Her Story: Susan Stein

Motivating Stories from Local Women


Every woman has a story to tell, and no two stories are alike. Meet the women who have persevered through challenges and tribulations and come out the other side stronger than ever. These unique individuals have seen their fair share of adversity but continue to inspire those around them with the lessons they have learned and their love of life. Read on for a truly motivating story by a woman who experienced them firsthand.


Photo by Emily Pérez Long / Photos taken on location at Common House




Susan Stein, Northshore


When I was hurt at 15 months old by my caregiver, it was just the start. Surviving an accident at age 10 that left me battling gangrene was horrific; watching my mother battle alcoholism and later be diagnosed with stage IV cancer was devastating; losing my husband to a car accident at 23 when I had a child at home was gut-wrenching; losing my father a decade later to a heart attack was life-altering; and watching my current husband endure years of relentless pain, undergoing one surgery after another, was yet another lesson in powerlessness. 

Unfortunately, this is just part of an unrelenting trauma list. Self-soothing – what I’ve come to call my ‘Coping List’ – was just one of the ways I used to run from the pain and would encompass everything from eating and drinking to shopping and overcommitting. I’ve had to learn to surrender these things and replace them with what I call my ‘Loving Myself List,’ which consists of meditation, prayer, exercise, community, sleep, and healthy eating, among other things.

I think tragedy is as random as luck, and I’m grateful to say this and honestly believe it. I have learned that everybody throughout my journey, including me, did their best with the tools they had. I am blessed for the opportunity to tell a small part of my story and thank this community for its love and support. It is that very love that gives me the ability to face my story head-on with grace instead of shame. 

I have been armed with so many loving hands on my shoulder as I navigated each new unforeseen situation. I continue to be amazed that I have survived with my heart still intact and that cynicism and anger have not won. Through family, friends, counseling, and support groups, I have been able to process and serve some of my pain away. I can now walk alongside another woman, widow, single mother, or addict and give her hope – show her that she is never alone. I am proud of my recovery, and I have now transitioned from a victim to a survivor. It is with gratitude that I say it has been and will continue to be my life’s work. 


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