My name is Jody, I am 33 years old, and I am far from perfect. I hate to admit this to you, but I don’t have to look you in the eye, so it’s ok: I currently live in the YW’s emergency shelter, along with my four-year old son. His name is Leo, and he is my everything. I am here for him. For him, I am doing everything I can to get us out of this mess. I am an alcoholic. I don’t want to blame it all on grief, it’s my own weakness that got me here, but when I lost my husband three years ago, I stopped functioning. It was a car accident that took him away from me. A moment in time. I had no idea how much he had held me together, until he was gone. I wanted to be strong for Leo, I really did. But the drinking was the only thing that made the pain go away. And I so much just needed it to go away.
The drinking was the beginning of the end. It lost me my job, my home, and now I have officially lost the support from everyone I know and love. Turns out, even the people with the biggest hearts will let you surf their couch and interrupt their lives for only so long. So here we are, in a shelter.
“Why are we leaving Aunt Dana’s house?”
“Where are we, mommy? What is this place?”
“Will we stay here forever?”
I wish he stopped asking questions. I wish I had better answers. The truth is, coming here has actually been amazing for him. Thanks to the Women’s Advocates and the other guests, I feel more supported and heard than I have in a long time. The woman next door has a daughter his age, and they play together with the toys that they have here. Everybody loves new toys, right! I am not sure for how long his little friend will be here but for now, it’s good for him to have some company, someone his age. The woman who works in the kitchen gave him a brand-new lunch pale, and the Women’s Advocate gave him a new backpack. He couldn’t wait to show those off at Kindergarten. It’s these little things that have given me hope. They make me feel like I have made the right decision for him by coming here. For myself, it has meant access to counseling, and the first few nights in a long time when I didn’t have to worry about where to sleep and what to eat. I know this is only the beginning, my Support Worker keeps telling me so. I know that Leo and I still have a long road ahead. But today, he is happy, and we are safe, and I have people around me who get it. People, who don’t judge me.
I want to thank you for caring about women like myself, for caring about my son. I hope that one day, when I am out of here and when I am well, I can give back to the YW in the way you do. It was such a hard decision for me to come here, but I am so glad I did. I don’t know where I would be today without the YW and without your help. Thank you. – Jody, current guest at our Shelter