Can You Help Me?

Do you ever wonder why you’re surrounded by the people that surround you?

I have been through hell and back and come out so immensely blessed.  It’s almost unbelievable.  And I always find it so frustrating when I see people who choose to stay in their hell and not change their lives and blame everyone and everything else for their own outcome.  Although it’s so hard to just watch, it’s even more frustrating to feel like I can’t help.  The bottom line is that I can’t change someone else and I can’t shake them until they have sense and I can’t make the most basic decisions for them.  But my greatest struggle is how do I actually help them?  How do you help an addict that won’t admit the truth to even themselves?

I’ve never been addicted to drugs, but I’ve been surrounded by it and almost drawn to these people for some reason since I was 15 years old.  Why?  I keep asking myself this lately and the only conclusion I can come to is that those people have always been present in my life to prepare me somehow to help them someway…yet even through this post I am still trying to figure out how exactly.

The sinner in me struggles to have compassion sometimes, because I know what it is to overcome something thought to be impossible and something that broke my heart and my spirit.  Do I applaud myself for not choosing insanity and taking action and ultimately, changing my life?  Sometimes I want to, which is just embarrassing…but sometimes I feel so proud of myself for not allowing the situation I was hopelessly in to dictate the rest of my life.  I have to say (with guilt obviously) that sometimes I really don’t feel bad for  people that complain about their life.  Removing yourself from addiction or abuse is never, ever easy, but it’s necessary.  It’s an old saying, but I truly feel that if you want it you will find a way and if not, you will find an excuse.  My story is different than other peoples’ stories and my challenges didn’t exceed others’, but what I know is this:  I was in a terrible marriage for five years.  I was depressed, on and off of different anti-depressants, always failing to succeed because my depression was not chemical, it was circumstantial.  I had a husband who broke me emotionally and manipulated me into a pathetic puppet of his making.  I felt trapped, and I certainly was in fear of ever leaving him.  It took years of frustration and sadness to finally reach somewhere deep inside myself and know that enough was enough.  I feel like once you reach that point, there’s no looking back.  It’s final.  And that wasn’t the beginning of a new life.  That was the beginning of a nightmare.  Not one moment of it was easy.

But I made that choice.  Thankfully, I had a supporting family for the most part, and a decent job that could support myself and my two children.  Graciously, God introduced me to a man that loves me more than anyone’s ever loved me, faults and all, and who helped me through a nightmare that could have ended very differently for me.  I guess my greatest advantage is that I have always been independent.  Even in an awful relationship, it was still me supporting the entire thing.  Instead of a wife, I was more like a mother, because I knew how to be.  I knew how to balance a budget and pay bills and the simplest of things that so many people just seem to lack.  When I finally found the courage to leave, I knew how to take care of myself.  There are so many people that just have no knowledge in how to take care of themselves, and for most of them it isn’t a result in how they were raised.  It’s a result in their co-dependent nature and in turn, they stay in the midst of addiction and terrible relationships because they really aren’t strong enough, mentally, to remove themselves from it.

I’m sorry for the novel addition to my blog this morning, but I am deeply conflicted in how to help.  I’ve had people live with me at all different points in my life, and it never helps.  They always return to their circumstances the same because it was just a temporary change in habitat.  How do you help someone escape addiction that is too weak in mind to take care of themselves?  There just aren’t enough resources available, so I am reaching out to anyone reading this…I have looked into the Oxford House projects and considered maybe trying to start one locally, since there are none.   How does a mother and child get out of bad relationship and addiction without help?  Not to be stereotypical or offensive, but section 8 housing isn’t always the greatest of environments, especially for an addict or recovering addict, and in my personal experience with people I’ve known, it seems to be a place that fuels even more of an “entitlement” and “woe is me” attitude.  Why are there no homes or halfway homes offering guidance and life skills and community for women?  If you say there are, please share with me because I keep researching and cannot find a place that a mother and child could go that will provide tough love and teach essential skills in basic survival that isn’t in a terrible city neighborhood.  Why is our country so centered on the cities, when the suburbs are just as corrupted and in need of support?  Who wants to help me figure out a way to help co-dependent, mentally unstable women develop self worth?  The Oxford House is a group home in which the tenants all share financial responsibilities and chores in running the home. It’s a democracy.   But I feel like that is even a step beyond what I am trying to find, or maybe what I am trying to start.  I want a place that will shelter a mother and child, create a curriculum in life skills, such as managing money, cooking the basics, personal hygiene, and self appreciation.  People who are addicts need to have already completed rehab.  I then want the place to make the woman execute these skills, while still living in this shelter.  Such as teaming up with different companies that will employ these women minimally, both hourly and in wages, as a transition into holding a job and handling responsibilities.  As the curriculum progresses, I would like the hours she works to progress along with the income, at which point, they contribute to the house in the determined amount named by the person in charge.  At that point, the woman is given a certain amount of time (6-12 months) or whatever it may be to make this new way of life an actual second nature and in the end, find a home outside the shelter to live in, in which she is fully capable of supporting herself.  Is there anything like this and/or would there be anyone interested in helping me create this?

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  • Reply Steph November 3, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Have you heard of the Women’s Resouce Center of Southeatern PA? I think it is exactly what you are looking for. I think it is in Wayne, pa. Check it out online. Good Luck!

    • Reply Michelle November 5, 2013 at 6:08 am

      Thank you Stephy!

  • Reply Steph November 3, 2013 at 7:13 pm


  • Reply katie November 4, 2013 at 8:44 am

    The two programs that I know of that are somewhat on that wavelength is Bridge of Hope ( and the CYWA in Coatesville. Well, they are a gateway house for the interim and they take mothers and children (no men) who are in tough situations while they’re in need/between options, etc. They give them resources to help them find homes and jobs and they share a community kitchen, etc. My church met in their building for years and I’ve met many of the women who came through there. I love Coatesville (so you won’t find me city-bashing, there is a need there, for sure–and of course in other locations, too!), and the CYWA women I’ve met have been a huuuugely diverse population of women, not just what you might picture or guess. Anyway. I love your story and am so happy for you 🙂

    • Reply Michelle November 5, 2013 at 6:08 am

      Thank you so much! I had the hardest time finding services local to us. I don’t know how I couldn’t find anything based out of Coatesville online! All I was finding were things central to Philadelphia, New York, and Trenton. I didn’t mean to sound totally stereotypical…my issue is that the person I am concerned with is influenced so easily that I am hoping for something that spawns a positive attitude, encouragement, and hope. Diversity is what makes us and it is fantastic. Thank you for all your help. I really appreciate it.

  • Reply Amanda Avenick November 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Hey Michelle,
    You have a beautiful heart and I couldn’t agree with you more! There is a place called Home of the Sparrow who do what your talking about. Their main office is in exton and I’m not sure if that is where the housing is as well, but they are a wonderful organization. They also have a ton of opportunities to volunteer as well! Hope this helps. I heard about them years ago when I was going to Providence.


    • Reply Michelle November 5, 2013 at 6:04 am

      Thank you, Amanda:) I’m excited about this place!

  • Reply Diane Hilton November 4, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Hi Michelle. Sounds awesome! I know of a place that is supposed to help battered women and children escape and get on their feet. It is right near me on Swedesford Road. It is called Home of the Sparrow. Perhaps if you spoke to them, you might have some help getting started. I know a girl who works there, Michelle is her name (forget her married name but maiden name was Johnson).

    • Reply Michelle November 5, 2013 at 6:03 am

      Thank you so much!

  • Reply Carol Williams November 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Michelle, I know you from Fitness for her and Church. You also once did my hair. I am now retired and eager to help you with whatever we need to do. I experienced so much of what you wrote about and have come out on the other side, much better, healthier and stronger. Please email me.

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