“The first time I felt free and in my own skin, I was 9 years old. My uncle put me in a red dress and heels thinking he would embarrass me, but I felt beautiful.” Marissa smiles and tucks her long brown hair behind one ear.
“I was 25 when I decided to transition to being female, but my addiction got in the way. For eighteen years, I cycled through drug treatment programs but each time I got out I had nowhere to go. Back on the streets, I’d start using again.”
Marissa pauses, her eyes pained. “As a child I’d watched my family torn apart by gang affiliation and drugs and alcohol. It’s what I knew.” Her voice trails off.
After a few seconds, she continues in a stronger voice. “I’m an empath,” she says. “I love healing stones. They help me have a positive mindset. That’s what my Recovery Circle at the Café does too. It helps me have faith that my life can be better, that I can be better. I wouldn’t miss it.”
Marissa looks around the Café, a look of genuine gratitude on her face. “My blessings have begun: my recovery from drugs; my transition to being a woman; and next week, moving into my very own home.”
She gets a playful look in her eyes. “All I need now is that red dress and heels!”
Article by Cindy McCalmont