For a young child, parents are supposed to be a source of constant love, protection, and support. For children with drug-addicted or abusive parents, however, life at home is anything but that.
After being raised in a toxic home with abusive and drug-addicted parents, one woman found herself homeless and filled with self-hatred. She was ready to end it all until she heard a voice that led her down a path she had never even dreamed of…
As a child, Dani Johnson grew up on welfare in a home that no child should ever have lived in. Both her mother and step-father were drug addicts and she was subjected to physical, emotional, mental, verbal, and sexual abuse by her violent step-father every single day.
The Abuse Worsens
As Dani got older, her parents’ drug addiction had worsened, which meant her step-father’s extremely violent temper had only gotten worse. Life for Dani was completely unbearable at home, but she turned to her faith and the Church to help get her through it all…
However, when Dani was just 17 years old, she became pregnant by the deacon’s son, and she was no longer accepted by the only support system she had ever had. Dani gave birth to the baby out of wedlock and decided to give her child up for adoption.
Looking For Forgiveness
While at church, Dani had always been taught about forgiveness and hoped that the community would extend that same courtesy to her at such a difficult time in her life. However, the teenager was brutally judged and shunned by her fellow Christians…
“[They] had all kinds of judgment and major criticism and even almost excommunication,” Dani said about the community’s reaction. “In fact, my parents would not talk to me after that which was so hilarious because the lifestyle they led, what right do they have to judge?”
On Her Own
After that, Dani left her church and her home and started supporting herself. At 19, she got introduced to the idea of becoming an entrepreneur when a boyfriend invited her to a symposium where millionaire entrepreneurs were speaking. That day, a seed was planted in Dani’s head…
High School Drop-Out
Dani knew that even if she was only a fraction as successful as the speakers, she would be making more money than she could make working any other job as a high school drop-out. For the first six months, Dani was failing miserably, but then things started to turn around.
Over the next six months, Dani attended six seminars and actually started making some money. However, at one of the training seminars, she met a man and thought she had fallen in love with the man of her dreams. “Within seven days I was married to him,” Dani said…
Married To A Con Man
At 21 years old, Dani was married for the first time and followed her new husband to Hawaii. A few months later, Dani discovered her prince charming was really just a con man when he abandoned her and left with all of her hard-earned money.
Abandoned And Homeless
Not only did the con man steal all of Dani’s money, but he left her with a crippling debt. “I was left with $2.03 to my name, a $35,000 debt, completely homeless, 50 pounds overweight,” said Dani, who then was fired from her job. “December 1 I was evicted from my house and I was completely homeless.”
Dani thought she had hit rock bottom, but then her life spiraled even further out of control. Dani started doing drugs, the one thing she vowed never to do. “I was stoned out of my mind for two months – sleeping with eight different guys. I got to eat only by dating all these people,” said Dani, who was living out of her car and was struggling to make enough money to survive as a waitress.
“I realized that I had become worse than the family I grew up in and that was devastating,” Dani explained. “My whole life was filled with horror and terror and lies and I vowed that I would never be like my family. And there I was doing cocaine…”
On Christmas Eve, Dani went on an alcohol and cocaine binge with other waitresses at the beach. When she woke up the next morning, she was filled with so much self-loathing that she tried to end it all by drowning herself in the ocean. But as she was under the water, she heard a voice that told her to ‘pick up your mat and walk.’
Dani rolled up her beach mat, hiked a mile to her car, and drove 45 minutes back to the beach she was living at. All the while, a war was going on inside her head. One voice was telling Dani to turn her life around while the other voice in her head was telling her she was worthless and to drive into the ocean…
Finding The Solution
“I have no idea why I chose to listen to that first voice,” said Dani, who started thinking trying to figure out her options. She knew no one, had no money to buy a plane ticket back to California and needed about $4,500 to rent an apartment. Dani went to bed that night in her car without any solution, but when she woke up the next morning she found her answer.
“There was this weight loss program I had purchased long before I was homeless, lying in the back seat. I had used it for a week. I never paid attention to it before. And it just caught the corner of my eye in the sun,” Dani said. “I picked it up and it was as if this thing was saying, ‘I’m your answer.’”
Starting A Business
Dani went to a payphone, called the manufacturer, and decided to start selling the program in Hawaii. She used every last cent to set up the business out of her car and put up hand-written fliers around the island. She made $2,000 the first 4 days and $4,000 worth of sales the next month. Soon enough, Dani had enough money to get off the streets and even opened up a weight-loss center to better meet the needs of her customers and growing business.
That first year, Dani earned a quarter of a million dollars and made a million by the end of her second year. She quickly started expanding the business by training employees and opening up more weight loss centers. While opening up a center in California, Dani met her future husband, Hans, when he applied to work at the new center the day it opened. Soon after, Dani was pregnant…
Selling The Business
Dani was on top of the world, but within two years she was broke again. She had been embezzled and lost her clients. Dani was again suicidal, but Hans stopped her. Dani then rebuilt the business and sold it in 1996. By that point, she was a multimillionaire and went on to become a bestselling author, an international speaker, a radio talk show host, and all while running five companies.
Where She Is Today
Today, Dani lives in Northern California with Hans and their five children. She has since been reunited with the daughter she gave up for adoption and has four grandchildren. “When I got the call for Secret Millionaire; when I got the call for Oprah, I still ask myself, ‘Is this really happening? Is this really real or am I still sleeping in my car in Hawaii, and I’m going to wake up and it’s all been a dream.’ There was a divine purpose [to my homelessness] – it wasn’t for nothing, it wasn’t for my humiliation – it was for my purpose. And I accept that now.”
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