“We can’t keep what we have until we give it away. I feel most close to God when I’m helping someone.”Sherri Stidham
Business owner Michelle Deskeere stays busy. Her landscaping and lawn maintenance business is thriving. She loves the work and gets to lend a helping hand to some of her older clientele. She has a family including her parents, a brother, and her pride and joy: three sons. One is a 22-year-old Arlington city firefighter. Another is 16 and has made incredible strides with his high-functioning autism. Her eight-year-old is in gifted and talented classes.
Her life and family represent independence and stability to Michelle, two things that once seemed unreachable. As a child, Michelle experienced trauma from sexual abuse and became depressed. “By the time I was a teenager, I was experimenting with drugs,” she said.
In college, Michelle met her future husband. The birth of a son came with post-partum depression that Michelle tried to counter on her own with prescription pills. She was soon addicted. A crisis occurred when Michelle gained access to a doctor’s prescription pad and began writing her own. This landed her in jail and then rehab.
Afterward, another son was born and her marriage ended. Michelle tried to get back on track by attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. But it was there she formed a relationship with someone who was violently abusive. “That led me to using other things,” she said. “I was messing with hard drugs.”
Eventually, Michelle accrued more than half-a-dozen charges and was sentenced to shock probation which would start with a short stint in prison. And her third son was on the way. While awaiting her transfer to prison, she spent a month in the Volunteers of America Texas Resolana pod, located inside of the Dallas County Jail. Here, she finally found the tools she needed to turn her life around. The whole experience “was amazing; so eye-opening,” she said. “To see women supporting each other was something I hadn’t seen before.”
In just that month, Michelle met women who had suffered not only the kinds of circumstances she had, but many things much worse. Michelle now knew women like her on whom she could lean and who could lean on her also. She learned to process her emotions; a book she read made her understand controlling relationships. “I knew I had to change,” Michelle said.
When Michelle transferred to prison, Resolana Director Lesley Mohney kept in touch and became Michelle’s lifeline to the world. The thought of losing custody of her son became the turning point. When she was released, Michelle put her foot down and drew boundaries. “I set out on my own, just me and the kids,” she said. “And I’ve never looked back.”
These days, Michelle is only looking forward. First, she will continue to build up her business. “I may give nursing school a try,” she said. She has discovered that helping people has special rewards. She has never hesitated or second-guessed her decision to ask to go into Resolana. It’s a place where there’s so much support emotionally and physically, she says. “Resolana is a lifelong connection for women.”