My mother had big dreams for me,” says Sera Allen. As the valedictorian of her high school class, the last thing Ellen would have thought was her life to be in rubble. “I should have never gone through anything like I had,” she says. “But I made an accomplishment, too.”
Born on the South Side, Allen’s birth mother abandoned her when she was a baby. “I got lucky to be with the sweetest aunt of all. The family called her Aunt Sweet.” Allen attributes her solid value system to Aunt Sweet, who is deceased. Her father, an alcoholic, was not encouraging.
Allen had a beautiful childhood. However, because Aunt Sweet had sheltered her from much of the world’s misfortunes, her lack of decision-making caused her to run down many dark roads.
In college, majoring in nursing, Allen said she felt that she could not measure up to the standards of her mother – so she dropped out and married. With her husband, Jeff, the couple had two children, Joshua, now 23, and Celeste, 24.
“I regret that they were in the Department for Child and Family Services,” Allen says. “That’s when I began my addiction.”
After the separation of the couple – the divorce did not come until 2005 – Allen began dabbling in the drug scene for almost 16 years, depressed and then chronically addicted to crack/cocaine.
“I experienced homelessness for all of those years,” Allen says. “I had lost all hope and I had totally given up.” Allen tried various treatment centers searching for inner peace. Nothing worked.
“I knew that I was out of my element and I personally did not feel that I would ever be right. I had become very despondent, and all I did was use over and over again.”
Things took a turn for the better in 2008, when Allen discerned that either she should live as an addict or die one. She did not use for two weeks, questioning her immediate future.
“After about 1,500 times of trying and failing, the trying and failing worked. I did not want to spend the rest of my life wondering why I’m doing these things.” Those two weeks transformed her and since 2008, she has not looked back in the name of her family.
“It was time for me to live. That person has died and Sera needs to live. I love people. And I love me now,” Allen says.
After reaching sobriety, Allen underwent three exploratory surgeries. She was diagnosed with a learning disability as well as a movement disorder.
Searching for a sense of independence, Allen discovered StreetWise and began vending. “It really brings me great joy, knowing that somebody is interacting with me,” Allen says.
Along with maintaining her health, Allen hopes to author a book to guide those who are lost, as she was.
“Now I have peace in my life,” Allen says. “It brings great delight because I never thought that I was going to escape what was before me.
Josh Kahn & Brittany Langmeyer
StreetWise Editorial Intern & StreetWise Staff