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connect 2016 51 My father never worked because he was a thief. Growing up my mother was very violent. Her parents were both alcoholics. Finally my mom left our home. I was the oldest girl so the responsibilities came onto me. I had eight brothers and sisters. I did a lot for my mother and my brothers and sisters. I would steal food and clothes. Anything they needed I would steal. I didnt want them to go without but I was always terried doing that. Caring for all of them meant I never got to go anywhere else. I didnt get much support at school either. So I left school when I was 16. I was 19 when I rst tried heroin. Other kids I knew had been on it since they were 12 and 13. I think I was the last one out of my group to take it. One day I was talking to my friend about emotional stuff and shewaslikeTrythisitwillgetridofthepain.SoItrieditanditdid it got rid of the pain. And it also got rid of everything else. When the addiction came I was of no use so I was kicked out. I was out on the street. I was homeless. I slept in broken down buildings and cars. That went on for a long time. I was always a very good person I always knew that. But I felt I was disgusting because I was a drug addict. I was very hard on myself because I knew I had so much potential. I always knew I was very smart and I always knew I could achieve so much more. That strength was there but I could never get the opportunity. And I think in the end what saved me was that part of myself. It was that ghter that was always there. I see now that for generations the women in my family were taught not to look out for themselves. They always came last. You were taught that everyone came before you the children your husband everyone. If there wasnt enough you didnt get fed you didnt get looked after. Everyone was before you. Being a woman and being homeless means youre terried. You can be sexually abused and beaten because youre vulnerable. You have no one to protect you. There are days youre so weak because you havent had proper nutrition so you just dont have the energy. You literally hide anywhere you can in broken down buildings broken down cars. I even snuck into my friends house while they were away and slept under her bed. When I was homeless Id do what I could to nd somewhere safe. Id hide in the woods under trees making little nests. I actually felt safe there because it was nature all around and there were no people there. I got into a Methadone program but I felt dull. On Methadone youre dead. There is no life. Youre not even alive its like youre breathing but theres no experience. Theres no smelling. Your senses are all gone. The most beautiful human gift you get as a human being is your senses. Ive experienced joy and happiness but thats taken away from you with Methadone. That went on for 8 to 9 years before I got to see a counselor. Thats where the next journey began. I went through detox. Then I went into therapy to connect with everything from my childhood which was a whole new battle. I was nally letting myself feel emotional pain and at times I just felt collapsed with memories. When you take medication the pain doesnt go anywhere. It just waits there for you. But that pain comes to the front when you come out of addiction. Then I was accepted at Daisyhouse. I literally shake at the memory of coming here. When I came in those doors something happened in that moment. I had an overwhelming sense of wholeness. It was the kindness the nurture the guidance and just allowing me to be. I had a tiny little space and I loved that. I was actually happy because I couldnt invite any family down. So I didnt have to be like Oh I cant have you stay over. I didnt want to have anybody over I needed that quiet tiny little space to be mine. It was beautiful. It was just for me. ThenIstartedtogotocollegewhichismassivelyimportanttome. Eventually Daisyhouse helped me get my own home. They brought me in and showed me and said Kerry this is yours I cried and cried. Daisyhouse is just pure love. To know that someone can love you unconditionally just because youre a human being is amazing. They want you to do well and will do anything to help you get that way. They have allowed me to open up my heart to me and to the world and to nature and to know that Im safe. Im not afraid anymore. Thats the gift that theyve given me. Were all equal and were beautiful. Were human. And isnt it a beautiful thing to be human MY NAME IS KERRY. I GREW UP IN A DEEPLY DEPRIVED PART OF DUBLIN. Kerrys story Name has been changed