Family dinner night would never be the same. In fact, life as he'd always known it would never be the same. As if the inherent pressures of being 16 weren't enough, his father's announcement over dinner that evening tore his world apart.
Divorce didn't happen in his family. His dad was the perfect father, husband and businessman who rushed home from work each day so he wouldn't miss dinner with his family. His mom was the mom who carpooled twice a week along with the other perfect parents, never missed a baseball game, and baked cookies for the team fundraisers. Other families got divorced, not his. What would he do? What was going to happen to them to him? The straight and smooth path he'd envisioned his life would follow had suddenly, without warning, taken a sharp turn and he could no longer see what was around the corner. He was lost.
Then his friend told him about Anew Day.
He walked through our doors and life slowly began to feel normal again. He discovered there really is no definition of a normal or perfect family. Though his once-straight path had become a maze of confusion, as he began to accept his new normal, he slowly, but confidently began gaining the emotional tools he would need to face whatever was around the next bend.
While not the first research to discover a link between parental divorce and suicidal ideation, a 2011 study conducted at the University of Toronto found that boys are especially vulnerable to the effects of marital breakups. But the tough guy image and stereotypes to which young men often feel they must adhere, are sometimes the obstacles that prevent them from seeking the help they need.
Those committed to serving on behalf of Anew Day strive to make our presence known throughout the Nevada County community. We want adults and youth alike to know that there is help when life becomes unbearable and circumstances leave them lost and desperate. We want them to know that there is hope.
"An Epiphany Revealed (the words of a client)"
"Disclaimer: Every epiphany I've ever had, I feel it's obvious once it's happened. In other words, if something strikes me as truly profound, I immediately feel as though I've always known it. Maybe I have, but I didn't act accordingly, or I knew in my mind but not in my soul. Whatever the case, explaining these life-changing moments, the understandings, that are so simple and yet too deep for mere words, is a difficult task. I decided to try anyway. So bear with me.
I wrote in my journal about a week ago: I wasn't necessarily looking for someone to complete me, but instead for someone to complete. I've learned that, for all intents and purposes, this is the very same issue.'
I'm going to be straight up honest for a moment. I've been going to counseling off and on for the past year or so. I once found this embarrassing, but now I know that it's OK to say something without saying everything. I was assigned to read a book about codependency. Maybe you don't know what that means. I like to think of it as love cancer. You have a healthy relationship (romantic, family, or other) full of love cells, and for whatever reason the body gets sick. The love cells start to overreact to this illness and overpopulate to create its own unhealthy levels, becoming a tumor. Next thing you know, this tumor is getting all of the body's attention, and the overall health of the relationship suffers until it heals, or dies. And sometimes, it can threaten the very life of the individuals, whichever their role may be.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how I've confused true love in my friendships, family relationships, and romantic relationships for something else, for this cancer I just described. I would see that a person has a problem. I wouldn't reject them for it, but I would try to fix it myself. I would try and try and try, knowing that this trying wasn't helping, but not knowing any other way to respond to the problem. It wasn't resolved. I had to do something, even if that something was just making it worse. I've been learning that there is another way. I've come to understand on a heart level that each person is responsible for his or her own life. That means this person I love is responsible for his or her own life and choices. That means I am responsible for my own life and choices.
On Sunday morning, as I broke the bread and placed it in my mouth, contemplating the body of our Savior, something that I would have said with words before but not really understood in my soul burst into my thought. I grabbed my journal and wrote: "I am no one's savior. God did not bestow that ability nor that responsibility on me. As seemingly well intentioned as my efforts can appear, they are not only misguided, but also harmful in the utmost degree. It is pride to try to mold someone's heart with my own hands - the only hands that are able to do that are our Originators. It is pride at its most poisonous levels, and it will drain my life and strangle others. I'm learning to pray for people, believing in their hope, resting in expectation for what God will do; yes, I am a part, in as much as His spirit resides in my heart and His spark lives on in my created being, but just as Christ alone saved me, Christ alone will save others I'm dedicated to being joyful for others' transformations, regardless of my perceived participation , not only being joyful in the current condition of change, but also joyful in hope for the completion of those transformations, including my own."
This new understanding allows me more grace, not only for others, but also for myself. My value is not challenged by my inability to solve problems anymore. I can practice patience. I can let real love cover sins instead of letting love confused with manipulation and control force a cure on them. I can wait. I can watch things happen through me, in spite of me, and even apart from me, and feel true joy, believing that everything will work out for good in the end.
I'm learning what it means to be free indeed. Thank you, Jesus. "
"Hope Has no Boundarie"
Even as we maintain statistics regarding the clients we serve at Anew Day, it's sometimes difficult to grasp a tangible understanding of the impact we are having on the community. Even then, we tend to think in terms of the local impact, rather than the state-, nation- or even global-wide difference we are making. But a recent email we received at Anew Day caused me to step back and look at the reach of Anew Day on a broader scale than I've ever really considered.
After visiting our website, a 19-year-old woman from Poland sent a desperate email. Gabriela (name has been changed to maintain anonymity) was in the depths of depression and actively contemplating ways to end her life, even so far as considering the most effective and painless ways to complete her plan. Gabriela was lost, depressed and lonely and had no idea how to cope with the plethora of problems she was facing.
Gabriela has a twin sister who has been in and out of rehab, and her sister's subsequent volatile aggression toward Gabriela and other family members has all but torn her family apart. The toxic relationships in which her twin sister has been involved has directly impacted the family dynamics as well. Gabriela sets high academic expectations for herself, believing she will win her parents' approval. Wanting to please her boyfriend and finding some way to gain control over her life, she began a destructive eating pattern which resulted in repetitive bouts of bulimia, only to be abandoned by the man she loved. She has very few people who she can call "friend" and feels completely isolated by her family as their focus is on the "troubled" sister and Gabriela feels she cannot burden her family with her problems. She feels as though she has nowhere that she can call home. In Gabriela's words, "I just want to end the suffering, I no longer feel sad, just really empty."
Just last week, Gabriella took a handful of pills and tried to end her life. Fortunately, her attempt was unsuccessful. It was the next day when Gabriela began to surf the internet and came across the Anew Day website. She reached out to us and the floodgates opened. She'd finally found a place of refuge where her voice would be heard, her pain shared, and her hope reignited.
After a lifetime of verbal and emotional abuse by those dearest to her, depression and anger was beginning to overtake her every breath. She'd become so enmeshed in a pattern of abuse, it seemed there was no other way of life. The recent death of her mother and the struggles and complications associated with the ensuing family discord, served only to perpetuate the ever-present cycle of abuse. She knew she had to find help if there was any hope of emotional survival.
That's when she turned to Anew Day.
Through counseling and support at Anew Day, she found her voice. She began to recognize her self-value and, subsequently, began drawing boundaries with those family members whose abuse had all but immobilized her throughout her life. It was a difficult road and took a lot of courage, but with the help of her Anew Day counselor and prayer support, she has established a better life for herself. She is finding confidence, strength, and self-worth with the tools and skills with which Anew Day has helped equip her.
Today, she is continuing to heal and grow through committed and ongoing counseling through Anew Day. She has found the determination to tackle other issues that have historically prevented her from living a fulfilling life and is accomplishing dreams and reaching goals she had long hoped to attain. She has gained the support and respect of her family, to her, a priceless commodity. Today, she is healthy, happy, and able to face the hardships that come with the unpredictability of life.
"The Choices We Make"
It had been two years. Two years of frustration. Two years of hopelessness. Two years of crawling out of bed early each Thursday morning. Two years of preparing herself emotionally for her 8:00 a.m. standing appointment. Two years of walking through the doors of Anew Day once a week looking for answers. Two years of walking out those same doors feeling at peace, but still without resolve. Two years, yet little had changed - until one momentous day.
The physical and emotional abuse to which she had been victim on a regular basis at the hands of her mentally disabled adult son had taken its toll. She had heard about Anew Day and hoped it would be her answer. She never imagined that nearly two years later she would still be struggling with the same issues that brought her through our doors. Though hopeful, even her counselor was wearying, as it seemed very little progress was being made through their weekly counseling sessions, until that momentous day.
This woman whom had been searching for answers for so long finally had an epiphany: She realized she hadn't found the answers she was looking for because she had for as long as she could remember been giving her son permission to behave in the destructive manner to which they had both become accustom - she had been enabling him. And instead of beating herself up for her past choices, she made a new choice -- the choice to change her choices. On that day, with an accumulation of two-years of therapeutic reflection, she started on a new, hope-filled journey.
Through the continued guidance of her Anew Day counselor she continues to address her propensity for co-dependency and the myriad of issues that come with dependency reliance. And through our local Adult Protective Services she is now getting the physical and financial help that has allowed her and her son to begin living healthy, productive lives.
As much as we would like the answers to come over night for our clients, the reality is, it often takes dedication, hard work, and time for the answers to be revealed during life's struggles. The great thing is, Anew Day isn't going anywhere. And we're committed to helping people find hope and healing, however long it takes.
She came feeling empty. She left with a sense of fulfillment. But Pamela hadn't come to Anew Day to deal with the aftermath of abuse. She wasn't hoping to find healing after experiencing domestic violence. She wasn't coping with the grief of losing a loved one. And she wasn't struggling with addiction. In fact, she wasn't even quite sure why she picked up the phone and made her first call to us. After all, she had recently married the man of her dreams, and from the outside, was enjoying a happy, contented existence. But that's all she was doing, existing. And a previous decade of poor decisions, consequences of those choices, and current life struggles were beginning to threaten any hope she had for a bright, happy future.
Pamela's fairy-tale: Go to college and earn a degree, enjoy a professional career while living the fast-pace urban life for a few year, meet the perfect man, have the perfect marriage, enjoy vacations on tropical islands, buy a home with a white picket fence and an old oak tree in the front yard, raise two babies, and one day enjoy an early, comfortable retirement in a beach house over-looking the bay where her grandchildren would come to play.
Pamela's reality: Quit college (that was being paid for by her parents) in lieu of finding herself, worked short-term odd and end jobs that held limited opportunity for growth, had many "perfect" relationships -- only to find none was the "perfect" man (until now, she hopes), has never stepped foot out of California, rents a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a 100 unit complex, has been unsuccessfully trying for two years to have a baby, and both in their mid thirties, neither she or her husband's low-paying jobs offer a retirement plan whatsoever. Not exactly her idea of "living happily-ever-after."
While the anguish Pamela was experience wasn't the result of a particular event - the loss of a loved one, the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease, the ending of a marriage, rather, her pain came from an accumulation of seemingly unassuming life events that left her feeling disillusioned, regretful, and grieving.
Anew Day helped Pamela understand that grief comes in many forms. That understanding enabled Pamela to recognize the various sources of her anguish and work through the myriad of emotions that accompany grief. It has allowed her to come to terms with her past decision and utilize those experience to inform her future choices. It has given her the strength to move forward with anticipation for a hope-filled future.