What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Sarah.
I am 28, married, have a master’s degree, no kids yet, earned A’s and B’s all of my life with some scholarships and honors here and there, and am enjoying newlywed life in a cozy apartment over looking the Newport back bay. If you were to meet me today though you would probably never guess that I was once homeless, sleeping in my car; the victim of sexual and physical abuse, and I have about 10 years of history living as a Dependent of the Court because my dad left our family at an early age (caught stealing, doing drugs, and having an affair) and at about age 35 my mother’s mental health started going downhill rapidly. First it started out with delusions and paranoia, over a 10 year span her mental state ebbed and flowed into depression and then anorexia. No one would guess that once upon a time I had to watch a feeding tube be surgically implanted into her belly because my mom’s refusal to eat was literally killing her. At around age 22 I had so much emotional and physical anguish over her condition that I actually prayed that God would “take her home,” and then prayed that God would take away my guilt from praying that prayer. The very next day after I prayed that prayer I would find out the shocking news (news that literally caused me to pass out) that my mom’s heart stopped while in the psychiatric ward of a hospital only a few hours before I would go on to pray that desperate, selfish prayer. (Even the cardiologist at the hospital could not tell my brother and I what the cause of death was.) I remembered that I also prayed a praying of healing for my mom for years and years prior. In time I began to see that death is also a form of healing. My mom is no longer in pain.
No one would guess when they meet me today that nearly every decision, big and small, that I made over that 10 years to wake up, get dressed, get myself to school, bust my butt at work, take care of my dehabilitated mom, open my mind and heart to the wisdom of teachers and mentors, felt on the inside as if I was literally laying bruised, beaten, lost, and alone in a barren dessert, trapped in a thick pile of quicksand and reaching with all of my might and breath to pull myself out of the psychological pit of brokenness
I go into some detail about my past here to attempt to convey the degree of desperation I felt inside growing up. Desperation for hopeful connection in a world that seemed filled with pain and heartache. Desperation for caregiving from a loving adult. Desperation for physical and emotional healing. Desperation for a mental break (the good kind). Desperation for a family to turn to when times were hard. Desperation for affirmation that I was going to make it, that I was okay, and that someone heard my angry voice. By the grace of God, I never turned to drugs, sex, or other addictions to get those needs met.
Six years after my mom’s passing and after a lot of processing, I am finally to a place where I can look at those around me and authentically thank God for the painful circumstances he allowed me to endure. Those circumstances forced me to turn to something that was greater than myself sooner than I would have without them. The sexual abuse forced me to chastity until marriage. Those painful circumstances forced me to look at human beings honestly and see how glaringly desperate everyone’s condition is and was. Those circumstances forced me to embrace a theory about life that recognizes and explains evil, but also offers a plan for healing, restoration, and redemption.
Today I am a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern and my husband and I are foster parent candidates because I refuse to let my pain go to waste.