Restoring Dignity in the Identity of a Young Mom
Story shared by Lee Sommerfeldt, Young Moms Program Leader
Shame plays a big part in the stories of our young moms. When the world has looked down on them with judgement, our heart's desire is for these young women to feel accepted, loved and supported. I want to share this excerpt from a testimonial from one of our moms at the Thank You Tea for a youth outreach centre where we meet called The Refuge. It was heartwarming to hear that our group had become a place of refuge for her.
"When I first started in this group, I was embarrassed to even have been invited. Although I am Jane's** mom, I didn’t feel like it at that time. Without custody of my little one, I felt like a complete failure. I felt that God did not want me, and that it was impossible to be a good part of my child’s life because of the ugly choices that I made. I hated myself, through and through. I was spending my days trying to escape the reality that I had created, and I was building a depressing-fantasy life to escape my choices. I couldn’t face daylight knowing that I wasn’t the mom that my daughter needed, and I felt like I had no one. I allowed myself to turn into a person I didn’t recognize in the mirror, and I had absolutely no idea how to get back on track.
Then, like a hand through the darkness, a Refuge staff member asked if I wanted to join a new mom’s group that was being created. That was the first moment, in a very long time, that it seemed someone still saw the potential that I felt I had lost. I knew then that a mom’s group would be very emotional for me, but I said yes anyway. I felt seen. For a moment I wasn’t being seen as an addict, not as a sl*t, and not as a criminal. In that moment, someone saw me for how I felt inside; someone saw me as a young mom who was struggling and could really benefit from a group of strong women who have all been through challenges and can offer another perspective to my situation.
This group is allowing me to slowly but surely trust and rely on people again. It means more than you know to be able to let my troubles go. When I’m here, I give my problems to God. I leave here feeling re-energized and ready to face another week, knowing that all of you will be here for me again next week. I can also proudly say that I have a court date in Family Court to be a bigger part of my daughter’s life again. I don’t think I would have been brave enough to go through this process without the support of this place and this group."
This young mom is now enjoying unsupervised visits with her daughter and is working hard to have her permanently back in her life.
**Name changed to protect the individual's identity.