I know what it feels like when you think things can’t get any worse – and then they do.
A little over 16 years ago, I was suffering from addiction and homelessness. I wasn’t someone you could trust and I was not on speaking terms with my family, including my four children.
My troubles started at a young age. When I learned my Dad wasn’t my biological father, it had a huge impact on my self-worth. I began to believe that I wasn’t worth another person’s love. I started to use my body to get attention and did drugs and whatever else I could to feel loved and wanted.
When I was 16, I had a baby. The father wanted nothing to do with us. This added to my feelings of being unwanted. At the time I didn’t have the tools, or know about the resources available, that could have helped me.
One year later I met someone. He seemed perfect, as new love always does. We got married and I was excited to begin my life as a new family.
This turned out to be the worst decision of my life. Years of physical, mental and emotional abuse followed. I spent countless nights at the hospital, making excuses for my injuries. Yet I always believed him when he told me he loved me and that it wouldn’t happen again. He was good at telling me what I wanted to hear and I believed him over and over again. I just wanted to feel loved.
Sure, I packed up my children a few times, threatening to never return. But having little money, and less self-esteem, I always went back. I wanted to believe him when he said things would be different. There were always honeymoon periods that followed that helped convince me he really did love me.
Fast forward to present day. Thinking about those times can be difficult for me now. I often lie in bed and think about the life my children had growing up. It must have been hard, listening to the fighting, smashing and crying. It must have been scary when the police came.
It breaks my heart that my kids experienced these things.
I celebrated 16 years of being clean this February. I have a healthy, loving relationship with my children. I went back to school and got my degree. Four years ago I married a wonderful man who loves me.
It wasn’t an easy road. But with a lot of help, encouragement and guidance, I’m here to tell you that when people are ready, there is a way.
It’s called the United Way.
When I started my recovery, I didn’t know United Way funded the programs and services that would end up saving my life.
United Way has created a vital social safety net for people who are struggling. Your donation does more than just fund a charity. Your support helps provide a wrap-around community system that gives people a path to a better life.
When I needed help, I got it at Unity Project, a United Way funded agency. I used emergency food cupboards at neighbourhood resource centres. My children were able to go and be kids at the Boys and Girls Club of London and Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre.
United Way funds programs at all of these life-changing agencies.
Because of donations like yours, support was there for me when I needed it. Every program and service I used was in some way connected to United Way.
I know that without United Way, I wouldn’t be here today. I also know there are still people out there right now, struggling like I did. And COVID-19 has made everything even more difficult for them.
I give to United Way so that others can have the same chance I did: to have a fair shot at their best life. Please consider a gift. Let’s help someone together.