Gloria gets off the ‘rollercoaster’ of her life, finds peace

Gloria was one of nine children; her parents and her large family were supportive and happy. Her father’s job moved them from Arkansas to Oxnard when Gloria was young. She recalls her childhood as a good one. “My parents were very consistent, disciplined and loving,” she said. “They took us to church every Sunday.”

Gloria graduated from Oxnard High School and attended Oxnard College—she’s lived in Oxnard for more than 30 years. After college, she got her first job in Newbury Park at a technology company where she worked for more than six years. Despite time in college and a solid job, Gloria did have a weakness when it came to partying. “I would party with family and friends—it wasn’t really healthy for me. My older siblings would sneak and smoke marijuana around the house.”

Gloria said her parents never used any drugs. “They would have barbecues at the house and we would see the adults drinking socially,” she said. “The drugs came from me wanting to try marijuana with my siblings. From there is when I went into other drugs like cocaine. “Cocaine was my downfall. It became the idol of my life, off and on. I was going on what felt like a rollercoaster ride. I would get clean and use again—up and down, up and down. I would get clean on my own and get too comfortable, then I would go back into it.”

Gloria was 14 years old when she first tried cocaine, but she wasn’t instantly hooked. “I didn’t even use again for a long time after that time,” she said. “Once I became an adult I got back into it.” A tragedy triggered Gloria to reenter her addiction. She had a child who passed away at the age of 11 from an acute asthma attack. “He was born with severe respiratory issues,” she said. “After his passing is when I went into a deep depression. I went on a wild out-of-body living experience. His death caused me to want to go back to the numbing-myself feeling again and that’s what cocaine did.”

Gloria said she got arrested a few times because of her addiction. She then became homeless. “My life became too chaotic for me to handle,” she said. “I thought I could control it but I couldn’t. I was at a bottomless pit. It made me take a deep look at myself and I knew I needed the help. It wasn’t looking good for me. It had gotten ugly. I had to reset my lifestyle.”

Gloria had been at the Lighthouse before, and knew she could return for help. “I struggled when I first arrived,” she said. “But the counselor and staff were really good and patient with me. Coming to the Lighthouse gave me the tools to reset my goals in life. They are here to love on you and they uplift you up when you fall.”

Gloria graduated from the Lighthouse Life Recovery Program last month and entered the Transitional Living Program. She is actively seeking full-time employment while volunteering at the Mission’s thrift store.