Laura's Story

I was living in a women’s transition house as a client. It was a good one – very structured, but I had entered into a relationship that grew out of old behavior and criminal thinking. I was told if I continued in the relationship, I would have to move out, and they gave me a week to decide. I was angry, wanted more time to make my decision, so I just moved out and moved in with this guy - total co-dependency – and I began to spiral downward.

I talked with an old friend, who told my Parole Officer of my struggles. My PO ordered me to move to the YMCA. Shortly after that, she talked to me about a new transitional residence facility, and offered me an opportunity to be resident manager at Shelly’s House (sponsored by PRISM, Inc.). She thought it would be good for me – not only to get back on track – but also providing a way to give back to the community. As much as I gave to Shelly’s House, it gave back to me. Shelly’s House gave me the opportunity to focus on me. It enabled me to go to college and get a degree. It started me down a career path. It helped me develop skills I use in my work and life every day.

In the beginning, Shelly’s House had room for only two women in a rented wo-bedroom house. We went from that house to a larger house with five bedrooms, sometimes as many as three women to a room. Then we moved into the current residence, where the house and apartments could house 17 women. As the house grew, so did I with the support of my PO, new friends, my church and my pastor. I’d go to my pastor and say: I need help, I need prayer, I just want to kill this woman. He’d laugh at me and provide me tremendous spiritual support to calm my emotions.

Ultimately I ditched the negative guy. I really didn’t want a elationship, but I’d never been without a man, and I was afraid to be alone. I’d never had meaningful alone time, time to work on me – to find myself – to learn who I was. Shelly’s House allowed me that time and time to go to college, to learn that I had potential, and to develop that potential - to do something positive that helped me escape my family’s destructive xpectations. I was stepping over boundaries into a new world.

I grew up with my mom and my brothers. As I struggled to move forward, they were suspicious, always negative. They said I thought I was too good for them once I got a good paying job. It wasn’t that; I needed to protect my ecovery. I don’t know if my mother ever got over that. But if I had gone back and lived with them in that atmosphere, there would be nothing positive in my life today. I struggled with negative self-talk: Who do you think you are? You have no business going to college! What do you think you’re doing here? Being at Shelly’s House helped me counteract all that. Years later my mother finally said: You are a woman of success. Yeah! I’m not sure she ever really understood, but when she told me that, it was just awesome!

After five years of working as Resident Manager at Shelly’s House, learning to manage the stream of clients – addicted, highly emotional, always into drama – I learned to know myself and manage myself! Those years of growth finally lead to good things. I was able to leave Shelly’s House and enter into a wonderful marriage, a loving partnership. We own a home, which I never dreamed possible! I’ve been successfully working in my chosen career for seven years. I didn’t ever think I’d have a chance at this kind of life. Now I’ll never stop being grateful for the supportive environment of my years at Shelly’s House that brought me to this place.

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