Lisa was 34, mom to a toddler, engaged to be married. She was also unhealthy and unhappy.
“We’re led to believe we need to find a high paying job and make all the money and get all the things and do all the things. And I tried to do that, but in the process, I was not living correctly for myself. And I was numbing out all the signals that were saying ‘this is not right’ with alcohol and cigarettes and TV and food and whatever.”
So for the first time that she can recall, she listened to herself and her gut and made the difficult decision to leave the life she knew to pursue sobriety and a life that reflected her values and beliefs. The transition also ushered in an unstable living situation, and the fear that asking for help might mean her son would be taken away from her.
Lisa learned to believe that you couldn’t ask for help. She credits that belief system with her inability to trust others. It created a life of isolation where Lisa was always in survival mode. But when she chose to get sober, she knew she couldn’t do so alone. She realized she needed to be humble, to reach out.
“I learned about Today’s Harvest about two years ago. It was nicer than going to food shelves because of the variety and quantity of fresh produce that was available. Also around that time I didn’t have a kitchen, only a mini fridge and microwave, so the precooked options and prepped produce were a bonus.”
For Lisa and her son, the Open Cupboard and Today’s Harvest make the healthy choice an easier, more accessible choice. They’re critical partners on her recovery and stability journey. It’s the type of partnership she and people in crisis and transition don’t often find.
“You don’t have to come in and prove that you need help. It’s like, hey, I need help. Okay, this is what we got. When it comes to government assistance, it’s ‘give me this many proofs and prove it repeatedly and then wait.’ But you can’t get answers online or get a hold of anyone on the phone. All of these obstacles and deadends and false hope, it brings me back into survival mode. I’ve been in survival mode my whole life.”
But Lisa is a survivor. And an advocate for herself. While she describes her growing healthier and more stable as a path that borders on poverty, she knows it is temporary. She is working as a commercial cleaner part-time. She has to work less hours to avoid stressors and triggers that might compromise her progress.
“Now that my son and I finally moved into our own place and have a kitchen, Open Cupboard and Today’s Harvest help supplement our EBT, when we have it. Due to many health reasons, we follow a mostly whole food, unprocessed diet. It is difficult to sustain our health when we don’t always have the funds to make the right choices.”
Along with fresh and healthy options, Lisa appreciates the non-food items sometimes available: pull-ups, tampons, toilet paper. “The volunteers are so kind and friendly. It’s easy to sign up, easy to check in and have them load up the car.”
“I love the feeling of common humanity when visiting Open Cupboard. We are not different, volunteers and visitors. There is a feeling of mutual respect that is not always present in these types of situations. For that, I’m grateful.”