Jeannine’s story

I felt like I was deep in the woods of darkness with no clear path in sight.

Invisible and irrelevant no more! I now better understand why I’ve felt this way for most of the six decades of my life. What a surprise—or rather, shock—to have learned that I am not powerless; a former false and self limiting belief of mine. I have Serenity Renewal for Families to thank for this new found awareness. In addition, I have immense gratitude to all those who have donated to Serenity Renewal for Families. Your contributions helped enable me to benefit from many of their services.

Cycling provides time to reflect and enjoy myself

Being human means being real. Being real means having feelings and emotions with a willingness to express them. And therein lays the challenge: When positive emotions get side-swiped by difficult negative emotions, often they become unbearable. Without knowledge and know how, they become unmanageable and overwhelming. In turn, life itself becomes unbearable, too. Most especially for those of us who were raised in homes where, all too often, emotions were the enemy. They were not expressed in a safe, healthy, respectable manner; quite the opposite. While growing up, violence of various forms was the norm in my family home. Most predictable was unpredictability.It was a scary time for me and my siblings, indeed. Every cell in my body remembers. While my trauma reactions are still with me, I gradually understand more and more. Thanks in large part to Serenity Renewal. Hence the importance of having a haven like Serenity Renewal for people like me to turn to, to help us through such experiences. This organization has been a godsend for me, a real lifeline.

To understand why’s of my unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships, I started attending CoDA (Co-dependents Anonymous) 12-Step meetings. Between the environment in which I grew up and being an empath, I naturally fell into the giving role. After way too many struggles and relationship challenges, I wanted to understand why I constantly felt invisible, seemingly never ‘enough’ for anybody. Freeing myself from codependency doesn’t mean that I stop being a giving person. It means that I give when I have the bandwidth to do so. It then becomes a loving choice. In addition, by hearing the stories of others, I learned that I was not alone with my struggles. My CoDA colleagues spoke about this great organization called Serenity Renewal for Families. I then enquired about their services.

When I began attending workshops, I felt like I was deep in the woods of darkness with no clear path in sight. Within this darkness, was immense inner pain. A pain that I’d been carrying within me since childhood. It’s a mixture of self-doubt, shame, uncertainty, confusion, with ongoing fear, anxiety and deep frustration; basically feeling unworthy, directionless and lost. With every relationship fallout, be it a friend or family member, these mixed feelings grew exponentially. My frustration deepened. My desire to keep living diminished. I fell deeper and deeper into the darkness of despair.

Thankfully, upon having completed many workshops, I now better understand the legitimacy—and extreme importance—of feelings. More significantly, I have learned to not only trust my feelings, but welcome them, embrace them and allow them to guide me. My feelings and emotions are my inner guidance system, my lighthouse. At long last, I feel more at peace with my feelings. Rather than fear them and try to avoid them, I now value them. And in so doing, I value my Self. I value me—the real me. Self love, self care was viewed by my family, especially a parent, as selfish. Conversely, through Sister Louise, I learned about the concept of healthy selfishness. It is not only necessary that I look after my wants and needs, especially my emotional needs—it is imperative. As I listened to others share their stories, especially their challenges, and in turn they listened to me as I shared mine, I felt heard. I felt seen. I felt that all of our stories, our shares mattered. We resonated with each other. Increasingly, my darkened heart began to lighten and smile more. I felt and continue to feel at home there. Serenity Renewal for Families is a place where I feel safe. Safe to be me with others who also feel safe to reveal and be their true selves. It is a wonderfully supportive environment unlike my family home. The workshops were important and very relevant to me and my circumstances. For example, Boundaries, Self Esteem, and Family of Origin and its impact on us. I was able to self-reflect and find my voice. As I was transitioning careers, I was not in the position to pay in full for the workshops. However, thanks to the donors in place, I was not turned away.

I was able to meet one-on-one with an incredible psychotherapist for short-term counselling. She helped reinforce the importance of tuning inward and to only give of myself when it feels right for me. I have learned and continue practicing setting and maintaining personal boundaries. My painting of the sun rising, shedding light through the darkness of the deep woods symbolizes my determination to not allow challenges, especially the dark periods in my life, to overtake me. Instead, I now sit with my inner turmoil; I feel it, allow it to process, and I try to learn from it, in my effort to continue growing as a result of it rather than shrink. Ever hopeful that I do better next time to help minimize inevitable hardship for myself and others.

While I’ve yet to reach a place of total calm, serenity, and happiness, I am very grateful to Serenity Renewal for Families for helping me get to where I am now. Rather than governing me and my behaviour, I see more clearly how my emotions guide me to my needs and wants. As a result, I’m better able to set healthy, firm boundaries, recognize and deal with boundary violations. Hence, my relationships are improving, changing for the better—including my relationship with my Self.

Thank you, dear reader, for supporting Serenity Renewal for Families, which helps people like me who cannot afford to pay in full to receive the much-needed help. In the workshops I’ve been fortunate to attend, I have met others with financial constraints similar to my situation. Although it is difficult being in a place of need while on our recovery journeys, we’ve agreed that we are immensely grateful to be able to count on support from Serenity Renewal for Families and especially, people like you!

Between all the learning material and the abundant and ongoing support that I have received through Serenity Renewal, I feel that I have evolved into a very different and
better version of myself. One who is less fearful of my feelings and others, and more alive, vital, and relevant. In closing, I extend to you a heartfelt Thank You for helping me and others like me, to turn our lives around as we learn how to feel safer in the world.

I wish you and yours a joyously happy Easter,

Jeannine C.

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