In Woman of Worth: If I Can Recover, Anyone Can, Winonna Saari shares her personal story of addiction, alcoholism, and poor choices, then how she hit rock bottom and changed her life. Today, Winonna has a college degree, has been sober for fourteen years, and is a certified recovery coach who helps others, one on one, set goals to improve their lives. She now shares her story to give hope to others.
Earlier in the book, Winonna describes the difficulties she faced and how she overcame addiction to find a better way. She states:
“If a girl like me, who is from the ghetto streets of Detroit, can escape the demons of addiction and change her life from the hellish depths of alcoholism to being a middle-aged African-American woman enjoying the fruits of life in recovery, then anyone can.I was once a woman whose face was always scraping the sole of someone else’s shoe, who was frowned upon by society and her family and friends, but I became a woman who regained her dignity through through the principles of integrity, hard work, not giving up before the miracle happened, and having a mustard seed of faith. That faith was freely given to me by complete strangers who reached out to me with a helping hand. They offered me unconditional love with no expectations No strings attached. They offered me the opportunity to join them, to live a life of new freedoms and renewed hope, and I did.”
Winonna got the help she needed. In fact, she found numerous supportive friends, from people in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to college classmates who were young enough to be her daughter. She found advocates who helped her take care of her children and found people who took her to meetings and supported her in many other ways. One of the most magical things about Winonna’s story is how many people wanted to help her once she was ready to accept it.
But before all that support came into her life, Winonna was largely at a loss. Whenever good opportunities presented themselves, she tried to take advantage of them, but she also made bad decisions. A high school support counselor arranged for her to go to a high school on the other side of town to give her some freedom from her family and a better education. Winonna jumped at the chance, but she, too, became pregnant while she was still in school. Overcoming that hurdle, she stayed in school and graduated, but she also used a lot of drugs, bought crack on the streets of Detroit and partyed during work days.
Eventually, Winonna moved to California and realized that she needed a change of scenery, but that change didn’t change her behavior. She had a couple of relationships, became a mother of five, and wasn’t always able to care for her children the way she now wishes she could, but luckily, other people repeatedly stepped in to help her and her family when things were at their worst. moment. .
While I must admit that Winonna’s behavior was sometimes wild and illogical, I also sympathized with her because she repeatedly tried to overcome her addictions. She would stop drinking and taking drugs for a while, but then something would compel her to put her old clothes back on. Her story is a roller coaster of dramatic drug and alcohol-induced experiences, prompting a fellow AA member to comment with good humor after hearing her story: “Where was Winonna when I was drinking? ?” But while Winonna had some fun, most of it was due to low self-esteem that prevented her from believing that she could change.
Ultimately, Winonna found herself in jail multiple times. At one point, she was charged with shoplifting and put on trial; after a corrupt police officer lied and brought up information that had been agreed not to be relevant to the trial, the judge decided that instead of dismissing the case, he would start a new trial. Winonna decided that instead of awaiting trial, she would get on a bus and go back to her home in Detroit. There, while she was hiding from the law, she was lucky enough to reconnect with her father and her grandparents and make up for lost time with them. Eventually, she went into recovery, which led her to go to college and change her life.
But even then, the Universe wanted to test her. Her adult daughter underwent a serious medical problem that has caused her to need constant care. Rather than despair or start drinking again to cope, Winonna stepped up and has been taking care of her daughter and her grandchildren ever since.
Winonna knows how difficult it can be to turn your life around once you start down the path of addiction. She began drinking at age eleven and using drugs in high school. But she did it to hide the childhood pain from her. She even tried to commit suicide at the age of twelve because of that pain. Her stepfather slapped her so hard that she saw stars when she was a child; her mother hit her with a baseball bat when she was a young woman. She grew up hearing the words “damn shame” so much that she thought it was her name. As she got older, even when she tried to change, people used the past against her and took what she said out of context. Fortunately, she finally found people who understood and accepted her, and that allowed her to stop feeling judged and to judge herself; over time, she built her self-esteem and came to value herself and her abilities until she came to believe that she was a worthwhile woman.
Winonna’s story is powerful and, as the subtitle of the book says, if after everything she’s been through she was able to recover, anyone can. In addition to sharing her powerful story, Winonna ends each chapter with lessons she’s learned and reflection questions so the reader can apply what she’s learned to her own life. The result is a powerful book of wisdom, healing, and hope. You’ll be amused by Winonna’s wild antics, but you’ll also feel her pain, embrace her struggle, and shed tears of joy with her as she begins to recover. So I hope she will share this story with others who need hope in her own struggles.