By | July 3, 2009 11 Comments

Stand By Me

When I first was released from the relationship that was killing me, I felt lost, frightened, alone. I needed to focus my attention on something bigger than me, something beyond the despair of having being abused. I needed to connect to people who didn’t know me, didn’t know my story, didn’t know about the man who promised to love me ’til death do us part and took the death part way too seriously, and so, I decided to volunteer. I thought, if I can give while I feel so impoverished, I will be reminding myself that I am not as “useless” as I feel.

And it worked. Once a week, I joined a group of women and men at the church down the street from where I was living to make sandwiches for street people. In the act of giving back I received the gift of feeling valued.

As I grew in confidence I began to do more. Regularly I joined the woman who went down to the East end of Vancouver to distribute the sandwiches to the homeless, addicts and prostitutes who frequented the street. I joined a choir and sang at senior’s residences and hospitals. I took over the newsletter for a woman’s support group I belonged to and volunteered with an organization that worked with at-risk youth.

Giving back gave me the gift of knowing I can make a difference. Giving back helped me find the strength to start giving myself the love and respect, dignity and grace I deserved and so desperately needed. So three years ago, when I joined the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre, (The DI) as their Manager of PR, I found a home serving people without a home. The DI is a large shelter in Calgary, Alberta. Open 24/7, every night approximately 1,250 individuals seek shelter, and every day, over 3,500 meals are served. My job encompasses creating awareness for the DI, building bridges that extend from homelessness to the media, citizens of Calgary, government officials, police service and other agencies we need to interact with in order to ensure we have the resources to meet the needs of the people we serve. I also volunteer as a teacher, coaching clients on self-esteem, goal setting and creating more of what they want in their lives.

I love what I do. Every day I have the opportunity to make a difference. Every day I live in gratitude. And living in gratitude is the greatest expression of self-love I can give myself. From gratitude stems the joy of living at peace with who I am and the world around me.

When I leave the shelter at night, I drive past the people hanging around our property. Some are high on drugs. Some are drunk. Some are simply sitting on the curb trying to make sense of what is happening in their life. Some are coming from work. Some going to find a job. When I drive out of our property towards home, I am grateful for the fact, I have a home. I have food on my table, a job I love, people I love and people who love me. Every day working at the shelter, I am reminded of all that I am grateful for, and I get to share my gratitude with everyone I meet.

This video comes out of an art program I started when I first joined the DI. I believe life is filled with possibility. Sometimes, however, our worldview becomes limited to the dark corridors of our despair as we forget to look up from the mess at our feet to see the limitless possibilities of the world around us. Finding a way to tap into our unique creative expression is a powerful tool that can unleash our belief in ourselves, and our ability to change our lives for the better. The art program was the first step in making creative expression possible for clients at the DI. From there we have branched out to writing, mask-making, singing, theatre, dance. The possibilities are limitless — we just have to believe in the possibility of making it happen.

When we started this video, I had no idea the power it would have to touch hearts and open minds. For me, being part of making it happen has opened my heart to the realization that what happened with the man who abused me is not my reality today. My reality today is the beauty and wonder of living free of his abuse. It is the joy of knowing I am okay. That was then. This is now. And now is what really counts. Now is when I get to make a difference in my life, and in the lives of those I touch.

I use my story a lot when working with clients at the DI. I use my story as an example of the power that comes when we can let go of the pain and sorrow of the past to leap into the joy of being alive in the rapture of now.

This video is a testament to the power of song to awaken each of us to the joy of being alive without fear we will never be enough. The performers you hear and see are client musicians of the DI as well as Calgary musicians. Some are homeless. Some are not. We chose not to differentiate between who was who. We didn’t want to label someone as “other than” simply because they did or didn’t have a home of their own. In this video, it is the power of community that makes the difference. Everyone is good enough to stand together and sing. Everyone has value. It is an immutable truth of life. I am good enough. I do enough. I am enough. So are each and every one of you.



Stand By Me, by the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre

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For the first paragraph alone, I’d be happy to read this, but everything that follows is simply amazing.

Reading this story lifted me out of myself, and reminded me to look at life in a much greater context than my own sorrows.

Thank you so much!

Ox Drover

Dear Louise,

I love your post and how you have turned your life around. I can’t see your video as my internet server is so slow it would time out way before the first 30 seconds showed, but I am glad that you have that video for others to see. Glad that you are able to make a difference and to see positive results for yourself from having helped others.

It is amazing how much we GET when we GIVE to others even out of our own (emotional) poverty. The gift is multiiplied back to us 100 fold.

Thank you for sharing this. God bless you and your efforts there and the efforts of all who give to those with nothing.


Louise – I participate in an online recovery board and I just posted the youtube link to this beautiful video – what a great testament to the value and joy we can receive from anyone – no matter their circumstances.

Thank you for sharing your story. It is so true that by giving we receive.


W O W-this is very powerful!

I don’t post much but read often. Louise, just had to tell you how amazing and touching this is, especially after reading your post and knowing the background. Lovefraud has been a great healing for me as it has for many others. Keep up the good work to everyone involved. It truly is “more blessed to give than receive”. But as in this case, everyone receives the blessing.

super chic

Very beautifully written post, very powerful performance on the video! Thank you for sharing!

Louise, it’s so good to see you back.

When I was involved with my S, one of the things that happened to me was that I felt like my heart was blasted open. And even though I knew it was a mistake to feel that way about him, I was amazed to discover that my heart could do that.

Now, as I get better, I realize that I can feel that way because life is so lovely and rewarding and I’m so grateful. Your post and this wonderful video me feel this way.

For me, your posts have always been a source of hope and light. Thank you for bringing this message to us again.




Before this topic goes off the front page, I wanted to say to M.L. Gallagher that your writing helped me tremendously during the first few years of my recovery. Thank you for your time and effort. I’m sure for every comment here, there are hundreds out there in the ether of the internet you have helped with your words.


M.L.- How inspiring you are! I admire that instead of just talking about helping others, you actually are doing it in real and valuable ways. Your pain and suffering did not stop you, it even spurred you on to reach out to others. I wholeheartedly believe that our suffering is worth what we went thru to help save other souls from despair. Our experiences reveal our true character and mold us beyond what we could ever be otherwise. Thank you for your story, and God bless you.


Louise — Your story provides another dose of inspiration for me in the recovery journey as a reminder to take things one day at a time, one step toward progress without the expectation of total relief — except in stages over time — from the life-changing experience of being drawn into “non-reality” with a N.

I read a comment in one book that I believe sums up the whole matter of healing and moving forward by embracing the realization of being imperfect human beings: “As recovering relationship addicts, our sobriety cannot be measured except by the serenity we achieve.” My interpretation of this quote allows me to not feel bad for not getting the “perfect” closure I’d hoped for with my ex; to live with many uncertainties and unanswered questions; to not continue to be angry about the ways in which my ex took my kindness for a weakness and took me for granted; to not feel a need to help make things right for him/his life anymore, but to simply ACCEPT all that has happened (a lot of negative stuff that is counterproductive to a healthy relationship), mourn the loss and move forward with a renewed sense of self that is stronger and wiser and humbler in many positive ways.

Ox Drover

Dear Recovering, thanks for bringing this wonderful article back to the “front pages” at LF. It was wonderful to reread it again today!!

It sounds like you are well on your way to healing! congratulations.

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