Rosalie Ortega was in her first week of classes at Solutions Academy. It was nerve wracking to jump into a new environment all on her own, but she was eager to learn and eager to change her life. She just wasn’t sure how yet.
One of the very first classes she attended was a relationship-focused course taught by Lina Soto-Thomas. Lina began with a lesson on codependency—its meaning and its dangers.
As Lina explained it, codependency was an excessive reliance on a partner or relationship to the point where it became unhealthy. A deeply rooted compulsive behavior of people pleasing, not being able to say no, and putting yourself last. That reliance thrived in dangerous situations like addiction, and it could lead to abuse. The only way to escape the relationship and all the harm it could bring was to break free of codependency.
“That was the first time anyone had ever explained my experiences to me,” Rosalie said. “Lina’s class changed my life. Codependency is a way of life you don’t recognize until someone points it out to you. It was like my blinders were removed and I could see how to take control of my future.”
Growing up, Rosalie’s life was plagued by difficulty. Her family was impacted by addiction and seemed stuck in The Churn.
“I watched others struggle with addiction, and I struggled with addiction,” Rosalie said. “I never had people to uplift me or show me that life could be different. So I ended up in the same patterns and bad relationships as the people around me.”
For years, Rosalie was in and out of unhealthy, codependent relationships. She continued to battle her addiction. She had been homeless for a while. Life had to change, and the call to take action came after her youngest daughter was born.
“I got home from the hospital after having my daughter and the eviction notice was waiting there for me,” Rosalie said. “We moved in with my sister, which I hoped would be a good change of pace, but I still had no car or phone. But I wanted so badly to be a good mom, and that’s when I knew I had to really do something.”
Over the next two years, Rosalie stayed at a women’s health facility and overcame her addiction. She successfully completed the program, but Rosalie wasn’t quite ready to start an independent life yet. No one had ever taught her how to be a parent, how to maintain a job or how to permanently stay out of homelessness. So on the recommendation of the rehab facility, she went to Solutions for Change.
Rosalie enrolled in Solutions Academy at Solutions for Change and moved into transitional housing with her daughters. Solutions sent her to work training, parenting classes and more to prepare her for life as a self-sufficient, thriving single mother. That’s when Rosalie found Lina’s codependency class.
“Lina gave me a perspective shift that unraveled a belief system I had held for so long,” Rosalie said. “It was the start of me unlearning a lifetime of people-pleasing, low self-esteem and codependency that I used to think was normal. I saw that I could be independent.”
Reclaiming her life and dreams, Rosalie enrolled in college while still attending Solutions Academy. She graduated with an associate’s degree in science and math and is now pursuing nursing school.
“I am worthy of big dreams and a happy life,” Rosalie said. “I will someday be a nurse helping deliver babies. I can do it, and Solutions spoke that motivation into me.”
Rosalie moved out of transitional housing soon after completing Solutions Academy. She now has her own apartment with room for her and her four daughters. And each of them can grow up free from The Churn their mother overcame.
“I get to see my dreams come true and I can live my ‘someday’ because Solutions was willing to get down to the toughest parts of my life with me to solve them,” Rosalie said. “You can’t put a band-aid on problems like addiction and homelessness. You have to commit to change. You have to find people like Solutions to help you find the power in yourself.”