A Piece of My Story

I grew up in a very difficult environment as I have mentioned before. I had to grow up fast, and a lot of times my role was reversed with my mom. I cared for my mom more than she was caring for me most of the time. I didn’t have the parental figure I needed to give me guidance, direction, or protection. My life started going down a bad path. When I was 13 I was raped while my mom was off in a drunken stupor. I didn’t tell anyone because I felt like it was my fault. To numb the pain I was feeling and to escape the reality of my life I began drinking. I started to follow the same path my mom was on.

When I was 15 I met a boy that would become my husband. He was an inactive member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but his parents weren’t. They dropped little seeds about the church each time I saw them, and they gave me my first Book of Mormon! I didn’t know anything about Mormons, and the book seemed like a foreign object. I tried to read it, and it seemed good in theory, but I was skeptical.

At 16 I was pregnant. Some of the adults in my life thought I should give my baby up for adoption, but I felt differently. I thought I could change my life around and raise my son. I had my first born in October, I was married in December, and I was baptized into the LDS church in January! It was like a door was opened for me to what was missing from my life. I finally had knowledge about my Father in Heaven and the love of a Savior that helped change my life around. I felt like I was in a place where I felt welcomed, and I cold feel the love of god surrounding me. A place where I didn’t need drugs or alcohol to numb the pain I felt because I had the Atonement of Christ to comfort me. A place where I could feel forgiven and loved.

Things weren’t always easy though. Financial struggles, marital struggles, and trying to raise a family-that was hard because I didn’t have a good example of what growing up. I didn’t know what a stable home was like, but I tried my best and asked for help when I needed it. I had 5 more kids, for a total of 6 wonderful kiddos! Then my husband started struggling, he left in 2013 after 12 years of marriage. So I had 6 kids and I felt utterly alone and hopeless at times. My faith, and continuous reassurances from Heavenly Father, carried me through some really rough day. As I look back on some of those days I know I couldn’t have gotten through them without the tender mercies of God. September of 2015 I remarried a wonderful man that has brought so much love and happiness in my life. Heavenly Father allowed me to be the one to introduce him to the church, and it has made a huge difference in his life as well.

There certainly have been plenty of tumultuous times in my life. I have asked why more times than I can count, but then I stopped doing that. I started asking “what am I to learn from all of these difficult times?” That has made a huge difference in my life. I have also been more concerned with using these tough times to help others. There were many wonderful people that have been a godsend in my life when I needed them. I hope to be there for others in the same way. Using our past to help others makes dealing with those things a lot easier.

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Learning

Learning
… that seems like a big word. I feel like we are always learning in one way or another.

One thing I have been working on learning is how to accept my insecurities and how to love myself. I have many insecurities, and many ways in which I feel like I am not enough. It is a crummy way to feel all the time, but it is how I feel. I think this mostly comes from my childhood, well my adulthood too (that is a long story for another day!). I didn’t feel like I was enough for my mom to motivate her to stop drinking. Of course as an adult I know that her problem was bigger than that and it wasn’t my fault that she was the way she was. I didn’t feel like I was enough for anyone in my family either. I felt like an outcast, and like I must not have been good enough for them to rescue me from the living situation I was in. Again, as I have learned sometimes problems are bigger than the solutions.

Over the last few years I have been working on learning acceptance for the situations I was in as a child. I have also been trying to learn to forgive my past, and to love myself-flaws and all. It’s a foreign subject for me understand. I have spent more time thinking it was all my fault, that I deserved the bad things that have happened in my life, and that I am not enough for anyone. Now I am learning to change my thinking and to choose to not believe these things about myself, because there is a good possibility these things aren’t true. Even though I do have these insecurities and some flaws, I am trying to do and be better. I am enough, and there are many people that do love me in spite of all the things I feel are wrong with me. As time goes on I hope to not only learn this all for myself, but to help others learn this as well.

Proof

There is a song that I absolutely love, OK I’ll be honest there are a lot of songs I love (I love music, it’s an escape for me). Anyway this song I love, it’s called “Living Proof” by Hilary Weeks. This song about how we are living proof of God’s love for us, and that pretty much sums up my life I feel. I think about the things that happened to me as I was growing up and how close I came, more than a few times, to being in an even worse situation. I think about how there is no other way that I could have been spared from these terrible things than by something bigger than me watching out for me.

My mom was not only an alcoholic, and a drug addict; she was also promiscuous. There were numerous men coming in and out of our apartment many, many nights. I have learned, as I have gotten older, that this is a common thing that happens with alcoholics. Of course when I was much younger I didn’t know better, or think anything of it. When I was about 12 I started to lock my door at night because it was in the back of my mind “what if these strange men came into my room”… That thought sacred me a bit. I would hear these men walking around my house late at night and I would lie awake waiting for them to go back to bed so I could sleep in peace. Getting any kind of attention from these men was awful, I hated it. Sometimes they would buy me things to get into the good graces of my mom. As an adult now I think of how these grown men could have done anything to me when I was a young girl. I think about how I wouldn’t have been able to fight them off, and my mom was usually passed out in the other room.

I know now that there was One that protected me and didn’t let even worse things happen to me. I am so eternally grateful for that. I know that I truly am living proof of God’s love for me. I know He protected me from other things happening to me. I feel sometimes that while bad things happen in our lives, we don’t know all the things that we are kept safe from. It can be hard to not wallow in self-pity and lament, “Wo is me”, but really we might be protected and watched over from more than we know. Although there were bad times that I had to walk through, most of them on my own, I am grateful that I had Heavenly Father watching out for me.

More of TOFW

I said I would so now I am, here is more of my experience at TOFW (Time Out For Women). I am still on cloud nine from the whole experience a little. Friday, otherwise known as the first day of the event, I received an email from someone I know telling me the director of TOFW was looking for me — ME!

Side note: I had submitted my story to the women in charge of TOFW to be shared as a local story at their event in Cincinnati. They picked me out of a lot of other women that submitted their story.

Back to the story, the director asked everyone to pray that they could find me because they felt my story was the one that was needed to share at this event. She then made a plea on Facebook asking if anyone knew how to get in contact with me. After my friend contacted me to let me know they were looking for me I emailed her back right away. She asked if I  could speak THE NEXT DAY (we are talking less than 24 hours from the time I said yes)! I said I would do it, with much enthusiasm. The drive down to Cincinnati was filled with excitement, tears of gratitude, nervousness, and happiness. My talk wasn’t completely ready Friday evening, so I stayed up way too late to get prepared.

The next day, Saturday, I was up bright and early to meet the presenters and we had a private breakfast. I waited for my time on stage with a nervous/excited feeling in my stomach. Everyone was so nice throughout the whole process, loving and welcoming. I gave my 10 minute talk , received a mini standing ovation, and it was simply amazing. During the lunch break I was invited to a private lunch with all the TOFW people. I had the chance to sit down with the other presenters and get to know them a little better. I am grateful that I had the chance to meet all these wonderful people.

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Meeting David Archuleta!

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On the big screen, never thought that would be a thing!

After lunch I went to the main area of the event and I could barely take 5 steps without someone stopping me. They thanked me for having the courage to share my story. They thanked me for giving them hope. One lady even wanted a picture with me! It was spectacular to have the chance to help so many people. To touch so many others lives and to share a small piece of my story with them. I feel honored to know that Heavenly Father trusted me with this wonderful opportunity. I wonder how many of us could possibly help another with our story…

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Gentri! A great group of gentlemen.

Hard Days

I read a quote recently by Henry B. Eyring:

“Hard as things seem today, they will be better in the next day if you choose to serve the Lord this day with your whole heart.”

After reading this I had a few thoughts…

  1. Why do so many days seem so “hard”? After I got over my little moment of self-pity I thought,
  2. What a wonderful promise. If we serve the Lord with our whole heart the next day will be better. Okay so this doesn’t say perfect or fixed, just things will be better. (Why can’t it say perfect?!)
  3. I think things get better because we are choosing to focus on the One that truly can make things better.

While I do not know the reason for the trials we face all the time, i.e. hardly ever!, I do know things can be better when we follow our Heavenly Father. What are some ways this has been true in your life? Have you had this reassurance present itself when things are difficult in your life?

Dark Clouds in Life

Okay let’s get to it, but first I want to clarify a few things. First off I do not think I have lived the worst life, it was bad for me. Second, I know others have had it much worse than I. Lastly I only want to share more of my story to offer hope and healing for others. I would like others to know they aren’t alone in their pain and suffering. It’s also important to me that we share more of who we are and where we come from. It offers a chance to have more compassion and charity towards others.

My mom was an alcoholic from the time I was young, pretty much as far back as I can remember. When I was about 6 or 7 my mom broke her ankle-this started her love and addiction to pain killers. When you’re living with an addict and you’re  young you don’t know that A) this isn’t how everyone else lives and B) just how bad things are. About the time I turned 9 the D.A.R.E. program came to my school. I started to figure out that maybe not all other kids lived similarly  to me. Not all kids had their birthday parties ruined by an intoxicated mother. Not all kids were woken up on Saturday mornings to clean up after their parents night of partying from the previous day. While these experiences were difficult to endure, they really did make me stronger. A lot of life is learning to move onward and upward despite difficulties. Have you found this to be true in your own life?

Fears and Memories

I feel that if  we shared our stories that we would have more compassion towards others. We might be able to see ourselves a little more in others. Here is a small piece of my story… I never knew what it was like to live with both of my parents. I of course don’t remember much before the age of about 5, but there are a few things I remember. I loved eating watermelon with my dad on the front porch on hot summer days. I remember running up a hill and falling flat on my face, I knocked out my front tooth. I remember the exact moment I became afraid of spiders. I was at the bar with my mom, a regular occurrence due to her being an alcoholic (but that’s a story for another day). The movie that was on at the bar was Arachnophobia. I don’t know why it was playing, but it stayed ingrained in my memory. Nightmares became the norm for my nights from then on out.I never did get over my fear of spiders.

Isn’t it interesting how some things like that stay with us much longer than we would like? Seems it would be nice to have happy things around us all the time, then maybe only those good things would stick with us. Life doesn’t work like that though most of the time, but it’s not all bad. We can learn from those experiences, and it also allows us the opportunity to grow. I think the only thing that came about from my fear of spiders is the chance my boys have to scare me with said spiders (it’s rotten I tell ya)! I wish things like this wouldn’t have stayed with me for oh all of my life so far, but it has. It doesn’t paralyze me with fear or anything, and if I dug deep I could probably figure out some psychological reason for all of this, but I most likely won’t go that far!

The reason for sharing this story is as reminder that I know things happen in life, and sometimes they stay with us. I think Heavenly Father wants us to have happy thoughts stay with us for the most part, but the not so pleasant things have a purpose as well. They offer us a chance for growth and make us stronger, even if we don’t see things for the bigger picture. Here’s to happy thoughts and sweet dreams! Are there some memories that stand out for you?

Life Goes On…Onward and Upward

Recently I had an amazing experience. I was asked to be a guest speaker at a little event (of about 1,500-1,600 people!) called Time Out For Women. I learned a lot about myself. I was nervous, excited, humbled, and a little intimidated by the other speakers and artists. The most important thing I learned is that Heavenly Father believes in me. Not that I necessarily thought otherwise, but it was retold to me with more emphasis, or maybe I was just hearing it a little more clearly. I learned there are a lot of hurting hearts and spirits. I also learned that there are a lot of hearts that yearn to have hope and healing. That’s my goal, or purpose, with this blog. I want to be a resource that offers hope and healing to those hurting hearts. I’ve dealt with many trials, setbacks, and broken hearts. My hope is that Heavenly Father can help me use these bad experiences for good-to help others. I don’t claim to be the be all end all on the subject, or to have all the answers… I don’t! If I can offer help, support, inspiration, or hope to even one person, then that’s one person helped. I intend to share more of my experience at TOFW for those interested in hearing more. I believe we all have a story to share. The more we share with one another, the more opportunity we have to bear on another’s burdens, and rejoice in each others victories. Having said that, please feel free to share something good that has happened to you recently!