Gui Mansilla MDiv, RP, Member CAPT

From Welfare to Faring Well

(names and personal references have been altered to protect privacy

Alison was over 40 years old and quite exhausted, as she put it she “had become a couch potato” enduring long hours of depression in front of a TV. She was suffering depression and was physically disabled as a result of severe sexual, physical and emotional abuse when she was a child.

Life wasn’t easy since birth for little Alison. She was “rescued” by social services from her biological mother due to lack of proper minimal care. She was undernourished and mistreated. At the age of 7 she was given over for adoption to the Krieger family. The Krieger’s were the second chance for little Alison to have the life that every child deserves of a supportive, caring and loving family. However they never fulfilled that promise. Quite in the contrary, Alison was subjected to all kinds of abuse, from the sexual deviation of her adoptive father to the physical abuse of her adoptive mother.

Alison was a very bright kid and even with all these obstacles she found her way to become a great student. She also got very involved in her community with great success. She was awarded with a Miss “her-town” prize for her beauty and she would be solidly booked for baby sitting duties due to her caring and proficient way with kids. Alison did try at different times to denounce her abusive parents.  Sadly she was met with incredulity and lack of support by her community, something that was quite common in these situations. She felt hopeless, alone, and deep inside deserving of such abuse. Like everybody told her at the time “how could she be so ungrateful to her parents who saved her”.    

The wound of such a traumatic childhood would not heal easily and Alison carried her pain through adulthood in quite a stoic way. She got married and had a child. She became a loving mother who did everything she could for her son. She would work and have different degrees of success until her body; mind and heart said 'no more'. One day Alison found herself unable to keep working due her emotional and physical exhaustion. She knew that she could not keep carrying on in life with out 'doing something' about her past and more importantly about her present.

When Alison was referred to me by her family physician she joined a group that I was co leading called “Freeing the Woman Spirit” dedicated to help women to recover their innate power. This group was exclusively for female clients, and was co-lead by a female colleague. It had a very positive impact on Alison. After the group was finished she decided that she wanted to keep working on self-empowerment and healing. 

Unable to join the work force, Alison was granted the financial support of ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program). It was clear that her finances were presenting an extra challenge to sort out. However Allison did not allow this to stop her and always found her way towards healing. At that point I started to see Alison at a pro bono basis and she didn’t allow her limited financial resources to get in her way to get the “work done”. We have seen each other in a weekly basis since. 

Even though our work together required a very gentle and slow approach Alison started to become aware of how much of her present situation was related with being the victim of her adoptive parents and the circumstances that surrounded the abuse (lack of social support).

More importantly she realized that at this point in life she could gain control over the behaviors that she was becoming aware of and understand them as self harming. Through healing her wounds she could find the energy to invest in creating the life that she wanted to live. 

Even though she had cut all social relationships with the Krieger’s a long time ago. at a psychological level she was carrying them inside. She was unconsciously and unwillingly creating a life that matched the painful reality that her mother threatened her with. 

She took the courage to look deep into herself to find out what she needed to self support herself at this point. She could start to pin point what the things were that her parents failed to provide that now she needed to provide for herself. She found answers through a methodic and dedicated personal work. 

After over 2 years of working together, Allison has completely changed her outlook of life. She is running her own company with great success and turning clients into raving fans of her professionalism and excellence in her work. Our work has shifted to include more coaching about the development of her entrepreneurial career. She is happy to pay me my full fee now and reports a great sense of accomplishment and gratitude doing so. The very same thing that was a source of abuse in her childhood had become a stepping stone for her recovery and healing. She is decisively walking, not without challenges, towards the life of self realization, peace, excitement and financial abundance that she wants for her self. 

Even though her personal development and healing journey are not finished yet she has achieved several mile stones of recovery from her abuse and is working toward her goals. Allison is for me an inspiring example of resilience, determination and courage. She walked the road less travel with dedication. Now she can paraphrase Nietzsche based in her own experience in “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Copyright 2008 Gui Mansilla 

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