I'm Shelia A. Crockett, born January 8, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, in an upper middle class environment with big dreams of being a special education teacher and working in different youth organizations.
I really didn't understand what a dysfunctional family was until I was around 10 or 11 years of age when my grandmother passed. She and my aunt were my very best friends. I noticed I started to shut down emotionally. I started putting up walls to keep me safe from any more pain. At the sweet age of 13, I had a teenage crushes on my childhood best friend (Tammy) and a favorite older cousin who was a professional football player for the New York Giants and was 15 years my elder. Yes, I knew I was in heaven here on earth and in love for the very first time. Every time the Cowboys played the Giants, we were on the 50 yard line watching the games. We cheered our little hearts out for the Giants to win the game. He would always send us gifts if they won.
As well at this age I was raped, molested and then fondled by a minister, which changed my life forever. My faith, dreams and reality were destroyed, and I went to a very dark place and didn't return until 2016 to the light. At this age for something like that to happen to you, it changed your entire outlook on life. I would act normal to save face. I didn't want anyone to know what had happen to me. I was so ashamed and felt betrayed.
Eventually at the age of 21, I started experimenting with drugs to numb all of the pain that I was feeling and hiding. I was a very functioning addict. I worked and attended college. I had good grades, but eventually I dropped out because the pain became even harder for me to bear. I ended up going to jail for theft and credit card abuse by letting someone talk me into allowing them to come to my store and steal clothing. I ended up getting three years probation. I did my probation with no problems while going to business school, being on the dean's list and still working even harder.
After being on drugs for three years strong and seeing how I was fading away and looking thin, I made a change and prayed for GOD to remove some people from my life and take the desires to do drugs away from me.
I had been in two robberies at gun points, I was high as a kite and asleep over in a corner and not knowing what was going on at that time.
At 24 years of age, I was finally able to be with my crush of 11 years with the help of my best friend. The pro-football player and I were together for three years, and it was so great at the beginning. We got engaged and I was expecting our first child. I lost my child playing basketball. You need to be careful for what you ask for and want in life. With that being said, he was very abusive and unfaithful to the limit, yet I was so in love until I was comfortable with the situation. At one particular time he got real sick and I couldn't understand what was happening. I had to take care of him, and he would never tell me what was wrong with him. So I let it go and we went on with life.
I called myself trying to be a con artist and stole two vehicles from a car lot and took them to L.A. I let him know what was going on because he was a deputy sheriff in that town. One of his girlfriends wanted me gone, and he turned me in to the authorities in Texas. She paid for his mother's retirement party because she wanted to be a part of the family celebration without me being there with them.
I stayed in jail for 5 months and 6 days of the 5-year sentence I was given. Those were some of the best days of my life. I was the outsider and people would come by and ask me if I was an undercover FED sent there to check out some of the grievances that some of the inmates had written. That was when I realized that I was someone special, but I didn't know exactly how special. While I was locked in the county I met this young lady named Billie Sue who was there on a drug charge. One Saturday morning, I had an allergic reaction to the cleaning material, and I wasn't able to talk. She was the only one who would help me. I had sores all around my mouth, and they were saying I had herpes. That wasn't the case, just a reaction. Billie Sue nursed me back to normal until I was able to speak again and I told her that I would pay the gesture back one day. She left county before me to go to into the system for 4 more years. She reached out to me and we were close friends. I met her husband and daughter while she was still in the system. Whenever she needed assistance I was there, and for that when she was released she surprised me and came to my mother's house.
I had made an appointment with my doctor to get a physical and get tested. I was still curious about what had happened in the county jail. I received a call 2 weeks later to come into the doctor's office. That was when the curse with many blessings began. He told me not to worry that I was HIV positive. That was September 17, 1991. He stated that my being nosey actually saved my life. I was at the very early stages and that I would live a very long time. He asked a lot of questions about if I knew who and where, and I stated I did not but knew in the back of my head it was the Giant.
I slipped even deeper into darkness, God was always there to show me the blessings. I was just too depressed to care to see them. In 1999, I had plans to kill myself, and he made the first knot in the rope for me to live with my godson, A. Lewis. I used him as a life line and asked the Lord to just let me see him graduate high school. He has done just that and now he is in college. I was getting weak again when two close friends died of cancer. He sent another knot for my rope by way of my little princess, K. Galloway. She has been a handful and a big stress remover.
I was a dedicated softball player for 35 years and had to stop because of my vision. I noticed my anger was getting worse. I started to drink a little to cope with the stress at work and then I was fired. So much started tumbling downhill, and all the other hidden illnesses started popping up, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and schizoaffective. I became homeless in 2015 and now I'm part of the Legacy housing program.
Although some would say they would have truly given up, I couldn't. I had a purpose. I just had to make it to the light. I'm here and you will be hearing my voice really soon. I love where I am in life now. I'm free and not hidden from the past. Some wouldn't want to be in this place right now and have this disease but not me, because it's my starting point in life. He the Father has been with me the entire trip. I just had to catch up. The curse with many blessings.
Shelia Crockett is PWN-USA DFW co-chair.
[Note from TheBody.com: This article was originally published by PWN-USA on Aug. 17, 2017. We have cross-posted it with their permission.]