Stories of Hope

Life-changing stories of hope, healing and wholeness


I took my first drink of alcohol when I was 12 years old. That first drink of alcohol made me feel very powerful and beautiful. I thought I was a smart little girl because I added water to the liquor bottles so that they looked full. My mother came home from work one day and smelled the alcohol. She noticed that someone had been in her liquor. My mother really disciplined me that day, I will never forget it. I stopped for a while, but began drinking again in eighth grade.

Drinking made me feel like I was in heaven somewhere. I did not experience happiness and alcohol helped me feel something good. I thought it was helping me deal with my emotions. At this time, I really did not have a relationship with God. I did not know much about him. I did not know God was in control of my life, I thought I was the only one controlling it. I had to do everything myself, so I wanted to control everything around me. My alcoholism turned me into this mean, lying, and controlling girl instead. I was in and out of jail when I was growing up. I could not break the habit! So my drinking continued into my adulthood. In my career as a professional hair stylist, my alcoholism got worse. I lost all my clients at the hair salon due to my addiction. It was heartbreaking, but it did not stop me from drinking.

One day I was so drunk, I passed a big mirror and noticed myself. For some reason I was afraid of the mirror. But this time, I took a closer look. I looked into my eyes and I saw a sad little girl who could not find her way back home. That is when I finally admitted to myself and God that I needed help. That day I surrendered and cried like a baby. A lady that I did not know took me to a rehab center. Here, I learned the truth about my alcoholism. Alcohol was not helping deal with my emotions, it was making everything worse. I also learned that I could not control and change everything around me. I had to allow things be as they were sometimes.

Once I got out, I started attending Alcoholics Anonymous. This is where I met Jane Elliot, she was one of the group leaders and a very nice woman. She invited me to attend an ISP retreat. This was my first retreat, I was scared. I was scared that people would not accept me. I had pretended to be someone else for so long, I did not know what to expect. This first retreat was a spiritual awakening. I felt like I was in heaven, the ladies on the ISP team looked like angels to me. They gave the retreaters unconditional love. I also felt accepted by the other women because they were like me! It was a beautiful feeling! It took a deep breath and said “wow I finally fit in.”

After my first ISP retreat, I attended more. Attending these retreats and working the 12 steps of Alcohol Anonymous, I had another spiritual awakening. I experienced God for the first time and entered the world of the spirit. I once was lost, but now I am found. One day Jane asked me if I was interested in helping facilitate a retreat. I thought it was time to give back, so I said yes. I wanted to give back what was so freely given to me. Since then, I have been involved with ISP. Today, I am recovered. I was able to gain my clients back at the hair salon. I now have a relationship with God. To myself, being in recovery is powerful as long as I put God first. Power to me means having the courage to be yourself. Power is also having the courage to be vulnerable and to show up with who you are without your armor. I also thank God for my mother, daughter, grandmother. They were always there for me and gave me that tough love I needed.

Janice, Atlanta

You can read more about our alumni participants who have experienced life-changing hope, healing, and wholeness, in our book, Stories of Hope.