Dorinda Walker has an epic story to tell. It’s a story of growing up with heroin-addicted parents, physical abuse, suicide attempts, dropping out of high school, exploring street life, and much more. Yet, Walker refused to allow the early chapters of her life story dictate the latter chapters, because today, she is vice president of multicultural marketing for a Fortune 100 Corporation.
Yet, for Walker, growing up in New Jersey was rooted in dysfunctionality.
“My father’s side of the family, for the most part, were gangsters, drug dealers, and number runners,” she explained. “My mother came from a well-educated family. However, she got involved in drugs.”
Walker said her mother was a functional heroin-addict. To support her habit, she worked as a legal secretary and paralegal, but was caught one day stealing at a local supermarket. Walker, a little girl at the time, was with her. Facing a judge, Walker’s mother had to choose between jail or rehab; she chose rehab.
As a result, Walker went to live with her father, who she described as a street hustler who sold pills in the 1970s to subsidize his heroin habit. During an altercation over $10, Walker said her father killed a man and was sent to prison. Walker again lived with her mother, who was now released from rehab. This living arrangement included a man, who her mother met in rehab. He was physically abusive to both Walker and her mother.
“I felt that I was alone and didn’t have a voice,” Walker recalled. “I was afraid because I was shuffled around and abused. I was afraid if I had a voice I would have been considered a burden and thrown away. Therefore, I developed very low self-esteem, became angry and rebelled. In the 7th grade, I began getting failing grades. I had fights every day in school, and was suspended.”
The fall of 8th grade, Walker’s father, according to Walker, was released from prison. Wanting to distance herself from the physical abuse dispensed by her mother’s boyfriend, Walker reunited with her father, who was living in the projects with his girlfriend. Things went well, said Walker, until her father was diagnosed with AIDS. Walker was devastated, and reacted.
“I dropped out of school, began selling drugs, and didn’t have any moral integrity,” she said. “I was dating older men and drug dealers. I also supplied my dad’s heroin habit. He was in and out of the hospital many times due to his condition. He felt God was punishing him for introducing my mother to drugs, for not being a good parent, and for killing a man.”
Walker said her father eventually died, and her mother disappeared. Finding it difficult to deal with life, Walker, while living on her own, twice attempted suicide.
Eventually, through what she called, “God’s grace,” Walker went to live with an aunt, who she said had a successful professional career. Ultimately, Walker met a man, fell in love, married, and began having children. Her mother, whom she had not seen in 18 months, resurfaced with a crack addition. After going through rehab, once again, she relapsed. Walker’s mother asked to move in with Dorinda.
“Mom, there comes a time in one’s life when you have to love someone from a distance,” Walker told her mother. “I love you, but I cannot allow you to live with me and my family. I can’t subject my children, or myself, to your drug addiction anymore.”
That was a defining moment in their relationship, Dorinda recall’s her mom telling her years later “No, was the best gift you ever gave me. It forced her mom to choose between her love of family and her addiction of crack, and she chose family. They subsequently enjoyed 16 years of living in a three family home along with Dorinda’s maternal grandmother.
Walker’s mother was later diagnosed with cancer, for a second time, “She died while in hospice care at my house,” Walker said. “I gave her something that I was not able to give my father, which was forgiveness. My forgiveness allowed her to die in peace.”
Today, Walker and her husband of 24 years have three children and one granddaughter. Walker is also a successful corporate executive of multicultural marketing for aa Fortune 100 Company. Independent of her professional work, Walker shares her life story with regularity with at-risk youth, drug addicts, and struggling women. While there are many tenets that Walker believes are liberators to one’s difficult past, there’s one that towers over the others.
“Forgiveness,” Walker said. “You have to have the ability to forgive people, if you don’t you carry a weight that prevents you from living a life of joy and abundance.”
Walker is now ready to tell her riveting story in a new book, and is looking at options about a movie and / or television series about her life.
“I believe my story will benefit and empower people,” she said. “Many people may not be struggling with the same issues I had. But, if they are struggling, and don’t know how to overcome it. I want them to trust in the higher power of God, because if I made it, they can too!”
For more information about Dorinda Walker, or to book her as an inspirational/motivational speaker, call 310.677.4540, or log on to www.dorindawalker.com. She can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dorindajwalker.