Turning Pain into Purpose: A Member Engagement Specialist’s Inspiring Journey

In the heart of adversity lies the potential for profound transformation. This is the essence of the journey Cindy, a Wayspring Member Outreach Specialist, shares with us. Growing up in a world where challenges were the norm rather than the exception, her path from the shadows of substance use to finding her purpose in recovery is a testament to her resilience and strength. 

Her story is more than just a narrate of her battle and victory over substance use disorder; her story vividly illustrates how, with the right support and inner strength, it’s possible to rewrite your story. Her inspiring journey is a narrative at the heart of Wayspring’s mission to guide individuals toward a hopeful future. 


Cindy’s Story: Turning Pain into Purpose 

“I grew up in an environment where addiction, abuse, and co-dependency were normal. As a child, I believed that everyone’s home was exactly how mine was. I believed that parents fought, screamed, drank, and did drugs. I thought moving from place to place and school to school was normal. I remember always being scared of everything as a child. So much so that I would get sick to my stomach any time I got nervous and scared.  

My father was a very abusive man towards my mom, and I recall being on edge anytime he was expected to be home after pulling one of his all-night outings. I loved my father, and when he wasn’t drinking and using drugs, there was no one else I wanted to be around. I learned early on that when my father was being abusive towards my mom, I could distract him by climbing up in his lap and telling him how much I loved him. So, I became the peacekeeper without even knowing what it was. From then on out, I thought if my dad abused my mom, it was because I didn’t stop him. It was a heavy burden as a child. My mom was co-dependent. She and my father were married when she was young, and she did not know how to live without him. It wasn’t until I was older and in an abusive relationship myself that I understood why she didn’t leave.  

From the time I was born until I was eight years old, that’s how my life was. My father entered recovery when I was eight. He and my mom stayed together a few more years after that, and by the time I was 12, my sister and I had moved with my father from the city to a little country town. My mom had an 8th-grade education level, and she didn’t make enough to be able to raise me and my sister.  

At the age of 13, I started using illicit drugs and drinking. I no longer felt nervous or scared, and that sick feeling in my stomach was gone. I thought to myself, “I will do this forever.”  I developed an addiction to opiates at the age of 15 after I had my first child. My addiction continued, and I had another child at 19. At 21, I had my last child, and I had to give him up because my addiction had progressed so tremendously. I had become a full-blown IV drug user and crack smoker.  

From the age of 21 until 33, I had lost all my children, been to 3 treatment centers and several halfway houses, was in and out of jail, and had been convicted of 9 felonies, and I am not sure how many misdemeanors. My addiction continued to grow, and I was willing to do any and everything I had to do to feed it. In 2011, I got out of jail for the last time and managed to stay substance-free for a while. I regained relationships with my kids and family and was a productive member of society.  

Me and my father were close and both in recovery. In May of 2015, my father had a usage event, and that same night, he hit a tree doing 95 miles an hour and passed away. While in recovery, I had not done any positive work on myself; therefore, when the rubber met the road, I had no recovery foundation to stand on. By April of 2016, I had returned to use. I died what I call a spiritual death during that time. I didn’t lose any relationships, and I kept it hidden for a while. I didn’t lose my house, car, or any material things as I had done in the past, but I did die spiritually. Before entering recovery in 2011, I had not been in touch with the fact that I even had a spirit. This usage event in 2016 was different. It was the jarring experience that jolted me into recovery.  

I returned to recovery on 10/4/16 and will celebrate 8 years substance-free this year!!! What a miracle. Free from all mind- and mood-altering substances. Today, I am a member of Narcotics Anonymous, I work the 12 steps with a sponsor, and I sponsor women. I travel to different states, sharing my story when asked to do so at NA conventions. I have continued to give back what has been given to me in my personal and work life.  

Not only am I a mother, but I am a grandmother whose grandchildren have never known their Nonie any other way than who I am today. I have healthy relationships with all three of my children. I am a daughter, sister, friend, and, as of May 2023, a fiancé. I have obtained three college degrees, and if all goes well, I’ll become an LMSW very soon.  

I understand that I would not be who I am today without being who I was. I have no regrets; I’ve been given the gift of recovery and been able to live two lives in one. My story connects me to people and makes me appreciate life more than most. I wouldn’t change a thing or have it any other way.” 


Her Voice, Her Victory 

Her journey from the depths of addiction to a life of purpose and connection is a powerful reminder that recovery is not just about overcoming a dependence on substances; it’s about rediscovering oneself and rebuilding a life filled with meaning, love, and service. As a Member Outreach Specialist at Wayspring, she embodies the very essence of our mission: to offer hope, support, and a way forward to those still struggling in the darkness of addiction.