Originally posted November 2016
I come from a very unhealthy and dysfunctional family that consisted of verbal, physical and sexual abuse. My father was a very mean and dark man. I learned at a very early age that if a man doesn’t hit you on a regular basis, then he doesn’t truly love you. My poor mother endured beatings, at least once a month, from the time I can remember until the day prior to my father’s death. Sexual abuse started on my fifth birthday and continued through my young teenage years.
I married young just to escape the hell I was living in at home. I chose to marry a man just like my father. After that marriage failed due to infidelity, I thought I learned my lesson and would choose a healthier life for myself and my young daughter. After divorcing, I was forced to move back into my childhood home with my parents. The abuse began again but now it was more verbal. I lived in fear that my father would hurt my daughter and I made it my goal to find a man to rescue me as quick as possible. Within three months, I was introduced to my second husband. He seemed too good to be true… a man with a house, a good job and dogs… all he ever wanted was to be a husband and father.
I married young just to escape the hell I was living in at home. I chose to marry a man just like my father. After that marriage failed due to infidelity, I thought I learned my lesson and would choose a healthier life for myself and my young daughter. After divorcing, I was forced to move back into my childhood home with my parents. The abuse began again but now it was more verbal. I lived in fear that my father would hurt my daughter and I made it my goal to find a man to rescue me as quick as possible. Within three months, I was introduced to my second husband. He seemed too good to be true… a man with a house, a good job and dogs… all he ever wanted was to be a husband and father. After only six weeks of knowing each other we moved in together, got married had my son. This wonderful fairytale we had created did not last long. The verbal abuse began, and the physical and sexual abuse followed. I went from being a perfect loving and caring stay at home wife and mom to reliving my childhood nightmares.
At the age of 25, I came to know Christ as my personal Savior due to a near death experience. I have not always walked a Christian life. I have failed and faltered many times. After the death of my fiancé, I felt a tremendous amount of anger toward God. I left working for my church to go work in the adult entertainment industry. I figured why not go into a lifestyle that paid the bills and allowed me to drink to numb my pain? This was the beginning of my addiction. I struggled with depression and anxiety for many years, but working at a strip club added an intense amount of stress to my life. I had to be drunk to cope with my surroundings. God pulled me out of this lifestyle very quickly with an amazing testimony of his unfailing love. I was offered a job as a bookkeeper that was owned by a good friend’s parents. I clearly saw God asking me to trust Him.
After that, I was doing fairly well with life, for a few years at least. I began dating again which led me to drinking, which also led me to not making wise decisions. I became pregnant at age 35 on a blind date. I was devastated as I already have two children with two husbands. I was finally beginning to get my life on track, was involved with a church again, as well as healing from the loss of my fiancé… then this. I didn’t know what to do, so I turned to a dear friend for advice. She asked me to consider adoption. The Lord provided the most amazing, godly couple for my birth daughter.
Although this was a beautiful experience and the best option, there was also a hole in my heart. I suffered from deep depression, suicide attempts and the feeling of worthlessness. I tried to seek God, but my childhood past began to haunt me in ways I did not know were possible. After many years of changing jobs, feelings of inadequacy, fighting just to get out of bed and struggling to survive, I made a horrible decision to go back into the adult entertainment industry.
This time was worse than the first. I began using drugs to numb the pain. The more I sold myself, the more drugs I had to use. The more numb I became, the more suicide attempts, which turned into more guilt and shame which turned to more drugs, more selling myself, more self-harming, etc. It was a never-ending cycle of destruction for four years. I didn’t know which way was up or down. I lost my home, my cats, most all of my belongings and became homeless. This cycle left me completely hopeless. After many months of failing and going back to drugs, I felt this burning inside me that was unexplainable. I talked to a friend and he offered me a part time job in my home town in Pennsylvania. On November 16, 2014 I took a huge leap of faith. I checked out of the motel I was working out of, packed up as much as I could, said my goodbyes to what few friends I had and headed to Pennsylvania. I stopped at a gas station to throw away the drugs I had and laid down my life before Christ, begging him to forgive me for all I had done. I felt this was my last attempt at true salvation and happiness.
My road to recovery was not a smooth ride. After a mental breakdown and a stay at a mental hospital, I was not able to work for my friend nor return to the recovery house I was living in Pennsylvania. I found myself homeless again in the middle of winter and ended up at a recovery house in northeast Philadelphia, one of the worse parts of town. Not even two days after I arrived, two women came to the door with donations of clothing and food. They introduced themselves and began talking with me and invited me to church. That next Sunday, I walked into church for the first time in MANY years. I sat next to Jodi, one of the ladies that invited me, and as soon as worship music began, I lost it. I felt like 48 years of hurt and pain just rolled out of me. She held me tight and promised that God WILL heal me! I eventually moved in with the Assistant Pastor Bill, and his wife Julia along with their beautiful daughters. Jodi’s husband Dan is the lead pastor of Grace City Church of Wissinoming. Between the four of them we spent many nights talking, crying, praying and really beginning the process to healing and recovery.
When it came close to nine months of sobriety, I became selfish. I really missed Arizona weather. I am not a city girl and was tired of the dark depression I continued to feel. Before leaving I did some research to find a Sovereign Grace church like the one I was attending and learned there was a church in Gilbert. I also saw on their website the information on the recovery program Hope For Addiction. I did some research and knew this is where God wanted me to be.
I returned to Arizona and moved into a recovery house. The next night, I ran into a gal at the sober living house meeting that was wearing a Hope For Addiction t-shirt! We talked and I attended the Hope For Addiction meeting following night with Michelle. I met Liz Beck that Thursday night and then again on Sunday morning as she was waiting in the entrance of the church. Oh, my, the only time I’ve felt as much love walking into a church was when I walked into Grace City Church of Wissinoming. I was loved for who I was. I was shown true unconditional love, grace and forgiveness. I was ministered to in so many ways that words cannot even begin to express my gratitude.
So, life is perfect, right? Of course, NOT… It took a lot longer to find a job than expected, I ran out of money, had to leave a bad living environment and wasn’t even sure where I would lay my head… but I continued to persevere, I would not give up. God never left me even in the mist of severe depression and even suicidal thoughts. I had planned on ending my life the weekend that the girls from Hope For Addiction were going to be out of town at a church women’s retreat. Yet again, God had better plans. At the last minute, I was invited to attend the retreat where God ministered to me. Our speaker, Sheree Phillips prayed with me, loved me and reminded me that God could set me free from the hurts and choices of my past and that I had reasons to live.
I began and have continued in biblical counseling. I am learning how to trust God and work through my past. I’ve been blessed to be taught about biblical reconciliation and how this process brings true healing. I have been through several secular recovery programs, but this new healing only comes through the cross and my personal relationship with God. I learned that its not about forgiving myself, but allowing God’s forgiveness to cleanse me. This knowledge, along with humility, allows me to seek forgiveness from those I’ve hurt. This truth continues to help me release the shame of those who have hurt me and the shame of my past. I can now trust God with ALL my heart and ALL my soul.
I am not who I was two years ago. I will never be the same, because God has changed and cleansed me. I do not need to pay the price of my sins as Jesus did that for me on the cross. I do not have to be who I was. That person is gone and I’ve been washed as white as snow. When I struggle with negative suicidal thoughts, I now know to replace them with truth and the gospel. I have amazing care from my brothers and sisters in Christ through Hope For Addiction and the church. In the secular world of recovery, we had tons of phone numbers to call “if” we were tempted to use. Now, I have the whole body of Christ, two church families and my amazing “sober ladies” in Hope For Addiction that I can reach out to any time of the day or night, not just when I am tempted to use. I am not alone, I never will be alone, I am loved and I am a precious child in God’s eyes. Jeremiah 29:11 was hand painted on a storage box from a dear friend a long time ago. I can finally say that I believe every word of it… “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
I used to question God about my life. Now I rejoice and thank God for allowing me to walk the life I did. He has taught me that I am a living testimony, that because of Christ, His love and His grace, He has made something beautiful.
I look forward to the next chapter of my life here on earth. I know that there will be many more trials and tribulations, but God continues to grow and equip me and provide godly people to walk life with me. I’m never alone!
A year ago, I wanted to die, but because of Christ, I want to live and proclaim the deeds of the Lord!
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