A New Beginning at the Age of 37


Her desire for change empowered her to overcome an addiction of over 12 years. “The doctor told me I was going to die if I carried on drinking”。

says Maria Connie Garcia, 53 years old, our Brilliant Woman of the week. “It was a miracle. I just stopped one day and that was it”, she celebrates.

Connie moved to Canada from Portugal with her parents and two siblings when she was only 17 years old. The family had a hard time making ends meet back home and they already had 5 kids living in Strathroy,Ontario, which made the decision to immigrate easier.

As soon as they arrived, Connie started to work in a furniture factory. Speaking the language was her main problem so she decided to attend night school to learn English. “I ended up working at the furniture factory for 15 years. I was making money so life was ok”, she says.

The beginning of her addiction

One day, Connie had an anxiety attack at work. “I didn’t really know what had happened. Then I came home and I had a glass of wine. It felt really good”, she explains. At that time she was living with one of her brothers and she started to drink more and more everyday. Her brother stopped talking to her. The situation was really bad.

One year, Connie went to Portugal and met a guy there. He moved to Canada and they got married. She said she does not remember her wedding day because she was drunk. Everything started to get out of control, but she still managed to buy a house in Strathroy and get a job at a nursery. Her husband was working on a turkey farm, but Connie was the main breadwinner. “One day I couldn’t handle it anymore and I gave the house to the bank and left my husband. I lost everything, including my job”, she says.

On top of that, her health started to show the signs of her addiction. She developed liver problems. “I had to go on welfare”, she explains.

One day, Connie went to Toronto and decided that soon she was going to move there. So, she started helping in a church and one of the members brought her to Toronto to help. “I was still drinking but not as much”.

Overcoming alcohol

In Toronto, Connie met Fernanda, also a Portuguese immigrant. They became friends and she invited Connie to live with her.  “Fernanda didn’t put up with me or agreed with what I was doing”. One day Connie drank so much, Fernanda told her if you keep drinking you will have to get out of my house. “That was a big wake up call and soon after that the doctor told me I was going to die because I was really sick”, she adds. She stopped drinking overnight and since then has not had any cravings. “If I hadn’t moved toToronto, I would be dead by now”, she says.

Fernanda and Connie fell in love with each other. “She was the one who helped me get through a very difficult time in my life. My family didn’t want to have anything to do with me and she took care of me”, she tells us.

Connie started to get her life back on track. In the beginning she was cleaning a building as she had no strength to do anything else. Counseling played an important role on her road to recovery. For many years she had to take pills to improve her memory. In 2000, she stopped the pills and a few years later got a job with the government at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. She now works at a jail in Milton.

Catching up with life

“Thirty years ago, I was nothing. Now I feel like a million dollar woman. I’m happy and I’m healthy. I feel like I’m 30 years old”, she celebrates.

One year ago, Connie started her own business in the wellness industry through network marketing. She has big plans of buying a house, her own car and to live a very long life. “I have to live my life now because I didn’t before. Besides, I have a dream to help people, especially children”.

Her message is to BELIEVE that there is a new beginning. “Get out of the hole because there is something better. There is always a way if we let people help us. There is always a door open”, she concludes.

We, at  Brilliant Woman, want to thank Connie for sharing such a personal journey of courage, strength and determination to take control of her life.