A True Story of Survival

Thank you to the brave woman who decided to write,

and SHARE her story publicly for the first time on my blog.

Your courage and desire to help others is inspiring.

Dear Me,

Things are not going to be easy for you, I wish I could say they were. From the time you came into this world things were already working against you.

Being born into a cult like church made you different and rebellious from the start. You will be 3 years old and already fighting the beliefs that you are taught. Your religion will play a huge role in your life and your self worth. You will spend endless nights wishing praying and hoping you were someone else, born into a different family, a different religion. Your Mom and Dad will stay married only 3 short years after you are born. The night your mom leaves your dad will be forever burned in your memory. You will blame yourself. Life gets really hard from that night on. Your dad will remarry shortly after, she will be mean and abusive. You will see abuse, alcohol and drugs all while you and your little baby brother hide in closets and under beds. You will blame yourself. He divorces her and remarries again.Your mom will also marry shortly after to a man who tolerates you and your brother, but you know at 5 years old he doesn’t love you. He will yell and scream and call you names. You will see your mom with mascara running down her face at any given time, all the while you will be taking care of your little brother. You will blame yourself. You will be forced to go to a church you hate, but be confused as to why you hate it, because it is “the way”, “the truth”, you are constantly told. You will be forced to go door to door and preach to people every morning and you will hope and pray that no one you go to school with will answer the door. All the while blaming yourself and burdened with guilt that you could hate something so bad when you are told it is the only way.

You will get through your elementary years by staying quiet and not making trouble in both parents homes and in school. You will stay out of trouble, never upsetting anyone, because if any of your 4 parents were angry, then it was your fault. You will enter middle school innocent, with the few friends who already knew you then making a new group of new friends. But these new friends will find you strange, you won’t fit in. When you are asked to go to sleepovers, birthday parties or any after school activity you will have to say no, your religion will not allow it. When the whole classroom stands up to salute the flag you will be the only one sitting down. When there is an after school dance or a football game all your friends will go, you will ride the bus home. When the coaches call your mom to ask why you can’t play any sports and they tell her how good you are and would make a great addition to the team, your mom will refuse, because your religion wont allow it.

You will start to like boys, and not one boy will look your way. You know they think you are weird, and you don’t blame them, you blame yourself. You will make it through middle school unscathed, staying under the radar and never causing any waves. Then high school happens. You keep your elementary friends and your middle school friends at first, but then you meet a new group. A group of friends who are older, wild, rebellious and you will be drawn to these people instantly. They accept you, all your weirdness, it doesn’t matter to them, because they are weird too. You will be a freshman the first time one of these friends offers you a cigarette, you won’t even think twice about it. You not only have one, but the whole pack. Throw up for an hour after and then continue smoking. That will be the day your 22year addiction to cigarettes starts. Shortly after that you will smoke pot for the first time, and continue to smoke pot for 10 years. You will become an addict at 15, to anything and everything you can get your hands on, it won’t matter, you will snort it, pop it, smoke it, drink it, and all of the sudden things didn’t seem so bad. You will keep going to school, missing at least a class or 2 a day. You will start lying to your parents everyday, fighting with them constantly, lying to them, sneaking out every night and ignoring and being down right mean to that sweet little brother you took care of and protected . Slowly but surely you will start failing your classes.

You will finally have a boy give you attention. He tells you how pretty you are, how smart and he loves you. You have never kissed a boy, so he will be the first boy you kiss. Shortly after your first kiss you will be at a party, you will be drunk and stoned, he will slip a little piece of paper on your tongue and tells you it will make you feel good. 2 hours later on a hit of acid in some strangers parents bed, he takes your virginity. You will date him for a year. He will abuse you verbally and physically and you will take it. He tells you he loves you, and thats all that matters. You have finally left your church, not by choice, they have excommunicated you. You have lost all your family, you have dropped out of school, you are living at home, you are a 16 year old drop out with a full time job. Your boyfriend will eventually dump you and tell you it was all your fault, you are not good enough, you will never be good enough for anyone and will never find anyone as good as him. You believe it, of course it is your fault. You will spend the next 9 months in a heavy haze of alcohol, drugs and sex. You give yourself to any boy who will talk to you or look at you. It doesn’t matter you think because if I give him money, drugs, alcohol, sex, he will love me. It never happens, you just continue to give more and more of yourself, getting nothing back,gaining nothing and losing bits of yourself everyday. Then one day you meet a “man”. A “mature” man. You don’t know his name, you are drunk and high and you have sex with him in the hopes he will remember you and fall in love with you. And it happens! He not only remembers you, he calls you and takes you on a date, a real date! And so it begins for you, your night in shining armor had come. He is your way out, a week after your first date you move out of your parents into his place and your dreams had come true. Finally someone who loves me you think, someone who accepts me for me! You are happy, you are consumed by him, day and night you live for him. Making sure he is happy, has everything he needs, never upsetting him. You eventually stop talking all together to your family, his family becomes yours instead. You stop talking to your friends, his friends becomes yours instead. He helps you and talks with you through your pain from the religion, he supports you in your decision to stay away from the church. You had never known anyone who could love you and support this decision and you are so grateful for him and you will feel everyday you owe him everything. He gets angry at times. He hits and shoves and pulls your hair, but you know he loves you, and its ok you tell yourself, you made him mad, its your fault. He drinks and does drugs, you drink and do drugs with him. That keeps him happy and you have fun. He’s nice when he’s drunk and high, so you don’t mind. You are married for 5 years when you finally become parents to a beautiful perfect boy. Your life finally feels complete. You no longer drink or drug and he is fine with that.You ignore the drinking, drugs ,beating and cheating, you deserved it anyways. None of that matters, you have your family, everything you had ever wanted. Life looks good on the outside. Big house, expensive cars, you look like the perfect family. People are envious and you know it. Finally you aren’t the weird one anymore. You have another baby, a perfect little girl. Life couldn’t get any better. On the outside. He loses his job shortly after the baby is born. His alcohol use increases to a gallon of vodka a day. You continue on with your perfect life, always smiling, being a good mom, a good wife, never telling a soul what went on behind closed doors. Catering to his every need, never making him mad on purpose knowing what the consequences would be, but you would take the beatings when needed, you made him mad, you deserved it, it was your fault. Besides he could be so nice to you. Buying you gifts, making you laugh, you know how to take the good with the bad, you have been doing that since you were little. This was no different you tell yourself. Then one day it happened. A beating you couldn’t hide. It showed all over your body, it was obvious what had happened. People found out. You tried to cover for him and hide it, but you couldn’t. Your world came crashing down. Everything you had worked for, every beating you had taken was for nothing.

You are forced to leave him now, everyone knows. Family, friends, the authorities. You lose your dream home, your cars, your business, everything you ever dreamed of goes up in flames. You are once again, the weird one, and its all your fault, your doing. You leave him, and he follows. You hide in safe houses, you leave the state, he finds you. You spend 14 months living in total fear, it is the worst 14 months of your life. You try and take your own life, you feel you deserve to die. You have restraining orders, no contact orders on him. You take every action to keep you and your children safe. He comes at you one last time, he finally goes to jail. He spends one night in jail and when he gets out you spend many more sleepless nights worrying he will come again for you. He never does, but you still always worry if he will. You will spend the following 2 years healing and getting stronger. You will endure hours and hours of intense therapy. You will be diagnosed with battered woman syndrome and PTSD. You will have flashbacks and nightmares, trust issues. You will worry about your children every second and live with guilt everyday for what they have went through. You will make it your life mission to make sure your daughter never goes down the path you went down and that your son becomes a better man than his father. You will know that because you chose to have children with this man that he will forever be a part of your life. You will cry everyday. You know you have a long road ahead of you. AND THEN you will start to become stronger. You will start to heal. You will cry less often. You will start to believe you are pretty. You will start to believe you are smart. You will start to believe in yourself. You will find courage and strength you never knew you had. You will embrace your weirdness and be proud of who you are. You will find true love. You will rebuild your life. You will find yourself alone for the first time in 37 years and realize you have never been happier. THIS you deserve.