Growing up, my home life consisted of physical and emotional abuse. We really did not know how to communicate with one another. I became a very insecure teenager. The first time I tried drugs was when I was 14 years old. This started my life long battle with addictions.
I had my first drink when I was 15 years old. I got into my first serious relationship at 19 not realizing that I was attracting unhealthy men. By this time I had lost all contact with my family due to my lifestyle.
My son’s father scoped me out. I had no idea that he would be the most terrifying person I will ever know. It did not take long before I was being chased, chocked and regularly threatened with his gun. I knew this man could and would kill me. I became pregnant in late 2011. One night we got into a serious fight and he cracked my rib. The police were called and he was arrested. I struggled with leaving him; even though he was so horrible, he was all I had.
For me rock bottom was being five months pregnant, living in an abusive relationship, living and working on the streets, and being addicted to crack cocaine. I finally sought help and began seeing a doctor and a psychologist. I had my son in June 2012 and as soon as I saw him I knew I couldn’t ever go back to living the life I was living.
My son was apprehended by Child Welfare a couple days after he was born. I needed to prove myself to be a fit parent and needed to stay clean and sober in order to get him back.
By this time, I had re-established connection with my family and I was finally able to leave my abuser with the help of my mom. I stayed in an emergency shelter for 21 days. Here I received counselling and was able to see my son three times a week. I called Sonshine to see if I could possibly move in. I remember looking at the suite and thinking, “OH MY GOSH! It’s so nice and I wished they would pick me!” When I was accepted I was so relieved.
At Sonshine I was challenged to talk about all that was suppressed for a very long time. My counsellor helped me to live in sobriety and we explored what that looked like. I discovered that I am a person of value and worth. We discussed what it meant to be co-dependent. Over time I realized that I did not need a man to be complete. I am OK just being ME!
I also attend Life Skills Group where I learned about healthy relationships, communication styles, and stress management. During my stay I could see myself changing. I grew confident and self-aware.
Sonshine helped to get through day to day life. For me this was all new; I had never paid rent or bills! With the help and support of the staff, I went to a 21-day outpatient drug and alcohol treatment program. The staff also held my hand throughout my whole Child Welfare experience and advocated my successes.
My son was returned to me after eight months. I was so HAPPY!! I do not think my son would have been returned to me as early as he was without the help of Sonshine.
I now live in Calgary Housing; I just finished my first year at Mount Royal and I volunteer at an emergency shelter. I have been accepted into the Social Work program. My son is almost two years old and we could not be happier!!
I am so thankful for what I was given while staying at Sonshine Community Services. I know the work is not easy. The staff and volunteers gave me so much. I am so thankful and want to give back for what I have received. Would you think about what you could give so that Sonshine can keep giving to the people who come through their doors?