The following piece was written by an amazing woman named Deidra. Deidra worked with my husband at Turkey and was truly one of his very favoritest people that he has ever had the honor of working with. (She was also one of the best at her job -- truly made my husband's life so much easier.)
Deidra recently shared something on her own Facebook page that I asked her for permission to reprint because I thought it was that amazing. I encourage you to share it with others who may need to hear the words she wrote.
If you haven't ever met Deidra, let me paint her for you. She is truly one of the happiest, smiliest, kind, loving women you will ever meet. She makes you laugh so hard. She brightens up your day. And she is a single mother in the Air Force working hard for two boys.
May her story touch you ...
Alright Family. God gave me an "assignment". And I've been going back and forth in my spirit asking God if we could maybe do this on a much smaller level so that I wouldn't have to EXPOSE myself so much. But he quickly reminded me that it's not about me! My life and my struggles were not just designed to be my testimony, but they are to be used to TEACH and help others. My prayer is that what I'm about to say not only helps someone but I pray that it helps you to HEAL. Here goes….
Most know me as a silly, crazy, LOUD, love to eat, hard working individual. Some judge me without knowing me simply off my facial expressions. But there's a side that very few know.
I lost my biological mother, My father fell to life's stressors and began to use drugs for most of my childhood.
I was molested for years by a family member, and when I finally got up the courage to tell someone, I wasn't believed by the person I loved and trusted the most.
I was then raped by someone I trusted.
I was in an abusive relationship where I was beaten up which felt like for his entertainment, and pregnant all by the age of 17.
Now, I tell you all this because this was designed to destroy me. And for many of my adult years, it almost did. Folks question my "smile", but most days it was hard enough to get outta bed let alone pretend to be happy.
Let me explain something about my smile ... it's REAL! There is so much hurt, disappointment, and pain that I live with that my smile can only be just that ... REAL! My happiness is genuine and it comes from a real place! So when you see me smiling….. you can bet that it's for real. I have been through too much to pretend. I won't smile just because you think I should. But I will smile when I think of the goodness of GOD and what he's done for me. And when you don't see me smiling, please know that it doesn't mean that I'm sad. I may just be having a moment or being taught a lesson myself which requires not only my attention but my silence.
Understand that when you are raped or molested, that changes who you are, but when you are taken through that as a CHILD it stole who I wanted to be. It replaced my confidence with fear. It shook me to the core and remodeled my life without my permission.
I tell you all this because I'm not ashamed of my past. God has kept me and blessed me in more ways then you know. But I want to speak to that young girl or women that's living with this same secret and it's eating you up on the inside. It's not your fault! Your experience is NOT who you are. Don't be bound and defined by your emotions. Let me tell you something, FORGIVENESS is a serious thing. And I won't even pretend to act like I don't struggle with it everyday. But I try. I put forth effort to be a better person and to be a good example. I know I had some prayer warriors on my team because I wasn't suppose to be here. But I'm here for a reason and so are you!
I almost allowed what I went through to define me. And for many years I dated and wanted to be with the most emotionally damaged men I could find. Because I figured I was damaged, so let me get somebody else that's damaged and we can just be damaged together. If you didnt know, you attract what you are on the inside!! To me, Love = Hurt! If he didn't hurt you, cheat on you, beat you, use you ... chile' he doesn't love you! Yep! It sounds crazy ... but look what "love" had shown me as a child. I "loved" my family, and I was betrayed and hurt in the worst way. I "loved" this boyfriend of mine and he raped me. " I "loved" another boyfriend and he beat me. So I grew up thinking that pain was love.
See how deep it goes? How it can become a cycle if you don't allow God to come in and help you? Let Him help you. It took me YEARS and I still struggle with it today to realize my worth! To look in the mirror and be proud of who I see. This is going to shock many of you but that's a good thing because you know what? I'm human too. So when you go to judge, criticize, or belittle someone just remember they too have a story!! You have no clue what that person has been through so stay humble and kind no matter how they may come off to you.
And ADULTS ... LISTEN and pay attention to your children. One thing I've learned as a mom is that the younger they are the more honest they are. They have NO REASON to lie about abuse. Take them seriously! They depend on you to protect them. It's our jobs to do just that. Talk to them. Ask the questions.
I hope this helps someone today that may be going through something similar. I'm not perfect, and I'm still being worked on daily but I'm STILL STANDING! I'm here because I'm supposed to be. But I couldn't have done it alone. So now that I've put y'all ALL UP IN my business, I'll leave you with this ...
No matter what you've been through or what you're going through God ALWAYS creates an exit plan! Your pain is not in vain. You just have to humble yourself to receive his word! I pray this helped someone today….Love y'all.