Stephanie's story mirrors the unfortunate beginnings that too many women experience: alcoholic and/or abusive parents that propel young women into toxic relationships that more often than not make the woman physically sick.
Fortunately, like many of us, Stephanie found salvation, turning inward to discover hidden strengths she might never have found without the outer conflicts. Here then is her inspiring story of redemption and triumph.
My parents divorced when I was four years old. As a child, I moved around a great deal and was never able to really get comfortable anywhere. My mother remarried when I was five, this time to an alcoholic who was never around. She divorced again when I was 11.
My father was extremely verbally abusive with his hatred of my mother throughout my entire childhood, constantly tearing her down to me. It made the relationship with my mother difficult and just filled me with his anger. By the time I reached 18, I was on my own. When I was almost 21, I moved to Dallas, Texas where I met my husband, and I had my daughter when I was 25.
For years, I could not understand what was so wrong with my life. I started to experience health problems which progressively got worse as time went on. I knew something was very wrong with my marriage, but I could not understand what; I tried everything I could to fix it. Thoughts of divorce ran through my mind, but being financially dependent on my husband, and with no immediate family in the state, I had no idea how I was going do it.
A New Beginning
That's when I turned to a long forgotten childhood interest of beading. I began designing jewelry and decided I wanted an Internet business. I hired a man to design a website for me, but he stole my money and never built me anything.
Designing jewelry gave me a healthy outlet in a very unhealthy toxic home environment. I taught myself web design and how to market my own website. Eventually, I taught myself graphic design and started taking pictures of flowers and created website graphics with them.
Meanwhile, my health problems continued to get worse. Doctor after doctor tried to figure out what my problem was: I had chronic stomach problems, chronic anxiety, TMJ, and migraines that caused vertigo symptoms. Through all this I tried to be the best mother I could.
My business began to grow and I reinvested all the money back into the business. I continued to learn and improve my website. Then one night as I was lying in bed feeling sick and scared, I prayed to God, "Please come into my life and show me how to receive you." From that point on my life started to get better.
I found Alanon, a 12-step program for family and friends of alcoholics, and I knew immediately I was at home there. I discovered the problem with my marriage seemed to be alcoholism. As I continued to go to Alanon my health problems lessened a little.
Free At Last
After being in the program, I decided I just could not live my life that way. I was scared to death of my husband, living on eggshells, afraid he might really hurt me one day. Even though we made a lot of money, I had quite a few big debts in my own name but I still decided in 2004 to cut my losses and get out. I filed for divorce and began looking for a new house.
The house I found had a sign on the wall that said, "Leave the wreckage of your past behind.... from the books of Alcoholics Anonymous." It was amazing--I was buying my house from a recovering alcoholic and leaving a non-recovering one!
My troubles weren't over quite yet though. My ex-husband continued to harass me for more than a year--threatening to take our child away from me. Four months after I had moved into my own house I still couldn't figure out what was wrong with me: I had my own house; I was running my own business out of my home; what was so wrong with me? Turns out I was experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome which led me to Domestic Abuse counseling.
They handed me a paper that had on one side the signs of a power and controlling relationship--our relationship had all of those things except he never hit me. The other side described a relationship of equality. We had none of those things.
I spent many hours on my knees praying--full of fear and anxiety that he would come into my safe place. It took me a while to learn not to live my life in fear, and I no longer try to have a 'normal' relationship with my child's father. He is incapable of that at this time and not willing to work on the drinking problem. I know God knows what is best for him; perhaps he has more lessons to learn.
Salvation Through Self-Empowerment
I have become strong in the past two years. I continue to run a successful business doing something I love. My website has grown and is listed in top spots for more major keywords in my field. I love all aspects of my life. My daughter is healthier than she has ever been. She still sees her father, but I do not worry so much anymore, I know God loves her and He will protect her. I know she has lessons and experiences she must learn.
Through working the steps in Alanon, I did contact my father and told him of my anger about the things he said through my childhood about my mother. A few months later I received the most incredible letter of amends and we are creating a new relationship that is so different from when I was a child. I continue to go to Alanon, Domestic Abuse counseling, and continue to design jewelry and work on my business. I can honestly say that I do love all aspects of my life now.