The following letter was written by a woman who resided in our shelter, Mary’s Place, this year. It is her story, in her own words.
I was an educator with a Master’s Degree and a very successful career. I raised two wonderful children. Everyone in my family thought I was happy. However, I was a domestic violence victim and I hid the secret, my unhappiness, and the abuse from everyone.
After my children were grown and out of college, I left my husband of 28 years. I ran away. I left everything behind because I wanted to die and I didn’t think that I needed anything anymore – friends, job, belongings, etc. I was suicidal living with a friend and my parents for three years blaming myself for everything. I wrote my goodbye letter many times, planned my suicide, but somehow talked myself out of it every time.
After my daughter had my first grandchild, I decided that I needed to get help. I went to the ER and checked myself in. From there, I was taken to Bridgeway Mental Health Clinic in Fergus Falls. With guidance from a wonderful psychiatrist, I discovered that I was not to blame for everything. I had to try to start over.
The social worker and I tried to find a shelter where I could go to restart my life. I had sweats, pajamas, no money and no valid ID. I was starting from scratch. She called Mary’s Place and they had an opening. I arrived at Mary’s Place on January 19th, 2016 with little hope for the future. When I arrived I was nervous, scared and broken.
With the help and support of my advocate, other LCRC advocates, on-site support groups, a counselor and a compassionate director, I started to rebuild my life. I put an effort into my own recovery and went to everything that was available to me. I was given a Hope Phone so my controlling husband couldn’t find me while I tried to recover.
I wrote a list of things that I needed to get done and worked on crossing them off: birth certificate, haircut, ID, Social Security card, eye doctor, new glasses, medical assistance, a physical, library card, legal help, divorce, driver’s license, resume, applications, interviews, job, bank, car, and a place to live. There were times that it was hard to stay optimistic and positive.
Less than six months later, I have checked off everything and more. I even went to an interview for a low level job and ended up with a manager’s position. I could not have accomplished any of these things without the guidance, support and time that I was given at Mary’s Place.
I am still rebuilding my confidence and self-esteem. I wake up every day and thank God that I am still here. My children and parents are thankful, too. It will take time to repair all the damage that was done to me. However, I am on the right path. I will be forever grateful to Mary’s Place for giving me my life back and being so supportive.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
(Former Mary’s Place shelter resident, identity withheld)