by Toni D’orsay
This is part of a series of posts I’m going to do to tell, in brief, the stories of some of the clients that This Is HOW has helped. Names are changed, and some details are left out in order to preserve privacy.
These aren’t the best stories. These are just the stories.
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She heard a whisper through the internet of a place that wasn’t where she was. A place where an ex didn’t harass her, where her family didn’t call her freak and try their best to undermine everything she did. It was an idea of a fresh start, a chance to move forward, to get away from the drugs and the booze and the people who were throwing their lives away and she wanted more.
She wanted love. She wanted to know she belonged. She wanted to find a way to be something other than just lost.
She gambled. She took a bus across the country to this place she’d never seen, these people she’d never known, and the first thing she realized is this was hotter than holy handgrenades.
She took a good month to get used to the heat. She had troubles — like many, she thought she knew what she was doing, and thought she wouldn’t have problems. THey were still there, but she stayed away fromthe real trouble.
She left and she came back and she struggled against rules because her life had taught her to stuggle against rules, but each time she was given another chance, even though some times it wasn’t all that much fun.
She met new people and then, one day, she fell in love. She had learned to live with others, and how to cook a few things and what it means to turn that stubborn streak from fighting those around you to fighting for yourself.
She travels the highways now, happy as part of a couple, and working to make her family whole.
She was much loved, and she didn’t know it because she didn’t love herself. She was lost, and she didn’t know it, because she had never been found.
She had a culture on an island she’d never seen, and she loved the boys and she loved the flash and the grandeur and so it was natural that she would find the stage appealing.
It was terrifying, though. It scared her to death. So she discovered that a little drink could make it easier. And it made her feel like she did better. And she didn’t feel bad about the secret that she was letting people see a little bit of.
And people adored her. They would shout and clapo and laugh and sing along with her as she strutted and joked and had a blast and then the next time she did it again and so it went, on and on, and she started drinking more than just to perform but also to get through the day because in a way she couldn’t really tell many, it just made the pain a little harder when she was up there.
She had friends, and they all drank, and she still went to church and she was still a good person and then, one day, she realized things weren’t getting better. They weren’t even staying the same.
They were getting worse. It was really brought to her attention when she realized one day those red and blue flashing lights were about her.
One of her friends, one who didn’t drink, who also performed and who could see the girl in her, reached out a hand, and she took it.
She got herself clean and sober. She worked hard, she found herself the person others would come to for advice. She took care of them, and in doing so found a stronger family. SHe moved away from the things that she had fallen into in the past, but that part of her still wanted to be on stage, and so she made the world around her that stage.
She grew within, and always had a joke and laugh and a smile where once those had been missing, and her friends saw how much happier she was as she would get a job and tell the world of her stretch limo she shared with others that she waited for each day to get there.
She became more than a house manager, she became a house mother,and she was a fierce one, protective and yet, she started to lose herself even as she grew herself.
It took her a while, and many ups and downs, but she found a place in this world that fits her — by making the world fit around her.
He was in a small mountain community, living along those roads less traveled, and traveling a path that seemingly had no guidance. He was a devout man, and his travails led him to take a trip across a state line to join others that he knew were also devout, for whom the service to God was paramount, even though far too often when he turned to others, they would turn him away, defying the spirit of his faith.
In that trip he came across a whole bunch of people who energized him and gave him hope, and yet…
… he wasn’t quite in the right place. They were calling him “ma’am” and referred to him as “her” and they weren’t doing it because they didn’t like her, they were doing it because they didn’t know any better but that doesn’t change the hurt and so he would turn to his husband and hide his face for a moment or reach out for a supportive squeeze of a hand and watch from the back, drift around the edges, listen and hear and then, wait, what was that?
There were some people over there who seemed to get it. Introductions, connections, suggestions. He need a doctor, one that wasn’t in his hometown, one that could help and not make him feel like it was begrudged.
THey knew someone, some place, some work that was being done. He was fearful. He was brave. He took a chance and reached out.
They took hold and startled him with the way they surrounded him and showed him other men like him and how they respected his faith and how they could laugh and smile and how they were gentle and watchful and then, there he was.
In a doctor’s office. Medicine was his, and from there his life would begin to blossom even more.
Tale Four (bonus)
He was 14 years old. His father had beat him and the person who gave birth to him. He was hidden within himself, wary of others, and yet he wasn’t alone, for the person who had given birth to him was taking the same journey he was, fighting the same struggle he was, and after broken ribs one time too many, the two of them had fled his father and became their own father and son.
He was scared. Things that he had thought were certain and given were suddenly gone. They were bounced from one shelter to the next, unable to find a place where they could be themselves not because the shelters forced them but because they didn’t know how to handle it.
It was then, in one day, that he came across a worker at a shelter. Like many others, this one said she knew that it was difficult for them, but instead of turning them away, she picked up a phone and made a call.
He had to be the strong one, for they were in hiding. So he took the phone in his hand and explained what was going on as best he could.
They were allowed to remain in the hideaway for a change. Things were happening.
A woman showed up. She scared him a little, with a loud laugh and a smile and a way of both being completely relaxed and yet constantly moving at the same time.
She spoke to him and asked him if he would like it outside of Arizona, and he said yes, he would, and his father, the one that gave birth to him, grinned and nodded.
She vanished. Then, one day, an older couple showed up at the house, and the social worker who had made that call said it was ok, they were good people.
And he found himself in a van, headed towards a new life that was safe.
Away from the man with the fists who said he was his daughter.