Category Archives: against all odds

Manipulation

As part of our 30 stories for 30 weeks in celebration of our 30th anniversary, we share this story titled Manipulation by one of our housing graduates, Ronda J.

I look back at the people in my life, and I can’t help but feel witty.  I’ve lied, manipulated and betrayed in the past. In my recovery, I’ve learned that these were part of my character defects. I always justified these behaviors. I was seeking sympathy and pity from others. In this way, I could get what I wanted when I wanted it. I felt I deserved it. If anything bad happened, it wasn’t my fault because the world was out to get me. My manipulation allowed me to control every situation. I thought control was the key to everything. I failed to realize that my actions took that same control away from me. The things I did made my life unmanageable. In my eyes, though, no one had the right to tell me what to do.  As my life spiraled downhill, I became completely lost. I hid my emotions, who I really was, in different addictions. Food was my first addiction, then I substituted alcohol and pills. I didn’t have the food or weight to hide behind, so I found other things.

Due to my manipulation and lies, I was able to hide my addictions for years. My weight had led to health problems, so any signs of my addiction were attributed to those health problems. People felt more sympathy for me, and that just fed the whole cycle of self-pity.

Finally though, I hit the proverbial bottom. I lost control of my life, all pride, and my job. The loss of these things barely fazed me. All I could think about was making any feelings go away.

At one moment of clarity, I knew I needed help. I ended up at the hospital for the first time admitting to someone that I was an alcoholic. I begged for help. My pleas landed on deaf ears. Even during my subsequent stay detoxing, my pleas to go to rehab failed.

After getting out, I did take control again: calling, writing, doing everything I could do to get help. I put as much determination in that as I had in my using.

I don’t know what I expected, but I soon realized going to rehab was my way of running from who I was and what I was doing to myself. I somehow thought I could manipulate my way through rehab as I had through life. Little did I know that I was trying to manipulate people who had seen it all: other addicts, manipulators and counselors who saw through it.

I spent the next 5 months, 21 days trying to see me. I had to dig through 30 years of lies and hidden emotions: pain that I’d covered up and fears that I’d denied.

Facing these problems was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I knew if I didn’t face it, I would continue to run and hide, resorting to the same old behaviors. The same fight I had put into running and hiding all of those years I now had to put into my recovery. I had to make the choice between recovery or relapse.

I chose recovery. Part of that meant turning my control over again. I decided not to go back downstate to a family that loved, but enabled me. Instead, I went into transitional housing. I had gained strength, and I knew I needed the help and support of people who understood me.

Giving up control and old behaviors that I’d lived for so long was necessary for me to live. Over 8 months, I’ve grown finding the person I am, setting up the boundaries I know I need to in order to be spiritually alive. I learned to live again with honesty, open-mindedness and willingness.

Delaware Homelessness

July Newsletter: Against All Odds

In July we sent our first electronic version of Against All Odds. You can see it in its entirety by clicking here. To get our newsletter sent to you via email you can sign up by clicking here.

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I recently came across a quote from Sister Mary Lou Kownacki which said, "There isn't anyone you couldn't love once you've heard their story." Of the many people who come in and out of the Friendship House doors, it is their stories and their names that stay with us. Everything is a story - whether fiction or nonfiction, whether you agree or disagree - it all starts with a story.

Thousands of years ago before we were able to capture stories onto paper, stories were verbally passed on through the generations. The Friendship House staff still spends much of their time listening to our clients' stories. Whether it is the first encounter or the hundredth, there is still something to be learned through listening and something to learn through retelling.

It is our mission to walk with someone on their journey without asking them to be something they are not. Our desire is that each person we encounter will let us into their life through their words. What better way to know someone then to listen, with our ears and our hearts.

This newsletter, our first electronic version of Against All Odds,  is just that for you. It is stories from the women at our Women's Day Center: staff, volunteers, clients, and friends. We invite you to read and open your hearts to the stories of what they have to share.

Kim Eppehimer
Assistant Administrator

You Don't Have to Walk Alone

I know people say life is an experience. I must say, they did not lie. I thought everything finally was going right for my family and myself. But let me tell you that was a fairy tale.

One day I wasn't feeling like myself, I started feeling tired all the time. Days became weeks, weeks became months and I was not getting any better. Then one day I went to the hospital got a complete work up, then a week later got a call for me to come to the clinic where I had my testing done. I was a little scared but I went and once there I found out I had AIDS, not HIV. I was full blown. I was devastated, but I acted like this could not happen to me and I went home and pretended it was not true.

Let me tell you that truth will make itself known and I got so sick I could not eat anything and drank only fluids. I went from 160 to 89 pounds. My sister picked me up and rushed me to the hospital - thank God - because I was knocking on death's door. I stayed in the hospital for over a week until they were able to get me stabilized. They sent me to a good clinic to help me get my meds, so now I take a lot of meds and because I waited my viral load is so low that it's going to be a hard and long road.

As I started getting better I still went through a lot of problems with my health. I was in and out of the hospital with rare pulmonary ailments that normal people would not get. I continue to have infections and pneumonia. I now find myself homeless and no one to reach out to, or to tell my suffering to, because I am still being judged and labeled.

I went back to a place where I have always gotten help and was not judged. Even when I made mistakes they were always nice to me and told me things I needed to do. Friendship Women's Day Center and their staff has helped me with places to go and agencies to see so that I hope to find housing and try to get healthy. I really appreciate all they have done to help with my meds and just someone to talk to who don't treat me any differently. As I close, the one important thing I want people to know is don' think this is something that cannot happen to you, you are no more immune than I am and you hear what has happened to me. Be careful and always get checked - it may save your life.

LD - A Friendship House Friend