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It was winter and in trying to escape an abusive family situation to make my life better, frightened and alone I hit the road. As an educated woman with a Journalism degree and having worked at many newspapers and being a published writer, I felt devastated I seemed to always return to an abusive family situation. My mother was a Narcissist and had given me to my grandparents as a baby to live the high life in New York City. However, she would always call me and ask me to return till I myself was in my sixties. The money this took was extraordinary. Even though I told myself I could always find a job and traveled to different locations, the day came when I was exhausted, sick, had a vehicle that was expired, old and breaking down, and in the course of events ended up with approximately 20 dollars far from help, a home or comfort. And, it was winter. I thought I would freeze to death in my van. I had to ask for gas and motel vouchers.
A wonderful woman and her husband told me about Reciprocitree. I couldn’t believe anyone would help without a catch and waited to apply. Finally, out of desperation, I applied. I couldn’t believe I received the money in my bank account to help me find a warm place to sleep, gas for my car, food that wasn’t canned. I could, in fact, start again. It is a long way back. As a reporter, I want to tell other’s stories. I wanted to write about the migrants. I now firsthand know how to have nothing but a vehicle that is illegal and constantly being under the threat of being stopped by authorities. Fighting my way back is an extreme challenge. I am not a young woman. Yet, I persist.
I believe in the goodness of all mankind. I move forward staring at the broken down homeless with carts, the people crossing the border with plastic bags and their last water taken from them to go hungry and thirsty and know the terrible pain of this situation. I implore anyone with extra funds to help. The people on the street are not there because of too much alcohol or drugs. Many have dissolved into hopelessness. No one will help them. I ask for the well-off people in fancy cars to open your eyes. You will be blessed more than tenfold. In any city with anyone on the street, that means there is a problem. America has the means and the people to help directly. I know personally how much a stranger’s gift can be of help. A good Samaritan is indeed just that. As the Bible recounted, if you pass by on the other side, you yourself will lose out and become hardened to life and to people.
“I’m a hardworking barista at a coffee shop. I’ve been through a lot in my life with a dangerous marriage, trauma, locking myself in my house for years, never got justice for me and my kid etc....till I moved to AZ. I started a new life with my son, and got a job at a phone center where my Fallopian tube erupted, and having to leave my job because of the stress. I found this job, and it’s pretty okay. I get solitude, sorta busy, and I enjoy serving drinks. Lately my luck has been the pits.... then this awesome customer saw how hard I’ve been working, and how stressed out I am...he gave me a nice sized tip and it was only a cheap coffee of the day! I was very thankful, and he gave me this site to read. Thank you kind stranger! You actually made my day.”
Why I needed help is a rather long, depressing story. In short, there is a war between love and fear going on all around us.
I thought that all was lost. Recently I discovered that my wife was done with me, and had decided on divorce over a year ago. I knew it wasn’t good between us, but I refused to acknowledge just how bad it had gotten. My wife attacked my three year old daughter in the middle of the night, and then sought to have me arrested when I interfered with her attack. Afterward she was arrested and charged with several counts of disorderly conduct...and that’s when it started getting difficult.
I wound up broken, with three young children to care for. My wife cleaned out several of my accounts and ended up collecting food-stamp benefits fraudulently which belonged to me and the children. While I had recently started a new job, my health was declining and I had to take a lot of time off to deal with the situation. Several automatic payments didn’t go through, and I had spent all of the savings on rent. After seeking aid from many sources, and getting frustrated by it, I remembered Reciprocitree.
Perhaps a year earlier I had been in contact with them when my wife had gone in to a mental ward. I started venting on the web page....the next morning there was an email replying, “We’re going to help you.” I can’t go into too much detail about how bad it has gotten for me. Life is close to overwhelming me. Without the hope that the response gave me, I think that I would have given over completely to fear, and thrown away the life that I will have, as well as utterly letting down my 3 young children.
It’s not been but a couple of weeks since. I’m still in the middle of a world of pain, but love will win the war against fear.
On Wednesday, February 2oth, 2008, at 4:45pm, the road I had been on came to an abrupt end as I descended the steps at Christ the King Episcopal Church. Entering my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, I was forced to admit my drinking was no longer just a problem. I was, in fact, an alcoholic.
In the year and a half that followed that first meeting, my marriage ended, as did a career I’d spent over a decade building. Hopeless and despondent, I checked into a hotel just off the interstate with the intent of ending my life. After three days hiding from the world, I accepted the realization that suicide was futile; the time had come for me to leave the room and begin the process of climbing out of the hole, as an alcoholic, I alone had placed myself in.
Returning to life without direction or a sense of meaning proved challenging. Embarrassed by my situation and the behavior which led me there, I remained silent about the circumstances of my life. Overtime it became increasingly difficult to pay my bills, and with no one to turn to for help, I was overwhelmed and desperate. It was at this point in my life a friend named Jenny, with an envelope in her hand, approached me one afternoon and said the following:
"This is for you, but before I hand it over, I need you to agree to the following: 1) wait to open it until after I leave and, 2) never contact me regarding the contents inside. Before I go, it's important for me that you know, the ability to provide this to you is of far greater value to me than anything you'll find inside, and the opportunity to do so is the single greatest gift I have ever received."
I never heard from or saw Jenny again, yet her act of generosity that day set me on a new path. She helped me and hopefully, Jenny’s Gift can help you too.