BRISTOL — There were times Alisha Solache felt like the world rested on her shoulders.
Times during the thrall of an abusive relationship when it seemed like she was trapped.
“Hopeless, alone, desperate, like a failure, lost, confused,” she said, recalling those difficult days. “It was painful.”
Things are different now — better, thanks goodness — and she can hardly believe her lucky stars. The “horrible” relationship with her first husband is history. She’s since remarried and she’s now working as a licensed practical nurse, hoping one day to become a registered nurse.
Once reliant on assistance like food stamps and subsidized housing, she’s now independent and wants other people — especially those in the throes of a sour relationship — to know that there’s hope. She graduated just last month from the Family Empowerment program run by the nonprofit group individuals and Families in Transition, or iFIT, having exceeded the program’s income guidelines thanks to her strides in education and the nursing job.
“I never though my life would’ve been this way,” she said. “I love, love, love my job, love my husband, love my family.”
There were rough patches and Solache, now 30, doesn’t shy from discussing them. The Elkhart native and 2000 Elkhart Central High School grad became a mom at 17 and her marriage three years later, which led to a second child, went south almost as soon as she said “I do.”
She learned her new husband was on drugs, meth, and a side of the man emerged that she had never seen. He abused her “physically, mentally, emotionally, verbally, and I decided I couldn’t deal with it,” Solache said.
She tried to salvage the marriage, but the efforts didn’t yield results. In 2005 she turned to iFIT and Family Empowerment and in 2006 she divorced her husband. She returned to school — encouraged, prodded and counseled by iFIT people — and ended up with certification as a licensed practical nurse.
“I love that program,” she said. IFIT, according to its website, helps “stabilize” youth, individuals and families facing “life’s challenges.”
It’s hard to believe things were once so low for Solache, who also credits her faith in God and support from family, notably her mother.
“I remember there were times I would cry in the shower,” she remembered. “I would ask God for some answers.”
Yet here she is at her Bristol mobile home — which she hopes to replace with a house in Elkhart — upbeat and confident. Her three children — Destiny Michael, 12; Xavier Alaniz, 8; and Gabriela Solache, 15 months — are outside playing and she pulls out a professionally taken family photo that depicts her, the kids and Eduardo Solache, her new husband, smiling and happy.
“I never thought after living that life that I would’ve been in a position where I could 100 percent say I’m happy,” Solache said.
The main hitch is that Eduardo Solache, the father of Gabriela and an undocumented immigrant originally from Mexico, had to return south of the border as part of the process to legalize his status. But the process is advancing and Alisha Solache is hopeful he’ll be able to return by Christmas.
“There is hope,” she said. “There most definitely is hope.”