Mandi over at AmandaMiddleton.me originally asked me to write my story for her blog…………
This has happened my entire adult life. When people get to know my story, they are astonished. I often hear, “But you are so normal and have it all together!” My response is always a chuckle. My very birth was a struggle, as I am told. I was an overcomer even before I took a breath from this world. As I grew up, my challenges never stopped. I would often hide in my room with my nose stuck in a book. It took me far from this place of pain and struggle. I think that’s why I love mysteries and thrillers so much. My folks are emotionally distant people. My world was not full of hugs and kisses. This is a rough path for a girl who feels deeply.
When I was around 11 (it just hit me, that is the age of my oldest!), my world shattered. The preceeding few years I was being sexually abused by a close family memember (not my dad). One of the other girls had come forward. My parents spent their time helping this family memember and all I got was a book and one court ordered session of counseling. There is so much more detail to that story that would just break your heart, but to respect all parties’ privacy, I don’t want to post it online. This experience set the tone for every moment of my life for the next 15 years until God intervened with a very compassionate therapist.
Upon entering high school, the voices began to speak to me, deep deep depression overcame me. I told God that if this is what Christians were like, I wanted nothing to do with Him. I was done. During my high school years, I became a workaholic smoker who was very bitter, and resorted to cutting. I attempted suicide twice. It was this second time that literally brought me to my knees. I audibly heard God’s voice, it was much different than the other voices I had been hearing. It said, “Shannon, you will be o.k.” I fell to my knees and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t lift the next handful of pills to my mouth. There was a physical force holding my hand down. I knew God saved me that night. When my parents had learned about my cutting from my youth pastor, they did nothing (yup, not even a hug or “I love you”), so I kept this experience hidden in my heart for many years. Any surprise I have trust issues? haha
Once I was done with high school, I was all kinds of messed up. I never applied for college because I didn’t think I would live long enough to go. Instead I became a pothead and borderline alcoholic. Thankfully, because of my mother always expecting the best, I had great work ethic and could hold down a good job. This was my life for about 5 years. Then I realized how messed up I was, but had no idea where to start the healing.
I began to devour self help books (this was before the internet) and cautiously went back to church. Then, I got pregnant. God knew this was the only way I would leave the abusive relationship I had been caught up in. This kid saved my life. When he was six months old, I got married to the most amazing guy (2 months and 4 days from our first “date”). We went on to have 2 more kids. It was this third kid that landed me in therapy. I had severe postpartum depression.
Through those 2 1/2 years of therapy, it was mind blowing to see how God healed my soul. People even commented how my demeanor completely changed. Looking back I began to see how God had always been there, weaved into the fabric of my being. He did not just walk beside me, He had been carrying me. This world is evil, we are messed up humans, yet God is so good! Other people had made poor choices that seriously affected my life, God has given us free will. Yet, He never gave up on this trapped little girl.
I hold no grudge. I hold no bitterness, hurt yes, bitterness no. I know we are all mess up people with issues. We all make poor choices we wish we could take back. That is their pain and guilt they must over come. It is not mine!
I have come to love life (every birthday I privately celebrate the number of years since that horrid night I almost died) and embrace my past. It is what has made me the resilant, strong woman I am today. The woman my 2 girls can look up to. The type of woman my 2 boys can aspire to marry someday. The woman my husband can be proud of. The woman that can hold her head high knowing she was created for greatness by a Maker who doesn’t make mistakes.