It was cold and dark. I looked behind me. Kept glancing back just in case anyone would see me. I’d be mortified if anyone knew where I was heading to.
No one must ever find out where I’ve been. No one. Ever. That’s what I kept thinking. Over and over again as I walked quickly.
But now I’m ready to share this part of my journey.
As I walked down the lonely back streets of London, with a map in my hand, I headed towards the church hall.
I was told it was the place to go. They were kind and caring and would understand me. They knew about “people like me”.
Who are “people like me”? Single mothers who have just left long term relationships or marriages where often there was Domestic Abuse. Situations like mine. Where a woman desperate to feed her children had no means with which to do so.
I felt so utterly humiliated as I entered the car park and saw the big brown doors with a green and white welcome sign.
I thought of turning back.
Then I remembered my bare cupboards.
My empty fridge.
And my 3 kids.
I told myself they mustn’t know. They would be horrified. But I had to do whatever I could to feed them.
So I followed the sign to the “Food Bank”. I had only ever heard of those kind of places on the news. I never for a moment believed I’d be one of the people needing to go there.
So I walked inside, hoping the ground would swallow me up. Yet I was greeted warmly and taken to a side room where I was given help in knowing where to turn to for assistance.
Then I was asked me what I needed. I looked at the floor. I couldn’t look her in the eye.
How had this happened to me? The woman living in a big London house with 2 cars? The confident woman who never had these worries? I mumbled something about if it wasn’t for my kids I’d go hungry. But I couldn’t expect them to come home from school and not feed them.
She understood. She went outside and told me she will be back. She returned with several bags of food. Not only that, she even added toiletries and other things I’d not thought of. I was running on empty and at that moment
I had only thought of the absolute vitals. In my head that was bread and milk. It didn’t include shampoo, sanitary towels or toothpaste.
But they had thought of everything. Their kindness had me bowled over. I was emotional. I had been running from one court hearing to another. From one lawyer’s meeting to another. I couldn’t stop to take stock of my life.
They had put everything in bags that were from local supermarkets so I wouldn’t be ashamed to walk the streets with them.
They thought of everything. They told me to come back again whenever I needed. I told myself I’d do whatever I could to never have to be that desperate to have to go.
I ran out of there in tears but feeling lighter than I had the days before that. Sadly I did have to return several more times till I got myself back on my feet.
For the first time ever I spoke about this to someone just 2 nights ago and I realised how far I’ve come since those days.
He told me I should be so proud of myself for how strong I’ve been to have dealt with all this and for where I am now.
And I realised that rather than be ashamed by this part of my journey of leaving my cult, I should share it with others so that other people going through similar things know myself and others were there too.
And more importantly, that 4/5 years down the line I’m independent and standing on my own two feet and financially stable.
I never imagined I’d be at this place but I am. And you can be too. It takes time but you’ll get there. Just like I did.