Do I have a story? Indeed, I do. Don’t we all?
After being in treatment for 3 years for the ongoing sexual abuse I suffered as a child and the subsequent addictions I developed as a result of that unhealed trauma, I was indicted and eventually plead guilty and was convicted of theft for the misuse of monies from the business I had founded and ran for 13 years. The addictions, the money that was misspent–none of these things were anything I had ever kept secret. I wrote about them all in my book, You Have Such a Pretty Face, a Memoir of Trauma, Hope, and the Joy that follows Survival.
I cannot go into details right now concerning my legal case because that story will be told soon on a national media outlet and I can’t discuss anything regarding it until after the show airs. What I can say is that healing isn’t easy and one of the hardest parts of being sober is going back and taking responsibility for the mistakes you made under the blur of addiction. There were many people caught in the crossfire of my pain and for that I will be forever remorseful. Having said that, healing requires I move forward.
There are people who hate me. People, especially in my hometown, who do everything they can to remind me of my mistakes and try to prevent me from having a future. There are a few people who contact every show I’m on, every event I speak at, and who email every place where a blog of mine is published, informing them of my mistakes and imploring them to take down any of my written pieces or not allow me to speak or appear. They contact the stores who sell my book, asking them to stop selling it and telling them, “she is a terrible person.”
I know exactly who these people are because the people and companies they have contacted, forwarded me their emails, messages, and voicemails. As for the companies and professionals, those people already knew my story in its entirety and supported me. The fact that I tell the ugliest parts of my life is the reason they have me on their shows in the first place. We absolutely cannot heal what we refuse to acknowledge. It remains my goal that by sharing ALL of my story, I can help others who are currently suffering. Hopefully they will find a way to begin healing and not make the same mistakes I have made.
As for the women who are doing all of these things, I have not responded to their hate; I choose to let God deal with them. Let me share some truth I have discovered with you. Religious people hate to see God use someone they believe is unqualified. The Bible is full of God using broken people. When God uses someone that everyone thought was irreparably broken, He displays His grace, power, and never-ending love. God has called me to tell my story and regardless of the people who would like to prevent that from happening, they won’t silence my voice.
Those same people want to say that sex abuse isn’t rampant. Let me give you some powerful, strong statistics. A study completed by the APA (American Psychological Association) reported that the CDC (Center for Disease Control) recently released their findings that in the United States 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by the time they turn 18. In 2017 there were 165.92 million women and 159 million men in the US. That means there are 55 million women and 26.5 million men who are survivors of sexual abuse in this country.
That’s a total of over 81 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
And we wonder why our world is a mess.
How many of those survivors do you think have dealt with their trauma appropriately? How many do you think hid and are still hiding their secret in shame—the same way I did? How many do you think tried to tell someone and weren’t believed? How many of them do you think developed PTSD as a result of that trauma? How many of those victims unknowingly self-medicate every day by drinking or eating, smoking, or doing drugs? How many of them try to buy their worth by shopping? How many of them are promiscuous and don’t even know why? How many think they have relationship problems when what they really have is unresolved issues from their childhood presenting as relationship problems? How many of them have no idea what is actually fueling the out-of-control train that continues to rage down the track of their lives?
I stand for every one of those people.
I don’t support their mistakes, but I support them. None of us are perfect and all of us have a chapter in our lives that we don’t read out loud. We all have things we aren’t proud of that we would just as soon forget. Some like to say, “I was abused and I NEVER did anything like THAT.” That’s such a judgmental statement and the truth is they don’t know what they would do. They know what they would like to think they would do equipped with their current DNA, their family of origin, and their environment growing up. They don’t have any idea what they would do if they had the other person’s DNA, all of their circumstances, and grew up surviving in the environment they grew up in.
Reality is such a game changer.
You can’t even compare those types of situations, so let’s leave the judgment behind. We are all equipped with different coping abilities and skills and yet we are so quick to point out other people’s mistakes. What makes you cry just might be a walk in the park for me. We can’t compare pain and suffering. Many times when I’m at a book signing people say to me, “my abuse wasn’t as bad as yours was, but it still hurt.” I always tell them immediately not to ever minimize their pain. We have all sat in the same house of pain. We’ve occupied different rooms perhaps, but we’ve all been in that same despair-filled house.
I spent time on Christmas Eve this year visiting and talking with the men and women incarcerated at a local jail. I shared my story with them and tried to let them know that there are people who still believe in them. There are people who believe in second chances and tomorrow is the best opportunity to begin moving forward toward something healthy and happier in their lives. I saw their eyes begin to soften as I reminded them that they are more than the mistakes they have made, that they are more than anything that was ever said or done to them, that they are worthy and they can rebuild and start over. I told them that there were still people who cared and would help them and I ended by reminding them that there wasn’t a single person in that jail who wasn’t loved by God.
Moving forward is a crucial part of healing. While there are people who want to constantly remind me of my mistakes, I have to forgive myself and move forward. If this speaks to you, then you may need to do the same. If I stay focused on my mistakes, then I stay focused on the trauma that contributed to them. I have fought hard for my healing and my peace. I have lost many things and many people I truly loved along the way. Rebuilding is hard, but I refuse to do it fueled by anger and hate. I am a happy, loving person, I’m a staunchly loyal friend, and if I love you, you will always be aware of that fact. I’m working hard on both my continued healing and righting my wrongs. I will absolutely continue to do what my God has told me to do: stand for the broken and tell my story of how He healed and restored someone the rest of the world had given up on.
If you feel that people have given up on you, please know that you are not alone. There is absolutely a way for everyone and there are infinite ways to find your own way. It doesn’t matter what your past looks like, you are worthy. Don’t believe the negative voices in your mind that tell you that you are not enough. You are special. What someone did or said to you years ago, doesn’t have to control you one day longer. You don’t have to be perfect to matter. You don’t have to hide your truth. Your scars are a sign that you have survived what tried to destroy you. You are strong. You have a story that matters. Your pain matters. It matters to me and it matters to other victims who are currently trying to survive.
Forget about the people who don’t understand. Stop trying to make them get it. There are some people who will just never get it and that’s okay, but it’s not okay for you to feel bad because they don’t comprehend what you’ve been through. Stop asking people for directions who have never been where you’re going. They can’t get you there. Sometimes people’s part in our story is over. Accept that. It doesn’t mean you didn’t love them or they didn’t love you. It just means you’re both heading somewhere different.
As we ring in the new year, remember that you matter. You’re beautiful and the world needs you….imperfections and all. Join me as I leave not only the pain and mistakes of the last decade behind me, but the pain of a childhood that I didn’t choose, and move forward into the future I am creating. It’s not just a new year. It’s a new day, a new life, a new chance, a new opportunity to get it right. Pack up all of the lessons of 2019. You want to make sure to bring those with you. God forbid you have to repeat the tests all over again.
Move forward and create the life you desire.
Happy New Year.