Hope in Honesty

In 2001 I was in a desperate place in my life where I was isolated and the only relationship (an unhealthy one) I had hung on the line. I was scared of losing my only life line, and when the relationship ended, I couldn’t see how I was going to survive without it.

Never before up to that point had I contemplated taking my life, so when I did, I knew that I needed help. I called Samaritan for Hope and several other foundations that provided mentorship to a girl in dire straits. This was 16 years ago and I don’t remember why I didn’t follow through with acquiring help - perhaps I was motivated initially but eventually felt too embarrassed and ashamed to confide in strangers about my weakness.

Even then, I didn’t give up - I pressed on. I knew that the only way to help myself was to surround myself with good people with good values - strangely enough, I knew my only hope was to move in and live with a Christian family.

I started asking around in church who the best person was to help someone with my problem. It took no time to find the one woman who did, one who has had experience helping girls in my situation. I remembered approaching her in the parking lot of church one day, giving her a quick lowdown of my problem and posing her an impossible question - would she take me, a total stranger, into her home for the next few months till I got better?

I don’t know what got over me... I mean, imagine the audacity of my ask!

For this, I’m thankful, and eternally will, to YL for not brushing aside my desperate yet audacious plea. She said yes to my bizarre request, but on three conditions - that 1) I be brutally honest with her concerning my struggles, 2) I stop communicating with my former partner and 3) I be home by 9.30pm every night (she didn’t want me hanging out late and getting involved with wrong influences). I immediately agreed, packed my bags and settled into my new home.

There was always company in YL’s house almost every night of the week. Groups of people would come over for Bible study and worship sessions, sharing stories, songs, lives and food. Her home felt like a shared communal space among people who were warm and encouraging.

During this time, I channelled my focus into my work as a paralegal in a reputable law firm, soaking in the nice Christian vibes in the house and making a firm resolve to rebuild my life.

YL didn’t try to counsel me. We would have informal chats every now and then where she would ask about my emotional well being and how I was coping, and I would tell her that just by living under her roof I felt heaps better.  

I thought it would take longer but within two months I was ready to move back home. YL released me with hugs and prayers.

Except for a relapse three years later which I later recovered from, I have been free of the struggle that plagued me for two thirds of my life. I am free only because someone took a chance on a stranger in her darkest hour and provided a safe environment to live and recover.

I am a firm believer that environment is everything. We suffer in bad environment and thrive in good environment. A Chinese saying illustrates this point: “jìn zhū zhě chì, jìn mò zhě hēi” - which, loosely translated, means “in proximity to a cinnabar, an object becomes red; when dipped in ink, an object becomes black”. In other words, we take on the environment in which we’re in.

I was living alone and neck-deep in loneliness, thus I turned to any source of relationship to fill the void; when YL took me into her home, I found meaningful connections and relationships which completed me as a whole individual. 

Years later she would tell me that the day I arrived and knocked on her door and her husband opened their home to me, he told her that I had extremely low self esteem. Perhaps it was because I didn’t dare to look him in the eye and I spoke timidly. I have since recovered, thrived for over a decade as a paralegal, met and married my amazing husband, moved to and now live in California, one of the most beautiful places on earth, cycled across America, produced a documentary and wrote a book.

It took me a long time to rebuild my confidence and I certainly didn’t do it all by myself - I succeeded because my Master Creator never let go of me and He placed incredible individuals in my path who would be instrumental in my life's journey.

This picture is taken from a recent hike up Mt Dana, the second highest peak in Yosemite National Park, one of the most beautiful and charming places in California. To me, this picture symbolizes light and hope.

This picture is taken from a recent hike up Mt Dana, the second highest peak in Yosemite National Park, one of the most beautiful and charming places in California. To me, this picture symbolizes light and hope.

This is such a detour from my usual blog posts on sports and food. I wrote this post over seven months ago, and sat on it, not wanting to publish it for fear of how I would be viewed if I shared this intimate part of my life. I’m sharing this now with the hope that it might speak to one, just one person, who might find light from reading this. This is for you.