Kylie

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MEET SOME RAW WOMEN, Meet The RAW Women
About This Project

FROM ROCK-BOTTOM TO LIVING THE LIFE OF MY DREAMS

Describe your life today

Career: “My new job (a support mental health and youth worker) is the job that I’ve wanted ever since I left prison. It’s putting my past experiences and trauma to positive use by helping and connecting with others that have gone through some of the things I have gone through. I’m someone who can relate to and understand their experiences.”

“They knew about my criminal history when they employed me, but were still willing to give me a chance and I begin full-time study in February.”

“I’ve also got a part-time job as a cleaner, cook, bar person.”

Family: “My youngest son (aged seven) is finally with me. My mum and dad are also with me. My son is now fully used to me and listening to me and not my mum (who has raised him) and I’m setting good boundaries for him. (7 years old) Wellbeing: “My fitness is under control.”

“My life feels balanced and normal. I’m not eaten up with self-hate, resentment and self-pity and playing the victim – I’m free from all that.”

What do you love about your life today?

“There’s routine. I know that I’m safe. I choose who I allow into bubble. I’m clear headed and I make good choices.”

“With my new job I’m supporting people who were in my shoes. It’s an amazing feeling to connect, relate and to give sound advice. I’m helping them make informed decisions; offering them different options but leaving it up to them to make the final choice.”

Are they any aspects of your life that continue to frustrate you?

“Not much. I’m happy, there’s nothing to be upset and sad about. I’m not where I was.”

How is life today different to life before RAW?

“I’m alcohol and drug free and functioning without them.”

“I’m not in a toxic environment.”

“I’ve dealt with my trauma and accepted it.”

“I’ve finally learned the patterns that I was repeating over and over again and found different ways of dealing with things like meditating, changing my thoughts, talking to god. I’v changed my beliefs, and learned to function better and self-regulate.”

“I’ve changed the structure of the way I live. Having a structured routine is very important.”

“Having my son with me also makes me more accountable. I have an extra responsibility which means I can’t go out to pub for a few drinks.”

THE JOURNEY FROM:TO

Looking back, what things now amaze you about the life that you were living (the

things you accepted as normal)?

“The absence of any self-worth. I didn’t think I could achieve anything. I dreamed about getting the job I have today but I didn’t have the self-belief that I could get it.”

“With my first job (building apprenticeship) I put in the hard work for two-and-a half years and it made me a stronger person and I learned some good skills, but I didn’t love it. When I first came out I wanted to be a youth worker but now I understand that I needed to build routine, structure and sobriety first which I’ve now achieved.”

What has driven the difference in your thinking?

“Hitting rock-bottom. I’ve hit rock-bottom so many times in my life, but just before I went to prison the last time that was my absolute rock-bottom. I really wanted to get help and get clean but there wasn’t any support available for me; all the rehabs were full. I wanted to change because I was completely over that lifestyle and I just wanted to be me; the Kylie I thought I could be. But no one believed in me and I didn’t believe in myself. It was either change myself or kill myself and that wasn’t an option because I couldn’t put my kids through that.”

Reflecting back on when you first joined RAW, to where you stand today – what have

been the key turning points in that journey?

“The first day I met Rebecca I knew the RAW programme was for me and I was willing to do whatever it took to get into it and stay in it. I didn’t realise I would get this far in 3 years; working in my dream job with my employer aware of my past.”

What did you need to learn/unlearn?

“People pleasing. I needed to learn to be real to myself and not worry about what other people thought or have the need for everybody to like me. I also needed to be held accountable for my actions.”

“Today I think before I act or react – whether that’s shopping, conversations, arguments with my partner. I used to over-react. Now I calm down, think about it and then respond. I’m not so impulsive these days.”

What did you need to change?

“Everything really – how I think, feel, react. I’ve changed everything about my life in a reasonably short period of time – 5 years – including my 2 years in prison.”

What did you need to accept?

“The past. Accepting the situation for what it was, moving on without going back into it. Forgiveness too.”

What did you need to let in?

“Help and support instead of thinking I know it all or you don’t understand my situation. Or that not everyone is out to get me. I had to let trust into my life.”

Why do you think you have been successful in staying away from ‘the dark side’?

“Now that I’ve had a taste of what this life is like, why would I want to go back? I love my life. I can earn a wage, I’ve got a routine, I’ve meet good people. I feel safe in my space. I didn’t have those things before. I was always addicted to something and surrounded by domestic violence.”

What’s the secret to you sustaining a good life (away from the dark side)?

“My connection with god. Keeping up with self-care and if I’m not feeling good, reaching out. Recognising my triggers and knowing I can change by changing my thoughts.”

If you were asked to record a message for women still inside about what’s key to

building a new way of life – what would you say?

“Think it is possible, believe it is possible and make it possible through your actions (do it). If you truly want change for yourself, you have to change everything about your whole life including the whole of you. That’s going to be hard but it’s doable and so worth it.”

THE ROLE THAT RAW HAS PLAYED

If you had to sum up in a sentence the role that RAW has played in your journey over

the last four/five years, what would you say?

“RAW has been the key to be where I am now. My first year in RAW has got me here.” Rebecca’s support and advice has been amazing.

Annah is the one who said to me of course you can be a youth worker. I did my own CV. If someone tells me I can’t do something I instantly believe them. I’ve assumed I can’t do it so I don’t try. Having someone say ‘yes you can’ helped me find a youth worker job in only two weeks.

What are they things that RAW has given you/helped you to find or build that you didn’t have

before (or had lost sight of)?

“All over general support. I’ve always been very resourceful but I could never stick at it.”

WHERE TO NEXT?

Thinking ahead, what are your goals and plans

“To complete my certificate 4, be in my own home, be a team coach with my job – progress from a support worker to a team leader – and further my study in that field.”

How are these goals different to what you might have had 5 years ago?

“I didn’t have any. I couldn’t last a week or stick to anything in the past.”

What do you perceive some of your challenges might be in the future?

“In my new job I will be working with vulnerable kids which will be very challenging and testing. I don’t know how that will affect me emotionally, but I have a real passion for it.”

“I have some health challenges with my son.”

“Study – not giving up when it gets hard.” What is the thing that you know for sure about your future?

“I have a great future in front of me!”

What is the thing that excites you most?/most looking forward to?

“Continuing to see how far I’m growing, continuing to achieve something more, being clean for another 5 years.”

Where are the areas that RAW can most add value to in your journey ahead?

“Just continuing to be who they are. If I need something I only need to call and they will help if they can. Annah is the most determined woman I’ve ever known. They’re a constant support line but I’ve built my own connections/safety net too and I try to do things on my own.”