Dana’s struggle to get back over to the right side of the tracks has made her a powerful transparent inspirational speaker as well as inventor of the successful product The Hanging Shower Caddy. She uses the darkest crevices of her life and her No Nonsense approach to inspire others to begin to achieve their dreams and reinvent themselves.
“I wasn’t this monster I had become”
Coming from a good moral family living in Pittsburgh PA, I have no excuses or reasons why my life turned out so well, or so poorly. I guess it’s all how one perceives it to be.
At the age of 12, my childhood innocence was stolen. Feeling shame, I soon turned to drugs and alcohol to ease the revulsion. The self imposed consequences that followed were quitting high school, becoming a single mother at 17, three abusive and alcoholic husbands, having guns to my head and knives to my throat on many occasions. These were normal events to me. For years, I tried to either ignore, repress, or drink to make my reality more tolerable. I was on a sinking ship with no dry land in sight. That ship led me into the oldest profession in history, going to any length necessary to make money. The abnormal became normal to me. My bottom kept getting pushed lower: I was in a living hell that I actually loved.
Waking up day after day with the incomprehensible demoralization of what I had become or what I did last night was too much to endure. I wasn’t this monster I had become. It’s a hard line to return back over once crossed.
“Well behaved women
rarely make history, so
be a badass instead.”
In September of 1997, I had my moment. I was at my jumping off point: kill myself or get help. I chose the latter. I finally had my moment when I saw the truth; the gift of clarity had arrived. I went to rehab and learned that I wasn’t crazy. Prior to this knowledge the thought, “I am crazy and need to be locked up,” was a constant demon that haunted me. I was an alcoholic!
“‘I am crazy and need to be locked up,’ was a constant demon that haunted me.”
At the age of 35, I began my reinventing journey, although I didn’t realize it at that time. I had to pull myself together. Fresh out of rehab, with nothing to dull the emotional pain, my first stop a homeless shelter for battered women. “How do I even begin?” I asked myself. I realized that I had to start by changing the way I thought about life and spending my time around like minded people. That’s exactly what I did, and continue to do, every single day. In time, I earned a job as a cleaning lady. I wasn’t in a rush to get too well, too quickly, too soon, so instead, I slowly trudged through my life to get on my feet.
Over the years, I have helped many women who were once like me: unable to forgive themselves for all of the immoral, degrading things they did while being on that same sinking ship. I know firsthand what that ride feels like.
At 59, I have grown into a respected women of character, or at least that’s what they tell me. Sometimes I wonder, because I remember my past life.
But today I am a product of my past. I cannot deny or ignore that. It makes me who I am and I embrace that other woman from that other life; she is quite a character. I can bring her out anytime I need to: a woman who transformed her life into something good and beautiful.
I have come to grips with my own understanding of what I believe I deserve, what I want, and what I am worthy of receiving. I am a woman who has taken the tragic parts of her life, not wishing to shut the door on them, but to carry them into the light by inspiring others to do the same.