Almost two years ago, I made a choice I couldn’t be more proud of today.
I had been sober for two weeks when I finally went to see a doctor, believing I would be treated for a kidney infection. I will never be able to touch on the extent of guilt and regret I felt the moment I was told I was around 24 weeks pregnant. All I could think of was how unstable my life had been and how the past five months the defenseless life growing inside of me was subjected to all of the consequences that follow when one seeks comfort in self-destruction.
I remember needing to get an ultrasound done. A nurse gave me a paper with a list of nearby shelters but I hesitated on calling them, even though my friends supporting my sobriety urged me to act quickly and leave my unhealthy living situation. When I was finally ready, I contacted Casa Teresa. I spoke with Kim on a Friday and we completed the intake interview. She told me if I was serious about coming to give her a call again Monday morning at 8. I stayed up the whole night prior, called right on the dot and I left for Casa Teresa later that morning.
I couldn’t have found a better environment to spend the remaining months of my pregnancy. Although I had developed trust issues prior to coming to Casa Teresa, the staff who worked with me proved they genuinely cared and wanted to help. I have felt an overwhelming amount of support many times here. I didn’t receive much emotional validation growing up. Often, I had thought of my “negative” feelings as burdens and suppressed them in order to avoid making others upset. Being newly sober, it was critical that I learned new coping methods for all the feelings that inevitably rise again after being numb for so long.
Between meeting with my case manager, a therapist, and attending classes weekly that centered on building self-esteem, I feel so fortunate for all that I’ve been able to learn and soak in. I couldn’t help but to be influenced by all the strong and resilient women I have met here, both residents and staff. I am so thankful for the friendships I have been able to form with other women on the path to motherhood.
Initially when I moved forward in the program to the Transition 2, I was surprised I felt a little lonely. In Transition 1, I had a room right next to Casa Teresa’s front door and all of my neighbors lived down the hall. When I moved to the duplex next door, I missed that sense of closeness in that we were all within one building. I appreciated getting to move into the apartment which was fully furnished and offered a lot more space for me and my son, but in a way it reminds me that we will be on our own one day. At first that thought was scary, but I’ve learned to put it into perspective and focus on what I can do with the time I have here.
During my time at Casa Teresa, I have started building up my self-esteem again. I am over a year sober, going to school, securing a well-paying job, and watched my son turn one. I’ve started learning how to plan for my future, something I had never done before. I opened my own savings account, have a budget, and I prioritize accordingly.
I have started working in the field I went to school for which has inspired me to further my education and explore my career options when I have the flexibility. I have learned to use my voice and ask for clarification or help when needed. This is one of my biggest personal accomplishments, learning how to advocate for myself, because I want to be able to advocate for the children I work with and model that behavior to my son.
I love that Casa Teresa allows residents the opportunity to see what they are capable of accomplishing with encouragement and validation. With each hurdle conquered, no matter how big or small, I feel proud of myself for the first time since I can remember. Now that I have been in Transformation 2, I am able to look back and realize how much I have grown since the day I arrived at Casa Teresa. I remember feeling hopeless on the way here. Now, I wish I could go back and reassure that girl looking out the window with a million racing thoughts that this was the best decision she could have made. Today, I am grateful for the circumstances that led me here.