Sometimes in life we go through things that are meant to break us. For some it does just that. Our world crumbles right in front of our eyes and we are frozen in our tracks, unable to do a thing to stop it. For some it is like we wake up one day, for the life of us unable to figure out how we got where we are.
It doesn’t really matter how darkness found us. Many of us have different stories of how it is we got there. The important thing, the most crucial thing, is finding the will, the strength, the faith within ourselves, to find our way out.
The story your about to read is mine. It is a little lengthy but worth the read. I have carried it for many years. I knew one day I would share my story in hopes it would help some other soul, lost and alone, someone who sees no end to the madness, to know that it is possible to find a way out of the darkness and then to use their story to shed light for others to follow and find their way out as well.
I lived this darkness, it consumed me, it ruled me, it controlled me. It sucked the life out of me, like a black hole. I was molested by a family member as a young girl. As if that wasn’t devastating enough. I was treated as an outcast, as if I was dirty and promiscuous. I was called a liar by many of my own family members, I once thought loved me, I was thrown away like one of those ugly sweaters given at Christmas time. No one wanted to believe it was true. I was asked to just keep quiet and move on like it never happened. I was even told it wasn’t a big deal it was ONLY touching. Little did they know, he crawled in my bed, he pinned me down on a couch, he was warning me. I found condoms on the stairs leading upstairs from my room one morning, I knew what was coming. I wasn’t staying for that, I told.
My life spiraled out of control. I was broken, I was in disbelief, I was angry. We are taught as young children to tell, not to keep it a secret. Telling is not as easy as just saying the words. I felt worthless, I felt abandoned by those I loved. Not only was I violated by the one who molested me, but I was violated all over again by all those who turned their back on me for telling. They left me alone, in the darkness.
I wondered around in a world of darkness filled with anger, hate, sadness, hopelessness. I trusted no one, not even the few loved ones I had left standing by me. I lashed out at everyone and everything. It was like falling into a bottomless pit. The nightmares added to my darkness, fear to close my eyes at night, sleep escaped me many of nights. I didn’t understand the anger or why I couldn’t control it. It was so powerful.
The more I tried to find an explanation for WHY? , the further I spiraled into darkness. I made bad choices. I pushed everything and everyone I cared about in my life away for a long time. A time came that I went searching for someone, someone who didn’t know me or my past to fill the void I now carried, as if it were a scarlet letter worn upon my chest. I did things, went places I had no business being at my age. I no longer cared what happened to me, I thought I could handle anything now. I was going on 13 at this point. I lived in Milwaukee, a big city with some very dark places of it’s own. I was not afraid, I mean how could it get any worse right? I didn’t want to feel anything.
I couldn’t imagine it possibly getting worse, but then it did. I was in high school now, a freshman, I was invited to a party of upper class-man. My friend was older but she liked me because she said I was so mature for my age. I found myself at this party, just hanging out feeling like I was one of them. Quickly, I found out otherwise. A senior showed interest in me. He talked to me, made me laugh, said all the right things. Given what I had been through, it felt good. I felt like someone liked me for me, he had no idea what I had been through so there must be something about me that was worthy of his attention I told myself. What a foolish girl I was. Before I knew it when a few of the others had went out on another beer run, others were in a different part of the house, passed out or making out, he made his move. He started kissing me and before I knew it he had me pinned down, his elbows on my arms and his hand over my mouth so I couldn’t scream. His weight on top of me was heavy, he was strong. I remember the hot tears streaming down my face. I remember trying to scream but nothing came out with his hand pressed over my mouth, it was enough to try to breath underneath the tears and runny nose. I remember wishing I was dead right there in that moment. How could this be happening? When it was over, he threatened me. He told me to go clean myself up. He put fear into me like I had never felt it before. He told me he would tell everyone I was a tease and that I asked for it. He told me he’d make sure no one believed me. Given what I had already been through, I couldn’t go through the embarrassment, the judgement, the hurt all over again. I remained silent. I started running away. I ran and ran trying to outrun the darkness. There was no place to go. The darkness and emptiness devoured me. I was lost. I had no self worth. I grabbed on to any short moment of gratification, any moment of feeling the tiniest bit loved or accepted and it didn’t matter from who. No one understood my reality of doom. I ran time and time again.
I was unwillingly and reluctantly put into therapy. I was a part of inpatient and outpatient. I wasn’t dealing with the events that happened to me well and it was thought that therapy was my only hope to correct the path of self destruction I was creating. I was so angry with my mother for making me go. She and my step dad got the most of my hatefulness and anger. I didn’t want to speak to anyone. In fact, I remember staring at the counselor with such intensity I imagined them spontaneously com-busting right before my eyes. HOW DARE they, or anyone else, think they understood. They sat there telling me how to feel and how to deal with my experience. Had they just experienced what I went through NO! How could they possibly know what it felt like to me right then? I was so full of rage. I continued to run yet again. The darkness became even darker.
I found myself searching for attention, what I thought was love. I attached myself to others going through therapy, thinking they understood because they were there too. At times I was allowed to return home, I disobeyed my mom and stepdads rules, I treated them horribly. I would sneak boys into my window. I left the house whenever I decided I wanted to, walked wherever I wanted, spent time with whomever I wanted. I ran away from group homes with other girls in trouble, at one point a girl I ran with stole a purse, I was arrested with her because, I was with her, not when she stole the purse initially, I didn’t know she was going to steal it at the moment she did, but when she was caught I was with her, therefore I was guilty too.
At one point I began wandering the streets with someone I ran from inpatient therapy with. I spent a few weeks on the streets in the”hood” of Milwaukee. It was said, the cops hesitated to respond to some of these areas. I had no idea just how unsafe I was, I couldn’t have cared less. I was a train wreck, heading straight for hell. I spent this time with strangers, I knew nothing about them. By day, we hustled for money on the streets to eat, for bills to get paid. By night, More people came over from the neighborhood. I was being filled with alcohol until I could barely stand up. The men in the house were always smoking in a group and drinking, there was fighting. The people I was staying with promised me I could stay there with them, they’d take care of me, they told me they’d be my family. The woman of the house did her best to keep me safe from harm from the men that came over, she tried to be kind to me given I was a strange, naive white girl off the streets. I helped put their young, blind child on the bus everyday in exchange for staying there. They told me that if I told them where I lived, they would go and get my things for me so I wasn’t left with nothing. However, they said they needed something to make it worth the risk. I told them where I lived and drew them a map of my house, I included areas where I knew they could find valuable items to take for their trouble. They robbed my parents house, of course none of my clothes or things that were promised were gotten. I was so naive. I was oblivious to the evil of people with bad intentions. Little did I know I was in company of one of Milwaukee’s gangs and I was being groomed, to be initiated into the gang. I was manipulated and had no clue what I had gotten myself in to. Thanks only to God, he intervened and I was found by police before I was raped again or beaten or even killed. This was a whole different kind of world.
I was arrested as a minor and taken to juvenile detention. I deserved this given all I had put my parents through, naive and clueless or not. For the life of me though, I do not understand why juvenile delinquents are okay with being frequent flyers, eventually graduating to jail and prison. It is not a pleasant place. It is a depressing, violent, hopeless place. I had hit rock bottom. I knew I didn’t want to continue this path but had NO IDEA how to get out of the bottomless pit, the black hole, that had me hostage, as a way of life. I had hurt the only family that loved me through this, even being that I was at my worst. I still didn’t think of them. I was sitting in children’s jail and they were about to take custody of me to protect me from myself and my parents from all they had endured from me already. Low and behold my father showed up to my court date. He and his lawyer told me if I wrote a letter saying I lied they would get me out. I wrote a letter stating that I lied thinking naively that if I didn’t specify the details as they wanted them to read then I was still standing up for myself. Again how manipulated I was and naive. As I returned back to the home of my father I justified going to back to protect other children from him. I deemed myself strong enough to stand up to him. For you all wondering yes he tried again. He told me that he needed to check me for breast cancer. I wasn’t quite so stupid by this time. I was 15 almost 16 now I had a boyfriend and we installed a lock on my door. Soon after I stood up to his advances and bullying and we had an altercation and I left for good. I found a roommate and left home at 16 a few months before turning 17. The police said because I was so close to being an adult they could pick me up but I could walk right back out the door again. I would have too. I was leaving and not ever looking back. All I could manage was trying to navigate the overwhelming emotions that seemed to control me.
I finally said “ENOUGH” understand this didn’t end my darkness, but I knew I would never allow myself to be in that kind of situation ever again. It wasn’t the end of my darkness but it was, a slow process of inching my way out, to something better for myself. I wasn’t okay inside, but I wasn’t going to let anyone else know it. I carried such hate, such anger and resentment. Still I pushed away those few that showed me love. It wasn’t about them. It was about what happened to me, it was about what I had lost. It was about all the ones who turned their back on me. I was a young child, I didn’t understand why. It weighed me down for years. Forgiveness, well that wasn’t even on my radar. I found out years later I wasn’t the first one he molested and I wasn’t the last one. Forgive, I don’ think so. I was going to take care of me.
I went through the motion of life, as if I was on auto pilot, with a huge chip on my shoulder at that. I was the only one I trusted, I wasn’t letting anyone think they knew better or could tell me what to do. How could they possibly know or understand? How could they possibly think they could help? I had been alone and surviving all this time on my own. I chose bad relationships with dysfunctional people carrying their own baggage, clearly I had enough for both of us. I was doing better, however my choices were still a product of not sorting through and dealing with the devastation and hurt and disappointment I had experienced from the very beginning. I only chose to date older men, in hopes that history wouldn’t repeat itself. I buried the person I truly was before being violated and broken, deep deep down and I didn’t think I would ever see signs of her again.
I was mad at God. I decided I couldn’t believe in a God that would let this happen to me. A God that would allow a father to do this to his child, he was responsible to protect and love me, why didn’t he? I decided I was going to make my way through life on my own. I was going to pick up the pieces and survive my story, on my own, my way. I continued through life. I married a much older man. He was eleven years older than me. We had three beautiful children. Not all of these years were bad, but they were not healthy either. I settled, I accepted less than I deserved and even worse less than what my children deserved. I hung on for dear life, spending countless years in a marriage of dysfunction. Trying to convince myself if I loved him enough he’d want to change. Never did I admit to myself until recently, I did not help to make that marriage successful, nor could I, because I wasn’t where I needed to be. I was young, my only real experience was just surviving at that point. We were two people doing the same thing, surviving the only way we knew how. The problem was his way was completely different than mine. I was taught by my parents and by life, to take care of myself and my responsibilities. He was always taken care of, by his. There was no helping yourself in that situation. I was trying to control every part of my life, and it’s outcome on my own. This life experience made me tough, but also made me bitter, selfish and cold.
Throughout the years, darkness still creeped in. Nightmares came and went. Bad choices made, time after time. We got divorced, I remarried for all the wrong reasons, thinking it was right. I made choices that hurt people I loved. Chose friendships that did not have my best interest at heart. Hurt those I called my friends. I listened to no one who tried to warn me. I felt hopeless, No matter what I did, how hard I tried, life never got better.I had somehow made it through school and became a nurse. Still, my life was not what I knew I wanted it to be, what it was suppose to be. I was back shacked up with my first ex, still believing I could fix it all. I was negative and shallow, so selfish without even recognizing it. I saw everything with a heart filled with hopelessness, sorrow, and anger. I realized many many years in, “Misery loves Company”. I made a choice to start seeing things differently. Day by day, I slowly started to try to see things positively. I decided no matter how bad my day became I would just choose to see something positive. If I couldn’t see a positive, I was going to BE the positive. My life slowly began to change.
Doors were opening. People were seeing me differently. I began gaining respect of coworkers and my managers. My career was at an all time high. I was focusing on making me, better. I found meaningful friendships in the most unpredictable places. Still, personally I felt empty. I remember coming home from work one day, double shift after double shift that week feeling defeated, exhausted and miserable. I laid across my bed sobbing. I surrendered. I asked God to forgive me for denying him. I asked him to help me see his will for me. I confessed I could no longer try to live this life controlling it on my own, I needed him to come into my life and show me the way. I asked him to please take away my need to fix everyone and everything. I asked him to replace it with what he wanted for me to do or make my current situation work. I asked him to send someone special to me to help me in life, share life with. I asked him to make me a better person.
This my friends was the choice I made that I saw the first real light at the end of my tunnel. I saw a glimmer of light in the darkness that had consumed most of my life thus far. With God’s help, I had begun to climb the ladder out of the black hole. I made it a point, to be better today than yesterday and claimed to be better tomorrow than today. Doors began opening like choices a child is faced with in the world’s biggest toy store. I trusted in him. I trusted in his process. I gave it all to him and believed in his will for me. There are still times when I find darkness attempting to creep back in. When I feel this happening, I turn on a light. I take it to God. I know not everyone is a believer, I can’t change your mind on your beliefs but what I can do is share with you the work he has done in my life. I believe today, “actions speak louder than words.”
I can tell you first hand that rightfully, if I hadn’t decided to change or surrendered to all that happened to me, I would be dead, in prison or so drugged out, I wouldn’t even know my own name, given the journey I have traveled. I can tell you, that it is a choice one has to make. You can actively go through all the counseling in the world, you can have the best support system there is, BUT first, you HAVE to make the choice to WANT to change and then put forth the effort to do so. Instead of being on the streets, being a drug addict or even a criminal because I was headed in that direction. I chose to be better, I chose to be better, ONE DAY AT A TIME. I am a nurse, working my dream job. I am married to the man of my dreams, the love of my life. Thanks to God and his intervention, I now know what it means to love and be loved by a God and a man unconditionally. I have experienced what it means to be respected by a man. I am living a life with him, together as partners, as teammates with this man, we are building our forever, through good times and bad, through sickness and health and yes even those times when a bit of darkness creeps in. I have made amends with people I pushed away and relationships I had damaged. Finally I accepted those who were there all along, those that I just refused to accept at the time. I value the family I still have and cherish the time I have with them.
I am sure your wondering why I chose to put my “business out there for the world to see” well my experiences and my journey were supposed to break me. It didn’t. It made me who I am today. It made me the woman I have become today. It came with a lot of loss, a lot of shame and a lot of hard work. I truly believe our experiences are where we gain knowledge and wisdom, where we find growth. I take my journey of the past and I choose to share it, to use it to help someone else, it doesn’t have to break us, it doesn’t have to control our entire life. If my story helps one person out there that has been through this and is lost, who is carrying around hate, hurt, shame and anger, if it helps one person see there is hope, I will be glad I exposed my very personal story. If it encourages one person to tell and not stay silent, It is worth any criticisms or backlash I might face. I believe God wants me to share my story to help others. God and I, know all the many details, all the many struggles I endured in my life, that is what matters. No one’s approval is needed. Everyone has opinions, this is irrelevant to me. If I am treated differently then I will be happy to show those the door. I am not proud of who I once was. I am very proud of who I chose to become and what I chose to overcome. It’s a choice. I made the choice.
We all have our stories. It is so important we share our stories and show others that it isn’t a life sentence. Darkness fades away, there is always a choice to see the light, you just have to make the choice to find it, see it and follow it no matter how long the journey. For the loved ones of these individuals, just be there. Be there to listen, to cry with them, to talk if needed. Recognize however it is THEIR responsibility to make the choice to either let their situation break them, or let it teach them to be better. It isn’t personal to you, it’s that they can only see themselves and the hurt, anger, resentment and disappointment they have experienced. It isn’t possible for it to be different until they decide, until they face the demons and choose change. Still just, Be someone’s light! Be the Change You Wish to See in The World~ Gandhi. Help others see their best self! NEVER GIVE UP! This little light of mine, I am going to let it shine, shine bright and light the way for those still trapped in darkness. There is a way out, choose to follow it, as God to help you, Find the way out of the darkness, you won’t be sorry you did.