Women of Courage: Brenda’s story

By Carla McRee

Each month, we like to highlight a woman from Shepherd’s Gate who is turning her life around for good with God’s help. This month’s Woman of Courage is Brenda.

Brenda was raised right here in Brentwood, CA, and though she grew up in a fairly stable home, her father was an alcoholic. She married at 20 and had two children, a daughter, and a son, by the time she was 24. Brenda’s marriage was a harsh one; her husband cheated with multiple partners, and just like Brenda’s father, he was an alcoholic. Even worse, he was physically abusive when he was drunk. After Brenda’s second son was born, her husband began using meth and became even more violent. She worried about the impact this would have on her two older kids, who were now old enough to know what was going on. She decided to leave for good. Brenda met a man who seemed to be the exact opposite of her husband a few years later — a friend of her brother’s named Ron. Ron was laid-back and good with her kids. Though he didn’t work, he’d stay home with the children while she worked long hours. They had two daughters together. Ron had a drug problem, and it eventually caused rifts between Brenda and everyone who truly cared about her.

Everyone, including her two oldest children, knew that Ron was bad news. Everyone knew except Brenda. She ended up isolated and alone with Ron and their two young daughters, living out of a car. Brenda began using drugs along with Ron for the first time, and she quickly fell into addiction. And she was too ashamed to let anyone know what was really going on. Brenda’s older children, now young adults, tried to provide for her — both her son and daughter allowed her to live with them for periods of time while she tried to get back on her feet. Ron came too, but Brenda’s son saw Ron’s cruelty to her and kicked him out. The separation didn’t last long, as Brenda went back to Ron behind her children’s back. The drug abuse continued, also behind her children’s back. Her weight dwindled to 80 pounds, and her son said, “Something isn’t right. You’re not acting like my mom anymore. You need help.” But Brenda wasn’t ready. One day she asked her youngest son for $20 cash. He refused her, and she slapped him across the face — her 21-year-old son. Thereafter, her older son asked her to leave his house, crying. He was heartbroken, but resolute in refusing to enable her addiction any longer. The same scenario played out later with Brenda’s daughter — her daughter tried to help, but eventually, she too was forced to ask her mother to leave. Brenda went back to Ron, but when Ron began to hit her, she ran out of options. A friend recommended Shepherd’s Gate at Brentwood because it would allow her to have a place to stay with her two younger girls. It was the beginning of a new start for her. Brenda’s children were incredibly supportive once she finally decided to get help, and with a

huge smile, Brenda remembers, “They told me they were proud of me.” For once, she’d done something her kids could be proud of. Brenda has been clean for over 2 years now. She has healthy relationships with her older children and is proud of them for doing the right thing, even though it was really hard. Her younger children are in school and are doing much better now that they have a stable home. Brenda is a Woman of Courage who acted bravely because of her children. They refused to give up on her, and they also refused to enable her addiction — and that took a very special kind of courage. Brenda knows that her children are one of her biggest gifts from God. Do you have people in your life who refused to give up on you, or who had to do something difficult to help you move forward? We may not have examples that are this dramatic, but most of us have had people in our lives who stubbornly fought for us when we were struggling. Feel free to share your story below, and don’t forget to tell your hero thank you!

Carla McRee Associate Director, Shepherd’s Gate

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