THIS TOO SHALL PASS

“Character cannot be developed in ease or quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”-Helen Keller

In previous blogs I’ve opened up and shared some negative things I’ve experienced with others in influential positions growing up and through the season during my journey of cleaning the messes up that I’ve been left to clean up over the years. Before I went public with my story I was supported and encouraged in my career I was pursuing. It’s the whole reason I stepped out in faith to finish college paying my own tuition out of my own pocket. But no sooner than I went public with my story when I saw the need for authenticity to help my community understand mental health struggles and addictions, I was no longer supported and was made to feel less than. At that time one check was my rent.

I was also being falsely accused of becoming prideful when I shared my struggles with completing college and how I overcame and mastered my accomplishments to encourage others. I’m still trying to process that false accusation against me because I’m far from being prideful. If that were the case I’d keep my stories quiet and keep moving without thinking about the ones who are still stuck in what I came out of, and I would have never even drove to Austin to speak to lawmakers when I didn’t even know what my future looked like. The attacks I have faced going public with my story have been brutal. People even went as far as messing with my livelihood while I watched them give my neighbor FMLA to get her help as I was walking through the battle with her and advocating for her in meetings with her CPS caseworkers. When I say I’ve walked through some brutal attacks, I truly mean I have walked through some brutal attacks.

After facing an unknown future because many started messing with my livelihood when they realized I wasn’t going to remain silent, I turned to a mega church that proclaims Jesus was for this city and I asked for help. That was very humbling for me because I didn’t spend over $10k out of my own pocket to be facing homelessness once again since people didn’t like me being so transparent about my life of past abuse, addictions, homelessness, and poverty. Instead of receiving help from this church I gave my time and money to sacrificially, I was referred to work for their homeless outreach provider making $10 an hour and working random hours that didn’t even cover a dent of my rent. I was on the verge of becoming homeless myself but out of desperation I took what I could get just to feed my kids. Talk about a deep blow to the gut. I just exposed myself and transparencies to help a community that still battled so many drug addiction cases and to help kids and their families overcome what I’ve been through and they turned a blind eye while I served the homeless as I was also on the verge of being homeless? Yep, I’m still trying to process that one too.

When COVID hit and now our Texas blizzard, I was prepared to walk back through the unknown because I had just spent several more years prior preparing for disasters. I lived through one personal disaster to the next all because I went public with my story. The difference between me and the disasters- I didn’t have anyone offering rental and utility assistance. Instead, I had to turn to my credit cards just to pay bills. I get the struggle y’all…

Through everything I just shared I turned to my faith and pressed into Jesus while I processed the disasters I faced behind closed doors. I cried out and He heard me because He gently reminded me that I needed to finish what I started despite what my present circumstances looked like. So, in the summer of 2019 when I honestly didn’t know what me and my kids’ future looked like because of all the attacks I faced, My Innocence Was Stolen was finally completed in less than two weeks and I completed my first book not knowing what tomorrow and the days ahead looked like. Without hesitation my manuscript was accepted for publishing and I was able to leave a written legacy for those who are battling what I’ve made it out of.

Although I’m still on my journey processing and accepting my previous losses, I have truly learned what perseverance is all about and absolutely nothing we face is worth giving up. To those who are contemplating suicide, let me encourage you to keep going. Your pain and suffering is just a season, so I’ve opened myself up more in this blog to give you that hope in your season because this too shall pass.

IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITIES WE PERSEVERE

In my last blog I shared about my experiences of purchasing my first home for me and my boys after getting out of the street life. It was an experience I’ll never forget because rats were crawling on my boys at night and coming out of all three fire places. It was also the summer I finally managed to graduate from our local community college with my associates degree as the first college graduate in my family. The struggle for getting that degree was real and most days I just wanted to give up. I did manage to have a positive experience with my English professor who challenged and encouraged me to write an essay on a topic I felt connected to despite the negative experiences I’m about to share. Since my vocabulary and intellectual development were so low I was placed in remedial classes before I could even begin college level courses.

By the time I finally reached college level courses I was failing algebra so badly my professor told me I had to make an A on my final just to make a C in the class. So, I did what I had to do and went to every tutorial and lab that was offered and came out with a 96 on that final. The night our grades were due my chemistry professor contacted me by email to let me know he lost my first test grade, so in order to even pass his class with a C I had to hustle to get a paper done that covered organic diamonds just so I could walk the stage and graduate. As bad as it felt and as mad as it made me, I did what I had to do and got the paper turned in just in time so I could walk the stage that year.

To say it was a year from hell would be an understatement. It seemed like I lived from one extreme to the next. All I knew was survival, so I did my best as I pushed through the hard times as a single mom who desperately wanted to better me and my kids’ lives and escape poverty we were born into. I also fell into a very abusive and toxic relationship with a guy who broke me down so low it rubbed against old wounds of self-hatred and all I wanted to do was numb the pain I wasn’t used to feeling because I genuinely thought that’s all I was worth.

When I finally realized I had a voice after we fought to stay in a rat infested house and I knew I was raising future men, I did what I had to do and walked away from the house and the man that mistreated me and my boys. It was liberating but scary because I was transitioning from being abused and mistreated to learning to love myself enough to say enough was enough and began believing we deserved better.

After surviving everything I just mentioned in my early years of recovery, I was also walking through some very hard situations at a job I fought hard to have stability in. I never knew from one day to the next what my future looked like because of some mean things that went on behind closed doors. I overlooked a lot because I didn’t want to lose my job and did what I had to do to get through undergrad school so I could move on. When I completed my first two semesters of college in the social work program, I was informed two semesters away from graduation that I no longer qualified for funding despite making the Dean’s list twice. After all doors slammed shut that year, the following year I was laid off from the job I fought hard to keep despite all the mistreatment I went through in addition to every door that slammed shut just to complete college so I could escape a poverty stricken life I was born into.

I was beyond hurt, devastated, and confused. I often thought,
“Why did I always go above and beyond to help others overcome yet everything I tried to do to help me and my boys always backfired on me.” I never qualified for housing assistance and was told I made too much money to get help from Habitat for Humanity. Here I was stuck back on government assistance and no way out because I didn’t have parents or family to lean back on to help get me through college.

A few years went by as I worked low paying jobs and fought through a season of depression and anxiety as I finally had to face my past I just desperately wanted to get past. The guilt, shame, remorse, and lies became my daily battlefield as I worked through memories that caused so many deregulated emotions and other symptoms that seemed impossible to get through. Panic attacks were so severe I honestly thought I was having heart attacks.

My boys were receiving services from a local Christian university for their academics when they suggested therapy. Out of desperation I went because the pain behind closed doors was real and I didn’t want to go back to a familiar lifestyle when I knew my boys needed me to fight harder for them and our future. I walked around with a chronic brokenheart because I was constantly facing mistreatment from someone who held a badge in law enforcement. All I ever heard through the years of mistreatment was, “We are not in the battle of flesh and blood” and “love covers a multitude of sin,” but there was never any accountability for the individual and I was trapped in one abusive relationship to the next because nobody ever told me about healthy boundaries or self-care and self-love. I had to stumble into this new reality as I worked past my season of despair and began truly loving myself enough to stand up for myself in a community I only knew hurt in.

To this day it has still been up to me to ever get anything done or accomplished because I have never experienced anything different apart from what I just described. Being born into poverty and trying to escape it has been a journey in itself because I have had to not only overcome academic setbacks but emotional and mental setbacks as well. It still upsets me when I know I’m not the only one with the stories I share but face so many setbacks when I do share because people with similar stories stand back and let me and my guys take all the hits. I realize I step on toes and expose things society is uncomfortable dealing with, but I know that I know that I know I’m not the only one with these struggles, so I share my stories openly to help others face their adversities and persevere even when it hurts and you find yourself standing alone. There is absolutely nothing worth going back to familiar things when the only way we learn to deal and cope with life is to face things head on and feel what was never meant to numb out and label. These are the untold stories that could be prevented if we’d stop labeling and address the traumatic wounds our society faces.

ABOVE ALL ELSE GUARD YOUR HEART

In one of my recent blogs I opened up more about several diagnoses and medications I was placed on when I was 10 years old. Instead of clinicians looking into the ‘why’ of my diagnoses, I was placed on antidepressants and anxiety medications and sent back out to face the world that was constantly rewounding me because I didn’t have the developmental skills to face what I was facing. During this stage of normal development I should have been learning how to think more logically with organization. At that age our thinking is still very concrete based on what we see, hear, feel, and experience. We don’t think beyond this level. Since I was never able to experience the natural development stage because it was constantly interrupted with unthinkable events and my voice was continuously silenced with labels and medications, I didn’t get to experience this stage of development until my early 20s when I started cleaning the emotional and mental messes up.

By the time I was 10 years old I had experienced sexual abuse from multiple people, faced ongoing bullying from the popular kids in school, witnessed my mom attempt suicide multiple times, witnessed her falling into abusive relationships with men, and was placed in three different foster care placements in less than six months of each other. Out of all the levels of abuse I endured, the sexual abuse was the hardest and longest process I had to work through because the psychological damage and emotional residue was deep. Since I was never taught how to set healthy boundaries and was labeled and medicated, I was left with so many messes to clean up over the years.

I wished I could say the torment stopped there but it didn’t. The rest of my entire childhood and adolescent years were constantly interrupted with unthinkable events and everything I just shared affected me to the core of my being. It’s how people from our backgrounds fall into what statistics say we fall into. When I could no longer function in a normal classroom after being placed in special education with the other diagnoses I listed in my book and previous blogs, I was pushed into the juvenile justice system and faced more trauma from the experiences of having drill instructors yelling and cursing in my face daily during physical training. Their idea of reaching “troubled” youth back then was to break us down so they could build us back up. Their ideas failed me and continued breaking me down so badly I hated myself even more and believed the lies that I was only worthy enough for toxic and abusive relationships as I continued a dysfunctional cycle that almost cost me my life.

We now know more scientific research regarding trauma and how our entire body is impacted by mistreatment. War vets are not the only ones who are impacted by post traumatic stress and left with the effects caused from the war. Dr. van der Kolk has spent over 30 years studying the effects of what we go through from experiencing sexual abuse, neglect, physical, emotional, and mental abuse, growing up with mentally unstable parents, and substance abuse in the home. The effects it leaves on us is exactly what war vets experience during combat and the only way to freedom is to have an effective therapist who understands this topic and leads our body through the healing process. Trauma is not just a brain injury, it’s a mind, body, and soul issue.

After I finally found enough stability to get back on track many years ago, I had to walk back through doorways to heal everything that broke me down and kept me on the streets for so long. One of the drill instructors who is a supervisor now sold me a filthy rat infested house when I thought I was finally making progress from everything I had been through. Before me and my boys could even move our stuff in the house we purchased from him and his wife, we had to finish moving their stuff out and clean messes that were completely unsanitary. This triggered so many deep wounds when I had to walk back through the feelings of humiliation I felt growing up.

Over the years I have since learned we do not have to keep allowing others to mistreat us and that season of my life was a new beginning as I found my voice and stood up to the way we were left to clean their messes up and combat rats they knew about because they even left their cat in the house. We can forgive and keep forgiving 70 x 7 but we don’t have to keep putting ourselves in harms way. When we finally get to a comfortable place in life setting healthy boundaries and realize our worth, we have truly grown and love ourselves enough to guard our own hearts above all else.

THE BATTLE WITHIN

Twenty years ago I was homeless, pregnant, and stuck in a dysfunctional cycle I couldn’t get away from. In my last blog I opened up about the abuse I was exposed to as a child and how the signs in my behavior were labeled and medicated. In between the years I tried to take the suggestions that were given to me and was told my addictions were a disease I continued a dysfunctional cycle even in twelve step meetings. When I was mandated to go to those meetings, I ran into my third grade teacher and my nurse practitioner who just completed my annual women’s exam a few weeks prior to our run in with one another. This was the time my eyes began to open and I was exposed to people in influential positions that battled the same battles I faced, but I was one of the ones who couldn’t function enough in society to break the cycle due to the severity of mistreatment I grew up in and continued falling into.

I have since learned that adverse childhood experiences affects our biological development in addition to our cognitive development. I knew there was something wrong with me because my dysfunctional life proved otherwise, but everywhere I turned for help presented the same solution that was given to me as a child. I was labeled and medicated but the dysfunction continued and I was battling a very dark place I couldn’t get out of.

I prayed, read my Bible, spent time with Jesus, and spent time giving to others because I was told I just needed to get out of self and help other people. While I spent time with others in twelve step meetings from all different types of backgrounds who either had steady jobs, were homeless, or even had college degrees with influential positions within my community, I was still dying on the inside because I was still exposed to toxic relationships that played mind games with me. Every bit of the hurt, rejection, and betrayal triggered my past and I had to begin learning how to feel what I hid from for so long. This was a very hard place to be. I always heard similar stories about the disease we supposedly had, but I never heard stories of the trauma that led to our addictions. I assumed this was how life was because I didn’t know anything different apart from how I was constantly falling into hurtful unhealthy relationships. Because I didn’t know how to cope and effectively communicate with others or set healthy boundaries, I found myself in the same messes I desperately wanted out of.

In the midst of all I just shared I felt so alone when I finally did start opening up about my childhood and family secrets because I was made to feel like the troublemaker now. The classic example of how I was mistreated when I started confronting the hurt and family secrets was when I was told I just haven’t forgiven and needed to move on. This cycle in addition to never fitting in with others outside of my family unless I was giving my time or money caused me to fall into a deep depression and battle anxiety because it triggered everything I was never able to deal with growing up. It reminded me of being that lost little girl whose needs were constantly pushed aside in church while we chased the 99 and used quoted scriptures to “prove” our way was the only way.

Eventually I checked out of life because I honestly didn’t know how to cope with all I kept hidden from. The picture I’m sharing in this blog was taken during the season I just described. I had hit my heaviest weight and had so many deregulated emotions I didn’t know how to deal with. In desperation I cried out to God to either take me or take my pain away because I was tired of living defeated. I was tired of never fitting in unless I was giving towards something or someone. I was tired of being made to feel less than because I am so real. And I was tired of being called selfish or narcissistic when I did try to take care of my own needs.

When I stepped back into therapy I was led back to, I was apprehensive of the experience because all I ever heard was I needed to stay on my medication while they treated me for personality disorder, parent/child detachment disorder, etc. and the list goes on. But this therapist was different. Although she was instructed to screen me for bipolar and depression disorder, she used the training she was learning about regarding trauma. It was the beginning of a new journey of healing I didn’t forsee because she stopped asking the question “what was wrong with me” and started asking me “what’s happened to me.” This is the journey I began when I laid on the operating table and started having open heart surgery while I shared my pain and life story. She was the first one who ever dedicated herself to my case and never gave up on me while she helped put me back together.

This is the reason I share my experiences regardless of how many continue to try to keep me silent. The only reason people want to keep someone silent is because they too are hiding something. I know the extent of pain I’ve had to walk through over the years and the messes I’ve been left to clean up even after I’ve gone public with my story…But I will never be ashamed or made to feel guilty for sharing something so many are still battling what I’ve made it out of. I share openly to give others the same opportunity I have freely been given regardless of who’s for me and who’s not because my story is not unique.

PAIN DOESN’T DISCRIMINATE

Jean Piaget is one of my favorite well- known psychologists who was also best known for his work on child development. His work is still used today and has since been expanded on over the years. He was the one that laid the foundational groundwork down for child development and how child development impacts adulthood through the four stages of cognitive development. His four stages include the following:

  1. Sensorimotor stage birth to 2 years old. This is the stage where the infant/toddler begins to make connections with the outside world by touching, grabbing, sucking, looking, and listening.
  2. Preoperational stage ages 2-7 years old. This is the stage they begin to think symbolically and make connections to words and objects. Since they haven’t developed to see from the perspective of others, they tend to be egocentric, or self-centered and only think of themselves. This is a skill that’s developed over time while they also develop language skills through language and thinking.
  3. Concrete operational stage ages 7-11 years old. This is the stage where thinking becomes more logical and organized but are still very concrete based on what they see, hear, feel, and experience.
  4. Formal operational stage ages 12 and up. This is the stage where adolescents and adults begin to think abstractly, or more about moral, philosophical, ethical, social, and political issues. This skill continues to develop and expand far into adulthood and never stops developing. It’s true what they say, we will never stop learning because there’s something new to learn every day.

Now that we have a basic understanding of what normal child development looks like, I wanted to share from my own personal experiences what happens to the natural development when it’s interrupted with toxic and abusive relationships that interfere with the overall functioning.

I don’t have very many good memories growing up. I was born into poverty and an abusive and divided family. I was exposed to sexual abuse before I even learned the alphabets. I was bullied and never fit in with my peers growing up. By the time I reached 10 years old I was clinically diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder, body dysmorphia disorder, borderline personality disorder, mood disorder, and the list goes on. I was placed on psychiatric medications to modify behavior issues I began showing in response to all the mistreatment I was experiencing during the most crucial stages of child development.

I witnessed my mom trying to commit suicide numerous times while she was often in and out of mental institutions, so I never had a stable mother to look up to or teach me how to be a healthy person. I also witnessed her falling into abusive and toxic relationships with men. I was never shown anything apart from what I grew up witnessing. Since she was diagnosed with several mental illnesses, I was also labeled and made to believe my behavior issues were biochemical imbalances I inherited and was placed on disability.

The events I just described impacted me on so many levels I was no longer able to function in a normal school setting. I was the child placed in special education diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, emotional disturbances, etc. Since I could no longer function in a classroom setting, I was pushed into the juvenile justice system and was re-traumatized through many other events that interfered with my overall development.

By the time I reached 18 years old, I could not function in society and fell into what statistics say we fall into. Because I lacked proper developmental skills, I functioned on a young teenage girl level in my early 20s. I lacked language development skills, critical thinking skills, self-regulating skills, communication skills, and all the other skills that were meant to develop naturally throughout my childhood and adolescent years that would have helped shape the path of my adulthood. Due to the severity of what I lived through, I was a mess from the inside out and my previous lifestyle was the result from prematurely developing and caused a dysfunctional cycle I was finally able to pull myself out of.

When I look back on my journey and follow the paper trails from what I came out of, I should not be where I am clinically speaking emotionally, mentally, intellectually, and spiritually. People from my background are labeled for life and given a prison sentence that was never meant to overcome and conquer. But I’m here today because a few Christian women were bold enough to share their stories that was the key to my prison, so I share freely and openly to give others the same hope, healing, and restoration I was given so many years ago. I’m no longer chained down by shame and guilt because I was failed by the adults in my life who never showed me another way out because they too didn’t even know the way out.

Today, I live a normal healthy life apart from where I came from and use my personal experiences to help others avoid the messes I’ve spent over a decade cleaning up. Child development is crucial in who we become as adults and if I can use the knowledge I have today to help others avoid what took me so long to come out of, then I have turned around what was meant for harm and use it for good to help others find their voices so they too can redevelop what was never meant to underdevelop.

THY WILL BE DONE (REVISED)

After taking a few months off from writing to rest my mind and focus on self-love and self-care, I decided to pick back up where I left off when I first wrote this particular blog in 2018. When I fell into education several years ago, I did not foresee myself as a writer, or a future published author and college graduate teaching kindergarten because my life looked hopeless back then after dreams were crushed and doors were slammed shut in the direction I was headed towards.

My life back then reflected what the COVID pandemic looks like now for many. It was like living in a modern-day story of the Israelites walking around in the wilderness because I did not know what day to day looked like as I navigated through unprocessed memories that caused deregulated emotions along with severe depression and anxiety. It was an emotional rollercoaster I was not ready for because I thought I dealt with everything until my distractions no longer distracted me from the hidden places God exposed during that season of uncertainty. I did not realize I was a prisoner to thoughts I was comfortable believing because it was how I survived through the unthinkable events I lived through growing up, and the only way out was to go back through the pain as I processed the here and now that triggered the past I never dealt with. 

When I laid my life down and went public with my story to help others overcome what I have made it out of, I did not foresee the attacks I had to walk through once again because I stood in the battlefields with others and thought the respect was mutual. Although I still cannot comprehend why so many let me take the hits alone and failed to stand with me after I stood with them, I learned something through that process that nobody can ever take from me. In those moments of hurt and despair when I felt abandoned by others and God, I drew even closer understanding in depth what Jesus felt that day on the cross when He too asked, “Abba, Father!! Why have you forsaken me!”

It was an intimate moment I am still embracing and trying to process because I still do not fully understand why I had to walk back through what I have experienced in the last few years and the problem I have presented a solution to is still ignored, but I am learning it is a constant opportunity to learn to trust more with my heart verses what I cannot see because after all we are called to live by faith and not by sight.

Although my life may have looked like a mess on the outside to others back then and even felt like a complete disaster on the inside as I continued walking through more uncertainties of me and my kids’ future, our God gave me Living Water on the inside to calm the raging storms while I walked through that season of uncertainty, and I had to learn how to accept my redirection with grace and humility while the flames of fire were used to refine and strengthen me. It was a moment of truth I had to dig myself deeper into because when the storms of life hit and I felt abandoned by Him and others, it was actually His way of plowing the fields to give the roots a solid place to rest in as He continued renewing my mind and restoring my soul. 

During that season of unpleasant feelings of hurt, betrayal, rejection, and difficulty finding my worth and value apart from where I came from, I rested my mind and found myself singing the lyrics to this song often,

“I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words
Thy will be done” (Herms et al. “Thy Will”. Love Remains. 2016).

To those of you who are walking through what I just described, I just want to share my encouragement with you that helped sustain me as I walked through multiple seasons of uncertainty that tried to destroy me. I had to combat thoughts that I was delivered from several years ago as I continued processing the hurt I walked through when I shared my story openly to help others overcome. I see the results and pain addictions cause on families and loved ones daily, so I have opened myself up to help you overcome no matter what the process looks like because He will never leave us nor forsake us and my roots are solid knowing Thy Will Be Done indeed.

THE HIDDEN TRUTH ABOUT GASLIGHTING

Recently I’ve been introduced to the term gaslighting. The dictionary’s definition defines this word as follows: “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.” As I learned about this word, I’m intrigued by the way psychology describes how this happens frequently in abusive and toxic relationships, but what about how it’s used in modern day psychology?


Many who know my story know I was abused on every level growing. It wasn’t a secret in my community or even with my own family because years later I retrieved thousands of documents that documented the torment I lived through. The truth about their mental illness labels have been discovered over the years and I have learned they too suffered through their own trauma but the topics revolving around the things I’ve mentioned were forbidden to talk about back then.


Instead of responding to the torment we were exposed to, people in authority diagnosed us with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression disorder, borderline personality disorder, body dysmorphia disorder, and the list goes on. I’m not sure what was worse; being abused on all levels my entire childhood and young adult life, or being convinced by those who were in authority to protect us that we had mental illnesses and biochemical imbalances because it was supposedly inherited by our previous family members who actually suffered with generational trauma and addictions behind closed doors.


Everything I just briefly described not only robbed me of my entire childhood but also my young adult years and the early years of my twin boys that we’ll never get back. This is the reality of what we go through when cries for help are labeled and medicated instead of approaching the crisis with trauma informed knowledge and implementing trauma informed resources that help heal and regulate the internal damage that parallels to a traumatic brain injury. I grew up believing what I just shared was normal because it’s all we knew growing up. I spent years having mental breakdowns because I truly was convinced there was something wrong with me and I deserved all the mistreatment. I didn’t know anything about setting healthy boundaries or how to even function in healthy relationships because that’s how normal dysfunctional relationships were to me.


Research proves the physiology of our brains are rewired during traumatic events that deregulate emotions and causes our nervous system to get stuck when we don’t process our painful experiences we experience in life. We were never designed to carry such burdens and with modern day psychology failing to respond correctly and appropriately we have a nationwide mental health crisis and addictions crisis that started way before the COVID situation. More than 280 million people across the world suffer with depression and an estimated 800,000 die yearly (one every 40 seconds) from suicide.


Gaslighting doesn’t just happen in abusive and toxic relationships and it’s time people re-educate themselves about trauma and how our bodies respond to ongoing mistreatment. Trauma is not a mental illness, it’s a mental disorder that can be restored and I’m living proof because I live a normal life apart from what I came from. At some point we all face mental ill health but it’s not something we can’t recover from with the right trauma informed therapist and supportive family and friends who encourage us along our journey of healing and restoration.


I realize I don’t hold the proper credentials as a doctor of psychology, but I’ve lived through enough hell to know the damage it causes when someone projects mental illness labels on us as if we’re damaged goods who live crippled lives with mental illnesses that haven’t even been clinically proven. Until we understand ourselves and how we respond to mistreatment and traumatic events, we will continue to live in a national crisis with mental health issues and addictions because we were never created to live in continuous mental anguish.


A RESTORED SOUL AND SOUND MIND

In my last blog I shared a little bit of my season of depression I went through while I also battled anxiety in one of the hardest seasons of my life. During that dark season I was withdrawing from nicotine and learning how to cope and regulate deregulated emotions I was dealing with while I was grieving a childhood I never had in addition to raising twin boys that needed me in the here and now moments. I was faced with a lot of uncertainty in my life from an unknown future since I was hit with the unexpected turns from being told two semesters away from finishing my degree that I had no more resources to complete my degree and was laid off from a job I spent over four years with walking through deep pain they knew nothing about because I masked the pain well. This added to already feeling robbed from a life I always wanted apart from being born into a divided and abusive family. Every bit of rejection and abandonment I felt forced me into facing all the painful memories I kept avoiding as if they no longer existed but they did because they had become part of my “DNA” and how I related to the world around me. To add insult to injuries I never healed from the program I was unable to complete had no idea what I even had to go through to get to that point in my education because I was so below to begin with. I started out taking remedial classes because I was on a middle school level intellectually and later found out I was also on a middle school level emotionally and mentally because of everything I survived through. But I was determined to get through what would have normally took me out because I had two innocent lives depending on me to get well no matter the circumstances.

Years later after I survived through that season of mental anguish I decided to pull my childhood records from every system I was affiliated with. After I retrieved my records I faced additional grief because many people in authority knew what I was going through because they documented the torment I lived through. Not only did they document everything I lived through, they diagnosed me with all these mental illnesses and mental disorders as if what I was living through wasn’t impacting my natural development and mental health stability. There was one local clinician who did document for five years that I was living in an unsafe environment that interfered with my overall functioning but no action was taken to prevent further damage to my mental health and natural development. I’ve mentioned before about my experiences of being pushed into the juvenile justice system that also re-traumatized me from the experiences I faced with drill instructors yelling and cursing in my face during physical training as if their scared straight tactics were going to help in the time of my many crisis I lived through. This may be history in the books for those who proclaimed they were all learning back then but the long-term effects affected my own two boys because they had to walk through my pain with me while I spent over a decade cleaning the mess up learning how to face and overcome addictions and regulate my emotions while I walked back through natural developmental skills I missed growing up. I had to grow up in a 24 year old body while I navigated through every day life as I taught myself how to function in society apart from what I came from. That’s not an easy task and it’s another reason I’m so passionate about proper mental health aid because trauma informed care could have saved me and my boys years of unnecessary grief.

When I say I get the pain of those who are walking through recent pain now, I truly do get it. I was so broken back then there was a time I didn’t even believe I was worthy enough to dress like a lady. I dressed myself down more often than not wearing sweatpants and tshirts while I turned to food for comfort. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself because the attention I always got was not the way God intended men to treat women.

After I spent all those years cleaning up the wreckage of my past I had to start learning how to teach people how to treat me and this was not always easy because when you discover boundaries you also discover who’s truly there for you and who’s not. It didn’t help that I already struggled with rejection because of how I was treated growing up. I was so naive about toxic relationships because it’s all I knew from other wounded souls. In addition to what I just shared I faced additional grief when I started going public with my story to help others overcome. If I told you what I actually went through the last few years you’d wonder how I even survived what others tried to do to me to silence me. It’s still beyond my comprehension how I did survive, but I did.

I shared all of this to reiterate what I’ve shared time and time again. There is no pit too deep and I keep discovering this the deeper I go in this crazy life I’ve lived. Mental health and addictions lay heavy on my heart daily because I see the results of what I’ve made it out of in my every day encounters with others. I’ve learned no matter what position we’re in whether we are living in poverty or have several degrees behind our name, mental health and addictions do not discriminate. I’m here to testify that there truly is freedom on the other side and I really do live a normal healthy life apart from what I came from. Life is by far perfect and I still have battles I face but nothing compares to the way I respond now verses how I used to react by numbing the pain out with everything but Jesus.

WHO THE SON SETS FREE IS FREE INDEED

Recently I have been reflecting on my season of depression I made it out of because I encounter so many who are currently stuck in their season feeling hopeless even with medication, especially now since we have so much against us during the pandemic. Suicide, addictions and overdoses have also skyrocketed because of the fear of the unknown. As a single mom who had to not only raise twin boys on her own, I had to also face and grieve over twenty years of trauma that could have been prevented years back when clinicians diagnosed me with depression and anxiety instead of looking into why a ten year old even felt that hopeless.

In 2010 after I finally became somewhat stable from my broken past I graduated from McLennan Community College as the first college graduate in my family. In 2011 I began a journey in the first social work program through their university center. I was also managing to hold a steady job that felt like a bomb ready to explode because I walked on eggshells not realizing I was experiencing bullying work environment because I was used to being mistreated. In 2012 after completing two semesters of the social work program my world came crashing down when I couldn’t get funding to complete my degree because of the wreckage of my past. In 2013 I was laid off from the job that eventually let me go because of unfair circumstances. I was also going through the process of learning how to navigate life without smoking cigarettes and learning how to manage my emotions without the support of nicotine I leaned on since I was eleven years old. To say I was devastated by my experiences I was walking through was an understatement.

I walked in that season of uncertainty for several years to come. I worked deadend jobs just to make ends meet. I never could even qualify for the resources in my community because they always came back with the same excuse of why I didn’t qualify for housing or other assistance to help me and my boys through one of the hardest seasons I faced after I fought to escape the street life and addictions I desperately wanted to break free from. I spent that entire season completely broken on the inside wondering around the wilderness even questioning God and His promises I felt He broke like everyone else did in my life. It was a very dark season and I had a lot of pain and grief I had to walk through. I even had a friend who was a nurse and meant well when she told me I just needed to get on antidepressants and move on. Deep down I knew that wasn’t the solution because I was learning how to manage my emotions unmedicated since it’s all I knew from a very young age.

I spent the next few years walking through every painful memory I kept pushing aside as I also battled with anxiety and depression without the negative coping mechanisms I once leaned on while my boys also faced at risk behavior I didn’t understand. I was a complete mess and just wanted to break free but didn’t know how. I turned to the one thing that did keep me stable and that was remembering the previous experiences I encountered with God despite my negative experiences I was currently walking through and began a new journey of diving into a deeper relationship with Him. I poured my heart out just like King David did in the book of Psalms and clung to another word of encouragement that kept me anchored during that hard season of life. He asked over and over, “Why has my inner self cast down on me?” Followed with a solution already in place. “For hope in the Lord because He will deliver you from your inner countenance.” I didn’t really understand what that meant at the time but I surrendered the best way I knew how as I stepped into a new level of trust as He used that season to grow me in my faith and delivered my obsession from food and nicotine that I used as a crutch for many years to comfort what only He could comfort. In addition to the struggles I just mentioned, I also walked through more pain and grief after I went public with my story to help others overcome. I didn’t even know what my future looked like as I finished my book last summer.

As I sit here today reflecting on that season I just described, I honestly don’t know how I made it through without losing my mind because the pain and torment was real and the battles were nonstop. I can’t explain what He did in the supernatural except to say I knew deep down my way and this world’s way no longer worked and I had to learn to truly believe His ways and thoughts were higher than ours. I have since learned that the God we learn about from ill taught religion goes beyond something to believe in. For me He had to be someone I fell in love with because He keeps showing me His character even in the hardest places we face in life.

Today I truly do live in a whole new world of freedom (unmedicated) even as I continue to face unknown circumstances. He’s the same God yesterday, today, and forever, so my encouragement to those who find themselves struggling is to keep pushing even when it hurts and give Him everything that holds your heart in anything apart from His rest and peace He freely gives us because He tells us to cast our burdens upon Him for a reason. I’ve also learned that without His word there is no real comfort or freedom because even though the Son of God saved my soul, the word of God continues to save my mind.

HOW TO RESPOND TO THE WOUNDED CHILD WITHIN

Many people don’t realize how much their childhood reflects their adult lives until they’re triggered and repressed memories surface. For years this occurred with me as I kept pushing the painful memories back down as if they no longer existed. Little did I know the pain was wedged so deep in the pits of my soul it literally affected every day functioning and relationships with others. As I continued working on my book last summer, I realized how much more my past impacted my mind and why I did some of the things I’ve done, or why I struggled with fear, anxiety, and depression at such a young age into young adult years.

I’ve mentioned before how badly my relationships as a young adult were also affected by all of the trauma I went through. When you experience nothing but hurt from relationships, it shakes you to the core. For the first fourteen years of my life I was already exposed to sexual abuse by those who were supposed to love and protect me. I was also introduced to other things no little girl should ever be exposed to by well respected men in my community. I lived with an abusive mother who knew how to use her mental illness labels to get what she wanted.

Since I never could find my place in church or extra curricular activities, I found my worth in the street life with other wounded souls who mistreated me as well. I was constantly getting my heart broken with no way out to express myself except through self-harm and addictions. I had all these bottled up memories and deregulated emotions and no escape. I was doomed to have mental breakdowns and I eventually did more often than not in my young adult life because I didn’t know how to cope while she used my emotional distress to claim I inherited her illnesses.

It was easier for me to self-medicate to numb the chronic fear and heartache rather than seek help in my community because nobody understood me and I lacked trust with many since they too took advantage of my vulnerability. I didn’t even understand myself because I was trapped in the lies that something was wrong with me. I was constantly living on high alert and trusted nobody. It was tough living out just your normal daily activities because my mind was in torment with constant negative thoughts about myself and my image. How could I possibly even be a mother to my twin boys in the state of mind I was in? It certainly wasn’t easy, but they were my motivation to beat the odds that stood against me because they were innocent and deserved better. My life was hopeless and I had no idea there was a way out until I was introduced to Joyce Meyer’s book, “Battlefield of the Mind.”

It hasn’t been an easy journey that’s for sure, but it was never impossible because I sit here today as I’ve been set free from glory to glory. One of the hardest challenges I had to work hard at overcoming was when I didn’t feel emotionally safe in intimate relationships because I’ve been wounded so deeply by those who proclaimed they loved me. When I learned why I checked out if someone hurt me, I began another layer of healing by sticking it out and learning how to face what I used to run from. It made sense when I described my pattern in therapy. She helped me identify the root cause to that pattern. I learned it was because I didn’t feel safe. Cognitive behavior therapy has helped tremendously in this wounded area of my life.

There is hope in hopeless situations. My story is a testament to this truth. Although I’m not where I want to be in this journey of mine, I’m certainly not where I used to be and look forward to more healing and restoration as I continue this journey. To those of you in early recovery and/or young moms trying to navigate through life, let me encourage you to take one more step each day as you push through the different phases of healing because it really does get easier and better as time goes on.