Growing up as the youngest of five girls you could say that I always felt left out. My father left when I was nine, leaving my mother to bring us up alone. She had to hold down three jobs and left most of the mothering up to my older sisters. I started feeling lonely, abandoned, insecure and very confused. Why did dad leave, did I do something wrong? We had wild parties at our house all the time. At most of these parties I was sexually abused by someone I knew. I never fought back and this made me feel dirty, ashamed and terrified of men. I trusted no one.
At age ten I was also drinking alcohol and started smoking cigarettes. To be cool and hang out with my sisters I would have done anything to fit in and eventually this took me down an ugly road into sex and drugs. All of my sisters moved out of home and it was just me and my mum. I hated my mum. I felt as though all I was going through was her fault. I was so angry at her and at life in general. I had many boyfriends, most of them took drugs and liked to party hard and they were always much older than I was. I felt powerful and I felt in control, but I was anything but!
At age 17, after an abortion I overdosed on prescription medication and was admitted into hospital. This scared the hell out of me but it was really a cry for attention. I just wanted to feel needed and loved. What followed were many more years of drugs, sex and sadness. I started self-harming to escape the inner pain of rejection and suffered many days.
When I couldn’t even get out of bed. I would cry all day and I was unable to hold down a steady job. I was severely depressed and addicted to drugs and alcohol. I ran away from every commitment I ever faced and I hated the world and everyone in it.
At age 20 I overdosed again. This time I wanted to die and was so angry when I woke up in hospital alive! For weeks I wanted to overdose again but I was afraid that again I would just wake up in this miserable world.
I wanted to escape so I moved away from the city and tried to start over. What a joke. All my problems went with me and I was soon in old patterns again: men, drugs and alcohol. I wondered if it would ever stop. At 22 I rushed into marriage and it fell apart after seven months when I ran away with someone else that I thought could make me happy. One mistake after another.
When I was 26 I had a miscarriage, but later my partner and I had a baby together. Our relationship was rocky to say the least. I was terrified all through my pregnancy that I would lose my baby and that my past drug use or drinking would harm the baby. My partner was still taking drugs and drinking. Because I had stopped once I fell pregnant with our daughter I found this very hard to cope with. I was determined not to let my child experience the lifestyle I had endured all my life, I wanted to give my daughter the best life I could so I decided I needed to stop wasting time and get things in order. I looked at my daughter and I could see all the misery, hurt and mistakes I made and I refused to allow it to happen to her. Believe it or not I felt like I had to go to Church so I looked one up in the phonebook and went that weekend!
That weekend my life was transformed. It was like the Pastor was speaking directly to me! I stood up, accepted Christ, received a free bible and went home crying. I had felt more peace in that church than I had experienced in years. And this was a huge church, there was easily 500 people there that morning but the love and acceptance that radiated from within that building and from the Pastors words drenched me. I was truly different. For one I felt hopeful. I felt like I could really turn my life around, like I had a second chance.
I was committed to going to church most weekends with my daughter after that. My partner hated me going but I thought if we as a family were to have any chance of a good life I needed to finally be an adult and commit to something! We finally got married and I was trying very hard to put my life in order and do the right thing. It was a long road but two years later my partner also started going to church and accepted Christ. He really saw the change in me and couldn’t deny that I was happier and more ‘together’.
One thing amazing about my story is that my depression, my loneliness, my heartache, my pain all lifted once I accepted Christ and committed my life to him.
I have really tough days even now when I may have a flashback or a memory of painful times from my past, but I look around me and realise I lucky I am to be alive! Sometimes I have to remember how bad things once were to be truly grateful for the here and now.
We have a son now too – he is beautiful! Both of our children are healthy and happy and we are still married, we struggle from time to time but we are committed to doing the hard yards together. That in itself is a miracle. I have had to work through massive guilt and shame and disgust and it is ongoing but without God I think I would be dead by now. Actually I am pretty sure of it.