In 7th grade, with financial troubles at home looming, the shooting of a family friend, and an introduction of a stepfather and stepsister to the family, Demetria began rebelling. By the 10th grade, she was in fights, drinking, smoking marijuana and eventually dropped out of school. At 16, Demetria tried cocaine for the first time and was thrilled by the way it took her out of body. Soon after, she discovered she was pregnant by her boyfriend, three years her senior.
When Trae, her son, was four months old, she began using on a regular basis. Once she discovered she was pregnant a second time, she fell into a deep depression and continued drinking and doing drugs throughout her pregnancy and after the birth of her second child, Brandon. She was constantly high and says regrettably, “I don’t even remember when that boy started walking.”
Three years later, Demetria had her first daughter, Gabby, followed 16 months later by her daughter, Dasha. Gratefully, all of Demetria’s children were born healthy, but because traces of cocaine were found in Demetria’s system, she was required to enter various treatment programs in order to retain custody of her children. Though she would be clean for months at a time, she would fall back into the vicious cycle of addiction and realized she simply could not stop.
She remembers the night one of the women came to get her and bring her to Magdalene. “It was 9:30 at night and I had just gotten through using. There was a knock at my door and I knew what she was there for. She said, ‘you have 15 minutes to decide what you’re going to do – are you going to stay or are you going to go?’ And with no hesitation – it wasn’t even me that said it – I said, ‘I’m gonna go.’”
Making a real attempt to get clean, get her life together and be a better mother to her children, she entered Magdalene in October 2008. She is now in therapy and says “it’s been hard as hell. What I’m going through in therapy is the stuff you would have seen me running out the door from because I don’t want to feel it. But I’m doing something different now.”
Last month, Demetria began working at Thistle Farms and is quickly on her way to joining the sales team. With a huge smile and infectious laugh, she is a natural and makes others around her feel immediately comfortable. She says, “God was carrying me and is still carrying me now.” Her words of wisdom to a newcomer are: “It’s not going to be easy, but just hold on and if you need someone to lift you or just someone to hold you, I’m there.”
Written by Carolyn Snell.
Photographs by Kristina Krug.