TRIGGER WARNING: She writes about suicide, abuse, and abortion.
I come from a broken & blended family. It started with my mother not feeling loved enough by my biological father. She and my stepfather (Tom) got together in the apartment complex we all lived in and left their first marriages to try and build a better one. My biological dad checked out because it was too painful to stay involved with me once the relationship was over with my mother. Tom & mom married when I was three years old and I got to have part time brothers each summer for a few months. My brothers and I are close in age and I loved their visits. I was an only child without them until my half sisters came along when I was 10 & 12 years old (not exactly the best age for hanging out together).
Fast forward to our teen years when my brothers were allowed to choose to visit or not. Tom was physically, verbally and sexually abusive…they had an out and took it. I was left with the worst of it and it SUPER sucked! We moved many times in my youth. I struggled as the “new girl” trying to make friends after each move. I had no contact with my brothers, and basically just navigated life with ZERO confidence. The sexual abuse became progressively worse during puberty and for several years afterward. I tried to tell a babysitter when I was in eighth grade and she said, “You better think about how your accusations could affect your family. Do you really want to hurt your family like that?” That question has haunted me my entire life.
It wasn’t until 2 years ago that I finally told my younger sisters what happened. Needless to say I was a bit confused about relationships when I started trying to have romantic ones. I ran away with my first boyfriend at 16 years old and left a note telling my mother some of what Tom had been doing to me. I returned 5 days later and stayed in a “safe house” for a day. THAT was scarier than the uncertainty of what awaited me at home, so back I went! We moved again and with less than 2 years until I was 18, I began devising my escape plan. I fell for a guy, got a job and worked a lot. I spent time anywhere but at home. I was on the verge of escape from my family (they were in a deteriorating state and on the way to another divorce). I planned to follow my boyfriend to college but found myself pregnant at 18! According to people who I thought had my best interests at heart, my only option was a quick abortion to keep me on course. That’s what I did and was on my way to the next chapter. My boyfriend was kicked out of college a year after we got there and I followed him home a semester after that. We were together for several years (and another abortion) then got married when we were 22. One month after that, he was arrested for rape and has been in and out of jail ever since. During the years with him and some years after that, I was suicidal and self medicating with alcohol and other drugs.
Fast forward to Steve. My rebound relationship and husband to this day! We dated 4 years and decided to marry and have children right away. I THOUGHT GOD WOULD NEVER ALLOW IT because I chose to destroy the lives that He had already given me! Another lie heaped on top of a giant pile of them that I was carrying around and BELIEVING! A friend recommended a free group counseling with several other women who had very similar stories as mine. The group was FREE and met at a church (not my thing at the time). It was called Sisters of Rachel (and since has become Surrendering the Secret). It was where I found a love like none I had ever experienced before. After abandonment of one father, neglect & abuse at the hands of another, and a mother who couldn’t protect me, I found a group of unloved, outcast underdogs with whom I could relate, share my story and my pain and anything else I wanted to talk about without judgement. THIS group of women and our amazing leader knew the love of One that I had not yet experienced: JESUS! At 28 years old, I found a love that would help me learn the power of forgiveness, find adoption into a new family, and begin to seek my true identity and BE HEALED! I AM NO LONGER A VICTIM! I have been through various types of counseling (conventional, prayer led, equine assisted, group, individual, EMDR, and more). The beginning of true freedom has been finding out that God created me, Jesus died for me, and the Spirit lives in me. Most days I know my true identity. I am not just a cog in a machine I AM a Child Of God.
When I was 15, I had a soccer scholarship and everything was going great. I didn’t go to church all the time, but I believed and we went on the occasion. One day in a soccer game a girl and I hit heads and I immediately blacked out – had no idea where I was or anything. I went to the ER later that night to find out I had a bad concussion. I had to stay home all week – couldn’t watch tv, couldn’t go on my phone, I just had to be surrounded by darkness. After a few months go by, I got cleared to go play soccer again. It was a tournament so I was super excited and ready. Then all of sudden during our warm ups, 10 minutes before the game, my heart starts beating irreparably fast but I didn’t think anything of it, so I still went out on the field ready to start. Not even 5 minutes into the game, I had to get out because my heart was still just not okay. A trainer came over and we were checking my pulse and it was in the 230s. I didn’t play for the rest of the game. I went to the doctor. They thought everything was okay, so I went and played again and it happened again. I went to another cardiologist and they said the same. They had a thought of what it could be, but the main doctor wasn’t in, so they couldn’t do much. It happened again, but this time I’m having an episode in class and almost pass out walking to the nurse’s office. I get to the office and it’s again in the 230s, so we call my mom and finally we go to the main doctor and get a heart monitor. The results of my monitor were that I had SVT, which is an extra node on my heart, which is making my heart fire faster than normal. I then had a heart surgery ablation to remove it. For 3 weeks I was back to normal. But then it came back somehow. To this day, we still don’t know why it still gets fast at times. But unfortunately that’s not the end of my story. Beyond my heart condition, I have a few other issues as well. When I was a sophomore in high school, I met this boy that was a junior at a different high school. We ended up dating for about 4 years and I broke up with him the beginning of my sophomore year in college. During those 4 years I was physically and verbally and emotionally abused by him. Furthermore, my dad was telling me it was my fault and I should’ve stayed in and he was also trying to get us to go to couples therapy. Man it was such a whirlwind. My heart condition drew me away from God. I was very upset and confused, everything I had going for me was gone in an instant. During my heart condition too, my oldest sister Jenny lost her first child: First grandbaby and nephew of the family. So all of that happening to me at 16, having heart surgery, losing my nephew, being abused, it was all a lot to handle. In November of 2018, I got severely sick. In 4 months, I lost 45 pounds. In those 4 months, I went to the ER about 6 times and they also said nothing was wrong. For the first time since I was 14, I prayed. I had been attending Centerpoint for a little and I just felt like it was time for me to pray, so I did. I prayed about my stomach issues and for them to find something because I just felt miserable. That week I went to my physician’s office and they found out I had an infected gallbladder. I got sent to a surgeon and had it removed a week later…God heard me and most definitely answered my prayer. In 2018, I had about 6 surgeries. It was one of the toughest years, but now when I look back on all of it, I thank Him for putting me through it all because it got me to where I am today: In the center of His will. It was a bumpy road to get here, but the fact is I’m here and I’ve never felt joy the way I do now. They still don’t know what’s wrong with my heart and I have medicine for my stomach because my gallbladder was so infected that it messed up my digestive system and my colon, but it doesn’t bother me like it did anymore. I look at it all as a blessing and all I wanna do is use what I’ve gone through to help others understand that even though it feels like everything is against you and that God isn’t for you, it’s the complete opposite. That’s when we should know most all of this is happening because God always finds a way to put us in His will. There are different paths we can take, but in the end, we will be what God has planned for us to be. I feel like I definitely need to see a counselor to help me continue to work things out internally and mentally, but I know for a fact I am where I am today because of what I went through. Thank you for giving me the courage to share my testimony with you.
For the last few years I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety. Two years ago, I moved up to Tampa for my dream job in ministry. Due to my actions, I was let go. I eventually found a new church and job and girlfriend and in my mind, thought everything was great. I wasn’t focusing on Jesus and my relationship with God and I stopped going to church, lost my job, and ended up using drugs. I was so low one night, I tried to end my life. The months after that night, I wrestled with my faith and started seeing a therapist. I was constantly thinking about my sins and how messed up I was and got to a point where I was just empty. I felt like a shell, so far from God. Then one day, driving out of no where I feel something tell me to look at the sky. And it was the most beautiful sunset. And it was this overwhelming feeling where what I was seeing was so amazing that I couldn’t focus on my sins anymore. And it was like getting hit with a truck that I realized: The more I focus on how messed up and sinful I am, all I’m doing is falling deeper in depression and helplessness. But when I focus on Jesus, how amazing, loving, and powerful He is, I realize He is big enough to cover my sins. And I was reminded of this and instantly that empty feeling and depression was gone. Regardless of beliefs or where whoever is reading this is at, Jesus died for you and is big enough to carry you out of this season.
I suffered from depression and didn’t even know it. When I found out, I was embarrassed…didn’t even tell my husband. It’s people like you who have helped me to accept my depression for what it truly is and to work it for the good.
I’ve spent my whole life feeling like I’m not enough. From the moment I was born, I was a disappointment. Dramatic, I know, but let me explain. My father was a multi-generation dairy farmer and I was (gulp) the first girl. I was never strong enough, fast enough, big enough, fill in the blank enough to be truly useful for the family business. I know my brothers thought I had it good but I often felt like Joseph; outcast by his own family. Fast forward to grade school and I found myself alone again. Not only did the lovely scent of my nearby farm leave its mark on all three of my childhood schools but I was completely clueless on how to fit in with the “normal” kids. My life revolved around the family business so any movies or tv show or trends the kids were into weren’t even a blip on my radar. Three months before my high school graduation and my ticket to a new identity everything took a turn for the worse. See, on top of all the before mentioned struggles, my father was a very abusive alcoholic. Every day we lived in fear of what state our father would be in. After 16 DUIs, thousands of dollars spent on bail bonds, and only the good Lord knows how many public altercations, it eventually all caught up to him. He was sentenced to three years in prison and unfortunately with that came a “vacancy” notice and a take over from the state that left us and six other families homeless and penniless overnight. I spent the next few years doing everything I could to keep my head above the water. I found myself staying extremely busy, working three jobs at one point, and taking some nearby community college courses. One day a dreamy Marine found himself at my table in the bar I worked at in the evenings. His persistent pursuit of my heart eventually won me over and I found myself following him across the country and married a few months later. I felt like I could finally breathe and discover my own identity that wasn’t chained to my father! Fast-forward to a deployment and surprising pregnancy later, my body started to recall the traumas of the past. All of my bloodwork and testing pointed to an “abnormal” pregnancy and I was encouraged to “rethink” it. Little did I, nor the doctors, know that it was actually my body attacking itself and thus was the start of a continuous journey through several health discoveries. Today I have been diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases which studies have shown can be caused or worsened by traumas and mental health issues. I have the great opportunity to connect with other woman as they fight through their past and push forward toward a better and healthier future. I am, by far, nowhere close to having it all together and to be honest most days I still feel like the Israelites wandering the desert waiting impatiently on God to reveal His next plan for me. I still wake up everyday in fear. Fear of being left behind because of the limitations two diseases have on my physical and mental state. Fear of not being enough because my body decides what I can and can not do each morning and struggles to keep up with the consistent fast pace and unrealistic expectations this world puts on us. I will say though that my life is full of surprises and God has placed the most amazing support group around me to remind me everyday that I AM ENOUGH!
I have shared my story with you before, but to make a long story shorter: I had a picture perfect childhood. My first marriage was anything but perfect. Because of years of verbal and mental abuse, I suffer from a mental illness: I have bipolar depression. I am in the process of writing my own book and there have been many “downs” in my life and a few manic times as well. Without the Lord in my life, and the support of my loving second husband and family, I wouldn’t be here today. I was suicidal a few times in my life but praise the Lord, I feel free of that and I’m pretty much on the other side. I have my days of deep depression, but I am balanced mostly with finding a good neurologist, therapy and medication. I have 3 amazing kids and 3 beautiful grandkids who are my joy! I feel l that I am a Soldier Girl because I too have scars, but I am battling every day to overcome and live for my Lord!