Living Victoriously Means Being Empowered with Hope for the Future Because I Overcame my Past (Part 1)
This is my Story. This is My Why.
My story. My why. Here I am, just turned 53 and living an amazing life. Yet, I am sitting here with tears streaming down my cheeks. I am shaking and fighting off anxiety. Why? Because, as much as people are good, some people like being mean.
I have nothing to hide; I own my whole story, every traumatic, ugly piece of it. If you want to know something about me, simply ask. I am honest and open. Why wouldn’t I be? I am who I am, and my story is mine.
But, words can still sting. Judgment can still hurt. Stigma remains very real. So, until now I have been less than vocal about my whole story, although not completely hidden it. And I answer with truth anyone who asks.
Today, I am openly embracing my story. Many women have been in similar shoes. Hearing my struggles and victories can help other females have hope.
Also, to any small-minded people: your judgment and stigmatization does hurt. But only for a moment. Your opinion of me does not matter. I have no shame over who I am nor the circumstances I survived and grew through to thrive.
You see, my neighbor yelled at me today, saying four words, over and over. The four words were, “you are a criminal!” Repeatedly. Ouch.
This Is My Story
So, here you go, this is me:
Wait. Do I start at the beginning? How I knew, from earliest memories, I was the unexpected, unwanted third child? Do I tell you my father reminded me every day he did not love or want me? Even while I was his 24/7 caregiver!
“Look at you, Heather, still trying to earn my love!”, he would laugh, right up until he died.
Do I include details of the resulting poor self-esteem? Looking for love in all the wrong places? The abusive first marriage? While all those factors are important, affecting how my story unfolds, they are not my story.
So, I must begin much later in the story, yet much earlier in the story than some know. See, my real nightmare did begin many years ago. If you are surprised, please react compassionately, as the enlightened person, living a heart-centered love-led life, I know you to be.
We All Have a Story
Sadly, most of us hide the ‘ugly’ parts of our journeys due to fear or shame. This keeps us stuck. We therefore exist at a lower resonance, having difficulty moving passed our past.
The world would be a more beautiful place if we all lived our authentic lives, sharing our trials, tribulations, and triumphs, helping each other heal and grow! Therefore, I am making the choice to live transparently. If my story changes one life, I will have succeeded at God’s mission for me.
Thus, I share my story.
I begin my story where I suddenly knew I had bigger things to fear. I knew because they told me. They followed me. They promised to “get” me. It took five years. But they succeeded. At least in their minds, for a while. But I do not easily break.
Who were they? They were the very law enforcement officers who had ignored my 911 calls. The calls I made when my ex arrived and threatened me. The calls where, if they bothered showing up, they laughed, even though I had a permanent protective order against him. They were the officers who had arrested him for crimes unrelated to me. When he turned informant, he became one of them.
Everything Happens for a Reason
I never knew why they wanted to “get” me. Yet, I just knew they did. They made sure of it. I became a single, self-employed mom living in hell.
It happened in an unexpected instant. One moment, I was the passenger in my employee’s car. She was driving me to pick up my son because we often carpooled, with me paying her for the time. The next moment, I was in the front seat of a campus security guard’s car, handcuffed!
My employee had bizarrely driven the car off the road hitting a fence. Then, she ran off but I had no idea where or why. I remained with the car because you stay when an accident has happened.
When ‘help’ arrived, I did not know why he handcuffed me or put me in his security car. He had not arrested me. I had broken no laws. He would not tell me anything. Further, he turned away a female state police officer who offered to help me, insisting he needed ‘to handle’ me.
He drove us a small distance before he pulled over to the side of the road. I was already confused and scared. Then he reached across and grabbed my breast. I instinctively reacted in fight-or-flight and bit at his heavy winter jacket sleeve.
He charged me with assault on an officer. But, I pled ‘not guilty by reason of self-defense’. In the first hearing, the officer tried to change his recollection of events. He did this in my favor, when shown a pictorial piece of evidence. The assistant commonwealth attorney stopped him. The judge, however, did allow his statement that he did suddenly reach across and grab me, with me reacting.
The assistant commonwealth attorney also reminded the jury I “admitted to defending myself. Thus, [they] must find me guilty.” Therefore, they obeyed the authoritative, handsome assistant commonwealth attorney and I did not blame them. I might have, too, based on what and how he presented things.
My attorney charged me one-tenth of his normal fee, telling me he knew they would not stop until they got me, and it would be easier on me this way. He said if I went through this ordeal, the charge would never show up on my record.
That was true. At first.
I spent nights and a month of Sundays in the county jail. During this time, I taught yoga to female inmates, cut the hair of inmates and guards alike, and taught bible study. The guards spoke openly of me not belonging there, of how I had been set up.
However, God let me go through everything for a reason. I positively affected other women’s lives in that jail. And that is reason enough for me.
Our Stories Do Not End
When everything was over, I went on with my life. I thought they had gotten what they wanted and would leave me alone. I left that little town, but I guess not far enough away.
A regional hospital immediately hired me to open and direct their medi-spa. They ordered a criminal background check and my record came back clean. But, a retired officer from the town where my nightmare occurred recognized me at the hospital-owned fitness center. He wrote an anonymous letter to my boss’s husband, who was a judge. The judge investigated. The result? The state had no choice but to add the charge to my record.
I kept my job. Again, I felt no shame.
After a couple years directing the medi-spa, the economy went into a recession. Companies slashed jobs. I took the opportunity to plunge back into self-employment, where I am happiest. Opening a yoga and skincare studio, I was excited for my future.
Again I thought my worries were over. At the end of the first two years, I renewed my lease early, for another three years. I knew I would succeed. I believed my hardships were behind me.
But life did not get easier. Instead, trauma struck with two huge blows within 24 hours. First, one of my teenage son’s best friends committed suicide. He had spent many days and nights at our house, always calling me Momma H., often thanking me for caring so much about him.
I loved him like another son, and he knew it. Yet, that was not enough to save his 14-year-old life after he argued with his real mother. He decided to ‘show her’ by hanging himself.
I closed my studio that morning to be home counseling my son’s group of friends.
Then, later that evening, the grandmother who had raised the deceased wanted to see the boys she knew so well. They all went, leaving me home alone for the first time in many weeks. Usually at least two or three of my son’s friends were snoozing on a chair or couch. I tended to be a mom-figure to most of them.
Being alone should not have been a problem. I welcomed the somber solace. Being exhausted, I settled into bed with a book and my son’s ancient dog. At 1:30 am, like clockwork, the dog asked out. So down the stairs and out to the back porch stoop I went, just like every other night.
Only this time, a figure came out of the dark shadows of the bushes and tried to tackle me. Somehow, I jumped back so he failed but grabbed me. I fought back as hard as I could. But, I lost.
We Must Choose to Survive and Thrive
“Please help me, God; I can’t fight anymore,” I remember begging. Vividly, I recall a flash of bright white light. I knew my Divine Protector was finishing my battle. Blankness overcame me.
I have some flash-memories of the events following being attacked. Like, the man who came back was not the first man. I saw two distinctly different faces. I recognized them. The second man lugged me up the stairs dumping me in my tub. He ran scalding hot water over me, yelling at me, I was “supposed to be dead.” I watched my blood trickle down the drain.
Somehow walked to my neighbor and asked if I could use the phone several hours after I was attacked. But I only remember splintered bits and pieces of going to them and making the call. Oddly, when theparamedics and police arrived, I was still holding the pack of no-longer-frozen peas the second man had thrown at me.
In the emergency room, the nurses could not believe I was alive and conscious. They stopped counting bruise clusters at 77, not including any on my head or the eye they thought I would lose. One commented that I was a miracle. I silently agreed. I knew God kept me alive for a reason.
My story does not end here. Read part 2 here.
“It took me who I was and where I’ve been to make me who I am.”~~Aaron Neville)
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