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My Story, His Glory

Hello, my name is Yolanda. I was born in Washington D.C., May 13th, 1965, but raised in SE Atlanta Georgia by my grandmother. I lived in a 4 bedroom house with her, my sister (a person who lived with mental and developmental disabilities), who died at age 44 from breast cancer, my brother, her youngest son (my uncle) who was an abuser, of drugs and us; and a couple of cousins from time to time. My grandmother was a God fearing woman who loved and spoiled me. We went to church often and I always enjoyed going. However, I had very little discipline as a child because my grandmother was not successful with implementing structure or discipline. I was not given chores or responsibilities and I was allowed to do as I pleased which led to very unhealthy behavior and choices throughout life. I knew she always meant well, but I chose to do things for myself. In the long run, It led to very unhealthy choices later in life.


I suffered much abuse as a young child, not by my grandmother, but by my uncle, including verbal, mental and emotional. I felt like an unwanted guest in my own home. The abuse started so early that I remember I was molested from about the age 7 to 13 by a step-relative.

My mother became involved with another man, and later they were married. I didn’t really know it; I just knew we saw less and less of her. This bothered me immensely well into my adult life. I realized that I held a grudge against her and resented him for taking her away.

My biological father never lived close. He always lived in California or New York or Washington. This bothered me a lot as well because I very rarely saw him, just an occasional phone call. He remarried twice and because I didn’t know, all I could do is wonder and imagine him with his new family. He was a writer and an artist of sorts, doing acting, singing and theater altogether.


He died of cancer in 2013. Before his death I was able to develop a relationship with him and he was actually very instrumental and part of my network of people in my recovery. I also found that he was a person who lived with substance use disorders as well and had been in recovery for more than 20 years. We bonded and I forgave him for how I felt he hurt me as a child.


My mother died in 2017 of cancer. I was her care giver for almost 6 years before her death and was able to bond, forgive her and ask for forgiveness for terrible way I treated her and ask God and her for forgiveness. I understand that she did the best that she could and what she thought was best for us all. She was a mother of three who needed to know where our next meal was coming from and that the bills would be paid. Now, I get it!

I became pregnant at age 17 and had my first son two weeks before my 18th birthday. After graduating from High School I was accepted into Spelman College but had no direction and lacked the discipline needed to be successful so I dropped out after almost 3 years.

My addiction started after using marijuana at age 11 and progressed. I tried freebasing cocaine for the first time at age 16 but not again until age 22 then continued off and on throughout my life and on until I was well into my 40’s.


My struggle was very long and a hard, uphill battle. The lows were lower than I ever thought I could ever go. However even while using, I continued in my faith, which started as a small child, going to church with my grandmother, and it having made a mark that has never been removed.


I felt very distraught and hopeless about my life and the decisions I had made. I remembered the book of Jerimiah. God knows the plans he has for me. He declares they are plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. I looked for him with my whole heart. Then I called on Him and prayed to Him and he listened and he answered. He declared he will bring me back from places where he banished me to. I believed God for my deliverance.


Then one night I was upset and I went driving, not knowing where I was going. I hadn’t used in 3 weeks. I had done this many times before, one time for two years another for four years, but I could never stay stopped and I was still ambivalent to my using, not knowing if I would use again. I was too was afraid to go back and unsure how to move forward. The uncertainty of my next move was absolutely frightening. Nevertheless, I kept driving.


The last time I saw my second oldest son I asked him for money. He said no because he knew I was high and that’s why I wanted money. He started to cry and asked me to stop using because he didn’t want to lose me. Remember, I had just recently lost the father of 5 of my last 6 children to a drug induced Cardiac Arrest. Why I ended up in this son’s driveway, I didn’t know, but God did.


While waiting, I called someone in my network, who was actually a Case Manager at the residential treatment program I was in, and is now my fiend. I shared with her my dilemma and that I wanted to go to a meeting, but that I had a problem sharing in an environment that restricts me from being able to share according to my religious beliefs. She then suggested that I find a recovery group that allowed me to do so. We prayed and I believed God to lead me there.


My son drove up shortly after that, got out of the car and picked up something from the ground, looked at it and headed down the driveway. When he walked up to me he handed me a pamphlet that had a picture of a broken down dilapidated house with a long windy road leading uphill to a church and it read from the crack house to God’s house. I almost passed out. It was about a young man who was a postman and his girlfriend. They both used crack but his girlfriend was ready to stop using.



She called a pastor and his wife to the house, while her boyfriend was using. They led a recovery group nearby. They ministered to them both, prayed with them and long story short they both are now many years in recovery.


I called the 1-800- number on the pamphlet and told them I didn’t have car but if they could pick me up I would be ready. He said he would see what he could do about getting me a ride and someone would call me back. Subsequently, the same minister and his wife from the pamphlet came to my house and took me to the meeting and later sold me a car. I’ve been going ever since and the rest is history.


I now work for Clayton Community Service Board as a Peer Support Specialist assisting people who are in recovery from substance use and mental disorders. There are many pathways to Recovery, but what I have come to understand, my pathway is Gods’ way.

My struggle was very long and a hard, uphill battle. The lows were lower than I ever thought I could ever go. However even while using, I continued in my faith, which started as a small child, going to church with my grandmother, and it made a mark that has never been removed.


I felt very distraught and hopeless about my life and the decisions I had made. I remembered the book of Jeremiah. God knows the plans he has for me. He declares they are plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. I looked for him with my whole heart. Then I called on Him and prayed to Him and he listened and He answered. He declared that He will bring me back from places where He banished me to. I believed God for my deliverance.


Then one night I was upset and I went driving, not knowing where I was going. I hadn’t used in 3 weeks. I had done this many times before, one time for two years another for four years, but I could never completely stop and I was still ambivalent to my using, not knowing if I would use again. I was too was afraid to go back and unsure how to move forward.

The uncertainty of my next move was absolutely frightening.


Nevertheless, I kept driving.

The last time I saw my second oldest son I asked him for money. He said no because he knew I was high and that’s why I wanted money. He started to cry and asked me to stop using because he didn’t want to lose me. I had just recently even lost the father of 5 of my last 6 children to a drug induced Cardiac Arrest. Why I ended up in this son’s driveway, I didn’t know, but God did.


I ended up calling someone in my network, who was actually a Case Manager at the residential treatment program I was in, and is now my fiend. I shared with her my dilemma and that I wanted to go to a meeting, but that I had a problem sharing in an environment that restricts me from being able to share according to my religious beliefs. She then suggested that I find a recovery group that allowed me to do so. We prayed and I believed God to lead me there.


My son drove up shortly after that, got out of the car and picked up something from the ground, looked at it and headed down the driveway. When he walked up to me he handed me a pamphlet that had a picture of a broken down dilapidated house with a long windy road leading uphill to a church and it read from the crack house to God’s house. I almost passed out. It was about a young man who was a postman and his girlfriend. They both used crack but his girlfriend was ready to stop using.


She called a pastor and his wife to the house, while her boyfriend was using. They led a recovery group nearby. They ministered to them both, prayed with them and long story short they both are now many years in recovery.


I called the 1-800- number on the pamphlet and told them I didn’t have car but if they could pick me up I would be ready. He said he would see what he could do about getting me a ride and someone would call me back. Subsequently, the same minister and his wife from the pamphlet came to my house and took me to the meeting and later sold me a car. I’ve been going ever since and the rest is history.


I now work for The Paula Crane Life Enrichment Center as a Peer Support Specialist assisting people who are in recovery from substance use and mental disorders. There are many pathways to Recovery, but what I have come to understand, my pathway is Gods’ way.

Written by Yolanda James

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THE CRANE

The Paula Crane Life Enrichment Center

1792 Mt. Zion Road

Morrow, GA 30260

paulacranecenter@gmail.com

Main Phone: 770.960.2009

Fax: 770.960.2024

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