She came to us in her beat-up sedan sporting freshly dyed hair, trendy clothing and confident demeanor. Hope was all smiles, helpful and engaging. When staff sat down with her to chat, we quickly learned she was a master of masks.
Hope had been homeless for several weeks, fleeing a toxic co-dependent relationship. Her ex-boyfriend checked into rehab, and she was left to fend for herself. When in front of a crowd she shined. But in one-on-one conversation her emotional frailty surfaced. She became a Member on the spot, and came to the Café almost everyday for the first month until she got a part-time job.
We weren’t the only ones to see her vulnerability– the men around her did as well. Though attempts at courtship came often, she stood her ground and rejected them all. “I need to work on myself right now,” she politely declined. She hung out with people at the shelter, but chose to limit her participation.
A Supportive Community
“I wanted community, but I knew that if I started to belong to a certain crowd, I’d be influenced by that crowd. And I knew any compromise to my progress would prevent it from happening. That’s why I love the Café. They’re good people. And the other Members are in the same boat– they may have a lot to recover from, but their bravery and discipline is inspiring. They aren’t comfortable with their situation either, and they were doing something about it. That’s my goal here.”
Hope’s determination and attitude were evident in her setbacks: a promising housing situation was revoked and given to someone else without any explanation; two job interviews didn’t work out; her ex was out of rehab and began to call on her again.
“I had to stay focused. I had to lean on the Recovery Café community. I had to have something different to do with my time, somewhere else to go. The Café gave me that.”
Hope worked closely with Café staff to set goals and stay focused on her recovery journey. She attended our meditation and yoga classes to calm her anxiety. She made every Recovery Circle and filled out job applications at the Café. Her determination paid off and Hope now has two jobs and stable housing.
Co-dependent relationships can take us to places we never imagined. The loss of sense of self, the loss of balance in aiming to please someone else can separate us from our true selves and our own gifts. Hope’s rock bottom taught her what she was made of. It showed her that she is capable of coming back stronger than she was when her life fell apart. She may not be where she wants to be yet, but she has her own experience to prove just how resilient she is. She’s authentically Hope, and we are so thankful for her light and love.