Cynthia’s story: “I am more than what you see”

Hear Cynthia tell her story

Cynthia’s grace and dignity don’t give a hint of the struggle she’s been through.
Her beloved father died when she was only nine years old. Cynthia didn’t know her mother, who was an addict and exotic dancer. Left with only her older sister, she felt desperately alone. To fit in, she began smoking marijuana in eighth grade.

After high school, she entered a job-training program, where she met her first child’s father. Soon, the relationship grew violent and Cynthia’s drug use worsened. The worst day of her life came when she left her infant daughter with her ex-boyfriend, who left the baby with another woman to go and get high. In his absence, the baby stopped breathing.

She Lost Everything That Mattered

Sorrow and rage drove her to crack cocaine — and she lost everything. Her home was raided for drugs. She and her children watched while people took their furniture, bikes, washer, dryer — everything.

With nowhere to go and no place to take her children, she split them up among different friends and relatives and began life on the streets, where she stayed for 10 years.

“I wanted desperately to be clean. I thought if I got off drugs, all my problems would be solved.”

Cynthia was arrested numerous times, always careful not to be caught with her stash on her so she could immediately get back into business. “For 10 years, this was my life,” Cynthia remembers. “I slept in doorways, got very cold and scared, but it’s amazing what you get used to. Police would say, ‘Ms. Archer, you don’t belong out here.’” But it was the only life she knew.

I Don’t Want to Die Here

Exhausted from stress, painful arthritis and 10 hard years on the streets, Cynthia says, “I was so tired. I wanted something else in life. I started to pray. ‘God, I don’t want to die here. I don’t want to die on crack, don’t want my kids to know me only as a crack addict.’ I wanted desperately to be clean. I thought if I got off drugs, all my problems would be solved. I stopped using. I can’t explain how. It had to be God.”

Cynthia was off drugs. But she says, “I still thought like a crackhead. I had no life skills. I kept making bad decisions. I’d let people come stay with me; they’d steal from me, use drugs.”

She Felt God’s Clear Direction

A childhood friend working at the Mission convinced Cynthia to give their women’s program a try. She felt God’s clear direction to come and immediately packed her bags.

Now Cynthia’s enjoying her new life without drugs. Classes have helped her know God and herself, and deal with her anger, self-esteem and other issues.

She says, “This place is like a healing center. Drugs were like a band-aid over the wound. But the wound under the band-aid wasn’t healed. I wanted to be healed, to live free.”

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