I’m Luz. I’m loyal. I’m respectful. If I’m loving you, I’m loving you all the way. People are drawn to me because I have good vibes and stay positive. It makes my day to make people smile. I think before I speak. I’m very loveable.
I have two daughters who bring me lots of joy. The oldest is autistic so she likes to block everything out around her and just be with herself and her iPad. Sometimes I go and I invade her fort. It just feels good to lay next to her and appreciate that moment. Usually she doesn’t let people into her space, but she lets me in.
I grew up here in Denver in a bad neighborhood. You could say the ghetto pretty much. It was the early 90’s, and I was exposed to gangs and violence and dope dealing from a young age.
I never really felt the connection and love with my mom because she was giving it to my nephew. I was the baby in the family, so it really hurt.
I got sent home for the first time in 6th grade. I used to dress kind of like Marilyn Manson with shirts that said things like “Satan loves you.” I got sent home for wearing clothes like that.
I was an honor roll student until my second semester in high school. I started partying, started drinking. I got caught drunk in school and I would leave the house all the time to go drink and get high. I was 15 when I started selling pills.
I tried cocaine when I was 16 and did it every day. I met the father of my kids in high school too. I was with him on and off for 13 years but he was abusive in every way.
I didn’t care about my mom’s opinions. I felt like she wasn’t there for me so why should I listen to her. I never had a relationship with my dad either. He came into my life when I was 12, but he was a drug addict and an alcoholic. My dad and I got in physical fights.
I got kicked out of school when I was 17 years old because I got in a fight and pulled a knife out.
When I had my baby in 2012, I stayed clean for a few months. But I started doing drugs again. My mom kept my baby to raise her. I ruined my relationships with my mom and my sister.
My life crumbled after that. We got pregnant with our second kid. So I turned myself in to get clean and keep my baby safe. I relapsed again.
I called my parole office for help and I was sent to New Directions. I was caught selling drugs in the facility. They called social services and I lost my other kid. It was the worst feeling ever.
I was alone. I moved into an apartment, and I did what I knew how to do which was to sell drugs. I hung out with all the wrong people. I was in and out of jail for years.
The last time I was arrested, I knew I would be sent to prison. The judge asked me if I had anything to say and I said, “whatever you give me, I’m going to turn my life around.” I knew I needed to do something different.
I joined the therapeutic community (TC) while I was in prison. All it took was one person to believe in me. My counselor in TC told me she knew I could do it and live right. In the past, I did what I wanted and when I wanted. It was such a big switch in my brain. But it motivated me to start believing in myself. I knew I had to work on my behaviors in order to change.
I transitioned to The Haven because I knew I needed that structure and treatment. The experience was life changing. They taught me how to live in recovery.
Then I finally got a job. I thought I wasn’t worthy but I am. I’m thankful for Women’s Bean Project because they gave me a chance to prove not only to the community, but to myself that I can do this. I can succeed.
At the Bean Project, I learned real skills to take with me to the next job. I had a team who really cares and who invests in me, and a staff who believes in me. It gave me confidence, knowing that I’m hirable and have a great work ethic. It did a lot for me inside and outside.
My favorite class was Dress for Success and I liked working with my job coach. She’s really awesome. She was really patient and understanding, helpful. Like with my letter of explanation, we put it together, together. I couldn’t have done it without her.
I’m excited about what the future has for me. I’m excited to advance in life and make hard earned money in a 9-5 job. I hope to have my own apartment or house, and to have my oldest daughter living with me. I also want to stay connected to the positive forces in my life. For me that’s The Haven, my family and my church.
I’m proud of my recovery. I never thought I was capable of it. I have a normal life with routine in it. People say that some people don’t go to prison and change, but I did. I chose to live. Finally.
You should be so proud of yourself! You are giving your daughters a good role model.
I wish you all the success in the future.
So glad to read how you turned your life around. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. Keep up the good work. You must be so proud!
Luz, your story expresses such beautiful examples of the Hero’s Journey and powerful transformation. Clearly you have tapped into the good that was sitting inside yourself all along. Thanks for sharing. It will definitely help others who are just getting started.