Shelter Sister

I’ll never forget the day I met my shelter sister. As part of the youth shelter application process, prospective applicants were to attend a meet and greet style dinner with the young people who were already living there. I was nervous, and afraid, but looking forward to new beginnings. There were only two others living in the shelter at that time, a quiet Chinese boy, and the girl I now jokingly refer to as my shelter sister. She was really bubbly, and we were both interested in girly stuff, so we connected right away. It turned what felt like a potentially scary experience into a really fun night, and I was grateful to know I had someone there to relate with.

That bubbly, girly girl is now my closest friend, and it means so much that she asked me to be her maid of honour. I was with her when she met her husband to be almost ten years ago, we were at his brothers house for a small gathering and he offered to make us a coffee because we weren’t drinking. They instantly hit it off. It was really sweet to see her falling in love with someone so deserving of her beautiful heart, and they only grow more in love as time goes by. Even though she has experienced immense difficulties she maintains optimism, kindness, and strength that inspires me more and more as the years go on.  She is hands down one of the most incredible people I know.

Over the weekend her partner was hosting a boys night, so we arranged for her to come to my place for a girls night. It was funny because we only realised in planning this weekend how easily pleased we are to just spend time in each others company. It became more of a struggle to think of things to do just for that sake of doing something exciting.

The night before our girls night, I was feeling down and couldn’t sleep. On Saturday morning I woke up with puffy eyes from crying. As I was driving to my friends house to pick her up, I began feeling down about the fact that my eyes were puffy and I didn’t want to ruin our fun weekend with my depression. Trying to suppress these anxious thoughts lead me to start crying all over again. She lives in the next city, and I had left home early to stop at a cafe for something nice to perk me up for a fun night. Because I was so caught up in my sadness, I was feeling too embarrassed to get out of my car. I figured I would find somewhere to pull the car over and pull myself together.

As I was about to park, she called me to say she was finished her morning errands early. I tried to pretend I was fine but she noticed right away that I was upset and insisted I come over so we could have a coffee at her house before the boys got back from their fishing adventure. When I arrived I was greeted with her warm smile and hugs. She started making the coffees and asked why I was feeling down. I shared that I’m only just realising I will never be able to overcome my childhood entirely. Until this point in my life I believed one day it would all be behind me, and to now find myself having little control over some symptoms of my abuse and neglect is really daunting. After such a long time of taking responsibility for how I was treated by my family, I felt empowered by the idea that I could also change this somehow. To realise that simply isn’t true has disrupted my confidence.

My friend expressed that she has been going through a really similar stage in her life, and that it’s difficult for us because so few people can relate to the lifelong affects of being without a loving family. As we were talking about how we’ve been feeling we laughed about how crazy it was to both be experiencing this at the same time. It made me feel less ashamed of myself for being at such a low point, and she said it was the same for her. I really do feel so much better for reaching out for support. Rather than cancelling the plans as I usually would, I thought about how I would react if she was in my shoes. I would insist that she is a beautiful person, tell her not to be silly for even considering she was an ’emotional vampire’, and that we could do whatever she felt like doing even if it meant just sitting around watching Netflix.

That’s almost exactly what she said to me.

While we have had periods of space in our friendship, it has been a constant understanding that we are here for each other (even though both of us are guilty of not reaching out when we need to most). Over the past few years we are seeing each other more as family than friends. As I was driving her home on Sunday, she thanked me for an awesome night, and for always making her feel comfortable to be herself. I’m just as grateful to know I could return the same support she offers me! We’ve now made a promise to reach out during these difficult times in the future. I feel very blessed to have such a kind and understanding person in my life after all these years. The fact that we were both born into misfortune and have grown through it together is really meaningful to me. Thank you universe, for serendipity, and my shelter sister!

Warm regards, xxx

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