Listening and learning
Anglicare works with people from all walks of life, each with their own unique experiences and perspectives. We are committed to listening to and learning from those we serve.
In this interview, we meet 55 year-old Anne*.
How would you describe yourself?
I am a very caring and giving person. I am different now than I was in the past. I am more outgoing and when things upset me I can hold back instead of reacting aggressively. I can stop, think, slow down and talk through things properly. I have learned new skills. The worker from Anglicare has helped me more than what she realises.
What were some of the key experiences in your life?
I had much older siblings so grew up basically as an only child. I had quite a sheltered life because I was being protected from my father. He was a very grumpy man. Dad would go six months at a time of not speaking to us. That was difficult and that affected my relationships with men because I would want to latch onto someone as a father figure.
Another important thing was having my children. They were the bees' knees. But their father, my husband, was not a nice person. He womanised a lot and was a compulsive liar. I had to leave the family home to stay sane. That was so hard.
How has Anglicare supported you?
A friend of ours has had a serious drug problem on and off for years. We thought he was going OK but then four years ago we found out he was using again. I helped him through that by getting him to a doctor, getting him into the methadone program, doing all that, spending months up at his house cleaning inside and outside. It was really good then he went into a bit of a ghost again. He went back to using so I was starting to help him again. Getting him to the doctor, getting him tested, getting various things done, getting him set up to go to counselling. Then, when I rang the local Anglicare office they said that the workers could give me help to cope.
I've realised that I can't fix my friend. It was so hard to come to that realisation. I felt guilty. If it wasn't for Anglicare I would have kept battling on and I would have been an angry, nervous wreck. But I was able to talk to someone and learn that it was OK for me to back off.
My friend didn't go to his counselling sessions, he had to go to court, he lost his house, he was bringing a lot of it on himself. I've set some boundaries. If he comes here now, yes he can sit and talk. But I'm not offering to get involved and do things for him. I've stopped trying to rescue him. I can't take on everyone's problems.
What do you put your faith in?
Look it is really strange because there are times when I say ‘thank God' or ‘God help me'. I think, ‘is there a man up there though?' How can it be when so many horrible things are happening to so many people in the world? But then I think, ‘well, is there someone there and they're trying to help me through people like the Anglicare worker? Is that from Him?'
I do have a lot of faith in myself now that I do make the right decisions.
What do you think of when you hear the word Christian?
Lots of different things. Sometimes, it might sound silly, but a bit of envy that they can have so much faith. There have been times when I've thought I just want to go and sit in a church, on my own.
A local minister has done family funerals for us. He's a beautiful person. Him being around is touching, calming. I don't really know many people who are Christians.
How can the church support people who might be having challenges?
I think they can just make people aware that there are services available and that they don't have to feel scared or intimidated about going; that there's no stigma to it.
It's about communication. It's asking if people are OK in a quiet, gentle way. People who are supporting family members or friends definitely need someone to talk with. They need a friend. And that friend doesn't need to say that's right or that's wrong. Just listen.
I feel now like I want to help others. I can be a friend to someone. It can be little things. Like I packed up some clothes and curtains and gave them to Anglicare.
What do you think is the purpose of life?
I have never, ever answered that. To be happy. To create. I don't know.
I enjoy time in the garden and the moments with my grandchildren. I was sitting here the other day with my grand-daughter eating a salad for lunch. And she said ‘we're like rabbits aren't we?' I made a funny face and she said ‘Oh Nan, you're making me laugh again'. That made me feel good. Things like that'll stay with me forever and ever.
*Not her real name