Life Follows Death
Losing my grandfather so young (age four), I wonder how I remember the time I had with him. My memory is not too good these days, but those early dreams with a man who loved me are beautiful.
Fast forward to life after his death. We shuffled from one house to another. My favorite homes with my cousins and aunts. The days of feeling safe surrounded by family that cared and loved me. I remember good food, fun outdoors, scary stories, and walks around town.
After exposing the truth of abuse I had endured, we moved to the eastern plains of Colorado. My carefree days of cousin craziness evolved to pretending happiness. It was sixth grade in a small town, and kids weren’t friendly to outsiders. I didn’t care. I knew I was different by then. Girls were mean and catty; I was working to survive the nightmares of my life.
As I close my eyes today, I see a scared little girl who no longer knew she was a little girl and kept her secrets hidden from all. The abuse left a stain on her tender heart, and her mind twisted from the games of an evil man. Worse, she felt dirty and unnecessary, like a garage rag that came in handy but was left lying around like trash.
Children should never have to question their worth. At 12 years old, it should not be a question. I am not saying I comprehended worth as we adults know it; I am saying I felt worthless, insignificant, unimportant, and left behind.
Fast forward to age 19. I celebrated my 19th birthday in the hospital ICU waiting room. My fiancee was in a coma from a boxing incident. We were young parents and lived with his dad in a beautiful home. Our daughter was one month old, and we were supposed to be married in six weeks. My life was falling like dominoes around me, and I sat in that ICU night and day feeling small and desperate. I knew what it meant to be meaningless. Overcome by the same fear I experienced as a child, I entered my first manic episode.
The damage to my coping ability, trauma process, and handling fear was evident, and I became two people in one.
Moving along to my mid-twenties, I met a new man, and we were beginning a new life. While trying on a wedding dress, I realized I was pregnant. The news was unexpected, along with his reaction. I went through the pregnancy with no support. I wanted to do ultrasounds together and enjoy the experience knowing it was my last child. I did enjoy every second with my boy, but I did it alone.
Again, I endured loneliness, heartache, and fear. In being left alone, I experienced all the same feelings of worthlessness I did as a child. Within three years, I would be in my next manic episode.
When others abandoned me, I ran away mentally. I disappeared to a place where worth didn’t matter. I was free, dangerous, edgy, confident, and irrational. Nothing I did made a lick of sense to anyone who knew me. What I hid from everyone made no sense to me.
Selfishness in mania took away from the fact that no one cared.
It would be years before I broke down the walls of the little girl inside. When I stepped into healing, it would take a year of therapy to unravel the mysteries of the past. By the end of the journey, I valued myself, my story, my growth, and my strength. The need for validation from others was a thing of the past.
Healing to Live
I recently went through a trying time with a child dealing with addiction. I felt alone in the trial and have dealt with some anxiety. Honestly, this experience brought me down further than any other time of my life.
I didn’t disappear. For the first time, I did not feel a need to escape my feelings. I knew I was worthy of regaining my life, thoughts, prayer life, and relationships. When I felt abandoned, I communicated and found solutions. I worked on the problem and succeeded in pulling myself through.
Childhood issues defined half my life, as it does for many people who endure trauma. We don’t just carry bad memories; we bring along bad coping skills and worse fears. Fear sucks. It holds back the strongest of hearts and paralyzes the mind into evil submission.
I am thankful and empowered by the care I received to reach the mental clarity I have today. It took courage and commitment to confront the loss of my childhood. It took the same courage to believe in myself enough to know my worth on my terms and by the definition of God’s words and Christ’s love. Today, when I run, I run to where hope lives and peace dwells, and I do not have to run far.