Young and Craving for Freedom
I was a captive to drugs for more than 10 years. I had my first taste of marijuana when I was 11 years old. I gave in because of peer pressure. At first, I did not like it because it made me dizzy, but I eventually liked it because it made me numb and gave me temporary satisfaction. In high school, I smoked regularly, sniffed glue, was introduced to shabu, and then got addicted. I finished high school and enrolled at a college, but my addiction grew worse. I dropped out of college. This made me happy because I wanted to enjoy FREEDOM. I wanted to be free to do everything I wanted!
The Old Jayson
Enslaved and Lost
I grew up in in a family of five in Lilo-an, Cebu, as the eldest of two brothers. My mother was a school teacher and my father did not have a regular job. My father was a drug addict. I saw in him the bad effects of drugs like being irritable, violent, irresponsible, selfish; plus, he was stealing and manipulating the people around him.
I ended up just like him. Naging totoo nga ang kasabihan—“Like father like son.”
I sold drugs with my father and my brother. Both of them were in and out of prison except me. At home, there were always fights and shouting, causing shame to our family. Despite having all the reasons to leave us, my mother never left. She was such a blessing!
My life revolved around drug addiction and its lifestyle. Every day, I was looking forward to my next hit, forgetting the dreams I once had in my life. When I was a child, I dreamt to become a Catholic priest. I also wanted to become a teacher, but this evolved to wanting to become a seaman so I could earn money, buy more drugs, and have women. Ang dami kong pangarap! (I had a lot of dreams!)
Addiction had a full grip on me, so much so that I ended up lying and hurting my friends and my family. I stole and cheated from many people. I engaged in immoral sexual relationships with homosexuals, prostitutes, and even a married woman. I was depressed. I had low self-esteem, and no one trusted me anymore. I was also hooked on gambling (Kara Krus), and it made my life worse.
I still believed in God. I sometimes prayed when I was drunk and high on drugs. I was asking God to give me a chance. I was praying to have my life back, but I felt like it was all in vain. Thoughts of committing suicide were normal. One incident happened when I was alone in my room. I was high, drunk, hopeless, and lonely. I had a gun under my pillow and was thinking of killing myself to end the emptiness I felt. It just so happened that I had some reservations. Was dying painful? I thought to myself. Would my death create a scandal for my family? My physical and mental states were deteriorating. I was so skinny. I started hearing voices. But praise God, I did not snap!
The turning point in my life came when my father was shot and murdered on October 20, 2012, at nine in the evening. As my father was buying cigarettes and smoking beside a basketball court, an unknown gunman fired at him using a .45 caliber pistol. When I heard the gunshot, I went out of our house and saw our neighbor carrying my father.
My father was shot in the stomach. I thought he would live because in the movies, people shot in the stomach often survived. As we were carrying him, my father asked us to stop. He looked at the sky and said, “Lord, forgive me for my sins.”
Looking back at that moment, I believe my father made his peace with God.
The reason behind the murder was drug-related as we were involved in selling drugs. I was extremely scared and afraid, confused, and angry at the same time. I was with my father in the hospital during his last moments. I turned to God and prayed, asking Him to give my father another chance to live. But I also said to God that if my father wasn’t going to make it, I’d rather He take him away peacefully.
While my father lay dying, I promised him that I would change and be a good example to my siblings. I didn’t know why I said that. It was God’s grace that I had the chance to say sorry to my father for all my failures. It was my father’s dream that I would NOT end up like him. It was also the first and only time that I said, “I love you” to him. I wish I had told him that more often.
END OF PART 1
What happens to Jayson? How does his life change? Does he truly end up just like his father? Find out in PART 2 of “From Drugs to Riches.”
Jayson T. Belleza
JAYSON T. BELLEZA is part of the Leadership Team of HELP International CMC Philippines. He is a “House Parent” at the Set Free Center. Jason is also a Prison Ministry Head at the HELP International CMC Phil.