Mary has now been sober for about five years. She attributes her progress to her religious faith and the power of forgiveness. "I think the breaking point is where you just totally forgive [the abuser] and get on with your life because that person's going on with their life. ... 'I'm free of you and everything you tried to keep me down with.'"
Mary's forgiving spirit has earned her a place alongside Nelson Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Oprah's book of quotations. In an interview for Essence magazine, Mary's words of wisdom resonated with Oprah. Referring to the abuse she endured as a child, Mary said, "I blame [my mother] for nothing, but I forgive her everything."
Mary is the first to admit that forgiveness is a difficult obstacle to overcome. "It's all easier said than done," she says, "But it's got to be done. That's the painful part, the forgiveness. ... People don't want to go through it, [but] I'd rather go through the pain of getting better and being free than the pain of being stuck."