Friday, October 19, 2012

Waiting to Exhale

Last night, as I thought about the events of the day, I wondered if I made any impact. Of course, my work as Mentor Match Manager is meaningful on a daily basis. Matching homeless mentees with loving, giving, caring mentors is a life-giving experience. Today was no different.

One woman in particular made an impact on me. Her story is really not so different from my own. We are about the same age, we are both single mothers and strong in our faith. The main difference in our walks today is that she has struggled with a drug addiction that has resulted in temporary separation from her three children. As she sat across from me in one of our partner women’s shelters, our eyes met and I shuddered as I processed how painful that experience must be.  With difficulty, she shared how her addiction tore through her life and ripped away the only constancy she has known: her relationship with her children.

She sat beside me, well dressed, attractive, and confident. Looking at her as a passerby, you would never guess her to be homeless. She simply doesn’t fit the image in our minds. Yet, she is. In fact, we have had more single moms in their thirties and forties referred to Trusted Mentors and now awaiting a mentor match than any other population over the past months.

My new friend shared how she had been in recovery before, and even racked up some years of clean time. She talked about how this time is different because she is getting the help that she needs from several local agencies, and because she is ready for a change. She shared how her two older children have watched her addiction nearly kill her, and have chosen to separate themselves from her life.  Although the experience of separation is heart-wrenching, she is able to see the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.

She inhaled deeply as she expressed gratitude for the chance to focus on herself, her own recovery and healing. Her life as a daycare provider, single mother, and survivor of domestic abuse has been trying and has not allowed her the space to heal. She is grateful for these moments to exhale, and to focus on her recovery 100 percent. She expressed faith that she will reunite with her children and that they will again live under the same roof in a home of their own.

She expressed gratitude for me as I begin to find a volunteer Trusted Mentor for her; as she knows she can’t walk this road alone. She is excited about the prospect of a healthy female relationship, one that is nurturing and life-giving, one that she has been longing for.

I am thankful for our mentors, just as she is.