It has become far too easy to write off the broken people we see every day -- the addict on the street corner, the woman pushing a wobbly cart down the sidewalk. We cross the street, look away, avoid eye contact. I know what that kind of rejection feels like because I was one of those people.
Raised in a dysfunctional household, where one bad choice followed another, my descent, as I look back on it now, was almost pre-ordained. I never learned to use good, sound judgment to make decisions that affected my life, in part, because I had no positive role models that had positive role models.
I grew up in a home where everyone had skin color lighter than mine. The pain of that kind of rejection stung me deeply. My stepfather never let me forget that my caramel colored skin was too dark and I believed he hated and abused me because of it. I was angry at my stepfather because he treated me differently. Angry at my mother for not standing up for me. Some days it seemed I was angry at the world.
This cycle, this downward spiral, led me to some dreadfully empty places in my life.
And at age 14, I found myself pregnant and scared. I was embarrassed that I had brought such shame to my mother, a devoutly religious woman. Everywhere I went people stared and gawked. Even some of the doctors I saw were unkind.
The birth of my beautiful baby girl was one of the happiest moments of my life. Yet, it was also one of the saddest. I knew, even at that age, that I was responsible for someone else's life: How was I going to provide for a child when I was a child myself?
So while mother raised my baby girl, I found solace in the bottle. Alcohol helped me forget my shame and I felt happy when I was drunk. But it alone wasn't enough. I was introduced to crack cocaine, which accelerated my downward spiral. I began prostituting myself to feed this self-destruction.
In my book, Chronicles of Pain, I describe how I stayed high and drunk as much as possible too dull the pain, while also trying to hold down a series of jobs. I moved from one crack house to another, lasting only as long as the money in my pocket. When they kicked me out, I did sex tricks for more dope.
In between my bouts of addiction I became pregnant a second time and then a third. My children and I lived as best we could, through my haze of addiction and prostitution, sometimes homeless, sometimes not. The two younger ones were often left to raise themselves. Two marriages I hastily entered failed.
Then one cold morning, I awoke in a rare sober state to realize I was broke, (a usual state I was too altered to notice before) and had absolutely no where to go and no one to turn to. My own family wouldn't have me.
I had to do some real soul-searching to figure out how I got to this desolate place in my life.
With state assistance, I entered one drug rehab program after another, but would always return to what felt good.
It was as if God had a special path for me. Alone at home one day I began watching T. D. Jakes and Juanita Bynum. For six or seven months straight, I stayed in my house reading the Bible and listening to them. Slowly, I started to believe in who I really was.
I asked God to help me get off drugs and be a better person; a better mother. I started to go to church, only to learn that I was judged there, too. It felt like the rejection I knew too well and I didn't like it. But God used it to help me see that he accepted me, regardless of who else did not.
I started to learn how to love and accept myself. I knew that in order to heal, I had to bring an end to the pain I felt from my childhood abuse. I did the difficult work of looking inside myself at how ugly I was, and saw how beautiful I was at the same time.
These days, I share my story with others in trouble in the hope that they will find the will within themselves to make themselves whole again. I am still working on myself - every day. Two of my three children and their children are now a regular part of my life. We throw big sleepovers at my home and I try in small ways to make amends for all the pain and hurt I know I caused them through their lives. I'm still holding out hope for my third child to come around.
Seeking help is what I needed to do and that is exactly what I did because of that I am still here, grateful that I did.
Sharon is a mother of three children and "nana" to four grandchildren. Sharon herself has overcome some major barriers in her life, she has been homeless and is an ex- addict, ex-prostitute and a domestic violence survivor. The person she became originated from her childhood and would require a major overhaul of her thoughts, will, and her emotions. Sharon's life would not be her life without the love of her father Jesus Christ, to him she owes more than she can give.
She is an author of, "Chronicles of Pain" and a co-author of "20 Beautiful Women Volume 2", she has an AA degree in Human Service Management as well as Chemical Dependency Trainee Certificate through the state of Washington. Her work with the homeless/addicted population has inspired her to share her story, this is where she recognized the importance of being transparent in helping others. Sharon knows the importance and the impact of sharing her personal story with others. The goals for writing these books are to help shed light on why individuals get to some very desolate places in life. Sharon facilitates support groups called "Friday Night Talks" at two local area emergency shelters.