I have indeed been overwhelmed and humbled by the numerous support and response I have received since I posted my initial “The Anatomy of Abuse” blog yesterday. Many of you have written to me personally giving me your support and encouragement. It truly means a lot to me. Many of you have also asked about how I managed to go through life thus far with the history of my past. I am therefore writing this as a follow-up to answer some of the questions I have since received.
To be honest, I am not able to point to a single source of strength during my past struggles; it would be unfair to say that there was just one person or group of people that helped me to surpass my pain. My parents as a unit (mom and dad) remain undoubtedly one of my biggest systems of support. Although for the most part they have not been aware of the abuse that occurred, their love and support has been more than enough. I also want to go on record to note that I have nothing but love for my parents, and do not blame them, nor do I believe they have anything to be guilty about regarding my past. My parents did everything they could to ensure that I was raised in a loving and caring environment. In my view it is the people they trusted that should shoulder all the guilt.
Growing up within a Christian family I had all the values of the church instilled in me from an early age. During my teenage years I became a member of a local church that had a mission beyond that of your average church in Jamaica. Through that church I was able to connect with founder and Pastor Rev. Merrick “Al” Miller (I affectionately call him Uncle Al). Uncle Al became a foundational force in my life, beyond his spiritual teachings he truly extended himself to me as a friend and confidant. At times when I felt overwhelmed I would seek his advice and he never once violated my trust. He told me that regardless of all I had been through, God still loved me. There was a rewarding sense in knowing that I was not judged because of what happened to me, and instead I could receive the love and support from people who knew that my best days were still ahead of me.
Any mention of hope and resilience could not be made without referencing the role my younger sister played in my life. Growing up we had your normal sibling rivalry and disagreements, but as we grew older we became more than brother and sister, we became best friends. My sister became someone I could go to and confide in when I felt the world did not understand me. Somehow whenever I needed someone to stand by my side whenever I felt alone, I knew my younger sister would be the one I could call on.
In addition there were members of my extended family who became aware of my past before anyone else did, and they have stood by me providing emotional support ever since. I also cannot fail to mention my friends who I have confided in, each deserving their own merit for the role they have played in my life. Each person gave me something unique, and because of that, I cannot undervalue anyone’s contribution to my life and my ability to overcome the demons of my past.
Life and the challenges it presents, cannot be faced alone. Everyone needs a support system, everyone needs a friend. I recall one night in college I had a very bad day, the hurt from my past came rushing back and my tears began to flow, I laid on the floor of my dorm room crying uncontrollably. Within a few minutes one of my closest friends and fraternity brother walked into the room, he saw me lying on the floor crying and never knew what to do. Not knowing the words to say to comfort me, he made space on the floor and laid next to me. Something about him being there, something about not having the words to say but the ability to support me just by his presence, meant the world to me. Sometimes we get so caught up in life trying to find someone to love us, trying to find people who will value us that we fail to realize those closest to us that already fulfill that need. What we need is not to search, but to begin to accept that which we already have.
Within the same breath I think it is essential to point out that we at times may be placed in positions where we need to be there for someone else. Learn to listen; learn to listen with your heart. You may never always have the right words to say, but just letting someone know that you are there for them can save their lives. On numerous occasions I have sat contemplating ways to end my life; I would reach for the closest pill bottle or a knife. I would imagine for a moment the initial pain that would ensue with the first slit of my wrist, but then glow in the freedom I thought I would feel when death began to take over. Death began to symbolize freedom for me; it was my way to escape the harsh realities of this world. But the truth is that committing suicide was not freedom, it was bondage. Suicide would have said that I could not overcome my struggle; it would have said that I stopped fighting; it would have suggested that I took the easy road out. Fortunately I could never muster the strength to take my own life because I worried about the hurt I would have caused others.
My encouragement to anyone going through a hard time right now would be to not give up. Find a friend; find someone you can talk to. Life can and will get better; it does not have to end with you feeling sad and unacceptable. God has better plans for your life, and your best days are still ahead of you. Everything you have been through happened for a reason. If I had the power to change my life and magically go back to my childhood I would not have changed anything. Today I do not reject the abuse I had, I accept it. The abuse has enabled me to become a voice for the broken-hearted. The abuse has enabled me to reach out to others who have gone through similar struggles and to help them realize their own greatness.
I pray that everyone reading this blog will learn to love themselves again. I pray that you will learn to accept that your life is still good despite your past. I pray that every time you look at your reflection you will see someone who was uniquely created to fulfill a role on this earth that no one else can. You are special, you are unique, and this world would not be the same without you.
You do have friends that love you, you do have friends to talk to, and if you don’t, I encourage you not to give up. If that is not enough, feel free to reach out to me; do not hesitate to contact me, because like your life, this blog was created for a reason.
I still have my good days and bad days. In fact, after I posted my blog yesterday I cried when I saw the symbolism of what it meant to share my story with the world. There are days when my past does come rushing back, and I do cry, but that is a part of life. Crying is God’s way to help us cleanse the soul. Don’t run from it. The beauty of life is in the fact that sorrow may last for a day, but joy comes in the morning. Every day is a new opportunity to start fresh. Every day is a gift from God saying you are still charged with a purpose, so live life to the fullest. One Love!
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