Cindy’s Story – written by a Sonshine resident who hopes to pursue a career in writing
I am at ease leaving my daughter in the good care of trained child care workers when I go to counselling, my support group, career workshops and legal appointments in the community. My little girl can meet other children and is cared for by kind, gentle women.
I’m learning that a shelter isn’t a place where a person can just keep warm and soak in depression. The women who stay in these places are people who don’t want to give up on themselves and their children. They come to build emotional stability so they can create the new life they deserve. I now see a shelter as a word to describe a starting point.
When I was a little girl, my mom left home and didn’t come back. My younger sister and I had to live with our father who physically and emotionally abused me for 12 years. Even when I was pregnant, it didn’t stop.
Soon after arriving in Calgary, I gave birth to an angelic baby girl, and began to experience post-partum depression. The doctors told me that I felt depressed because my hormones were trying to return to normal, but my boyfriend didn’t understand and became verbally abusive and controlling. He arranged for me to visit my sister in another city and told me he would take care of our baby. I didn’t want to go, but I thought he was trying to help me get better and that he knew what was bests for me. I considered him the only person in my life who really knew me, so I took his advance and wen to visit my sister for a weekend.
I returned on the Greyhound bus expecting to be greeted by my boyfriend and our daughter, but they weren’t there. I used the bus station pay phone to repeatedly call him, but he never answered the phone. I was frantic! After several lonely hours in the bus station, he answered my call. He was cold and uncaring as he told me I couldn’t come home and that he would take custody of our daughter.
I had only a suitcase, a few dresses, two pairs of high heels and some make-up. I had no money, no home, no family, no friends and most of all; I didn’t have my baby girl. The man who I thought loved me – my best friend – left me on the streets with nothing and I found myself sleeping in an emergency shelter that night. To add insult to injury, my boyfriend ridiculed me for having nothing and having to stay in a shelter.
The emergency shelter referred me to Sonshine Centre. I was told that Sonshine was a safe place where I would meet other mothers with similar stories to mind. They told me Sonshine would give me the support I needed to grow strong. Most importantly, with the security of a one-year residential program I would be able to have custody of my daughter.
My daughter and I now live at Sonshine Centre. Here I receive emotional support from the staff and feel respected and comfortable with all the other mothers. I love having my counsellor right in the building. In the Life Skills Group I learned about boundaries. I didn’t even know what they were and Sonshine introduced them to me.
At Sonshine, I see proof that people care about each other. It is a truth that affects our little family the most. It amazes me that Calgarians are donating to single mothers and children to survive. I wish I could say thank you to everyone who keeps us from freezing in the winter, starving and getting sick. We are staying healthy and keeping our strength because they are people who are giving a helping hand in any way they can. I am going to be ready to start a career and provide a home for my daughter at the end of this year because I am surrounded by the hope I need to work towards our happily ever after…
Something To Say is proud to have the Sonshine Centre involved in our show debuting April 4-7 at the Vertigo in Calgary.