“Having empathy for another person means your heart is breaking, because you understand the intensity of their experience, and at the same moment you are absolutely, equanimously present. You are not clinging to anything, just watching the phenomena of universal change.”
It has been a great honor to listen to the participants at Santa Maria, recording their stories of recovery. Santa Maria is, indeed, a special place that provides a safe space for healing. Our clients arrive from places of real danger, violence and desperation. Here at Santa Maria, their basic needs and security are met and they can focus on self-care and a journey to a better future.
Recently while interviewing a participant in our program, she shared a journal entry of her first impression of her new surroundings, our courtyard at Jacquelyn. These thoughts were recorded just after she began her residential treatment stay. Just a few nights before, she had been sleeping on the streets, in fear of everything around her and all that she faced. A street rescue non-profit had placed her in a motel and connected her with an assessment interview and referral, a chance to find available help to leave the life she had been living. Once Santa Maria appeared on the horizon, she was provided an expanded motel stay until we had space ready for her. It was the first time that anyone had offered help to her in years.
From her journal:
Day 7 at SMH – I feel so at home here, as I sit on the staircase with the wind blowing such a gentle breeze, the sun’s rays hitting my body with the feeling of warmth. I acknowledge the peace that I feel. I haven’t felt this way in a very long time, or should I say, I can’t ever remember feeling this way. Ever. Never. Thank you for such a peaceful and pleasant moment, God. As I continue sitting, I now see such a rainbow of women sitting with me in the beautiful courtyard, hanging out, smiling, and enjoying one another’s company. Women fighting every day, including me, with our addictions and trauma. Not knowing if the day will ever come, living a life of sobriety. Today at this moment, I actually feel that I am here with these women at the right place and with perfect timing. Feelings of finally fitting in somewhere. After all, we are all struggling with the same issues. Such strong addictions that has us drowning for the best part of our existence. I love these women. I learn something every day from these strong, beautiful women. (They are) living the same struggles as I have been until this day. Thank you God for making way for such availability at Santa Maria. Thank you for allowing me to meet these special women and for placing them on my path to recovery.
All of this emotion and gratitude was expressed in April 2020, during the frightening early days of the pandemic. The intention and strength to healing body, mind and spirit was so strong. The acceptance of help, the recognition of hope, the strong feeling of belonging are all so beautiful to behold.
We are only here to walk each other home. At Santa Maria, you help us do that every day. If you ever wondered if make a difference, know that you do.