My name is Alicia Wilcox. I’m a 47 year old woman with five children, ages 14 through 26. I have been struggling with the disease of addiction since 1980. I have been addicted to crack cocaine and alcohol ever since I can remember.
I come from a family of 12 children—seven girls and five boys. My mom was a workaholic, and my dad was an alcoholic. My mom married my dad at the age of 17 and had 12 children by the age of 30. My dad was very abusive. My mom stayed with him because she believed she couldn’t take care of her children without him, and she needed his pay check to take care of us.
I started stripping at a very early age to help my mom out and let her know that she didn’t need him and that she didn’t deserve to go through the things she was going through. My family was very dysfunctional and abusive. I always felt like an outcast or a black sheep.
I was the 10th child out of 12, the third youngest. All my sisters were older than me, except for one, so their clothes were passed down to me. Life was a living hell. I was always getting laughed at in school or out of school, no matter where I went. I was always depressed; it was bad. I bunked school on a regular basis because I didn’t feel a part of anything.
I didn’t know what to do, so I started shoplifting to get new clothes because my mom couldn’t afford them. Things got a little better because the kids stopped picking on me. I went to the Training School a couple of times for shop lifting, and my mom and dad always bailed me out so I didn’t care. It was a place away from everyone who knew me, a start at a new life where people acted like they liked me. At least, I thought they did. But they really didn’t. People say what you want to hear, so you believe them because you want someone to care about you and accept you for you.
Looking for love in the wrong places and in the long run—no one is really your friend– so you start hanging with people you would never hang with… that’s where your addiction takes you—straight to hell. It’s a vicious cycle. Same thing looking for different results.
I was homeless for at least six or seven years, off and on. Staying here and there, living on people’s couches, etc. I got locked up, and I didn’t want to live the way I was living no more. When I got out I didn’t want to go back to my old stomping grounds and my old ways, so I went to Crossroads; and Chrystal accepted me into their First Step program. In the First Step program, you have to do something with your life in order to stay there—like looking for a job or going to school. I went to school for my GED right in Crossroads, and I’m still going. I was only at the First Step Program for a month, and then I went into a couple’s shelter with my partner; and then my partner was able to afford an apartment. Dawn Kentish from the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless told me to go to SWAP and fill out an application. Four months later, I received my application and I’m filling it out now. Hopefully, within the next three to six months, I will be living in a SWAP home.
Today I look at life in a different way. Today, I want to live. I have been clean for five months shy of two years, and during this time, my life has gotten so much better. I have my children in my life, a man who loves me for me, and people who care about me and help me and don’t look for anything in return. I go to school for my GED, and I am preparing myself to attend school to become a medical assistant.
I will not give up on myself or my dreams and goals. I plan on getting married and one day opening up my own business. I write poetry and short stories. Today I smile. And if I wasn’t sober, I wouldn’t be able to do any of these things. But I am, thanks to my higher power—who I choose to call God—my man, my children, and the people in my life who love and accept me, for me.
Today life is good and dreams do come true. God gave me a second chance at life. I have to make the right choices.
Today I choose to live.