Safely Rising Like A Phoenix
For the first 18 years of her life, Jeanne Ann lived in Geneva, Minnesota. She was the youngest of two girls. She describes her childhood as rocky. Her mom worked three jobs most of that time and she felt very distant from her dad.
At the age of 14, she began drinking and experimenting with drugs. There was a rapid decline into addiction. At age 17, she became pregnant with her son. Jeanne Ann didn’t use chemicals during the pregnancy but knew she wasn’t ready to be a mother. Eventually, her son was sent to live with her older sister and her partner in Colorado.
Jeanne Ann continued to use on and off and later gave birth to a second child. Fourteen months ago she made the brave decision that her life had to change!
Jeanne Ann had been living with a very dangerous and abusive partner for quite some time and was using drugs and drinking heavily. She survived severe physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Her partner beat her, stole money from her, isolated her from family and friends, and was very controlling. However, it was the abuse of her pets that finally spurred her to action.
Jeanne Ann saw a flyer for a Life-Work Planning Center workshop that was being offered in her small town. She decided to register to attend. At the first workshop, it turned out that she was the only person who followed through after registering. She was able to share bits of her story with the self-sufficiency counselor that day. They decided that even if no one else joined them, they would continue to meet weekly to discuss topics such as self-confidence, stress management, assertive communication, decision-making, goal-setting and safety.
Life-Work Planning Center gave her script cards for a gas station chain to help with expenses. Jeanne Ann was starting to believe she deserved to be safe and happy. She took a part-time job and began a secret “emergency fund” of her own.
During the time when Jeanne Ann was working one-on-one with the self-sufficiency counselor, she was separated from her partner because he was jailed on a probation violation. She says she was so relieved because she knew this could be her chance to escape. Jeanne Anne said, “Before Life-Work Planning Center, I was afraid to leave. I was afraid of what he might say or do. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
On the day she was “ready,” Jeanne Ann worked with her self-sufficiency counselor to find a shelter where she could go, they made arrangements for her pets and they gathered all the important documents she would need. They also made arrangements to gather as many of her belongings as would fit in her van. A local church group came to help with her move. Life-Work Planning Center also referred her to a sister Displaced Homemaker Program in her new “safe city.”
Today, a little over one and a half years later, Jeanne Ann works at that same shelter as an advocate for other women! She is clean and sober and is receiving appropriate treatment for a mental health disorder she has lived with for years. Jeanne Ann’s oldest son still lives happily in Colorado and she has plans to go and visit him soon! She loves him enough to leave him where he is stable, happy and thriving. She shares custody of him with her sister and her sister’s partner.
The thing Jeanne Ann most wants others to know is, “We are like the phoenix and we can rise from the ashes, reborn; stronger, more resilient and more beautiful than ever before!”