Feature Friday: April’s Journey
National Housing Day 2019
This is the first blog in a two part series featuring an Intensive Case Management (ICMT) graduate, April. Today is National Housing Day, and the launch of April’s story is fitting on a day like today. Housing is more than just a roof over your head. It is a feeling of security, of belonging, of community. As April’s support worker shared, “everyone needs support in their journey at one time or another. I am glad I have the opportunity to be a support to individuals along theirs.”
April sat down with us back in June and shared her journey with us.
“Who are you outside of the drinking and drugs?”
April’s journey to sobriety and housing began with that question from her counselor. When he posed that question to her, she recalls saying “I said I wanted to know who I am. I was able to heal that way.”
When you first meet April, you see resilience. Her apartment is serenely decorated in warm taupe and white tones, with wood accents that are reminiscent of a beach. Perched on her sofa on a rainy Thursday, April shared her healing journey, and how she got to where she is now.
“Every morning, I do my sweetgrass, every night I do my sage; I’m healing every day.”
As with any trauma, April’s has layers, complex feelings, and emotions interwoven into her journey.
When she first met her counselor, after speaking with him for a brief time, she knew that her trauma stemmed from her childhood. Like many of her peers, she was forced to grow up too soon. “I didn’t have an adolescence,” April recalls. “When I was 11, [my parents] told me to give away my toys. I remember throwing my teddy bears out the window. And when I was 12, I had a nephew. I had to take care of him – you grow up quickly.” This trauma followed her into adulthood, and was an underlying cause of many issues April faced in her journey, from domestic abuse to substance abuse.
April never spoke about her trauma and upbringing. Wanting to work, April was employed at a young age, and was involved in a workplace accident that rendered her with incomprehensible back pain. After months of dealing with it, EI and WCB ended her benefits. April loved her job, a trauma and youth care worker. This love is evidenced when she recalls her experiences, smiling “I had 54 clients. I knew their birthdays, favorite colors. I’d take the time to see them, visit them in hospital. They become your family.” Unable to work the job she loved, and in pain, April managed with the help of painkillers, another layer of trauma. “I didn’t know what prescription medication [opiate] abuse was. I was high, and didn’t know it,” April confesses. As she wasn’t “quivering for drugs,” she knew she had a problem, but didn’t believe she needed treatment. Reliance on substances and unaddressed trauma led her to a relationship with an individual who was unhealthy for her, and the trauma cycle continued – leading to an assault charge, and domestic violence. “It’s not who I am. It’s not something I’m proud of,” April says, but it is a part of her journey, and admitting her faults helps her grow and heal.
This healing journey and personal development is evidenced by a recent encounter with her ex. Rather than being angry at him, as she would have in the past, she says,
“I thought instead, I hope he’s happy. I had so much hate for him, I couldn’t wake up and deal with it. Now, I’ve let it go. He taught me a lot about myself.”
Prior to her involvement with the Intensive Case Management Team at e4c, April had never had a place of her own. Now, it’s her refuge. Admittedly, however, right after she moved in, she was afraid to be alone, and slept most nights at her family’s homes. After awhile, she had enough self-realization to ask herself “Can I be alone?” and began heading to her apartment for solitude. Counselling is exhausting, and she frequently seeks out the solitude of her personal space, giving herself permission to sleep. “I don’t want to push myself. I don’t want to go back on pain medications, I’ve come this far.”
Her strength and resilience shine through in her speech and her gestures; frequently stopping the conversation to show off her green thumb and the plants she is growing, or sharing her sketchbook where she has quotes that she reads aloud when considering her journey.
All of these steps – from seeing isolation as a good thing, to therapy through healthy initiatives and self-awareness, contribute to her path to recovery.
Join us next Friday for the next steps forward in April’s journey.