Never in a million years would I have imagined the life I have today. It’s not one I would have designed for myself: being the glue to a household of four generations, from age 8 to 80 and a family business. But I see now how this life was perfectly designed for me.
I certainly didn’t think that the most challenging moments in my life would lead to a future more fulfilling than I ever dreamed.
I had to save my own life first. Saving my daughter and grandson was much harder. I gave up my entire life in the UK and flew to the US to find them homeless and my daughter battered and addicted to drugs.
We’re not an anomaly. The reality is that substance abuse and domestic violence tear thousands of families apart every year in the UK. We lost everything, and there was no manual on how to get it back. But we kept reaching out for help and found a revolutionary approach to recovery through peer and community support. Using a new map of recovery and personal growth, we rebuilt our family and our lives.
This year, my daughter, Calliese, is celebrating four years in recovery from substance/alcohol abuse and domestic violence. She’s thriving in an environment where people care for and support her. Every day, she inspires me. Yet Calliese reminds me that it was my belief in her that allowed her to heal and return that gift to me. It was Calliese who convinced me to start building the business I’d been dreaming about. She adopted my vision and now we’re learning to live and work together.
Today, we have four generations living under one roof. My grandson has a stable home surrounded by healthy adults who love him. My mom can enjoy security in her golden years, reading to her great-grandson every night.
While creating this intergenerational home and finding our way through the pandemic, we also found our purpose; to share and support others like us. As we transform and grow, we created a community that is also doing this. We work hard to share everything we learn with our community, and now we’re seeing the ripple effects of our work. Our support network has grown beyond my wildest imagination. It took all of us, working together as a family and community, to create the amazing life we have today.
I understand now how change begins with one person, one decision to push past our lowest moments. The act of coming together instead of falling apart helped us overcome the circumstances that once threatened to destroy us. It began with me (with my husband’s support) and the decision to risk everything. I’m so glad I took that first step and faced my fears because that courage and determination created the amazing life we have today. And I wouldn’t change it for anything.