swcreations flowerI am very blessed to say that I am a healthy happy woman. But there once was a time in my life when I wasn’t so healthy or happy. I felt hopeless and alone—as a child and even into adulthood. Perhaps it was self focus that turned my life around, or perhaps it was something much bigger. I share my story because I know there are people out there experiencing varying degrees of the same pain I once endured.

My parents divorced when I was four years old. We moved around a great deal and I was never really able to get comfortable anywhere or form strong bonds with anyone. Circumstances didn’t improve when a year later, my mother remarried to an alcoholic who was never around. She eventually divorced again when I was about 11.

mom and daughterI continued to see my biological father throughout my childhood, but he was extremely verbally abusive to me. He hated my mother so much that he I became his sounding board. My heart filled up with his anger and hatred—making my relationship with my mother difficult. He sent me an amazing letter of amends for this in 2005, allowing for healing in my life.

Life with my mother was difficult, as well. In addition to the strain caused by my father’s ranting, my mother was a single mom trying to raise me on her own with very little financial support from my father. I had too much time and was filled with too much anger. I found myself getting into trouble throughout my youth. By the age of 18, I was on my own.

When I turned 21, I moved to Dallas, Texas where I met my husband. He and I had a very rocky relationship as we often went out drinking together. That lifestyle led to frequent fights—and consequently frequent breakups. Yet he always came back with promises of all the nice things I wanted to hear. I so much wanted to believe him and so I would always take him back. Things would go well for a while and then he’d go back to being himself and we were right back to the same old problems.

Right before I turned 25, I found out I was pregnant. We decided to get married, and eventually his job moved us to Houston. For years I could not understand what was so wrong with my life. I felt very isolated and the few friends I had seemed to have more problems than I did—which made my life look better than it actually was. I began experiencing health problems which got progressively 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. With every passing day I grew angrier and my health problems continued to get worse.

By 2000, my health became serious enough to seek the advice of a doctor. She minimized my symptoms and convinced me that I had nothing to worry about. I don’t know why I trusted her advice—maybe I was naive or simply too trusting. She diagnosed it as stress and gave me anti-depressant pills.

As the symptoms continued to get worse, she diagnosed me with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and gave me more pills. By the end of that year--with no visible improvement in my health—I decided to see a specialist. He had me in for a colonoscopy, and found a polyp the size of a plum. It was ulcerated and big enough to block my colon completely. He said it was the largest polyp he had ever seen in someone as young as I.

During my recovery, I turned to a long forgotten childhood interest of beading. This was such a great stress reliever. Designing jewelry gave me a healthy outlet in a very unhealthy toxic home environment. I became very good at it and decided to build an internet business. I hired a man to design a website for me and as happens with so many first time entrepreneurs, he stole my money and never built me anything. So I taught myself web design and how to market my own website. Eventually, I taught myself graphic design and began taking pictures of flowers and creating website graphics with them.

With my new found energy, I started working out more often - eventually finding Weight Watchers. After a year and a half, I lost 45lbs of leftover pregnancy weight. I ate well, did not smoke, and overall lived a healthy lifestyle. But I still could not understand why my health problems remained and even continued to get worse. I went to doctor after doctor trying 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.

Even though I was basically a single mom raising our child my daughter was my only real source of happiness. My husband was rarely home and when he was it was very uncomfortable and tense. I wanted to make our marriage work, but the costs were getting too great and I feared I would end up in the hospital.

Still, I always tried to be the best mom I could be and I tried to shelter her from the stress of our relationship. But it seemed that our marital problems were affecting her too. She had problems with sleeping, nightmares, bed wetting, and terrible temper tantrums. One night, I was lying in bed feeling sick and scared. I remember praying to the Lord, "God please come into my life and show me how to receive you." Amazingly enough, from that point on my life began to get better.

I found Alanon, a 12 step program for family and friends of alcoholics, I knew immediately I was at home there. I discovered the problems with my marriage were related to the alcoholism. As I continued to go to Alanon my health problems lessened a little each day.

After being in the program for a while, I decided I could not live my life this way any longer. I was scared to death of my husband and I was so afraid he might really hurt me. I lived on eggshells every day. In 2004, I finally decided to cut my losses and get out. I filed for divorce and began looking for a new house.

Ironically, the house I found had a sign on the wall which 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 ex-husband continued to harass me for more than a year. He threatened to take our child from me. Four months after I had moved in to my own house I still could not figure out 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? It was finally determined I was experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome which led me to Domestic Abuse counseling.

I spent many hours on my knees praying for the fear and anxiety that I felt when he would come into my safe place. It took me a while to learn not to live in fear. I no longer try to have a “normal” relationship with my child's father. He is incapable of that right now and is not willing to work on the drinking problem. I know God knows what is best for him, but I believe he has many lessons yet to learn.

The Domestic Abuse Counselor handed me a paper that had the symptoms of a Power/Controlling relationship on one side and the signs of an Equality relationship on the other. Our relationship had all of Power/Controlling symptoms (except he never hit me) and none of the Equality signs.

I have become stronger in the past two years and continue to run a successful business doing something I love. My website has grown and is receiving more than 3 million hits per month. Today, I love all aspects of my life and 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 will protect her. I know she has lessons and experiences she must learn as well. I continue to go to Alanon.

I know I have become successful because of what I have been through and what I have accomplished. Perhaps it was self focus that turned my life around or perhaps it was something bigger. But I know I have become successful because of the lessons I have learned from my life. I wanted to share my story so others in similar situations realize there is hope and help out there—all you need is the courage to find it and the strength to accept it.

Useful Resources:
Oprah Verbal Abuse | Alanon and Alateen | Alcoholics Anonymous | Dr Irene's Verbal Abuse Site | Katy Christian Ministries | Texas Counsil on Family Violence | Find a Women's Shelter in Texas
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE