Friends, I want to remind you who I am to you. To most of you, I am that honor student that always finished her work first in class. I am the clarinet section leader in our high school band. I am in drama, loving being the center of attention because I’m just a cut up whose always smiling, always joking. I am that girl who received a scholarship for playing Emily in the play “Our Town” in the beautiful auditorium that was built our senior year. Many of you may not know it, but I got that part the night before the play because Bernadette didn’t show up for dress rehearsal and I was her under study!!! I hadn’t learned ANY of her lines because I just KNEW that she was gonna be there. I originally had the part of the stage manager (narrator). I am that girl who was in science club, math club, Aeropagus. I am that girl who loved to dance!

I am also an alcoholic and a drug addict. I have been deep into ungodly places and done things that I have never shared with another human being, and never will. I am that person that people shake their head at and go, “She had so much potential. She was going places.”

What none of you knew was the terror and fear I lived with everyday. I didn’t let on that I was being abused or that I hurt so much inside. I hid that pain pretty well, and I tried to fit in to your circles, but I just never quite made it to the middle. But I wore a smile. I was a tough little cookie…wouldn’t back down from anyone. Even in the abuse, I didn’t give in without a fight a lot of times. See, there was more than one person abusing me in that home. The others didn’t know that they were not the only one, as far as I know. I would physically fight these abusers, especially one, off of me. I would come in the house with scratches on my neck or face and bruises on my arms. No one said a word. Just ignored the unignorable. This front I put on for all of you was a considerate ethical rejection of chaos, as if to say in the face of this hostility “You’ll never get me for real.”
What I wanted was a center, a place to be home base, even if I disregarded it most of the time. I needed safety. But I wasn’t going to let YOU know that. You might think I was weak.

I have that now. Don’t pity me, don’t fear for me. I am standing in the Victory. I have a relationship with Jesus Christ that sustains me and grounds me. Thank you God for the suffering. I did more damage to myself in the years of my addictions and alcoholism than any abuse ever could have, so the person responsible for my detriment is me. I was grown and over 18 when I made the decisions that I did. I was a smart girl, according to Smiths Station High School guidance counselors and all those gifted tests they subjected me to. I knew the difference between right and wrong and I chose…

I can never convey what it was like to live there. I can’t compare it to any movie that I’ve seen or any book. I’ve seen glimpses of my experiences in print and film. These things have brought me closer to you. There are so many times that I encounter people who have some sort of experience and I can say, “I’ve been through something like that” , and I can listen with empathy. Whether it is rape, molestation, physical abuse, domestic violence, loss of a parent, addiction, alcoholism, promiscuity…the list goes on. I tell people all the time that no one’s worst tragedy or loss is worse than the next person’s because to each, it is the WORST. It may be that one man’s life was devastated when his parents divorced and that sent him spiraling out of control because he no longer had his father in his life. In my eyes, that is just as bad as my father beating my mother to death in the front yard. It’s the same. We experienced the same emotions. Both of us lost a parent. So, look for the similarities and not the differences when you are walking in this world. Remember that each of us has something. Don’t envy or “hate on” your neighbor. Love them. You just never know…

Ephesians 4:32 “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

May God bless you all.

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