Thursday, August 7, 2014

I Have A Story Project

I came across this picture on Instagram from @PoeticRainSDYP a fellow survivor and it inspired me to talk about my personal survival story.


Right here, Right now I declare that I'm breaking every chain that has ever held me back.

Everything happens for a reason, we don't always understand why we have to go through certain things, but know that "God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him." Romans 8:28 

Most of us go through life trying our best to hide our scars & the things we've experienced that made us who we are. We hide where we came from, where we started and who we used to be. Either because we are ashamed, it still hurts or it's still a secret struggle. We live our daily lives  trying to be something were not in fear of rejection. 
What would people think & say if they knew about the skeletons in my closet??

All the walls I have built to keep people out have also been the walls that have kept me in isolation. I've lived a life of hurt, darkness & fear! But boy am I glad I know that Jesus has saved me & that a day awaits where there will be no more pain, no more fears & no more tears!!! As a believer I AM meant to be the light on the hill, therefore there is no reason why I should keep any darkness within me. I'm setting it free.

What you know about your "friends" can be so superficial & artificial. You don't really know much about anyone besides what they post on Instagram & Facebook . 
There are no deep connections, relationships are meaningless. There is no intimacy, no depth & no roots. How can we relate to a stranger? It's simple- we can't. 
So in efforts of helping you understand who I am and why I do what I do- let me take you back into time as I open my heart to you.

Growing up my aunt lived with us and babysat me. When I turned 8 she married & moved in with her husband. Mom would have me stay with them over summer & winter breaks .Unbeknown to us, he was a porn addict. Porn to him was past beyond a quick indulgence, it was his drug of choice and he was addicted to it. So much so that watching alone was no longer enough- it had rewired his brain...  

It all began when I was playing with the neighbor behind the house & we noticed the TV was on in the master bedroom. We believed no one was home so we decided we should turn it off and return to our play time. We walked into the bedroom and immediately our eyes were magnetized to the screen. We sat at the edge of the bed and giggled. Thats when I heard him chuckle behind us. One hand under the blankets and the other stretched out towards the neighbor as he asked her to come hither.

Something was off, I didn't know what was going on but I knew it didn't feel right. Before her hand reached his I puller her arm away & told her she should go home. He looked at me menacingly & I ran out. That night I woke up to him sitting besides me as he explored my 8yr old body. I sat up in a panic and I told him I would scream if he didn't stop. He reached for his handgun and told me it was in my best interest to keep my mouth shut, otherwise he'd shoot my aunt while she slept, call my mom and shoot her as soon as she walked through the door and I'd be next. 

I decided 2 lives were worth more than my discomfort so I kept it a secret.  My mom was a single mom so she worked two jobs and didn't have time to look after me so she would send me away to spend vacations in their house. And so for the following 3 years, during every summer & winter breaks, I was accessible to him and he would sexually harass me. I am grateful that he never penetrated, but it doesn't make the years of abuse any less damaging. He forced me to watch his poisonous filth hoping that it would ignite something sexual in me. It didn't, it only made me hate my body. 
Summer of 2000 I got my menses and he was no longer interested. He ended after he sneaked into my shower to take pictures of me. A few weeks later he filed for divorce. I would have never understood why this happened until I read this book many years later. -->

I was 11. Things were changing so fast. I had just started 6th grade, I had been exposed to things beyond the innocence of my peers and my body was going through changes.

I hated myself. I hated my body. 

I hated my skin. I hated my life. 

How could God let this happen to me? Wasn't it enough to make me grow up without a father? Why did the first male role model in my life have to take advantage of me??

I started to self mutilate. 
Cutting was my escape.

I didn't want to kill myself, I just wanted to cut deep enough for it to hurt & to bleed. I had trouble sleeping and I was afraid of the dark. 

I'd close my eyes and see him there grimacing as he touched me

The mental torture became unbearable I just had to hurt my body to shift my mind to a different source of pain and numb my head & heart.
I was 5'4 & 127 pounds by the end of 6th grade. I did not have the body of a child. At the age of 12, I had male suitors ranging from ages 16 to 24. I hated them for wanting me. I hated my curves. I hated the compliments. I trusted no one. To hide my scars & my curves I became a tomboy. A loner. A misfit. Misunderstood, neglected & alone. Mom worked 2 jobs so I had enough time alone to get into trouble.  I started hanging out with the wrong crowd and picked up smoking cigarettes.

 In efforts to set me straight, my mother sent me to Mexico to live with my grandmother. She put me in an all girls Catholic school. It might have worked but I blamed her for what happened. If she had not sent me away during vacations, if she had kept a close eye on me, if she didn't work so much, If only.... maybe my childhood would have been differently.  Once again, she was sending me away

My cousin was the leader of the street hooligans, so to spite my mom I hung out with them. My grandmother was old and busy praying for everyone else, so I was free to roam. I was riding motorcycles, staying out past midnight. Wearing thick black eye liner, a smoke in my hand, chucks on my feet, loose dickies, a muscle tank & my studded belt- I declared my independence.

The week after my 13th birthday we had a death in the family. My grandma & all the adults were gone for the 24hr funeral viewing and prayer. I was  the oldest girl who stayed behind so I was left in charge of 5 of my younger cousins. My older cousin & his crew "guarded" the house. Around 2am Some of the fellas came in and started smoking pot. They turned on the tv & put on the nudie channel. They were being loud, the smoke was seeping through the closed door & the sleeping toddlers were stirring up. Hot headed as I was I confronted the guys. One guy told another guy to "handle me" so they could enjoy the show on the screen.

He picked me up & dragged to the back of the house with a hand over my mouth. He was high & excited and from the look in his eyes I just knew what was about to happen. As soon as he removed his hand from my mouth I spit in his face. He punched my chin knocking me off my feet & onto my back. Knock out. When I came to my senses there he was taking what little virtue I had left.  
Already feeling unloved & worthless the fight within me was dying. With my breaking heart, eyes swelled with tears, my voice failed. Whispering sobs of "no don't, please stop" went unheard. 
I wished with all my heart that I could just die. 
I gave up. I stopped eating, I couldn't sleep, all I did was cry. For the reminder of the year I didn't leave home except for school. I failed all my classes.
On New years eve had a Bronchospasm, in my room while everyone was celebrating. My airways had constricted & there was very little oxygen coming in. I passed out. Luckily someone came in to give me a new years hug & found me. I was rushed to the hospital just in time, good thing because it was with this brush with death that I decided The best revenge I could have was TO LIVE. 
Life had taken so much from me and it was time for me to start taking back. I was not about to let go of my dreams to someday marry, have kids, own a dog, buy a house, travel & catch bad guys. I was determined not to die and be remembered as that sad confused girl who was moping around the last few months of her life. That was NOT an option. I was going to LIVE and I was going to find TRUE LOVE & I was going to lead life of HAPPINESS.

My mom brought me back to California. We moved to a new house, but I went back to the same school. I took a look at my old friends & saw that they were not headed to where I wanted to be, so I was once again I found myself a loner. 

It felt like forever but then I started High school. As luck would have it, I got jumped by 3 girls & a guy in my first week!!! The victim in me wanted to give up, but the fighter in me had a plan in motion. 
My mom put me in a martial arts school to learn self defense. My grades went up, I joined extra curricular activities in school. I was part of the school pride leadership team & the theater production company. I was a karate kid Tuesdays & Thursdays and singer, dancer & actress on Monday, Wednesdays & Fridays. Gaining strength & learning self discipline in martial arts, gaining confidence & learning to laugh and play in the theater club. 
Being on stage made me feel alive. I could be me & I wouldn't be judged. I became strong & fit. I was able to kick through 4 boards & defend myself. I got the lead role in the play, I sang a solo & dance my heart out on stage while people watched & clapped for me. Life was looking up.
 I also joined the police explorer program for kids interested in law enforcement. I made new friends. I went to an explorer police academy. It was 6 days of what I imagine basic training is like. Officers screaming in your face, having to run everywhere with a buddy, morning group runs, marching, chow hall, bunks, 3min shared showers, long hours of lectures, obstacle courses, bonding with your fellow group members &  graduation. 
 A couple of weeks before my 15th birthday, Sophomore year, I met my "High School sweetheart."(If it could even be called that, he had already graduated.) We dated steady for the duration of my High School experience. 
I had performed 2yrs in a row for the school theater club, I earned my black belt & I got several certificates from the Police explorer program. My Junior year I decided to try out for the cheerleading squad. Senior year was the best. I belonged. I was part of something. I had finished my academic classes early and had the easiest elective class. I was living, loving & being happy. I graduated with a 3.7 at the age of 17. 
My father was now involved and wanted to be a part of my life. He talked to my mom because  he wanted me to spend some time with him. He flew me out to him the week after graduating.  He told me he wanted to put me in the most prestigious private university in Mexico. So I packed my bags & kissed my 3yr boyfriend goodbye. 
My dad was married and his wife didn't know about me. To buy himself some time, I had to stay at his lady friends house. She told me he had been married 3 times & I had 7 half brothers & sisters with 4 different moms. I actually had a brother who was 2months older than me, but he had tragically passed away in a freak playground accident. 
This lady friend of his had 2 sons of her own, one was 18 & the other 21. I was there for 5days before my dad came around again, in the mean time she had her boys show me around town. Motorcycle rides, carnivals, sport events, movies, and they even tried teaching me how to drive. I was a confident athletic girl so wherever we went the guys introduced me as their girlfriend and they got praised, it was flattering.

My father had retired from Law enforcement as a narcotics division commander. He had saved & invested in several businesses in town. Co-Owner of gas stations, bakeries, super markets, condos & restaurants. He was  building me a house & bought a restaurant in my name. Whatever revenues came through the restaurant were for my bills & me. He took me car shopping, but I didn't know how to drive so we skipped it. Trips to the mall, vacations, I met some of my siblings and I wasn't alone. Life was golden.

School would start soon so my dad sat me down & told me to think seriously about living there permanently. I had flight tickets to return back home to talk it over with my mom. It was now late July & I was still underage so my mom would had to approve of my decision. 
I had stayed at his lady friends house during my entire 6week visit. My last day we all went out to a water park & being wet all day had me feeling under the weather. I took a double doze of NyQuil, I had a noon flight so I wanted to get a good nights rest. 
That night there was a really bad thunder storm. The house I was staying in was in mid construction. There were 3 bedrooms on the second floor but there was no roof over the entire area. Stepping out of the door from my room was like walking out into the roof. Next to my door was her younger son's door, the other room was used for storage.

I had been so caught up basking in happiness over my change of luck I didn't notice he had become compulsively obsessed with me. 
I recall waking up to the sound of a loud thundering crash. I saw him sitting on the edge of my bed rocking back & forth with a butchers knife in his hand looking at me intensely.  It felt like de-javu. He said to me:  "You can't leave. You can't leave me. I love you more than life and I can't lose you. I'd rather die..."  taking the knife to his neck. He threateningly asked "Do you love me? or should I end it?" I responded "I do, I love you! Please don't do that!" 
Still drowsy & eyes half opened I reached for the knife trying to deescalate by saying I had to leave but I'd be back shortly to start school anyways. 
 He opened his arms gesturing for a hug & I reluctantly gave in. With his arms wrapped around me he reached for the knife and now it was against my neck  
"Prove to me that you love me or I'll kill you for lying" he whispered in my ear.
I nervously laughed saying he should stop playing & that we needed to go back to sleep. He chuckled, let go & turned away. 

Naively assuming he was leaving, I turned walking back towards my bed... 
A loud thud, sharp pain & confusion. He had pushed my head into the wall & my body fell limp... The rest was a blur. I have faint memories of the knife, one hand on my neck & the other over my mouth. Next thing I remember, I was waking up in pain and bruised. 
I showered & scrubbed violently breaking my skin into visible blood filled pores. 

The hot water ran cold & then my dad knocked on the door. It was time to go. I quickly got dressed & came down stairs. Still raining & hair dripping wet from the shower, my tears blended in. I didn't see him on my way out. A quiet ride to the airport and I hugged my father tightly one last time. Goodbye. (And I haven't seen him since.  This was in 2006)

When I returned home & didn't breathe a word. I wanted to black it out & pretend it never happened. I signed up for the Santa Monica community college starting early September.  It was just a few blocks from the beach & the ocean has always been a place of comfort for me. The first day of school I was in a hurry, school was a 2hr bus ride away so didn't eat breakfast . I felt nauseous & nervous. My mouth was dry & I was hungry so I drank a ton of water &  had to pee every 15mins. I didn't really want to be there. I was depressed again and I couldn't focus. The 2nd day of school I just felt plain sick. I ditched classes and went to the pier. I stared down into the water thinking about jumping over the rail. My life was a train wreck. I attracted negative energy everywhere I went. What was the point? There was none- Period!... 

Period... when was my last period... early July...

I quickly made my way to the nearest pharmacy. I purchased 4 sticks & all showed 2 lines.
I was so afraid, but at the same time followed by an odd sense of peace, I felt relief. 
I called one of the cheerleaders who had had a baby. We weren't close, but I didn't know who else to turn to for help. She was very kind & took me to 2 clinics. Sure enough positive urinalysis & blood test.
Staff nurse : "How old are  you?",  Me :"17", nurse: "Do you work?", me: "no", nurse: "'ok well, You're only 8weeks along, do you want me to schedule you for a termination?"... 
I don't think i have ever felt so much anger in my life as I did in that moment. It was just sinking in that I was capable of creating the miracle of life.

After feeling like all my reasons to live were taken from me- now I had something, or better said, someone to live for. 

How dare she insinuate that I should terminate MY unborn child?? I replied by saying she could terminate our services because I was going elsewhere for my prenatal care.
 I was an active girl. I had strong core. I didn't start showing until late November... I thought I could hide it but my mom found my pregnancy results, confronted me & kicked me out of the house with only the clothes on my back because I didn't want to talk about it. Eventually my mom got over it & let me back in.
 I was determined to do whatever it took, I worked during my pregnancy so I could afford to provide for my heaven sent angel. I went back to school full time when my baby was 4months old & I worked part time. I wanted to do something and be someone my child could be proud of.

I am NOT a victim. 

God gave me this life because he knew I could handle it. I AM STRONG, because I am weak, and in my weakness his strength is magnified. I'm sharing this with you because my life is a testimony that no matter what happens THERE IS HOPE. I'm not going to hide what made me who I am. I choose to fight, vocalize my story so others can find strength in it. 

 I know God had a purpose for the way things happened. I've grown, matured, gained strength & wisdom. I was able to speak at a rape survivor conference & give my testimony. I  touched the lives of those few I shared my story with. I have opened the eyes of many & changed stand points in regards to rape abortions. I'm very much Pro-Life. God makes no mistakes. No matter if your parents planned you, it was an "accident" or a misfortune- God had a plan for your life before you were conceived. 
Going through a traumatic experience like this kills the innermost sense of self, your value, your worth. You're left feeling weak, dirty & used. Add an abortion on top and now you have guilt, shame, regret on top- the perfect recipe for disaster. 
I don't pass judgement on those who take that route. God BLESSED me with courage, strength & favor. Even when my family looked down on me for having a child out of wedlock I pushed forward. My mom refused to tell anyone what happened, so everyone believed my 3yr boyfriend was the father. To them I was a piece of work. 


Perhaps someone going through something similar will read this & feel like they are not alone. Perhaps you know someone who acts crazy & you think is a lost cause but you've never taken the time to look them in the eyes and ask whats going on. 
Don't add to their struggle if you don't know what demons they're fighting.
 I was created to overcome obstacles. I was created to believe and achieve. I was created to lift & inspire others and I was made to lead. My fitness journey has encouraged me to make my body a reflection of my  faith and inner strength. I want to transform my lifestyle to match the transformation of my heart, mind & spirit. 
When my day comes, I want to be remembered as the woman who dared to dream big and wasn't scared to follow them. The woman who achieved everything she set her mind to. 
I want to get to the top of my mountain & yell that there is a light at the end of the tunnel; you just have to keep going to reach it. Telling my story gives a voice to those who have been silenced. It is my wish to give strength to those who have been broken. 

We are survivors, we are strong & we are beautiful. 


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