From the very beginning, my real dad told me he loved me but left. He may have loved me, but I don’t know. Then a stepdad came in and said he loved me and my mom but would also tell me to not tell. It started with fondling and groping, then straight into sexual intercourse. When my mother and I came along, new to the town, he was looked at as the knight in shining armor for taking in this young woman and her child when his children were already grown. He had the reputation of being a very good upstanding citizen.
She [mom] would always say, “If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have this house, the money, and all these good things that he’s done for us. As a seven and eight years old, I had somehow convinced myself that I had seduced this man by walking in front of him wearing only a T-shirt at only eight years old. I was well into my twenties before I was able to put it all together in my mind.
When I was in high school, he was diagnosed with cancer. I tried to help my mom take care of him in the compassionate way that everyone else was. When he died, my world was turned upside down. I saw my mother experience grief at a level that I didn’t want to see. I saw his death as my fault. I had prayed for years that he would die before he was ever sick. I had prayed that something would happen to him. Now, something had happened to him, and I believed that all this pain and grief was my fault and that I was a bad person for having caused this.
When I returned to college, I really felt like I was having a nervous breakdown, trying to think of how I could have done something differently. One night I came to myself standing in the bathroom stall, half-naked, shaking back and forth and rocking, not knowing how I got there. It was before I started drinking alcohol, so I wasn’t intoxicated, but I was losing it. The only solution I knew was to get to the cemetery where he was buried. I got in the car and drove six hours across Tennessee in the middle of the night. I laid on the ground at that old country cemetery. I sat there and said, “I don’t know why you did what you did, but I will not let your stupidity and your mistakes make me crazy and ruin my life for the rest of my life. So, I’m done. This is yours. This was your mistake. This was your war. Whatever was in you that made feel like you had to do this to me…I can’t let your stupidity ruin the rest of my life. I will not go this route.”
Mentally I thought I had taken care of it, but when I came back I started drinking. I tried to find that word, love, everywhere it was available. Man after man after man. At the end of a bottle. When drinking wasn’t enough then we went to cocaine. When cocaine wasn’t enough, we went to meth. Whatever was available. Whatever made the party the party was what I did for the next several years. Then I met my husband. When it came to partying, we were very compatible.
My son had just turned two years old when we moved to Georgia. I was smoking pot and doing some pills one day, and I remember becoming aware that I was sitting on the side of the bathtub, and he was on the toilet for potty training. I call it my waking-up moment. I was suddenly aware that my son was sitting there saying, “Momma, Momma!” It scared me. I have no idea how long he had been calling my name. I don’t remember taking him in the bathroom. The look in his eyes, the way he was looking at me…I didn’t want that. I walked out of the room and said to my husband, “Take care of him. I can’t be around him like this.” I went to the basement and stayed there for the rest of the day until that high wore off. Then I came back to him. There was a lot of praying that occurred during that time. ”God, please, you gotta do something, here.”
God gave me a dream one night. In the dream, I was traveling up a mountain, and snakes continued to fall on me in this open-top car. At the top of the mountain, there was a figure and a light. I kept thinking, “If I can just get to them, I can drop these snakes, and it will be over.” That’s what I did. The snakes were crawling all over me, but when I go to that light I opened up my hands, and in one quick movement, I opened my hands and dropped them out.
I had been gone from home for two weeks. On Christmas Eve I went to bed. I was awakened in the middle of the night by God. I heard his very audible voice, for the first time. I had heard people talk about God speaking, but I had never heard him. He said, “Go home and clean up your house.” I look back now and know that was the moment I opened the door and dropped everything at that light, in my dream, because in one quick motion, what I had made to be so big in my life, thinking that I couldn’t do it without my husband doing it first or someone making us do it, I was suddenly able to do. I went back to my house and asked my husband, “Are you willing to do anything it takes?” He said, “Absolutely.” I said, “We’re stopping. We’re done.” What was cool is that God had dealt with him the same way while I was gone.
I remember our pastor preaching one night about the real love of a father. At the altar call, he said, “If you’ve never felt the true love of a father He’s [God] here to let you feel it.” I stepped out that night thinking, “God, if your touch would really make a difference, then I need to know what real love really means.” As I stepped out, I literally felt God’s arms around me, and I felt a fatherly love that I knew at that moment I was supposed to feel. From that time on, God changed everything.
Over the past seven or eight years, I have seen God provide for me in ways that I would never have possibly dreamed. I’ve seen him take me places I would never have dreamed of going. When people hear my story or those who knew me before, that I did meth and other drugs, that I drank as much as I did, always say, “I would never have imagined that about you. You don’t look like that person.” My only response is, “God said He would make you a new creation, and He did just that. He made me a totally new creation. I’m not that person anymore, but it was nothing that I did because I tried for years. I couldn’t pretend my way out of that. I truly let God take over, and he made me completely new.”