Local woman shares life story to help others

  • Mary L. Brown-Wilson shares her story in Mary & A-Half: Me, Myself & I. Photo by Samantha Sinclair
    Mary L. Brown-Wilson shares her story in Mary & A-Half: Me, Myself & I. Photo by Samantha Sinclair

    Texana – Mary L. Brown-Wilson is sharing her life story to help others and let God’s glory show.
    The community is invited to a book signing at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Texana Community Center, which she helped build many years ago. Her autobiography – Mary & A-Half: Me, Myself & I – shares her struggles with addiction, and how a woman like her got caught up in bad situations.
    The title of the book comes from the name one of her neighbors used to call her when she was a child. She would ask her mom why the neighbor called her “Mary and a-half,” and her mother would reply, “Maybe she thinks you’re special.”
    “I think the life I’ve been through, I needed that other half to have endured,” Brown-Wilson said.
     Through writing the book, she also learned more about herself.
    Brown-Wilson was born in Georgia, but moved to Murphy when she was only 3 years old. She was raised in the church. Her environment as a child framed who she later became.
    “I had been hurt so much as a little child,” she said.
    Brown-Wilson grew up in a time when black people could not use a swimming pool and had to sit in the mezzanine to watch a movie at s theater. She endured terrible treatment by some of her teachers, and she was molested as a child.
    As she grew older, the pain continued. She married a man who was abusive to her. After 15 years of marriage, they parted ways. Soon after, both her mother and stepfather passed away.
    All of a sudden, Brown-Wilson felt a sense of freedom. She got involved with different people, going to liquor houses.
    “What started as something to do grew into an 11-year thing,” she said.
    For the last two of those years of addiction, God would show up to her.
    “And we’d chit chat,” Brown-Wilson said.
    She was arrested as part of a sting operation and was visibly happy, which was confusing to the officers. She told them they were “angels in police uniforms.”
    Ever since, she has been sober.
    Brown-Wilson was taken to drug court, where she was put in a program for 14 months. She spent 133 days upstairs before finally being allowed downstairs, where she had more freedom.
    “I lived so crazy for so long that it took a while to break me down,” Brown-Wilson said.
    In 2007, someone told her she ought to write about her addiction and recovery. She wrote for about a year, until life got in the way. She started working on the book again in 2014, taking notes on her experiences for another year.
    This year, Brown-Wilson went back to the book when the coronavirus caused her re-evaluate her job. She quit in April, bought a computer desk and printer, then pulled out the notes she made years prior. She organized the notes, then wrote for 4-12 hours every day. She finished her book on June 30, and it was published Sept. 6.
    After reading the manuscript, the editor told her the story was impressive and going to be good for a lot of people to read.
    Brown-Wilson knows several local people have already purchased copies of her book – she has received lots of positive feedback – and she’ll have copies available for purchase at the book signing. Copies are available on Amazon for $23.95.
    The theme for the book signing is “God is good.” It will include a welcome by Denise Pickens Johnson, a praise dance, a talk by Brown-Wilson and a question-and-answer period. Food will be available for guests to bring home.
    Photography and video will not be permitted during the praise dance.
    The event starts promptly at 2 p.m., and the event will be following all U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention guidelines, including seating 6 feet apart and wearing masks. Anyone who feels sick is asked not to attend, and temperatures will be taken. Brown-Wilson said a law enforcement officer will also be present to provide comfort to guests.