Jesse left a home characterized by physical and emotional abuse.
He was the eldest child and his mother directed most of her anger towards him. She too had been abused as a child and was repeating what she knew. She always told him that he should leave home when he turned 16, so he did:
“I remember that moment. I guess I just snapped and started crying and pounding the crap out of my pillow. The whole idea about leaving home wasn’t my idea. It came from my mum. I lost scholarships, lost support from coaches — I lost it because I lost my mind.
I was a really good kid, a nerd who was into sports. But coming home was hell. The girl I was dating at the time, my first real girlfriend, influenced me. Her family life was totally different. She kept saying: ‘I don’t want you to live there anymore.’ So I lived on friends’ couches, some of their parents gave me rooms. But after a couple of months I was always told to find somewhere else to stay. I had a job and was trying to make money and trying to go to school. I didn’t realize that I needed to go out of my way to show appreciation to them for having me.
Eventually I stopped going to class and worked at a hotel. I had a basement apartment and paid rent but I blew through money faster than I was making it. I didn’t really know how to manage money or how to take care of myself. Then I quit my job — a terrible decision — and spent some time without a home. I slept in the library, in washrooms, sometimes I stayed up all night.
Eventually I found out about Eva’s Place and I stayed there for two years. Eva’s place saved my life. In a world where I couldn’t find love, suddenly it was there. Before I didn’t really open up to anybody but Nancy [a Family Reconnect counselor] eventually built a rapport with me. We started talking a lot. I trusted her judgment. Today she’s like my second mother.
Nancy asked if I wanted to discuss getting connected to my family again. My initial answer was ‘hell no’, but when my mum had another baby I gave Nancy permission to tell them where I was. She took me to the hospital when my brother was born. She talked to my mum and stepfather on the phone and relayed messages between us. That was helpful.
My sister and I are really tight. She’s getting married this summer. I’m extremely tight with all my siblings. I love them to death. They all sleep over once a month. Mum is OK with that. I’m sure she feels left out, but she’s happy that I have good relations with them. I thought I had a rough upbringing, but she had it really rough. I can’t expect her to be different. She did the best she could.”
Jesse recently started working as a day trader and feels that it’s a good fit for him. He lives in a condo with a high school friend and turns 28 this month.