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Feb 08, 2024 384 Bronwen Healy
Encounter

“Sweetheart, Come Home”

Caught in a spiral of drugs and sex work, I was losing myself, until this happened.

It was night. I was in the brothel, dressed ready for “work.” There was a gentle knock at the door, not the big bang by the police, but a truly gentle tap. The brothel lady—the Madame—opened the door, and my mother walked in.

I felt ashamed. I was dressed for this “work” that I had been doing for months now, and there in the room was my mom!

She just sat there and told me: “Sweetheart, please come home.”

She showed me love. She didn’t judge me. She just asked me to come back.

I was overwhelmed by grace at that moment. I should have gone home then, but the drugs would not let me. I sincerely felt ashamed.

She wrote her phone number down on a piece of paper, slid it across, and told me: “I love you. You can call me anytime, and I’ll come.”

The next morning, I told a friend of mine that I wanted to get off heroin. I was scared. At 24, I was tired of life, and it felt like I’d lived enough to be done with life. . My friend knew a doctor who treated drug addicts, and I got an appointment in three days. I called my mom, told her I was going to the doctor, and that I wanted to get off heroin.

She was crying on the phone. She jumped in the car and came straight to me. She’d been waiting…

How it all began

Our family shifted to Brisbane when my father got a job at Expo 88. I was 12. I was enrolled at an elite private girls’ school, but I just didn’t fit in. I dreamed of going to Hollywood and making movies, so I needed to attend a school that specializes in Film and TV.

I found a school renowned for Film and TV, and my parents easily gave in to my request to change schools. What I didn’t tell them was that the school was also in the newspapers because they were infamous for gangs and drugs. The school gave me so many creative friends, and I excelled in school. I topped a lot of my classes and won awards for Film, TV, and Drama. I had the grades to get to University.

Two weeks before the end of grade 12, someone offered me marijuana. I said yes. At the end of school, we all went away, and again I tried other drugs…

From the kid who was laser-focused on finishing school, I went on a downward spiral. I still got into University, but in the second year, I ended up in a relationship with a guy who was a heroin addict. I remember all of my friends at the time telling me: “You’re going to end up a junkie, a heroin addict.” I, on the other hand, thought I was going to be his savior.

But all the sex, drugs, and rock and roll ended up getting me pregnant. We went to the doctor, my partner still high on heroin. The doctor looked at us and immediately advised me to get a termination—she must have felt that with us, this child had no hope. Three days later, I had an abortion.

I felt guilty, ashamed, and alone. I would watch my partner take heroin, get numb, and be unaffected. I begged him for some heroin, but he was all: “I love you, I’m not giving you heroin.” One day, he needed money, and I managed to bargain some heroin in return. It was a tiny bit, and it made me sick, but it also made me feel nothing. I kept on using, the dose getting higher and higher each time.

I eventually dropped out of University and became a frequent user.

I had no idea how I was going to pay for almost a hundred dollars’ worth of heroin I was using on a daily basis. We started growing marijuana in the house; we would sell it and use the money to buy even more drugs. We sold everything we owned, got kicked out of my apartment, and then, slowly, I started stealing from my family and friends. I didn’t even feel ashamed. Soon, I started stealing from work. I thought they didn’t know, but I eventually got kicked out of there too.

Finally, the only thing that I had left was my body. That first night I had sex with strangers, I wanted to scrub myself clean. But I couldn’t! You can’t scrub yourself clean to the inside out…But that didn’t stop me from going back. From making $300 a night and spending all of it on heroin for my partner and me, I went to make a thousand dollars a night; every cent I made went into buying more drugs.

It was in the middle of this downward spiral that my mother walked in and saved me with her love and mercy. But that wasn’t enough.

A Hole in My Soul

The doctor asked me about my drug history. As I went over the long story, my mum kept on crying—she was shocked by the fullness of my story. The doctor told me that I needed rehab. I asked: “Don’t drug addicts go to rehab?” He was surprised: “You don’t think you are one?”

Then, he looked me in the eye and said: “I don’t think drugs are your problem. Your problem is, you have a hole in your soul that only Jesus can fill.”

I purposefully chose a rehab that I was sure to be non-Christian. I was sick, starting to slowly detox when, one day after dinner, they called us all out for a prayer meeting. I was angry, so I sat in the corner and tried to block them out—their music, their singing, and their Jesus everything. On Sunday, they took us to church. I stood outside and smoked cigarettes. I was angry, hurt, and lonely.

Begin Anew

On the sixth Sunday, August 15, it was pouring rain—a conspiracy from Heaven, in hindsight. I had no choice but to go inside the building. I stayed at the back, thinking that God couldn’t see me there. I had started to become aware that some of my life choices would be considered sins, so there I sat, at the back. At the end however, the priest said: “Is there anyone in here who would like to give their heart to Jesus today?”

I remember standing in front and listening to the priest say: “Do you want to give your heart to Jesus? He can give you forgiveness for your past, a brand new life today, and hope for your future.”

By that stage, I was clean, off heroin for almost six weeks. But what I didn’t realize was that there was much difference between being clean and being free. I repeated the Salvation prayer with the priest, a prayer I didn’t even understand, but there, I gave my heart to Jesus.

That day, I began a transformation journey. I got to begin anew, receive the fullness of the love, grace, and goodness of a God who had known me my whole life and saved me from myself.

The way forward was not one without mistakes. I got into a relationship in rehab, and I got pregnant again. But instead of thinking of it as a punishment for a bad choice that I had made, we decided to settle down. My partner said to me: “Let’s get married and do our best to do it His way now.” Grace was born a year later, through her, I have experienced so much grace.

I’ve always had the passion to tell stories; God gave me a story that has helped to transform lives. He has since used me in so many ways to share my story—in words, in writing, and in giving my all to work for and with the women who are stuck in a similar life that I used to lead.

Today, I am a woman changed by grace. I was met by the love of Heaven, and now I want to live life in a way that allows me to partner with the purposes of Heaven.

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Bronwen Healy

Bronwen Healy has been sharing her story of recovery with people all over the country through talks, workshops, and her book Trophy of Grace. Article is based on the interview given by Bronwen Healy on the Shalom World program “Jesus My Savior”. To watch the episode, visit: https://www.shalomworld.org/episode/i-dont-think-drugs-are-your-problem-bronwen-healy

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