Post submitted by Alicia of shewritesitplain.com to Speak Your Story.
All the best stories are about redemption…
Hello! My name is Alicia. I am 31 years old. Married for 8 years to the most incredibly sweet and hilarious guy (who just happens to be a pastor). Mama to three little ones: Bear, Harbor, and Mercy. Together, my hubby and I own a small business where we design and create handmade wood toys for kids…in addition to pastoring a church we’ve fallen in love with. We are busy! But we are loving life right now.
I am absolutely passionate about stories. I believe stories are THE MOST POWERFUL means of communication we have – this is why God wove a story of redemption throughout history.
My hope is that my story will encourage you and challenge you to be brave in your own healing journey.
I am the oldest of 9 kids. Raised in a conservative christian household. And, I grew up in an abusive home.
Most of my early childhood was fairly normal. There was occasional name calling, shaming, forcing soap into my mouth, making fun of me…but the summer I turned 12 things changed. I’m not sure what triggered such an abrupt change…
Over the next few years, my home life became increasingly stressful. Physical and emotional abuse were almost daily. I was called every single name you can think of, made fun of, shamed and manipulated. I was routinely told I was fat (I wasn’t), that I was lazy and slow, that no one liked me. I was told no man would ever love me or want to marry me.
I was left to care for my younger siblings for hours and hours – which I honestly didn’t mind. Because life was always less stressful without parental supervision.
When I was about 15 I discovered my mom had been drinking and doing illegal drugs. I had never been exposed to alcohol or drugs of any kind. My mom was definitely a closet alcoholic. She’d leave most nights once my Dad got home. I’d help with dinner and putting kids to bed. And then she’d get home at 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning and pass out on the couch or bed until morning.
We always knew mornings were the worst.
She was violent and angry. She’d hit my siblings and I’d step in to defend them. She’d slap, hit, push. She “spanked” us with wooden spoons and belts leaving marks and bruises. The last time I remember being “spanked” I was 15 years old. And my mom yelled and yelled at my Dad to spank me.I don’t remember what it was for. But remember the terror I felt as he pushed me down onto a bed and kelt on my back to keep me down and hit me several times with a belt. I screamed bloody murder the entire time. I still remember the sound of my screams.
My mom would tell us she hated us, that she didn’t love us and no one did. She threatened to drive us all off a cliff. She threatened to get abortions. She would threaten to kill us or kill herself and when we would reach for the phone to call 911 she would cut the cord. Once or twice we snuck out a window and went to the neighbors house to call the police.
Over the next few minutes, before the police came, she would desperately convince us she didn’t mean it. She told us the police would take us away and separate us. She told us we would be sent to foster homes where we would be raped and beaten. We believed her. And time after time we lied to the police. There are literally dozens and dozens and dozens of CPS reports against my family. My mom was arrested several times for assault. She had several DUIs and my Dad filed several restraining orders. Ultimately, he never acted on my behalf. He never stood up for me.
In high school my mom hit me in the face while I was driving and gave me a bloody lip or nose (I don’t remember which). I ran away to my best friend’s house that night and my mom showed up banging on the door and threatening to kill herself if I didn’t come home. The next morning she was found passed out in a local baseball field. She was sent to rehab for 6 weeks.
I was so depressed, I dropped out of school senior year and barely graduated.
My parents come to my graduation and took a picture with me. Up until then I’d never taken a picture with both my parents. I was so excited. My mom wouldn’t take pictures. And if she found a picture of herself she would rip it up. That is what she ended up doing to that graduation picture. She ripped herself out of it. She said I didn’t love her and that she didn’t want me to have any pictures with her because I was just pretending in them anyway.
She called me a slut and whore and told me that I might as well be a prostitute because of how I dressed. Because I wore knee length skirts, she told me to go stand on a street corner.
At 18 I was kicked out of my house. My mom discovered that I was considering moving out and she called me to come get all my things within two hours before she burned them.
My church gathered around me and half a dozen people showed up to help me load up my things. I moved into the house of my former youth leaders. And I lived with them for 18 months.
Fast forward to senior year of college. I was back home. Depressed. And completely hopeless.
I was going to a great private Christian university, but my self-esteem was so low I could barely speak in class or even look my class mates in the eye. During Christmas break, I tried to take my own life. I have never told my parents, because I don’t believe they would care. They would only use the information to shame and belittle me.
After that moment, I knew I needed to make a change. I decided to say “yes” to more opportunities for fun. And just a few weeks later a good friend of mine invited me to play Ultimate Frisbee with a group of college kids from his church. I am THE MOST un-athletic person. I never even played baseball…so this was a HUGE step for me.
I went. And that night, I met a young man named Johnny. I was drawn to him instantly. He seemed kind and comfortable to be around. And over the next few weeks we saw each other more until Johnny asked me out…two weeks later he told me he loved me and wanted to marry me. He told me he didn’t expect anything from me. He told me he knew he was risking his own heart telling me that, but he didn’t care, and he didn’t expect me to say anything in response. A week after that I kissed him. My first kiss!
A month later I told him I loved him. And a month after that we were pretty sure we wanted to get married.
We dated for 9 months and were engaged for 3 months. We got married a year from the day we met: March 6th 2010.
My parents did not agree at all. They didn’t like Johnny because he listened to ACDC and classic rock and blues.
My mom refused to come to our wedding. She told me she wouldn’t be there. And I didn’t know she was there until after the ceremony was over. I walked down the aisle refusing to look at the crowd because I didn’t want even her absence to overshadow marrying Johnny.
The first year was both great and hard.
I had no idea how to handle conflict in a healthy way. And every time Johnny got mad or frustrated I expected him to hit me. It was probably a good three to four years before I stopped flinching when he’d get upset at just everyday things – like parking tickets.
It was several years of rough. We were in love, and we fought for each other, but I had so much healing to do. Broken people struggle with healthy relationships, because its really hard to have a healthy marriage when inside you’re dying.
I had been told for the better part of two decades that I was unloveable, fat, ugly, worthless, that God didn’t love me, that a man would only ever want me for sex. I was told I was lazy and shameful and incapable of succeeding in life.
Is it any wonder I struggled with motherhood? I was terrified. And I had postpartum depression with all my babies.
Over the years, I have struggled with extreme self-hate, self-harm, low confidence, nightmares and flashbacks, depression and anxiety, anger, perfectionism, guilt, chronic daily headaches, periods that left me unable to get out of bed for several days, and nutritional deficiencies because I was never taught to care for my body.
After my daughter Mercy was born, my parents threatened to take my husband and I to court to try to get visitation rights of our kids. They also threatened to come to our church on a Sunday and interrupt service and tell the congregation how terrible we are for not allowing them to see their grandchildren more often.
That was the last time I spoke to my parents. It’s been 6 solid months of no contact.
And in the past 6 months, I’ve healed in ways I never thought possible.
I’ve learned that God is relentlessly faithful. I have learned that not everyone who says they love you actually does. And I’ve learned that when our parents are unable to be there for us, God surrounds us with an unexpected family. And I learned that boundaries can be God-honoring and healthy.
Healing is hard. It is the hardest journey I have ever walked. But I’ve come to see God in the broken and dark places. He walks beside us with his great Father’s Heart and he sends us comfort.
You know what? The result of healing is JOY. When you start to feel joy, that’s when you know you are healing.
God reaches into us, into the smallest corners we have kept to ourselves, and he enters into our mess and he leans down close and fills up the space until we overflow with him.
I tell my friends that healing is actually physically painful. You can FEEL it, feel God doing a mighty work in your heart. But in the end, you are free. And your shame is so far behind you you can barely see it when you look back.
I want the kind of healing that changes your life.
I’m not sure what the future holds for these severed relationships. I pray for complete healing and I also find myself longing for justice. I don’t have all the answers, but I sure do believe in a God who does.
God takes the brokenness, the lies, the evil…and he redeems it and replaces it with joy. It hurts. But you will never regret it…
Words by Alicia of shewritesitplain.com
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