Wanda’s Story

I’ve been so low, I thought I could never get up. I come from a family of abuse—physical, emotional—and for three years, starting when I was 10—sexual abuse. My parents divorced and there was little support. I hated my life, and by 9 years old, I was drinking and smoking dope.

I still made good grades trying to impress my mom. But the good grades ended when I was 16; that’s when I started using meth.

By 22, I was trafficking and in a terrible marriage—we were an “addiction couple,” together only for the drugs. One day in a drug stupor and hallucinating, I beat my husband with a baseball bat. I ran. I dodged the cops. I lived on the streets. And finally woke up in a run down house with no electricity, no phone, and trying to find a vein to inject myself.  I said a two-word prayer: “Help me.”

I was caught and arrested. That was the beginning of the answer to my prayer. In the back of the cruiser, something told me, “Give in.” I believe it was God.

I had nothing. I had no self-respect and no morals. I was a “gutter junkie” —I lied, I cheated, I conned, I was a thief—no values except the next hit.

It was actually jail that helped me heal enough to change. At least I knew where my next meal was coming from, and had consistency.

I joined a 12-Step program there and I was paroled to Brighton Recovery Center, where I smiled my first real smile in years.  I began to care about other people and learned to love myself.

One day I thought, “Oh my god, I’m doing this!”

I first went to Dress for Success Cincinnati on my 2nd Anniversary of “clean and sober.”  They made me feel welcome and like a valuable human being.  The clothing and pampering and the people all made me feel beautiful.

Today I’m a Peer Support Specialist at the Recovery Center. I help other women see that recovery is something worth having. One thing I do is bring other women to Dress for Success so they can feel worthwhile, too. 

It feels good to be able to give back.