‘If the world has taught me anything, it is that God only gives you enough that you can handle.’ -CL
My name is Colinda, and this is my story.
I grew up in a very abusive, dysfunctional, alcoholic home. I don’t remember much of a childhood except for walking on eggshells trying not to make my father angry. My mother was always in a state of fear.
I grew up quickly at a young age, standing up against my father for the safety of my mother and sister. Being the eldest child, my mother confided in me the most as we moved in and out of safe houses.
I was out on my own at the age of 15 and learned to survive and live where I could. I worked part time jobs and was determined to not live a life of abuse and poverty. Over the years I survived by becoming very determined and street smart. I knew what people wanted and what I had to do and say to get what I needed. I was crafty. Drinking with friends and doing drugs at age 16 helped me to feel free and like I could say and do anything!
In my twenties I partied like a rock star. I loved the attention I would get from men and was unclear about the difference between sex and love. I was in many physically and verbally abusive relationships and having a black eye seemed normal to me. I did not see I was a train wreck with zero self respect or self love. But, what did my childhood teach me about love?
I drank and partied my whole way through college, where I was becoming a community social service worker. I guess if I was going to work helping others, I didn’t have to think about my own shortcomings. I did well for awhile. I graduated, bought a car and a home. I made my dream come true. Then I crashed!
I was in a relationship with a man for 20 years who promised me the moon and delivered nothing. He led me down the garden path, telling me what I wanted to hear as he abused me over a very long period of time. I was stuck and lost.
Time went on and I started to use cocaine at my job where I was helping people with addictions. I didn’t tell a soul and felt like such a hypocrite! But my inner pain was so deep and the drug was my medicine. I knew I had to stop working, so I went to treatment. The first time didn’t take, they wanted to talk about family stuff and feelings! After two weeks I ran back to my addiction.
My addiction progressed further. My home went into foreclosure and my vehicle was repossessed. This made me feel more down, so I used more! I went back to treatment again, this time almost finishing three months. I convinced myself I could stay clean, and left again.
I tried to stay sober. I got pregnant and I did stay sober for my pregnancy, but lost my baby at seven months with my cervix being too weak.
I wanted to die. My addiction was running rampant. I had lost everything and was homeless, doing things I never thought possible. I had given up. My family would phone and stop in but I would hide and think if I ignored them, they would go away.
Then I overdosed and survived. I phoned treatment again and said I needed help and used until the second I walked in the door. I was using 24/7 by this point and weighed very little. My eyes were sunken in and dead. I was dead.
I slept for days then got beside my bed sobbing and begged God for help. Was he really there? Did he really exist? I could not do this on my own anymore. I was an out-of-control nightmare. I was sick of this hell, the drugs, the abuse, the torture I was putting myself through.
It was time to find out why I was doing this to myself?
‘This could happen to anyone. Let’s come together and help each other, not judge.’-CL
I went on to make it a successful easy three months through that treatment program, the difference being I listened and became humble and teachable. I did my steps, I got a sponsor, and I only hung out with recovery people for a whole year for fear of falling back. I did not get into any relationships with men or have sex. I discussed my inner pain which was very hard to do!
It has been years since those AA days and program days but I have much gratitude for the program, the rooms, and the people who loved me while I was learning to love myself.
‘I’m still a work in progress and there is always more to learn, but what I do know now is that everything that happened to me was for a reason. When we are in it, we don’t always see why or what the bigger plan may be, but we can accept everything that comes and embrace the bad because it is there to teach us something. We are not given anything we are unable to handle. I believe it’s like a series of tests we need to pass in order for our souls to grow.’-CL
Today Colinda practices a very spiritual life. She advocates for people who suffer from addictions, women who are fleeing violence, and people who find themselves homeless. She reminds those who are going through these kinds of challenges to reach out for help, and know they are not alone.