Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
ONE WOMAN’S JOURNEY
By: Kim Fannin with Mary Evangelista
But the joy I had found was short-lived. Just a couple of months later, my 19-year-old daughter was brutally murdered while I was attending a women’s retreat. Then, a few months after that my 19-year-old son (they are twins) was diagnosed with MS. Could my life possibly get any more painful?
The year that followed is mostly a blur, coming into focus again the day after I stabbed my children’s father while he slept. I don’t remember much of that night, but he told me later that I thought he was one of the men who murdered my daughter. I was sentenced to 6 years in prison, followed by 6 years of extended supervision. I am amazed that my children’s father has forgiven me!
In prison, I was diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder, and received medication and psychotherapy. I knew I had work to do on myself and I knew it wouldn’t be easy. When I was released in November of 2015 into transitional housing, I was lost, alone, and scared. I could not see how to begin my new life. I had no money, no job, no transportation and very little self-esteem.
But then two months later I met Deacon Steve. He interviewed me twice, to make sure I was a good fit for the program. I was accepted and started on June 1, 2016. I didn’t know what to expect and I know I had a bad attitude. I pretty much disliked and distrusted everyone! After two months, I moved into Clare Community.
The housing is the nicest place I have ever lived. I finally have my own room, with a lock on the door. There are lots of windows that lighten up my darkest moods when I look out into the beautiful courtyard. My basic needs are taken care of. I don’t have to worry about rent or utility bills. I receive a bus pass for transportation, and reimbursement for medication and medical visits. I also have a savings account! I have a job!
More than any of these things, I have gained a family. A family that begins with Deacon Steve. It took time for me to trust him after all I have been through, but I can now say that I trust him more than I have ever trusted anyone in my life. From the start, he has shown me love and acceptance, respect, and trust, and these are just a few.
Because of this loving acceptance, I now have confidence, self-esteem, and dignity. I have begun to trust others, and accept myself. I have gained job skills, financial competence, and learned how to work well with others. For the first time in my life, I feel safe and secure.
I have always been an organized and energetic person, but it has felt so good to use my creativity in new ways, like painting all the dining room furniture in Clare Community and other artistic ways to decorate.
One of the most important new relationships that developed for me this year was so I could learn how to make rosaries for sale through Gifts for the Journey. Mary Anita came to patiently teach us the skill of beading the rosaries. It was challenging and monotonous, but I got better at it through Mary Anita’s love and lots of laughter and good times doing it. Sadly, Mary Anita passed away unexpectedly in February, and it has been one of the saddest times of the past year.
Many other people have become important in my life. The volunteers for Gifts for the Journey gave me acceptance, laughter, and companionship. I’m now aware of the broader community including law enforcement, Franciscan Peacemaker’s board members, and caring, uplifting people like Wendy from Faith and Giggles. I am so grateful for Shenise, who works with me in Gifts for the Journey. All these people make it possible for me to focus on my recovery and healing among friends. I also am learning about practicing mindfulness to help me stay in the present moment. When I focus on breathing and noticing what my thoughts are, I am less stressed and can see things more clearly.
There are many insights I’ve gained this past year, but I had this huge “WOW” moment when Deacon Steve referred to me as the “Boss” of operations for Gifts for the Journey! It made me realize that along with my natural ability for organization and for getting things done, I really do know what I’m doing! I’ve become skilled at doing inventory, packaging, shipping, manufacturing, and going out in the community for sales. Even though I recently ended up with an almond oil waterfall when I forgot to watch the oil as it was flowing into the proper container, I know all about this business and am so grateful for this job and all the opportunities it opens.
What I like the most about Gifts for the Journey is that the sale of these products benefits women who have been exploited by human trafficking. I have received so much, and now I can give back.