“I’ve finally stopped running from me”
Born in Ethiopia, Danait was five years old when her family was separated as they fled the conflict breaking out between her home country and neighboring Eritrea. While her mother relocated to Europe, her father brought the children to America, where he worked multiple jobs and long hours. He grew increasingly angry and frustrated over his struggle to provide for Danait and her two siblings.
“We were shuffled into a basement and that’s where we all stayed,” Danait recalls, “We pretty much raised each other.” Yet while they lacked material comforts, Danait’s father demanded his children stay in school and instilled in them a sound work ethic. “I thank God for that,” Danait says. But as she grew older, she focused on employment as the center of her life, forsaking her own social and spiritual development, and began to embody her father’s anger and anxiety.
“I didn’t know how to be in a community, talk to people or even share my emotions because I didn’t even know how to feel them.” When she used alcohol, all that changed. “If I drank, I felt alive. So I told myself, as long as the bills are paid, I can drink. I used that as an excuse.”
As the chains of addiction took hold, she denied their destructive consequences. After all, she reasoned, she wasn’t homeless. “I had a three-bedroom house… and only one bed. I didn’t have kitchen stuff. I had no sofas. I had one chair and one dish. I was living in a facade.” Yet she recognized the toll her life was taking on her brother. Ten years younger, he had always been her shadow and followed in her footsteps. Now he was drinking heavily too, and headed down a deadly path. She knew she had to make a change, hopeful he would also.
At her family’s urging, she came to City Rescue Mission and joined our LifeBuilders program. “I tricked myself into thinking I was doing it for him. Eight months later I realized I was doing it for me.”
With the guidance of our Christ-centered staff, Danait learned to identify and regulate her emotions and use them in positive and constructive ways. She’s regaining her sobriety and using her drive and accountability to excel at her ministry assignments. But most important, she shares, was her official introduction to God: “Someone I thought I knew but really didn’t.” And today she is building a new life in Christ.