way back who had taken to sleeping on Ryan’s couch, and they were doing a puddle. In other words, they were smoking a meth pipe. Frustrated, and not just because of the dope, but also because Nina didn’t seem to show any signs of slowing down. And although she had expressed she wasn’t ready to do so, I had still hoped. Especially since the life which resided in her, began to grow obvious. Anyway, Lionel passed the pipe towards me. Most of the time I would decline but now took it without hesitation and put fire to it. Almost immediately regret set in, knowing I was only doing it out of spite when there was no desire to smoke it in the first place. The regret turned into anger and the anger into indifference then in turn, another pull on the pipe.
It wasn’t until after Ryan got home and Nina left that what had transpired truly set in. I felt so ashamed and pissed at myself for falling into such a childish trap set by the enemy of what is right and true. The boys noticed my mood when I began putting on my coat and asked what was wrong. Hesitating as to what to tell them, I suddenly heard the Holy Spirit speak, “Tell them… is this not why you are here?” So rather than keeping it simple by make something up, I conveyed to them my concerns.
“You know guys” I said. “I didn’t even want to smoke that stuff, I only did it out of spite because of Nina.” Then went on to say how upset I was with myself and that I should not have let my predicament with her make me do things unasked for. Emphatically telling them, “I know I’m better than that”. Then as I finished getting dressed, Lionel expressed how sorry he was and asked if I wished him to not smoke around me anymore. I told him it wasn’t his fault and that Nina was gonna do her thing anyway and that it wasn’t my home, its Ryan’s. Ryan immediately chimed in with the fact that it was my home as well, but I didn’t want to make things uncomfortable for them or myself. “Not to worry, I could handle being around the dope” was my reply, “I just need to spend some time with God right now.”
This occurred shortly after the new year of 2013. My last hit of crack was about a week before the previous Christmas and that evening, I cried out to our Lord to remove the ridiculousness of the rest of me. As I walked along 50th street near Millwoods road, I asked the Father to give me strength, to allow the ties between Nina and my staying clean go. And for the fortitude to remain clean for Him as well as for my own future, regardless if it would be with or without her. I knew I had to set an example for my friends. So once again I found myself asking my Lord and Savior… for forgiveness.
You must understand… Even though I may not conduct all my affairs in the manner Scriptures teaches, or at least what our society believes the interpretations of the Scriptures to be. I still love Jesus more than anything. And especially since rehab seven years ago, I’ve never denied that fact to anyone no matter what the circumstances, relapse or no relapse. I only listen to Christian music when it’s my choice. Pray for my friends and family often and also quote God’s word to those who need to hear it at the proper moments. In other words... for the most part I try my best to live according to what the Holy Spirit dictates, and to do the work that I believe God wishes me to perform.
Some may look at people like me and cry “hypocrite!” Well I say forget you, I am what I am and don’t act or pretend to be any more, nor any less. I can be asshole yet with a great deal of love for all my brothers and sisters. I’ve said this before and believe I speak for many others who live on the streets and have addictions when I say, just because we fall in our brokenness does not mean we love God any less. As many main stream, so called, followers of the risen Christ tend to believe.
 I’ve known and still know many professed Christians, who truly are the real hypocrites. You know the ones, those who act all pious around others but really only care about their status in the church community and do their own thing behind closed doors. Me, well… I’m all out there… the good, the bad… and the down right handsome. Hahahahaha!
Anyway, Living got a little better after that in most respects, and other than some reefer I stayed clean. Started working out at the Millwoods rec. center as well as a nearby school playground. Frankly, I’d have to say that some playgrounds make most excellent workout facilities. At least I was able to practice my kicks and punches, for it was always too crowded at the rec. center. Anyway, point is I was motivated. Quickly the weight gain started to show and I felt good. I even started to write notes as well as a few pages for my book again, that silly thing which always seems to just come and go.
The good times continued and we had fun. Ryan, Lionel, me, and Nina, we were a family. There were more to our little group as well. There was Roxy, Calvin, Brandon (aka Smokie), Janice and Sophia. I fondly remember so many pleasurable evenings of playing dice,watching movies or just sitting around chatting with my friends. Nina kept leaving her common law hubby and stay with us for a few days or even a week. One time I believe she even stayed for a couple weeks, but would naturally return home.
Many times I felt as though she wished me to pursue her, and though yet so wanting to do so, I knew had to keep my distance. The only way I could feel comfortable pursuing a relationship with Nina would be if she left this man of her own accord, without my asking her too. Though she did ask me once if I thought she should leave him, so I told her, “You’re the only one who can say if the relationship is worthy of saving. And I don’t think I’m the right person to be asking that question in the first place, I may be a little bias.”
Nina would look at me from across the room as we chilled or during parties, causing me to nearly give in to my feelings for her. We even stole a quick caress as we passed each other while cleaning the apartment one afternoon, but quickly shook ourselves back to reality. There were also times during the parties she’d make comments about me with everyone in audience. She’d say things like she finally met a man who made her want to be a better woman, but that it was just bad timing. And how she thought I was perfect, too perfect as a matter of fact and that I reminded her of Jesus. Yes… for your information she was a little intoxicated at the time thank you very much, lol.
Seriously though, I was very much in love with her. I recall many painful nights hating the positions that held us at bay. The boys tried to tell me she was just a player and that it would be better for me just forget about her. “She strays”, is how Lionel put it, “and a sex addict”. Ryan said she wasn’t all there in the head because of so many years abusing drugs. I knew all this, and she didn’t fool me when she’d say things to appeal to my love for God. Such as “God bless you” or “I was praying for you”, a time I went out on my own for an evening of dancing. I believe she thought she meant it, but the Lord has blessed me discernment in this area and I know when ulterior motives are in play.
Calvin would express his distaste for her as well at times, and he’d say he couldn’t believe I had feelings for her. One day while they were having one of their bitch sessions about her, I told them perhaps Nina was the way she was because of the type of guys in her life, and to just look at the manner in which she meets them. Then, with an ascending tone roared “judge not lest ye be judged… so shut the fuck up!” Well they didn’t have much to say after that.
I find it funny how some people are so much your friend when they think it might benefit them but behind your back, well… you get the picture. From my perspective, it seemed as though she never really got much respect from any of them. I just wanted to show her that there is more, and to help her understand that she is worthy of more than what she had and the way she acted. I also knew that even though they showed me respect and thought I deserved better than Nina, deep down I felt as though they simply wished to keep her where she was. As I mentioned earlier, Lionel was acquainted with her first and Ryan well, at 50 he liked to use young women. He would take advantage of Roxy, who is in her very early twenties. And though she was a late comer in the story, he would use Sophia who was only 26 for sex in exchange of allowing her to stay there. The others in our circle also had their own reasons for playing the role.
Trust me, I didn’t really understand it all myself. I only knew I had to follow what our Lord put into my heart. I held no illusions of happily ever after yet still, holding on to hope itself. One night lying in my bed after Nina had returned once again to her own home, I simply could not hold back the tears. Crying out to the Father, I asked him to save her. Asking that He would remove any consequences she had to face for past sins, and I would gladly take any and all of those consequences or pain upon myself. If only He would supernaturally move in her life so she would make a change. I beseeched God, that I would even trade my own salvation for hers.
 To this day I still have no idea of the outcome of my pleas, nor do I wish to retract them. I can only hope to carry on in faith.
For three months I refused any temptation of joining back in with the chemicals. Everyone would say how impressed and proud they were of my resolve to abstain, especially since it was constantly around me, day in and day out. To me though, it was simply a choice. A choice backed up with the motivation of love for my friends. But then things turned, and by choice, so did I.
 One day, a few gentlemen had moved in next door to us and Nina befriended Troy, who was the principal tenant and a staunch alcoholic. She started to go over there more and more, especially after getting high at our place. After a while I noticed she would go there without even stopping by to visit us, and yet knowing I had no call to be jealous or concerned, I was just the same. Even though I had resolved myself to the fact we’d never be together a few times, Nina would say and do things which would continually cause me to have hope. Such as the things I’ve mentioned earlier, and more.
I even started to date a woman named Mary for a short period, who I met the evening I went out dancing. But I didn’t feel right about it because I could not get my mind off Nina.
You see, after a time and a couple arguments about how she was treating her baby and of our strange relationship, or lack thereof. We started to talk about getting an apartment together, simply so she could get away from that other relationship. Keeping it entirely platonic mind you to start, and then see from there. Nina stated that she started to change her thinking and that she truly desired to quit the dope and was no longer that interested in sex, for the sake of child. Adding that she wanted to avoid coming over to Ryan’s in an attempt to avoid the drugs. She said that although they drank a lot over there, they didn’t do the hard drugs. However, on one occasion as I was invited over to Troy’s for a beer, I noticed a small pile of crack cocaine on the coffee table. Then as I turned my head for but a moment, the pile disappeared.
 Nina also mentioned that there were resources she could access with the possibly of getting an apartment on her own after the baby was born, an idea I preferred over the both of us moving in together. Though considering it, I just felt I wouldn’t be able to trust myself with her.
I can not recall exactly what brought on my decision to partake in the dope again but it started in late March some time. I was so frustrated and angry, not at her per say but angry just the same. Perhaps it was because she started to spend so much time next door. (Gee ya think?) I even lost my job for arguing with the supervisor. But don’t think too much of it. It wasn’t the first time he’s had a run in with an employee. Everyone else though he was a wingnut as well and one time, he even got his ass kicked right on site one. And later I discovered the owner thought I’d return, but I never bothered.
For three weeks heavy I was doing speed and one day right out of the blue, my roommate Ryan said to me… “welcome back”. Which was no real surprise to me, I knew what he was all about but I loved him just the same. 
During that time, I seriously started to think I was going insane. The speed (crystal meth) wrought havoc with my emotions, thoughts and perceptions. I even started to hear the sounds of love making next door and times I could swear it was Nina. I didn’t really believe it was her and didn’t want to, especially since she was so far long in the pregnancy but I also knew what she was like when she got high. After about a week of this I mentioned to her what I heard, simply stating I thought it was the dope. A couple nights later I heard it again but it with less intensity, in others words they were quieter than before. Even Ryan heard them but we also thought it may have been the new neighbors on the second floor and the sound was simply carrying down the wall. I mean, there were no other women that we noticed going over there. Sophia did mention it was her one night with a friend of theirs but not the other nights.
To be honest, I would not have cared so much if she was sleeping with other guys. Heck… she had a common law for bloody sakes. Although she had mentioned a couple times she was no longer having sex with her hubby and that they slept in separate rooms. I know how crystal meth affects some women, especially her. All I asked for was not to be played for an idiot. From the beginning I even said as much to the boys that I didn’t care if she had to have her penis fix. I just felt that someday, once she got over the drugs, well… perhaps.
But I also thought if she couldn’t even respect me enough to refrain from having sex with my neighbor, where there was even the remote chance that I’d hear them. Then I couldn’t even allow her the chance to be with me. I even confronted the fellow next door, telling him I didn’t care if they were having sex, but I needed him to be straight with me, as a man, because Nina and I were still talking about having future together some time after the baby was born.
Troy’s response had set my mind at ease. He told me that they were not having sex, though not for his lack of trying. He said that she told him she was saving herself for… that’s all I was able to hear due to all the cheering going on in my head. I was elated for I remembered she had said once that she never cared to be faithful to anyone before, but would only do it for the man she would truly marry.
The baby had arrived a little earlier than the expected due date and Nina invited me to the hospital to see them. Little Leila was so beautiful, and for me it was love at first sight. She was small and suffering from withdrawals but by the grace of God, otherwise healthy and stable. Nina appeared the doting mother, so attentive and happy yet, every time Leila would have a tremor from the withdrawals she would cringe in horror and shame.
Obviously, I had stopped smoking the crystal meth just before our time at the hospital. It wasn’t my drug of choice in the first place so it wasn’t difficult in the least. And despite being offered a few times, I’ve never smoked it since. After my experience with it in those few weeks, I never want to.  
I would visit Nina and Leila every day but had to be careful as to avoid the suspected father, who hardly showed up anyway. I even got to meet Nina’s other children who lived elsewhere, as well as her mother and sister who came by a few times. But I was pretty much the only one there for her most of the time, so let’s just say we spent a lot of time together over the next couple weeks
We carried on, both of us, day to day with our emotions in flux of an uncertain future. Nina finally confessed to me that she always knew they would take Leila from her when she was born because of the drug use, which they did. But they allowed them to stay together while Leila was in the hospital. I knew it might happen as well, regardless of her earlier expressed desire of to quit. I know how it is though with addictions, sometimes no matter what is at stake, the drug can overtake one’s innermost dreams and desires.
I know God promised that He would not allow us to be tempted beyond which we could handle. But we do not always feel that way or even believe it. Sometimes it seems just too hard to put in the work of resisting because it is so hard, it takes a great and constant effort to resist that urge to satisfy the flesh at times… and for addicts, even more so. I myself struggled very hard, for so very long with a particular scripture that states that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus. I would think perhaps our Father didn’t actually love me anymore, or that the fact we were supposed to be a new creation in Christ was simply a silly metaphor or something.
For every time I got paid, no matter how I tried to avoid calling my dealer, I would always be drawn to that phone… dialing a dealer. I felt like the apostle Paul when he stated that he did what he wish not to do and did not do what he wished.
In actuality though, it is in that very statement I found my freedom… freedom to understand that I must let go of the futility of fighting my weaknesses, and to accept them. In turn I am accepting Gods grace and His mercy that is found in the revelation of the cross. It was only from that place in my life that love truly became my reality. And that new creation, well he no longer battles with guilt and disgust towards himself. But finds love, for it is only in Love were we find the power to overcome all things that are not of the Father.
Now I know I’ve heard those sermons and even read it in the bible many times before. And I have no idea why I never truly “got it” much earlier. Maybe it has to do with “Gods timing” or living and learning for myself, I don’t know. But what I do know… is that I’m not alone.
But hey…here’s a thought… perhaps… just perhaps. It has something to do with letting go of that knowledge of good and evil. While holding on to the love… that is Jesus.
 Go ahead and mull that over at your leisure. But for now, let us return to the story. 
Nina worked with Children’s Social Services in the hopes of getting Leila back. They talked about possibly getting her into a rehab center out of town or something, all the while keeping in close contact with the baby. I’m uncertain of all the details and options that were available to her, but at least she had options.
Then one evening as I ran into Nina at the corner store she invited me to smoke a joint with her over at Troy’s and I said sure. Unfortunately though, the whole time I was there she barely spoke a word to me, focusing all of her attention directly towards him. Then I noticed he would look up towards myself every so often with a slight glare in his eye. You could just feel the tension in the air. In the days following I noticed that he really started to act the jealous boyfriend. He even asked me one day for her home phone number, nearly demanding it as a matter of fact. Damn I got pissed, “what the F--k is wrong with you” I questioned him. “She has a hubby at home, and I’m sure as hell aint giving you the number!” ……. Ya, I know… I said aint. Get over it, lol.
Things started to get hard again, and I was so torn with my love for Nina and the baby. Just being around her and not being able to hold her was tearing me up inside. I also noticed that she started to look pretty ragged. And I don’t believe it was simply a matter of exhaustion. It appeared as though she wasn’t doing any better with the dope.
This was about the time I knew, “it was time”. I really didn’t want to give up on her but I was literally being ripped to shreds from the inside out, so I let her know that I had to leave. She seemed more disappointed that I wasn’t able to be more patient with her than in the fact I was leaving. But we agreed to keep in touch. Yet as you’ll see, that didn’t work out too well either.
Although I had been sporadically staying at the shelter downtown since I lost my job, once again I hit the streets. It very nice to see all my old friends again for I had missed them, well, some of them at least. It wasn’t too long before I heard through the grape vine that Nina went M.I.A. Upon hearing this news my spirits were lifted somewhat, for I figured she had gotten into rehab and was in another city. During which time I had been back to Ryan’s for a while where it was just him and Sofia. Sadly though, it was too good to be true. Truth was she was in jail. She finally contacted me just after she transferred to the Fort Saskatchewan federal pen from the Edmonton Remand Center. Apparently she tried calling me from there but for some reason it wouldn’t go through to my phone.
It seems she was driving Tony’s roommate’s car without a license and had a minor accident, accruing charges along with previous violations. We talked for a while and at the end Nina said she’d phone the next day… but never did, she didn’t call me back for weeks. And when she did it was it was a rather short conversation, but asked if she could call me again the next day. Of course I said yes hoping that she truly would.
Upon careful consideration over the next few hours though, I hesitantly began to have a change of heart. Then suddenly my trepidation evolved into a confident peace.
 At the time I was already past due for re-upping my phone minuets, I couldn’t dial out but was still able to receive incoming calls. That is how I planned it in order to receive a week of free service per month. But that too was due to run out as well and so allowed it… I would not hear from Nina again. Feeling I just wasn’t strong enough to do what I knew I must… which was to let her go.
I never did get my phone running again, in part due to the fact I lost the SD and memory cards about a month later. But just the same, it is my belief that if she really wished to contact me again she’d be able to do it through facebook once she got out.
So there you have it, the latter part of my time living in the Millwoods area. I may have had some of the time frames a little confused but that’s pretty much the beef and taters of it. Now this doesn’t fully explain why I decided to hit the streets so I’ll fill in the gaps for you. Allow me to begin with a dream…
I’ve always understood it most likely wouldn’t work out with Nina and I. God, in his infinite wisdom and graciousness, showed me a vision in the form of a dream early on in the relationship. In the dream, Nina was lying on a bed feeling a little under the weather. As I stood over the bed looking down at her, there were many children running around the room and playing, making a lot of noise. (not necessarily all representing her or our blood children, some may represent other aspects of life we’ve created together. Or maybe we just ran a daycare, lol)

Then as I sat on the edge of the bed we engaged in a very passionate kiss, where she abruptly turned away to rest. I stood up and began to gather the children, ushering them out of the room. But as we left, I was looking back at Nina with the feeling that she wasn’t fully into our relationship or even the children for that matter… not really. I also felt as though I was pretty much on my own caring for those children. And then I awoke.
Now one might think it was just a dream of my own apprehensions, and I too had considered this and even wanted to believe that was the case. But I simply just could not fight the fact that it was a vision from God, the Holy Spirit would not allow me to fool myself. That as well as the fact I’ve received dreams of this nature before, which naturally came true. Except for one though, in that case I repented, wrote a letter of apology and set things right. Maybe you’ll read about it in book someday.
Most likely any real sane person, in light of this revelation, would immediately walk away from this situation in the interest of self preservation. But I have never claimed to be sane by any means, in the traditional sense at least. I kept myself in that situation with Nina to try and help her understand she could have more in a relationship… more than it being just based on sex and drugs. And I truly did love her and believed through love, anyone could change.
 I ask silly questions to which I already know the answers during bible studies, for the benefit of the group. At times I wouldn’t say anything to defend myself when someone talked shit about me, with the faith that my character would speak for itself, as well as my Father. Well, that or I just didn’t give a damn what they thought. And I would put myself in spiritual as well as physically dangerous situations if felt it would be beneficial somehow, either in a quantifiable or educational capacity. That’s just how I roll, lol.
Such as an instance nearing the end of my time in Millwoods where I was willing to give my life, or take the one of a thug gangster for my friends. Cody, an acquaintance of Ryan and Sophia, started in on Ryan first for using Sophia and Roxy the way he did. He and Sophia talked about tying him up and leaving him in the bathtub for four to five days. Some stabbing was also mentioned but other than smacking the guy around, I told them I couldn’t allow any of it. So they backed off. Later, on another evening when Ryan wasn’t around, Sophia came to me afraid for her own well being from this guy, so I watched over her for the night.  
Cody had taken over Troy’s apartment, using it to party and hide out from other thugs who I heard wanted to take him out. The next morning, he and some chick came over and it was very tense. Obviously this guy had been partying for quite some time without sleep and didn’t seem to be in a proper state of mind. She tried to separate me from Sophia and he tried to goad me into making a move with snide little comments, but I wouldn’t… and neither did he. With this guy, I felt that one just couldn’t have a little tussle and be done with it, oh no. And I was not about to end up in a bathtub someday so it was my belief that if it came down to it, I’d have to put him down… hard. 
It turned out cool though. After they left, Sophia packed her stuff and left and so did I. Funny thing was, Ryan continued to remain his friend after everything that had happened. I washed my hands of Ryan that day, leaving him to his own foolishness.
It is my understanding Sophia has gone back home, gotten a job and is once again with her kids. And I like to think I may have had a helping hand in that. I also have faith that my efforts with the others shall produce fruit as well someday. That is, if they already haven’t… by the grace of God.
 Understand this… I do not express these things to you to put myself upon some pious pedestal mind you, for clearly I’m not too saintly. And I have done many things I’m not proud of due to the influence crack/cocaine… the thorn in my flesh so to speak.
I tell you this to help you recognize that it is not always prudent to feel we have to protect ourselves from the crap that goes on around us. How can we hope to reach and possibly help those who may need us by restrictively sitting in the pews on Sunday praying for them and throwing money at the church and charities? These things are all good and all as well as mandated God. But I believe sometimes, some of us are called to do more. Sometimes we have to be willing to give up everything of this worldly existence, including our very lives in order to plant the seeds of hope. And to share an extraordinary light of love to even the most seemingly lost.
  Just think about Jesus, if He simply cared for covering is own ass, we all would be in for a world of hurt.

 Mark 14:36
  And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

Perhaps Jesus knew just how many would be so indifferent to His sacrifice. Along with those who say that they loved Him, but are so indifferent to the rest of His children. In the end though despite His reservations, He was faithful to the Father… and to you and I. 
   Now I would never presume to be in any sort of league of the one and risen Son of God, or even His disciples for that matter. But I do believe he has blessed me with a purpose on this planet, regardless of how messed up I may be or how I might mess up.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

  It has been quite some time since I’ve actually cared about my own happiness in this world. I gave up that right many years ago when I chose to feel sorry for myself and not engage Dawn in custody battle for my youngest son after my mother died, and then chose to learn about the drug life. Though obviously it was not as cut and dry as that, basically however there’s the truth of it.  
And yet, as I have mentioned in a previous story, I strongly feel our Father with me the day I hit that critical point, a point where I had to make a fateful decision. I had a choice you see, either to continue on this lonely path in the search of truth and self discovery apart from the influences of main stream society, or to simply be a good little citizen like most. And regardless my decision, I knew Father God would have my back.
I mean, there’s no other way to explain why I’m still here, strong in my convictions and holding on to such love for My Lord. Odds are I should be dead, either by an overdose, confrontations or disease. I should be sick with some sort of virus due to the dirty needles and various contacts with those who were, but I’m not. And I don’t think I’m that big or scary looking, yet time and again men and groups of men much more dangerous than I, have given me the road.
You see for me, there is only one explanation. The Lord of Hosts is the One who, when it counted, has gone before me and it was He who struck fear in the hearts of my enemy, not I. Just as I believe it is He who has kept or cleansed me from disease that I may, in some small part, to do according to His will and bring you these communications of faith.
  Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it? Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it? As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up, Or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood!

Yes, just like any man, I may get disillusioned from time to time with the selfishness, ignorance and closed mindedness of mankind at times. But it is by Faith I am able to carry on. And yes there are times I may wish I had things for myself, such as a wife as in the case with Nina. Which is probably why the summer of 2013 records the greatest number of times I’ve ever asked God to remove me from this planet. But perhaps my life has no real place for romantic love right now. I’m still pretty much too unstable with providing a home, I may never be.
At the same time though, “all things are possible through our Lord Jesus Christ” as His word states. So with that I am sure I would have been able to do anything it would have taken to care for us. Of this I do know.
But I’m no dummy when it came to giving in totally to Nina. Just as I’ve stated when I said I’d prefer that she’d get her own place rather than the two of us moving in together. I did not wish to be simply something for her to fall back on, or some sort of safety net. That is why I didn’t run out and get an apartment at that time or later. I wanted to see if she was willing to try and fight for her child and for me.
Oh I’m sure you believe that a man has no right to ask for such things without a fat bank account and seemingly can’t provide for another. But cannot a great and mighty God provide the necessities a faithful servant needs. Is God not the only provision we need? Where is your faith? I pray it lies not solely in the chase of stature, money and self preservation. These things should come after, not before and above our Love.
I’ve heard some clergy preach beyond this truth. They’ll ask the people for money so that they may do the work of God at every sermon. Of course it is right to bring in the scriptures regarding this matter from time to time, but every sermon?! Where is their faith? Should they not, of all people, trust in the Lord and go to Him for the provisions rather than harping on this truth. Guilt drilling God’s children for fancy buildings, big screen video propaganda, light shows and colored pamphlets… Bullshit.
My apologies, I tend to ramble at times so please forgive me.
 With that… there was another reason I didn’t want to acquire a full time job or apartment that spring… Sophia.
Even though she was with Ryan off and on for a place to stay, Sophia began to come on to me. But I mostly only cared for her as a friend, and I don’t pull that kind of shit on my buddies. Regardless of the fact they just used each other. But I don’t mind saying, even though I thought she was too young for me, Sophia was very tempting.
 Anyway, she had asked to come with me when I wanted to hitchhike across Canada that summer, well as far as Saskatoon at least but I didn’t go. Then she contacted me after we permanently moved out of Ryan’s to see if I had my own place yet. Which I saw coming, but I was not about to become another Ryan…. Not my style.
So in the beginning, I decided to stay on the streets for a while in order to avoid having to refuse those I loved from moving in with me. Then I started to enjoy the summer with friends and all the activities through the Bissell recreation program. When I was ready to return to full time employment, my knee blew out. Go figure huh.
But all things have a purpose. Heck, I most likely would not have started writing this blog if not for these events which transpired last year. So I ask you… right here, right now. If you enjoy these stories, look up, praise God, and thank him for blowing out my knee last summer. Hahahahah!
A friend recently said to me as we briefly discussed this story, “Why would you put so much personal stuff out there for everyone to read, I couldn’t do it”. Well I believe I’ve pretty much replied to that query here in the latter portion of our time together. With the realization and acceptance of the fact that, well… my life is not my own.
It belongs to God and so in turn, it belongs to all of you. In the hopes that you may walk away from these stories a little more encouraged in Faith as well as understanding through my experiences… on the wild side.
 In conclusion, there is one more thing I would like you to consider.

2 Corinthians 13:5

New International Version (NIV)
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

 We need to stop looking for that pot of gold at the end of everything we do or work to attain. And to look on in gratitude at our lives as well as those magnificent splendors and splinters which surround and penetrate us on a day to day basis, taking stock every so often in order to get our bearings. We need to do a check and see if our lives are amounting to something, something which could be accredited to the glory of God.  
Is there peace in your heart with past accomplishments and with what your life currently consists of? And I’m not talking about possessions accumulated or the positions we’ve attained in our careers, no. I’m talking about lives, people we’ve come in contact with and touched in some manner or other. Can you honestly say that there is someone out there, and not just those that were and are close, that would say to our Father one day, “Thank you for sending that person to me when You did, I really needed him/her”?

         For happiness is found in the journey accompanied by Love, not in the destination of deeds 

1 comment:

  1. great story and part of a great life...keep up the good (God) work!


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