“For the First Time, I’ve Found True Inner Peace”
Sherrie curled up on her cardboard mat to sleep. She didn’t know how much longer she could live like this, experiencing homelessness, squatting under an abandoned house. But she didn’t know where else to go. Substance abuse led her to this point, but her story started long before she was introduced to drugs and alcohol.
She had a happy childhood and went to church every Sunday with her grandparents. However, when her parents divorced, Sherrie’s life started to unravel. She didn’t see her dad much, and her mother worked all the time, which opened the door for Sherrie to be abused by an uncle.
“It was extremely traumatic. I never told anybody about it because I was so young. I didn’t quite understand what was happening to me,” she explains. “My brother and I had very little supervision, so I started experimenting with drugs, alcohol, boys, and other things I shouldn’t have been doing.”
Sherrie needed a change, so she moved to live with her dad again. It was a good decision. She turned her life around and graduated high school, then she attended a two-year college and earned an associate degree. She got a good job, got married and had children. However, balancing a busy home life with small children proved challenging. Sherrie was overwhelmed by the responsibilities of full-time work, housework and raising children.
“I was trying to juggle too much. I was sitting at my desk one day at work, and I couldn’t stop shaking. I had a nervous breakdown. My doctor prescribed me medication, and I started to abuse it, along with alcohol.” Still overwhelmed and now struggling with substance abuse, Sherrie did the only other thing she could think of, she left. She thought her children would be better without her. “I wasn’t thinking clearly because of the drug and alcohol abuse. I was very unstable. I felt out of control.”
The next several years were a blur of substance abuse and toxic relationships, until she reached rock bottom, sleeping under a house on a piece of cardboard. Fortunately, a security guard found her and took her to the hospital, where she was referred to the City Rescue Mission.
“That was the start of my new beginning,” she says. “I felt hopeless, but the Mission accepted me. It was instant relief. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. They just made me feel at home.”
Sherrie joined our LifeBuilders recovery program and started going to counseling, Bible studies and classes that empowered her to overcome substance abuse, and heal from her past. Most importantly, she learned that God is always there for her and has a plan for her life.
“I always felt like there was an emptiness inside of me. The harder I worked, the emptier I felt. It’s because my focus was not on God,” she says. “I have inner peace for the first time in my life. It’s indescribable – like an overwhelming feeling of love. I now understand that I can always talk to God and that He’s going to love me and be there for me no matter what.”
Now a graduate of our program, Sherrie works on our staff. She continues to gain confidence in herself and is still learning to open up to others, and her future is bright. She wants to continue helping others who are less fortunate – as she once was.
“Before coming to the Mission, I had no direction. I used to talk down to myself… but I no longer allow those negative thoughts into my brain,” she says. “The Mission taught me to believe in myself again and gave me the opportunity to rekindle my encouragement, that I can now share with others.”