Finding the Spirit to Live

My Story By Maria Anderson

Twenty-eight years of my life were spent in shackles of the worst kind, the ones you can’t see from the outside. Abandonment, drug addiction, abuse and judgment from the people who should have loved me, losing my children because I couldn’t care for them—I could easily have given up. But for reasons my circumstances would not explain, I knew I wanted to belong to something wholesome and true. I did not want to die. I just did not know how to live. I persevered and finally found the inspiration I needed to turn my life around.

At age 8, I tried to kill myself because my parents divorced and I was told I would never see my father again. I became a very quiet, very sad little girl. At 13, my mom’s boyfriend started molesting me. He gave me marijuana to silence me. When I finally got the courage to tell my mother, she didn’t believe me. He stopped the abuse, but by then I had learned that drugs helped suppress the pain. At 16, a family member sexually assaulted me. Ashamed, I told no one and continued my downward spiral into addiction.

In school, I found joy playing basketball and being part of a team, but I lived a double life; when I wasn’t in school, I was off getting high somewhere. After graduation, I became pregnant and got married. My husband didn’t use drugs, and because I didn’t want to hurt my unborn child, I just quit. I stayed clean through my second pregnancy as well. However, I couldn’t trust my husband to understand my private pain. I was clean, but still very broken inside. Unable to share my experiences, I turned to drugs again, and after seven years of marriage, we divorced.

So there I was—co-dependent, scared, and alone. I soon married again to fill the void in my heart, which it did for a while, but we were both addicts and it wasn’t long before we separated.

My life was wrapped around drug use, couch surfing with other addicts, violence, jail time, fear and humiliation. I lost everything, including my children. The pain of living this kind of life was building and building.

I finally moved into my mother’s house, chafing under her constant warnings of hell if I did not get clean. I couldn’t tolerate her recriminations, but I did get clean and was able to find work, rent an apartment, get my kids back, and even start online college courses. Things looked like they were turning around for me.

Then, I was assaulted and left with disfiguring injuries. I turned to the National Center for Victims of Crimes for help with the medical care I needed. The application process, impossible to navigate in my condition, overwhelmed me, so I gave up. The assault threw me into despair and led me back to drugs. I lost my job, quit my classes, lost my apartment and my children, again.

Tired of carrying around all of the pain of my life, I reunited with my husband and for a short time we were both clean, but it didn’t last.

I found myself searching for something more, so one day I just said out loud, to no one in particular, “Please reveal the truth of life to me, show me the way.” That is when I discovered the Center for Spiritual Living of Southern Nevada and met Reverend Marquita Pierre-McAlister. I truly felt like I found my home when I walked through her door. Her message of gratitude and forgiveness gave me a great sense of hope. The sincere love and freedom I found at the Center breathed life into me. I began to believe that I could achieve good things, that I am beautiful, that I am the essence of God, and that I deserve to be happy.

I have been clean now for nearly 2½ years. I have received the medical care I needed. Today, I am a sponsor, helping other women who have been assaulted and who are addicted and in recovery. I am willing to speak about my experience, strength and hope and carry the message forward.

 

 

About the author

We all have our own stories, and we are connected in oneness …

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