Cynthia, a native of Columbia, TN, learned about the pain of addiction at an early age. “I had my first drink at five and my first experience with marijuana when I was six. My father gave it to me.” Cynthia and her three sisters lost their father to a jail fire when Cynthia was nine and a half. After that, her mother became less present in the lives of her children.
“I had my first child at age thirteen and had three kids by the time I was sixteen. That’s when my mom left us. I had to raise my children alone and help teach one of my older sisters how to read.” Left to fend for herself, Cynthia says that she became full-blown addict by the time she was eighteen. She remembers the day she got in the car with a dope dealer, left her children on the side of the road, and did not sober up until three days later in Indianapolis, IN. “I came to and just remember trying to find my children. Eventually, I got word from my mom, and she told me what I had done. The next few years were just a series of broken promises, telling my kids I’d be home to see them and knowing I wouldn’t.”
Cynthia turned to prostitution, which began at a very early age. “I was molested by my first cousin when I was eight.” The course of Cynthia’s addiction took her through multiple charges and arrests across the state of Indiana, and she would not be finished using until she was thirty-four.
“My cousin Regina asked me, every time she saw me, if I had finally gotten tired of living that way. For years, I brushed her off." But after another arrest, Cynthia found her way to Magdalene. “I remember my sister coming to get me, and I was looking back and forth between a crack pipe and the sky. I finally just said to the crack pipe, ‘You have taken my life,’ and I told God I was going to step out on faith.” Cynthia settled into the Magdalene Community."I just remember that Becca was normal like me, and she had so much love. I didn’t think priests were like that.”
Now a Magdalene Graduate, a member of the sales team at Thistle Farms, and a happily married woman, Cynthia continues to hold on to one exchange from her first days at Magdalene. “Becca gave me a hug, and every time I wanted to quit, I remembered that hug. If she hadn’t hugged me like that, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Cynthia now celebrates her recovery by reaching out to others and publishing a memoir entitled A Little Girl Grows Up. “I want every woman who can be helped by the book to be able to read it. I want her to be able to say that it happened to her, and it happened to me, too. But I too can overcome this. ”