A life of neglect and abuse left me empty, ashamed and on the road to death, but God had another plan….
I grew up in bars. Pickled pigs feet and crackers were sometimes supper for me, and the words “just one more drink” were the words I heard the most, and wanted to hear the least. I knew that once the night was over, there would be a scary ride home in the car of intoxicated parents and then the fighting would begin. Shouting, screaming, profanity and sometimes the sound of pounded flesh were the “norm” in my life and I hated it.
My stepfather was an abuser. Emotional, physical and sexual. I was trapped in a world that offered no hope of the “normal” life I was so desperately seeking. I just wanted to be like the other kids. I longed for my mother to be involved in my life, to attend school PTA meetings and, I don’t know, just take me shopping or to a movie, but that was not what she had grown up with and didn’t know how to provide the nurturing I needed so badly. It was not her fault. She was doing the best she could with what she had to work with.
As years passed I found myself falling into the same trap. Repeating the dysfunctions I had learned and began looking to alcohol as my escape from reality. Then I took it a step further and discovered the drug scene. An altered state ofmind, albeit temporary, would help to ease the pain of feeling unloved and unwanted. It was a desperate cry for attention that ended up making my mother unwilling to deal with the troubled fourteen-year-old I had become. She sent me away to live with my aunt in Miami Beach where the downward spiral continued until I eventually overdosed on drugs in an attempt to kill myself.
Mom came and picked me up and brought me home, but not to live with her. Instead, she rented me a studio apartment for $80 a month and allowed me to put dishes, towels and other essentials on her credit card, and charged me the interest. She was now my landlord, and my creditor and to her, this was a way of teaching me responsibility so I could make it on my own. What I had hoped would be a fresh start on mending our troubled relationship, turned into another avenue to escape the reality of it all and I started shooting up heroin with dirty needles which resulted in me contracting Hepatitis C, unbeknownst to me for many, many years.
At 17, I married a man 12 years my senior, with a 7-year-old son. To me it was a dream come true, or so I thought…I was ready to settle down and be a wife and mother. After all, I had already lived on my own for 3 years and now I could have that “normal life” I had always been searching for. It was like I had an instant family. A husband, a child, people to love me and need me. What I didn’t know is that I had entered another abusive-alcoholic situation and this time, I would be lucky to escape with my life. Shattered dreams and life of hell all over again. Eleven years of being told that “you are nothing but a worthless piece of crap (said in other words), you’re fat and ugly, and you’re lucky that I would have you” had brainwashed me into knowing that it was true. It all boiled down to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a mason jar full of milk being thrown at my head, barely missing my temple, that filled me with enough courage to finally leave and overcome my fear of being alone and unloved again.
Now 28, and determined to start a new life, I found a good job, and life was starting to turn around for me, but the demons of my past would not let me be. Being single and “free” led me back down the road of partying and this time around the drug of choice was cocaine. The new man in my life was my next-door neighbor. He treated my like a queen. His words of love and adoration swept me off my feet! There were just a couple of issues that were in the way of true happiness…he was married AND he was addicted to free-basing rock cocaine. Against all odds, we overcame the addiction, moved away from the drug dealers and started a business together. We eventually married about 4 years later and one year later my miracle-baby was born and the woes of blended-family life began to take its toll on our once fairy-tale enchanted love affair.
When my son was four years old, and I, 38, my husband and I were headed for divorce, our business headed for financial bankruptcy, and, I experiencing the proverbial “nowhere to look but up.” Jesus Christ came to my rescue. You have to understand how paramount that was for me. I had been raised by an atheist. The only God I ever heard about was used in expletives. I honestly thought that the Nativity story and others like David and Goliath or Daniel in the Lions den were mere children’s stories. I always kind of felt inside that there had to be “A God,” but for the life of me, I couldn’t imagine how, if there were one, that He could allow for such tragedy to be in my life—all my life. I had no idea what was about to take place in my life as a result of receiving God’s forgiveness and inviting Jesus into my heart and, moreover, giving Him Lordship over my life. I was forever changed and the guilt and shame I had carried all my life was now replaced with knowing that there is a God who loves me, who will never leave or forsake me, who had me wrapped in His arms and would never let go. That empty space in my heart that I once tried to fill with men, alcohol and drugs was now filled with love, hope and a future.
It’s funny. When you “get saved” or whatever term you choose to call it, you have this false idea that life is now going to be a bowl of cherries and everything is going to be peachy keen. Not! I quickly learned that “faith” is an action word. You don’t just sit around and pray and believe that everything is going to just instantly get better. I’ve learned that if God allows something in your life, whatever that may be, there is a purpose and a plan for it—if you choose to allow the tragedy to become triumph and the test to become a testimony.
Fast forward…at 51 years old I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C (remember the IV drug use when I was 14?) I went through a year of complete hell as I underwent the treatment, Interferon. The side effects of the medication were debilitating. Lethargy, nausea, constant flu-like symptoms, hair loss and a total breakdown of my immune system resulting in transfusion after transfusion. The worst part is that it didn’t cure the Hep C and in October of 2010 I went down for the count.
I was admitted to a local hospital and my liver had stopped functioning all together. My kidneys were shutting down and my family and pastor were called in to say their last goodbyes…BUT GOD HAD ANOTHER PLAN! He was about to show me why all of those things had been “allowed” in my life and give me a platform from which I could share His grace, His goodness and His miraculous healing powers.
On November 10th of 2010, I received a liver transplant after waiting only ONE DAY, for that precious, life-giving organ. My kidneys began to function normally and I was able to come off of the dialysis that had been a daily part of my life. Typically, the recovery period after such a major operation is from 3-6 months from the time of surgery to the time you are back to work, driving, lifting and living a normal life, and that’s “if” your body doesn’t reject the organ and there are no complications. I was completely recovered and back to work with no restrictions by January 1, 2011!
There were so many times in my life that I should have been dead. Between the drugs, the driving drunk, the abuse and the resulting Liver failure, BUT GOD knew me before I was born. He knew I was strong enough to handle all of those life situations and that I would one day be a vessel of honor for His glory. I am a miracle and I will spend the rest of my days telling of His marvelous love to anyone and everyone who has an ear to listen. He is my rock and salvation, my ever-present help in time of need. He has shown me love and He is love. The only one who could ever fill that empty place in my heart and give me hope and a future. He is my healer and my all in all.
I don’t know what your story is, but this I do know. If you are going through even a small part of similar situations—or worse, there is hope. There is healing and there IS A GOD WHO LOVES YOU who desires to wrap YOU in His arms and give you hope and a future. My life is now dedicated to reaching out to women and young women who are fighting these demons and feel as though they are loosing the battle. If I can be of any help or an encouragement to even one hopeless woman it makes every single thing I’ve faced and overcome so worth it. I praise God now for allowing all of those things in my life. They are the stepping-stones that have shaped and molded me into the woman that I am today and today I am happy, I am healthy and I am loved.
Please take a few minutes to see for yourself how big and how mighty our God is. If you would like to contact me for prayer, for encouragement or just need someone to listen, I am here for you. This IS my life purpose.