Cecil learns to open up and love for the first time
At Cara, we recognize love as one of the most essential skills to transforming ones life. During their training, we have our participants engage in the Love Exercise to redevelop a sense of love, vulnerability, and trust in a broken relationship.
The Love Exercise is setup as such:
- Identify a person who you love but have a challenging relationship with.
- Meet with this person and ease into a conversation.
- At some point during the conversation, place your hands on their face, look into their eyes, and say “I love you.”
- Then write a letter, describing what happened and how you felt when you put your hands on their face and said those three powerful words.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we asked Cecil, Cara alum, to reflect on completing the Love Exercise and how it impacted his life, relationships, and self-worth.
“I was in a vicious cycle. I was using drugs and would stay sober for a while, and then relapse. I married young, and not much after, she got sick and passed away, leaving me as as single father of a toddler and an infant. I became reliant on my mother to take care of us. I also got in serious trouble with the law multiple times, and ended up serving jail time. I needed a way out.
“After my incarceration, part of my parole was to go through a treatment program at Safe Haven. I had struggled through it about six times, and kept relapsing. On my 7th time, I finally found the strength to make it my last. While I was at Safe Haven, l overheard people talking about Cara, since they would go there during the day. They would always come back from it in an upbeat and positive mood. It sounded like a perfect fit for what I was looking for. I needed a program that would accept me with a felony on my background.
“My experience at Cara and Cleanslate was life changing. It changed my whole attitude and perception of life. It helped me stay clean, be ambitious, and reach for my goals. I learned to be honest with myself and others.
“My experience at Cara and Cleanslate was life changing. It changed my whole attitude and perception of life. It helped me stay clean, be ambitious, and reach for my goals.”
“The love exercise was very foreign to me. Growing up, I never heard people say ‘I love you’. I never heard it from my mother, and I never said it to anyone. Being on the streets changes you. But, I swallowed my pride and gave it a shot, because everything else during the training seemed to work.
“I decided to do the love exercise with my brother. I wanted to do it with him because I realized I had never told him that before. He had done a lot for me growing up, and I wanted to let him know how I felt. It was a whole new experience for us, so it wasn’t easy to just come out and say it. When I sat him down and held his face, it caught him so off guard. He didn’t understand what I was doing. I had never said or done anything like that before. He was smiling and seemed happy. I’m really glad I went through with it.
“The love exercise was very foreign to me. Growing up, I never heard people say ‘I love you’. I never heard it from my mother, and I never said it to anyone.”
“That moment softened me as a person. I’m not afraid to express love to people in my life anymore. I felt free, like a burden had been lifted off of me. Now, I live to love and help other people. I want to be of service to others. Cara taught me that.
“I’m grateful for the strength that it took to persevere. Now, I own a home, I’m a landlord, and I own my own business. Things took a huge turn for me. I owe it to Cara and the support of my community for getting me to this place.“
This Valentine’s Day, you can help more job seekers like Cecil transform their lives through the power of love. Please consider giving a gift today.