This is a letter from a woman who was in Stepping Stones’ shelter, and we just got this letter from her after almost two years. This letter reminds me of a couple of things. First, those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to serve, must remember to always speak the truth and act in good faith and in the best interest of those that come to us for help. Secondly, we must remain humble enough to help non-judgmentally and unconditionally.
“Hi, I don’t know if you remember me and my boys, but I was in shelter about two years ago. I got clean and sober there; you trained me as an advocate. I got my two boys back and everything was good until I tricked myself to think I could just drink beer on the weekends. I ended up getting into trouble, going to jail and when I got out, I came back into shelter. Stayed sober again, you guys gave me a job at the thrift store and I was working on getting my boys back. I even got accepted into your transition program – I was really starting to get my life back on track. God, I am so stupid…I started to bargain with my life again and rationalized that if I only drink one beer at night, no one would smell my breath and I could keep it together. About three weeks into this, I thought I was fooling everyone, and then my probation officer showed up for a surprise visit and caught me drinking. Drinking was a violation of my probation and I went back to jail and lost my boys for good. I wanted you (Robin) to know how I am doing and tell the advocates for me. I have been out of jail for six months now and have been sober for about 20 months. It will be a very long time – if ever – that I will be able to get my driver’s license back and I don’t have any rights to my boys anymore. But it finally has sunk in that my priority is to stay sober. I want to thank Stepping Stones for a whole lot, but mainly three things:
1. The advocates at the shelter were loving, caring and didn’t pass judgment on me and my screw-ups. But they always told me the truth about my drinking and didn’t buy into my lies or my denial about how much it was messing up my life. They really made me feel like it was important to them that I took care of myself, like I really mattered to them. I haven’t had that much in my life. They forced me to look at things and probably saved my life.
2. Everyone at the Thrift Store where I worked was really nice to me even though I was a “shelter person”; I felt like I had a real family for the first time. Whoever called the office and told them they thought I was high…tell them thank you because that also saved my life even though I was really mad at the time.
3. I’m trying to get my probation transferred to the state my kids live in so they can see what mom is like without alcohol or any other drugs in their lives. I want to make everyone at Stepping Stones proud of me. Day by day, with the help of my AA family and my Higher Power, I’m learning to give up the behavior that was ruining my life and become the real me.
I’ll let you know when I am moving and I hope it’s OK if I keep in touch. Tell everyone I love them and I’m done being so angry.“
As servants, we as helping professionals don’t always see the outcomes of our service. But we must be ever mindful that what we say and do in service to others in our community matters.