Have you ever driven down a street and saw an addict on a corner, and wondered how they ended up in that situation?
Occasionally, people are thrown off course in life. In fact, sometimes the weight can be so heavy or the cloudiness so thick that some struggle to see, think, or move past their pain or struggles. As a matter of fact, they can start to feel like they’re in a dark cave surrounded by hopelessness with no way out.
Sadly, life has hit them hard and knocked them down, and they can’t find their way out of that hole. Addicts can find themselves in that sunken place.
It is for that reason, I wanted to write this article because I believe all women deserve a fighting chance. No woman should be counted out simply because she got lost, made bad choices, fell down, or became broken.
We have to stop turning our heads away from them, the ones who the streets stole from us—the drug addicted woman. They matter, too. They are mothers, daughters, grandmothers, granddaughters, friends, wives, nieces, and aunts who need to be loved, encouraged, empowered, prayed for, and lifted. Yes, they need a hand up. So, if you get the chance to say an encouraging word to a woman who is lost to the streets, speak up! Your words might be the ones that make a difference in her life.
But please, don’t look down on them. They are just women who got caught up in a bad situation and who lost their way. Love them anyhow.
With that in mind, please don’t forget about the other women who may feel lost or stuck in other ways, and need your voice too. Remember, a voice is a powerful thing when you effectively use it. Learn to use your voice to help and not hurt others!
So, for all those who are fighting for their life and who are sick and tired of the streets, and those who feel lost, or stuck, you need to know—your time is now. We see you, we are here for you, we are praying you through it. Don’t give up. Release and let go, and let God step in. He has been waiting for you to acknowledge you need Him.
With that said, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to stay where you are. The same thing that knocked you down can be used as motivation to help you get up. No matter what your struggle is, you can make it. You are stronger than you know, and more deserving than you give yourself credit for. Forget about all the things or reasons that put you in that dark place. I want you to see past your pain, past your afflictions and addictions, past your hurdles and shut doors, past your denials, past your heartaches, past your doubts, past your mistakes, past the broken promises, past the abuse, past the doubters, past everybody who said you were nothing, past the lies, past people’s judgement of you, and past your insecurities and fears.
Meet my guest, Monique Washington, she is living proof that you can change. She wanted to share her story with the hope that it can help those who are written off by society, or those who feel lost with no one in their corner. In addition, she wanted to empower and bring understanding to those looking from the outside to let you know they are not invisible, and that there is hope for people suffering from addictions.
3WV: Tell us a little about yourself.
Monique: My name is Monique Michelle Washington. I grew up in Los Angeles and was raised by my maternal grandmother. My mother gave birth to me when she was only 14 years old. I have six siblings who were also raised by my maternal grandmother and other family members. Today, my life has been turned over to the will of God. I often help other women that are struggling with addiction and I assist the homeless. Most importantly, I am a mother and a wife. My life isn’t perfect, but I’m no longer in darkness.
My favorite scripture is Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God who are called according to His purpose.”
3WV: Tell us your story.
Monique: My mother was a runaway and an addict. My siblings and I, all have different fathers. I didn’t meet my father until I was 11 years old. Soon after, I found out my father was also an addict and a pimp. When my mother ran away, she met my father and became pregnant with me. It is still unclear if my mother became a prostitute at that time.
My mother was in and out of my life, spending a great deal of hers in the penitentiary for various drug crimes, including manslaughter. The times she attempted to be a functioning mom, I was miserable with her. She kept me around drug infested places and people. We often lived in various motels and strange places.
Moments before she murdered her abusive boyfriend, my grandmother came to rescue me and I never went to live with my mom again. I was only seven years old. I was always terrified when the boyfriend was around. After, seeing my mom go through and living with addictions, I became an addict too. Even though my lifestyle as an addict was a little different from my mom’s life, I was still an addict and in darkness.
I became a young mother at the age of 14, and I was not expected to finish high school, but I did. I gave birth to my second child by the same man at 19, and got married in that same year. My husband was physically abusive and suffered from addiction as well. I was introduced to drugs by my first husband. After declining a full scholarship to study psychology, I became depressed. My abusive husband did not want me to attend college, so I refused. My family was livid. But I loved him. I began to depend on cocaine to not feel the pain that I emotionally inflicted on my family, and by allowing this fraction of a man to steer my future.
I knew about God because both of my grandfathers were ministers, so I grew up in the church. However, I felt God had abandoned me. I began to go from relationship to relationship with men that had no intentions on treating me right. Why should they? Especially, since I had no respect for myself.
Out of those toxic relationships, I gave birth to 3 more children (5 years or more apart). My life was unmanageable. I was an addict with 5 children, and they were split up among family members because I failed them as a mother. I had no purpose. I was an empty shell just waiting to die.
At that point, I believed there was no God. I felt how could there be a God and my life was in shambles? How could God allow me to choose drugs over my babies?
My mom eventually got sober, found a job working with homeless women and children, and began to live after giving her life to Christ. I was still stuck in darkness wondering when I would get that same opportunity to turn my life around.
I was invited to church after not being inside of God’s house for years. God placed me there that Sunday, so I could tune out the world, quiet the confusion in my spirit, and listen to what He wanted me to hear. To this present day, I remember the scriptures read on that Sunday: “Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Something in my spirit moved that Sunday. God told me to change my thinking and allow Him to fix everything that was broken in my life. I surrendered and re-dedicated my life to God. He began to mend my brokenness, and He restored my soul and my life.
Now, I’m a mother to my children, a wife to a great husband, but most all, I’m God’s child. He promised me that He will do all that I couldn’t if I obey His word. I can’t believe my life is so fulfilling today.
I never knew that God has so much love for me; He had love for me all along, I just shut him out and wanted to live My way. I made it y’all, I made it!
3WV: So that a person who has never been an addict can get the idea of what it’s like, tell everyone what your daily plight was like?
Monique: The drug made me not feel ANYTHING. The drug became my God. I was hooked on the euphoric feeling from smoking crack. The days weren’t normal unless I had a fix. Along with euphoria, there was often paranoia. It was like mixing oil and water together. I would spend my last dollar to get high. I wasn’t the addict to sell her body for drugs, but I would sell you a lie to borrow money from whoever would loan it to me, with the intention of never paying it back. That made me feel horrible, but my addiction wouldn’t let me stop. Nothing would make me stop. Not even Child Protective Services taking my children.
3WV: What was your turning point after so many attempts before?
Monique: My turning point was realizing I was dying, especially in my soul. I had no relationship with my children. I didn’t want to die in my bedroom with a crack pipe in my hand. My life was meaningless. I didn’t have anything to offer this world. Why did God create me? Surely, not to become an addict. I attended church one Sunday and the light turned on in my soul. I checked myself into an outpatient program and graduated a year later. In that program, I did extensive therapy. I found out the drugs were only part of the problem. I realized I carried many grudges against my mother and my husband.
3WV: In looking back at your life, what are some of your biggest regrets? And some of the lessons you’ve learned?
Monique: My biggest regrets were not attending college and doing more with my life. I also regret letting my children down and allowing them to see me fail as a mother.
I’ve learned if you invest in life and give it your best, you will reap the benefits of having a healthy and fruitful journey. In addition, I learned to always let your word mean something. And lastly, to never depend on a man, depend on God.
3WV: For someone who may be dealing with an addiction right now, what tips can you share that could possibly help them break that cycle?
Monique: If you are dealing with an addiction and you are READY to receive help, go to your local church, hospital, police department and/or a family member that can help you get the treatment you need. One of these places will steer you in the right direction. Be careful who you spend a lot of time with. Make sure these people are an asset to your life, and that they can help you grow as a person.
3WV: Forgiveness is necessary to effectively move on in life. Were you able to forgive your mother? Did you forgive yourself? Did your kids forgive you?
Monique: Forgiveness. It took me years to forgive my mother, and only then were we able to have a better relationship. The hardest person to forgive was me. I ended up becoming the very person I said I would never be; and that was my mom. I traded places with her and I hated myself for that. Only after deep therapy and a better understanding of life was I able to forgive myself. My kids are slowly forgiving me. I didn’t do this damage overnight so I know it will take some time to repair. Some damage is repairable.
3WV: What is it like with family and friends now, do they struggle with forgetting the old Monique (the addict) and seeing you as the renewed woman you are?
Monique: My family and friends remember the old Monique, but they embrace the new Monique. They are proud of the new me. They can depend on Monique to show up and be a support system for them. They are still in awe of how my life has changed. We don’t always agree or get along, but I know how to deal with conflict without grabbing my pacifier (cocaine). They will never forget my old life, and I’m sure it’s in the forefront of their memory, but their attention is mainly on my new lifestyle.
3WV: In the beginning stage of your attempt at turning your life around, how were you treated by the church? Were they welcoming?
Monique: The church welcomed me with open arms. They knew my history and would always pray that God guide me back into the house of the Lord. Most members are recovering addicts and they knew what it is like to be a newcomer. They embraced me with love and encouragement. Thank You God. I felt rescued.
3WV: How important is being spiritually connected to helping a person heal from an addiction?
Monique: It’s paramount! It’s critical to connect spiritually to a higher power in order to overcome the giants in our lives. God can do all that we can’t, if we trust Him. Get to know who God is and establish a personal relationship with Him. God will help you heal all the hurts and pain you’ve been through.
3WV: What are some signs that a person needs an intervention?
Monique: A person needs an intervention when they stop caring about their responsibilities or loved ones. When the bills become neglected, when there’s no food bought for the children or themselves, when the house is in disarray, when relationships are not nurtured, when life starts to become unbearable, and when normal things become difficult is when there should be an intervention.
3WV: What is the best way to deal with a family member or a friend suffering from addiction?
Monique: The best way to deal with an addict is to love them in spite of their situation. But loving them does not mean giving them money every time they ask for it. If they are hungry, feed them. Never become their enabler. Let them know you refuse to become a victim of their addiction. Let them know you love them, and that you pray they get the help they need. Give them some suggestions on how to get help—from a treatment center, an NA meeting, a sponsor, or a church, etc.
3WV: I’ve heard addicts say: Once an addict always an addict. How do you deal with withdrawals?
Monique: Addicts will always remember how the drug made them feel. If we could use drugs without it having a negative effect in our lives, we would. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the majority of addicts. Once you turn a cucumber into a pickle, you can never turn the pickle back into a cucumber. Once we become addicts, we can only accept our life as addicts. We have to work on our recovery everyday and for most every hour. I don’t have withdrawals from cocaine. The first year of my recovery, I would have these recurring dreams of me attempting to get high. I would strike the lighter and put the pipe up to my mouth, but before I would put the flame to it, I would wake up. I haven’t had one of those dreams in over eight years. It does get better as we stay in the recovery process.
3WV: Why do you think it’s important to share your story? What do you hope people can learn from you?
Monique: I hope and pray people can learn from my experience with drugs. If my story saves at least one life, my purpose has been served. We can only keep what we have by giving it away. I try to share my story as often as possible hoping to get through to the addict who still suffers.
3WV: Do you have any plans of writing your story in a book?
Monique: I have never thought about writing a book about my story. Maybe that could be a next project for me. However, there are a lot of books out there that are awesome for the addict to read. For starters, there is the Alcoholics Anonymous book, Cocaine Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and a host of other addiction books.
3WV: What last words of advice can you give to people who are suffering with an addiction or to anyone who is dealing with someone suffering with an addiction?
Monique: My words to the addict who is out there living a life of unmanageability, please reach out and get some help. Make the decision to live and not die. The world would be so sad without you in it living your best life ever. God created you to be great in all things. Do not deny yourself the opportunity to be great. Drugs are not necessary, but the belief in recovery is.
Article & Interview by: Debbie Stokes (Creator and Editor)
⇒⇒ To be featured in the blog or to be a guest writer – contact: Debbie3wv@gmail.com
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