I’d like to introduce you to our guest blogger today. Let’s call her Rhonda. She and I were part of an interdenominational weekly prayer group for several months before she moved away. I knew little of her story until she shared it with me in an email recently. I wonder…how many of us have people in our lives whose stories remain untold? Whose secrets remain hidden? Whose God-stories need to be shouted from the mountaintops so others can be delivered? If you have an addicted loved one, may Candace’s story revive your hope in the power of the God who came to set the captives free!
Stop for a moment. Close your eyes. Try to imagine life as a homeless woman with a horrible crack cocaine addiction. Can you even picture it? This post is what it looked like for me as I fought addiction and failed for tumultuous ten years.
Ten years of my existence were sacrificed to a life of homelessness, prostitution, jail, crime, lies and worst of all, rubbing shoulders with cocaine-addicted men who were looking for people to sell them children. I ran from these “crazy’s” and am still traumatized by the horrible things I heard them say.
My introduction to drugs started at age eighteen while I was working at Cracker Barrel. A cook at work befriended me. One night we smoked some weed and he mentioned snorting some lines. One thing led to another and three months later I was hooked on crack cocaine. I lost my job and start prostituting. Again.
Prostitution was nothing new for me. It became my norm, at the age of thirteen, for our neighbor to pay me for sex. He was a successful executive with a local cell phone carrier. I learned early that even guys with ties play dirty. When I again resorted to selling my body after becoming addicted to crack, I prostituted myself to support my habit. I was too strong willed to let a pimp run my life.
After that Cracker Barrel cook taught me how to shoot up, snort lines and smoke crack, he watched me spiral out of control. I watched him cry many nights with regret that he had shown me these things. All I cared about was getting high. I ended up on the streets.
Eventually I tired of of men trying to pimp me (I can pimp myself, thank you very much). After being kidnapped and ending up with guys who were serious criminals, I had to get away. I just wanted to get high and those guys were not welcome in my space. An HIV diagnosis pushed me further and further into the streets. I believed I would eventually overdose on cocaine and die, so I gave up all hope of having a normal life ever again.
While in active addiction I had two children, Emily and Caleb. I managed to keep Emily for two years before my addiction forced me to give her away. Giving two-year-old Emily up was worse than my HIV diagnosis. In my mind, it proved I was a failure, a bad mom, a horrible person. Everything those bullies in school had told me was true. And I would prove it again.
In 2002 I was homeless, pregnant and smoking crack cocaine. Someone convinced me to go to the hospital. I did. At the hospital I pleaded, “I’m pregnant. I’m strung out on crack. Please take this baby now!” They did. Caleb came early and was born cocaine positive. The nurses were not very nice to me. They didn’t understand that I didn’t want to be a crack addict. I needed help but felt hopeless. I gave up Caleb in a prearranged adoption.
The devil had me. I was shackled with the stronghold of drug addiction. How far down, I wondered, is Satan going to take me? I wish he would kill me, but he won’t, I thought. He loves making me suffer.
(End of Part 1)
“Rhonda” is an 11 year – recovering cocaine addict who found Jesus in a jail cell. She hardly fits the stereotypical picture of a cocaine addict, having come from a “nice” family who was devastated by the choices she made as a young person. Rhonda brings encouragement and hope to others who struggle with addiction. She shares her painful journey only to reveal the glory of God. Rhonda lives in “The South” with her husband and 7 year old twins.