The Truth Gave Me Back My Life
Most of my former friends have died from AIDS. Prior to their deaths, I would often see them in the streets. I too would be dead if it had not been for the truth. Let me explain.
I WAS born on December 11, 1954, the second and last child of John and Dorothy Horry. They named me Dolores, but at birth Mom called me Dolly because she thought I looked like a baby doll. The nickname stuck, but little did people know then that I would become Mom’s worst nightmare.
We lived in a railroad apartment—so named because of its long, narrow design. It was located on 61st Street in New York City. The apartment was not very pleasant; we shared space with rats. However, after I was bitten one night, we were out of there in no time.
In 1957 we moved to the east side of lower Manhattan. Compared to where we had moved from, this was great—nice bedrooms, a huge park outside my window, and a view of the East River. I could watch the boats sailing by and the children playing football and baseball in the park. Yes, this was paradise for me. Then my secure world started to tumble down.
Alcoholism and Drugs
Mom and Dad argued a lot. I didn’t understand why at first, but then I started to notice that my dad was drunk all the time. He couldn’t hold a job, and Mom was the only one working. When my friends found out that Dad was an alcoholic, the ridicule I received made my life miserable.
Things continued to get worse. Finally, Dad became violent and Mom put him out. So we became a one-parent family. I was about eight or nine, and I felt devastated by our family situation. Mom had to work continually to make ends meet, leaving my sister and me with neighbors after school.
By the sixth grade, I became very rebellious. I would skip classes and go to the nearby Tompkins Square Park and try to drink my little life away. Soon I began running with a crowd of much older friends. I was only 11 years old, but I was big for my age, so I was able to pass for 16 or 17. This new crowd of friends drank, smoked marijuana, used LSD, and injected heroin. Well, I wanted to fit in, so I started to experiment with these substances. By age 14, I was dependent on them to function.
Mother Finds Out
“I brought you into this world, and I’ll take you out.” This was a saying of mothers in our neighborhood who had been deeply hurt and disappointed by their children. When Mom, who is usually a very cool and controlled person, found out that her 14-year-old was using heroin, she said she was going to do just that—take me out.
I ran into the bathroom and tried to lock the door by bracing my legs against the tub, but I was too slow. I was really in trouble now! Needless to say, I received the beating of my life. The only thing that saved me from Mom’s anger was that my sister and the person who had told on me were able to get into the bathroom and hold my mother so I could escape from the apartment. When I finally returned home—I had run away for a few days—I agreed to get some help for my drug problem.
Getting Professional Help
A few months later, I saw a commercial on TV about a drug rehabilitation facility. It is a place where people who really want help to overcome their drug problems can get it. I discussed what I saw with Mom, and she sent me to one of their locations in New York City. The facility provides a familylike atmosphere where people receive motivation to change their entire life-style. I lived there for about two-and-a-half years.
Although I benefited from the help provided, I was deeply disappointed when I learned that some staff members whom I trusted and respected—and who were supposed to have quit using drugs—were back on them again. I felt betrayed and foolish. They had taught us that the old saying, “Once an addict, always an addict,” was a lie. But I now viewed them as living proof that it wasn’t.
Nevertheless, at age 17, I returned home drug free and determined to do my best never to use heroin again. In the meantime, my mother and sister had started to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Still the Black Sheep of the Family
Even though I had stopped using drugs, I still felt like the black sheep of the family. This is because I wasn’t ready to live by the new rules of the household, which included no smoking, no partying at discos, and so forth. It wasn’t long before Mom put me out of the apartment because I refused to change my associations and my worldly attitude. I really hated her for this, but actually it was the best thing she could have done for me. She stood her ground on righteous principles and never wavered.
So I left to make a new and better life for myself. I returned to school to learn a trade to help finance my way through college. I did quite well and was accepted back into society. I got a good job and my own apartment. Then romance entered the picture when I met an old boyfriend. We renewed our relationship and intended to do things right and get married.
Eventually, however, my boyfriend began using drugs, and things started to go downhill for both of us. Unable to bear the emotional pain, I did what I knew best—I medicated my feelings. I became involved with cocaine, which provided what was called the rich man’s high. Cocaine was accepted then because many did not consider it addictive. But for me it proved to be worse than heroin.
During the mid-1970’s, I was on cocaine for about three years. Finally, I started to see the vicious circle I was in, and I began to wonder, ‘Is this all there is to life?’ I figured that if it was, then I was tired of it. I went back to Mom and told her that I had had enough and that I was returning to the rehabilitation center. After another year and a half there, I was again drug free.
I Almost Found the Truth
Again I got a good job and found a nice apartment and a boyfriend. We became engaged. Meanwhile, Mom kept in touch with me on a regular basis. She would talk to me about the Bible and send me Watchtower and Awake! magazines, but I never looked at them. I told Mom about my plans to marry and raise a family. So she sent me a book that changed my life forever—Making Your Family Life Happy.
As I read this book, I knew what I wanted and that I had been going about getting it in the wrong way. Finally, someone understood how I felt and what was really in my heart. I was not a strange person for having the feelings I had—I was normal! However, the person I was involved with laughed at me when I tried to show him the Family Life book and the Bible. He wouldn’t make the changes necessary to enjoy a happy family life. So I had a hard decision to make—to stay or to leave. I decided that it was time to move on.
My boyfriend was enraged. When I returned home one day, I found that he had cut all my clothes to shreds with a razor. Almost everything I owned was gone—shoes, coats, furniture—it was either ripped up or sold. All I had left were the clothes on my back. I wanted to lie down and die. Sometimes in life you get tired of the struggle. So you go back to doing what you have always done to cope—you medicate the feelings. I figured it was either that or suicide.
Even though I returned to drugs again, Mom never gave up on me. She would visit me and bring copies of The Watchtower and Awake! One evening during a conversation, I told her how I felt—that I was tired of trying and that I was at my wit’s end. She said simply: “You’ve tried everything else, why not give Jehovah a try?”
Saved by the Truth
It was in 1982 that I agreed to do what she had been urging me to do for years. I started to study the Bible seriously. Soon I became excited about the things I was learning. I began to appreciate that my life is very precious to Jehovah and that there is a real purpose to life. But I realized that if I was going to serve Jehovah, I had a lot of changing to do and that I needed support emotionally and spiritually. So I asked Mom if I could move back home.
Mom was wary, since I had so often disappointed her. She spoke with a Christian elder regarding my request to move back in with her. When he sensed that Mom felt that there was a good possibility I might really change this time, he urged: “Why not give her another chance?”
Thankfully, this time I didn’t disappoint Mom. I continued to study the Bible and began to attend Christian meetings regularly. With the help of Jehovah, I turned my life around. The advice provided by the Bible, God’s Word of truth, enabled me to make it through hard times. (John 17:17) I even quit smoking cigarettes, an addiction that was harder for me to overcome than addiction to heroin and cocaine. For once I really felt glad to be alive.
A few months later, on December 24, 1983, I symbolized my dedication to Jehovah by water baptism. The following April, I began to auxiliary pioneer, a form of increased ministry. At first, my former associates made fun of me when they saw me in the ministry. It was just as the apostle Peter forewarned: “Because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you.”—1 Peter 4:4.
In September 1984, I became a regular pioneer, and soon I was conducting ten weekly Bible studies. Some of these studies were with people who had ridiculed me when I first started in the ministry. This was a very exciting time in my life because I was able to help a number of youths embrace Bible truth. I had always wanted children, so to become a mother, as it were, to spiritual children has been a source of constant joy to me.—Compare 1 Corinthians 4:15.
As the years passed, I would see on the streets near our home former friends with whom I had once done drugs. As a result of sharing needles with infected persons, they had contracted AIDS and looked awful. Many have since died. I know that I too would probably be dead if it had not been for Bible truth. In effect, it has given me back my life.
Avoid the Pain
I often wish that as a child I had known the truth and avoided a life full of pain and misery. Jehovah now helps me deal with the pains resulting from a misspent youth, but I’ll have to wait until the new system for a total healing of the emotional scars. (Revelation 21:3, 4) Today I try very hard to tell young ones that they are blessed to know Jehovah and to have the help of his organization to apply what he is teaching.
The world may appear to be glamorous and inviting. And it wants you to believe that you can have its form of fun without pain. But this simply isn’t possible. The world will use you, and when it is through, it will throw you away. The Bible truthfully says that the Devil is the ruler of the world—indeed its god—and that we should be loving neither the world nor the things in it. (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17; 5:19) Since worldly people are existing as slaves of corruption, their company cannot bring you true happiness.—2 Peter 2:19.
My hope is that relating these things about myself will help others see that “the real life”—everlasting life in God’s new world—is the only worthwhile life for which to strive. No matter what ups and downs we may experience as we walk in the truth, the grass on the other side of the fence, in Satan’s world, is not greener. Satan just tries to make it look that way. I pray that, along with all my Christian brothers and sisters, I may keep my eyes focused on the real life, yes, on everlasting life in the Paradise earth. (1 Timothy 6:19)—As told by Dolly Horry.
[Picture on page 15]
With my mother, witnessing in Tompkins Square Park