Friday, March 02, 2012

Jamie Daniel - A Survivor

Jamie Daniel has been married for twelve years. She has performed the duties of the classic housewife – she has cooked, cleaned, washed her husband’s clothing and has taken care of her two beautiful children. She is gracious, kind, caring and incredibly intelligent. Yet, underneath this perfect picture she has been living a life of desperation.

“Things has been difficult in these past few years,” Daniel said. “Recently my husband of 12 years left me for his current girlfriend – just one day decided to walk out. Honestly though, the story begins about seven years ago.”

Before the birth of her daughter, now age five, Daniel was a pre-school teacher. She loved her work at the daycare and enrolled her son - then only three. One day at work other teachers approached her saying that her son was being abused by his teacher.

“I started to notice bruises on his arms from what I later learned was a result of the teacher forcibly pulling my three-year-old around the gym and making him do laps. He also started coming home with rashes/sores from not being properly cleaned after going to the bathroom.” Daniel said.

Daniel had to remove her son from the situation so she left her job at the daycare and decided to take care of him at home. However, without the second income, her husband could barely support the family.

“We weren’t making ends meet. The rent had to get paid and there had to be food on the table, so in a moment of desperation I did something very foolish and sold marijuana.”

Several weeks after she began to sell she was caught and sentenced to five months in prison.

“I have never regretted something so much,” Daniel said. “It has been seven years since I made that stupid mistake and I am still being haunted by it.”

Daniel only served several months in prison, and during this time she was allowed to work a part-time job, and was even given eight hours to return home and spend time with her husband. While walking up the street to her work on July 4th she was hit by a car – injuring her neck and causing other physical trauma. When she finished her time and returned home she discovered that she was pregnant with her second child.

“So I was pregnant and still messed up from the car accident when I found out that my husband had cheated on me.” Daniel said. “He had found a ‘girlfriend’ when I was in prison and told me about the indiscretion a month after I came home.”

Daniel was heartbroken. She wanted to leave, but was terrified to start a new life pregnant, injured and unsure.

All throughout the pregnancy there were complications. Stress, combined with the physical trauma forced Daniel’s daughter to be born six weeks early and Daniel almost died during childbirth. “I was terribly sad and felt so alone.” Daniel said. “All the pain, struggle and frustration had to be for a reason. It had to mean something – so I found that meaning in spirituality and in my children. I sat in the hospital looking at my daughter for the first time and realized how small my life is when compared with everything around me.”

About a year after her daughter was born her husband cheated again. She packed her bags and was ready to leave, but her husband found a good job in Ashtabula and she decided to try to save her family one more time in a new place.

“I thought he would change if we moved. Now I realize that he never could and never will.”

Daniel’s husband moved to Ashtabula one month before she was able to join him. In that time he met another woman and began a new relationship – without Daniel’s knowledge. For three years she suspected, asked, pleaded and accused but he assured her that it was not true.

“He told me I was crazy,” Daniel said. “I knew he was doing it because I could feel it, but he would make fun of me, insult me and tell me I was crazy. After I while I thought I was losing my mind. I was pregnant again and experiencing major amounts of stress and depression. My baby was stillborn in July and I sank even deeper. I thought I needed him to survive.”

Finally the truth came out in November of 2011 and her husband left to start a new life with the other woman. Daniel had nowhere else to go so she turned to the welfare office for help.

“I have to work to get cash assistance and I got to choose the place I wanted to work. When the lady in the welfare office mentioned Goodwill, there was just something about the name. I felt a connection to the word, it gave me strength and I just knew it had to be right – so I went.”

On her first day Daniel was nervous and scared. She suffered from anxiety, severe depression and was afraid to be herself.

“I participate in a class sponsored though the PRIDE program at Goodwill and the first day I walked into the classroom there was a saying on the board, ‘You are the hero of your own story.’ That really resonated with me and I’ve felt stronger every day since being here. I didn’t know how people would treat me with my spirituality - at first I just tried to fit in. I realize now that people will like me and accept me for who I am - my teacher, Harry Corbissero, has really supported me and shown me that I do have value.” Daniel said.

Through her time and work here at Goodwill Jamie Daniel has started to put her life back together. She is gaining the confidence to start again with her children and is getting the job training and qualifications she needs to work a full-time job.

“Before I knew what Goodwill does, I associated the name with universal goodwill.” Daniel said. “My feelings were correct. They have shown me the strength that I have and the person I can become.”

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