DIGITAL FIRST: From drugs to degrees

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Growing up, Rhonda Tomlin didn’t have the love she expected as a child. She didn’t have the bond that she saw others have with their family.

“Growing up I was always searching and seeking the love that children usually have from birth to their parents,” said Tomlin.

Because she didn’t have that, she found herself trying to fill a void. “I went through my whole life seeking something to fill that hole, that not having that love was supposed to provide for me,” she explained.

That’s when Tomlin began to harm herself. She said, “I used to cut myself. That was my first addiction, which was self-mutilation.” That later lead down a road to drugs.

Unlike many addicts, Tomlin says she didn’t enjoy drugs because of the high. “I didn’t do drugs because I love the high ever. I want to get that across. I never enjoy drugs.”

Tomlin found herself indulging in drugs because it made her numb to the things she was going through. “Heroin would numb me. It wouldn’t make me not be able to deal with reality,” she explained. Later down the road, her life started to crumble.

“Everything fell apart. I began not to be be able to hold a job. My relationship with my family, which was never good anyway, but with my children, it just fell apart. Everything. I just started to not care about anything.”

Although that was her past, Tomlin doesn’t give too much attention to it.

“What I focus on is that in the beginning when I was coming out of this place. Of this dark place. I didn’t know anything about God,” she said. “I grew up in a Baptist church. I knew I had an ideology of God, but my ideology got tainted because the people that will speak in God to me were the people that were hurting me.”

So, Tomlin began to look at God as this hurtful person that wished pain on her. Then, she met a woman named Theresa that risked everything she had to keep Tomlin in a good place, where she could stay safe.

“And she literally raced her job. She could’ve lost her job. And I’m thinking in my mind why would you do that for me? Why would you risk your job you know? To help me.”

Through all that, Tomlin began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Actually it’s not a long time for some people. It’s six years that I’ve been on this journey. But, in the six years, God has accelerated me. I know in the Bible he says what the locust has eaten I will restore to you. So he’s restoring what I was originally designed to do.”

Tomlin received her bachelors and masters degrees from Jackson State University.

“I was originally created to be this person. And we were originally created to be who God created us to be. And whatever that is. But it’s always the edify and lift someone else up.”

Tomlin now serves as the accountant manager at Stewpot Community Services in Jackson.

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