“Whatever.” That was 14 year old Michaela’s reaction when she heard her father was being released from prison… again.
Dad had been in and out of prison, mostly in, since Michaela was 4. Mom was also incarcerated during much of that same time.
Michaela was raised by her grandmother, Lucille, who preached the importance of school, and imposed boundaries to keep her granddaughter out of trouble. Sometimes Michaela chafed under the restrictions and demands, but she knew they came from a loving place, and Michaela certainly needed that in her life.
Over the years, Michaela grew into an intelligent, mature, and ambitious teenager, and while she was very close to her grandmother, she sure didn't feel close to her father.
However, even though she was blasé about her father’s release, Michaela knew it would bring about some changes. So, when he proposed that she meet with a counselor from Families in Crisis, she agreed.
Cheryl from Families in Crisis reassured Michaela that her parents’ behavior was not a reflection on her, that she shouldn’t confuse their destinies with her own destiny. Cheryl's words broke through – Michaela frequently told grandma, “I’m not gonna dig a hole like my parents, I want more for my life.”
Michaela learned another important lesson from her counselor, Cheryl, how to open up and allow herself to build a meaningful relationship with her father. A relationship she had to admit she really always wanted.
Lucille and Michaela both cried when Cheryl told them one day that “you don’t need me any more, you are on your way.” Of course, relationships don’t just end, and Cheryl still checks in on them occasionally.
But Cheryl was right, they didn’t need her any more. Four years after his release, Michaela and her father enjoy a healthy relationship. When Michaela is not studying at Central Connecticut State University for a career in BioScience, they go to the beach, play Monopoly, and spend many nights just hanging out at his place.
It’s no wonder that Michaela says the greatest gift her father ever gave her was an introduction to Families in Crisis.