• Reyna Estrada

Overcoming adversity:Two women's journeys to changing their lives

When somebody finds themselves facing a difficult situation, it can be hard to see a way out. Hardships take place in many different forms and present unique challenges. Overcoming adversity is a challenge that can mean different things to different people, but two women have incredible stories of facing hardships and turning their lives around.

Debra Turner-Ray, a woman from a two-parent middle class family on the South Side of Chicago is a mother, wife and author. She is also a recovered drug addict and the survivor of domestic abuse.

“That was one of my reasons for getting high,” Turner-Ray said, “Because of the fact that I was abused so bad.”

Turner-Ray said that her drug addiction became so entirely consuming that she put drugs over most everything else in her life, including her children. Turner-Ray’s mother eventually kicked her out of the house, and she moved to Houston, Texas with her daughter.

It was in Houston where Turner-Ray got sober. Now, Turner-Ray said she has been sober for 25 years.

Throughout her journey to recovery, Turner-Ray said she turned to religion and faith.

“I found God in the process. And in finding God, I have been elevated to a level that I never knew I would get to,” she said.

Now, Turner-Ray has channeled her pain into expressing herself with writing. She has one book published and said she is working on another currently.

“That was the only way I could get through this,” she said.

Misty Franklin of Fresno, California has experienced similar challenges. Although with a different story, Franklin has also taken steps to turn her life around.

Franklin said that she graduated high school with straight A’s and went off to college to study criminology. When she got to college she fell for a man who was seemingly smart and elegant. What Franklin didn’t know was that he was secretly involved with various types of crime including home invasions and drug distribution and manufacturing. Soon, Franklin got involved as well.

“The young college girl getting swept off her feet, and not being able to tell this person no, that I should be able to follow in my own steps,” she said.

Eventually, he became incarcerated and Franklin said that she continued to manufacture drugs and stay involved with illegal activities. Not long after that, Franklin herself was arrested and incarcerated for two years.

Franklin said that during her time incarcerated, she learned a lot about herself and the mistakes she has made. Similarly to Turner-Ray, Franklin also said she found solace through faith.

“Yes, I should have had my thinking cap on, but I didn't-at a young age. But I’m thankful that God restores, that God heals, and that I’ve got a second chance,” Franklin said.

Now, Franklin said she works with those inside of prisons and youth facilities where she hopes to help uplift others.

“Yes, we are not our worst mistake, but we made a mistake and we can persevere and move forward,” she said.

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