“Drugs are ‘cunning, baffling, and powerful.’ They teach us that in NA. Drugs can change your soul. I’ve seen it happen to so many people. But through twenty years of crack addiction, I always maintained my sense of self. I took so many beatings from drug dealers. I had my skull fractured, my nose broken, I lost an eye. I was shot twice with a 44 magnum at point blank range. But despite all these afflictions, despite all that darkness, I was able to maintain my sanity and self-respect. I’d never rape anyone. Wouldn’t attack anyone. Would never rob with a gun or a knife. Wouldn’t yell, or scream, or frighten people. That’s not who I was. I never forgot my name. I never forgot my birthday. I used to go to the library, and open the encyclopedia, and memorize all the muscles and nerves and organs. I wanted to document myself. I could always locate my sternohyoid. And my thyrohyoid. I’ve always known my human worth. I think so much of that came from my mother. There’s a word called ‘superego,’ and it means how you’re trained by your parents and stuff like that. It’s the thing that guides you. I can still hear my mother’s voice talking to me today. Telling me to take care of myself. And to respect myself. Saying: ‘You’re a good person, Frederick.’ That’s one thing she always did. She always called me by my name. Even when I let her down. Even when I stole from her. Even when the whole world was ignoring me. She never called me ‘son.’ Never ‘boy.’ Never ‘idiot.’ She always called me Frederick. And she told me that I’d always been a good person.”

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