Writing has taken a back seat to many life transitions over the past few months, but I am realizing just how much not I not only need to write, but how much there is to share as well. Not that anything I am doing is particularly interesting, but because of my unique situation I am able to have front row seating to some pretty incredible experiences. My hope in sharing, especially over the next several months, is to encourage other people to get on the front lines. You don’t have to get rid of your stuff and move into a safe house, but I hope that – by sharing what I get to see and hear every day – someone else gains the courage to do something they never thought possible.
For the past two weeks, I have been living with some incredible women who are starting their lives over in some pretty bold ways. These women have all been trafficked in the past, meaning they have worked in the adult entertainment industry and as prostitutes. I have the privilege (and I truly mean that) to spend five nights a week with these women through the next six months.
In one of the Star Wars movies, when Yoda is training Luke to be a Jedi, he simply tells him “Do or do not. There is no try.” I wish I could tell you I decided to do this out of the goodness of my own heart. To be honest, the idea started when I found myself in debt at the end of 2015 and unable to pay my bills and *trying* keep up financially. No matter how many extra jobs I took on or how many hours a week I worked month after month, I couldn’t quite keep up with the bills that kept coming in from grad school and from trying to build a practice for two years. It just became too much.
So I stopped trying and started to look at my biggest expenses, which were obviously living expenses. I wondered if I could live in someone’s house or back house for six months or so so that I could put that money towards outstanding debt and bills and rebuild my credit while getting out of the money pit. After sending out emails and putting feelers out, the only opportunity that arose was for me to let my lease run out on my cute little townhouse and consider living at Samaritan Village – a safe house and residential program for women who are coming out of addiction and prostitution.
It seemed easy enough at first – I would just sleep at the house five nights a week, getting to the house around 5pm, eating dinner, spending time with the girls, keeping the house locked up, administering medications, and then maintain a morning routine before heading off to my other jobs.
I knew it would be a tough transition, which would include putting all of my belongings in storage or getting rid of them completely. My dear friend, Jane, offered to let me live with her on the weekends and I arranged a new schedule for my counseling clients so that I wouldn’t be going straight from the safe house to counseling and still have some space for boundaries.
Now that I have been in this “new normal” for two weeks, I can tell you that there are so many things I did not, and could not, have planned for when I started this process. It has been far more difficult, and yet far more life giving, than I could have ever imagined, and I still have five and a half more months to go.
My hope is to share some of my experiences over the next few months – not to share the girls’ stories, because that is not my place, but to share my experiences with them and in living a bit of a gypsy life – in hopes that others will take a leap of faith and get in the game of loving people who need to know that they are loved.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”