Beauty from ashes daughter

Words of hope from an abuse survivor

The Love of my Life September 22, 2012

Filed under: Healing,Hope — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 12:29 am
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Today is my husband’s birthday and I have to take a moment to tell you how special he is to me. Phil and I met when I was 17, just a few short weeks after Tara’s death actually. I was a new person – drug free, focused on Jesus, and planning for my future.

I had been away visiting college campuses with my father. I had taken some time off of work at the movie theater to do so. It was my first day back and I walked in to the theater for my shift and saw him standing behind the concession stand. I said hello to my coworker who was chatting with a man I had never seen (I assumed he was the new manager I had heard about). He said, “You must be Rachel.” I found this odd and said, “How do you know that?” and he replied, “You’re the only one that I haven’t met yet.” We made small talk for a few short minutes and I made my way back to the break room to change into my uniform. I immediately had this strange feeling that I was going to know this man for a very long time. I couldn’t explain it. I just felt certain that he would be an integral part of my future. So I told a coworker in the break room that I thought I was going to marry him some day – 5 minutes after meeting him. Crazy, right?

But it wasn’t really all that crazy because it came to be. We were good friends, laughing and flirting for the next 6 months. A fellow coworker convinced us to go on our first date in April of my senior year of high school (I was still 17, he was 26). I graduated high school in May, turned 18 in June, and we were engaged in August. We got married the following summer and have been married for 13 years.

We have certainly had our share of ups and downs, but no one has taught me more about love than him. Because of him, I know there are trustworthy people in the world. He restored so much of my faith in humanity. I am forever grateful for him. He in many ways redeemed me from my childhood. He has supported me through every step of my healing journey. He loves me unconditionally. He is compassionate, gentle, honest, and reliable – all of the things I never experienced growing up. I love him with everything that I am. This one is for you, babe.

 

I LOVE YOU MOST

I love you short or tall

I love you slim or fat

I love you young or old

I love you grumpy or sweet

I love you asleep or awake

I love you tan or pale

I love you blind or deaf

I love you sad or happy

I love you rich or poor

I love you black or white

I love you forever

No matter what you are

But when you are you

I love you most

RKB

 

And a song that perfectly captures my connection to Phil:

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Poetry with a theme of hoplessness September 19, 2012

Filed under: Depression,Emotional Pain — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 12:40 am
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These are from several years ago. I have come so far since then.

Life On Earth

Life on earth seems so hopeless

I am sad and alone

Scared of the future here in this empty place

I’m so tired of it all

Endless days of endless work and endless sleepless nights

Can’t make the pain go away

No matter how hard I try

I give and others take

I love and others hurt

I get nothing in return

Just heartache

Trying to understand what I have done

To deserve this life

But I must play the cards I’ve been dealt

Day after day with no goals and no aim

I must trust that the Lord has a plan

And someday it will be fulfilled

And I will have a purpose

And people will respect me

Maybe even love me

And the pain will stop

And the heartache will fade

And everything will be great

I am wishing for that day

SOMEDAY

Someday things will get better

Someday all of the work will be done

Someday all of the bills will be paid

Someday everyone will have a home

Someday the sun will shine forever

Someday all people will be at peace

Someday love will never die

Someday no one will have to leave you

Someday broken hearts will heal

Someday I will have no regrets

Someday the tears will stop falling

Someday I will be happy

Someday my life will have meaning

Someday people will love me just the way I am

Someday my fears will subside

Someday music will never fade

Someday all of my dreams will come true

Someday I will be where I belong

Someday everything will be just the way we want it to be

This day that I speak of is one that I will look forward to for my entire life

It is the day that I will meet my Father in heaven

 

Tara – September 16th September 16, 2012

Filed under: Jesus — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 11:03 pm
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I cannot believe its been 15 years.

It was 15 years ago today that the world lost an incredibly beautiful soul, my friend, Tara. She died in a life flight helicopter after a car wreck in the early morning fog on her way to college classes. It was through this tragic loss that Christ brought me back to Him.

Just prior to Tara’s death, I found myself escaping the emotional pain of my sexual abuse by drinking, getting high, and fantasizing about ending my life. I had attempted to tell my mother about the abuse, but she did not believe me, so I recanted and found other ways to forget that it happened. However, I despised myself and the person I had become.  I knew I was sinning, but I had found a group of friends that encouraged my substance use and I was enjoying fitting in for once in my lifetime.  Every day I continued these behaviors while telling myself I would change tomorrow.

One day tomorrow almost didn’t come.  While driving to a friend’s house, I was in a terrible car accident.  I was told I only lived because I wore my seat belt.  My car was totaled but I suffered minor injuries and physically recovered quickly. Emotionally, though, I was a wreck.  When you’re an adolescent, the finality of death is hard to grasp until you experience it. For the first time, I began to realize I was not immortal.

Just two weeks later, Tara died.  She was young, smart, and talented.  Suddenly mortality was staring me in the face. I have to be honest and clarify that Tara was not a close friend of mine before her death. I mean, we hung in the same circles and had many of the same friends. We did high school theatre together and I shared a music folder with her in Varsity Choir. I knew her, but I did not know her well. Yet somehow, her death deeply impacted me. Unraveled me even. In fact, this tragedy changed the course of my life forever.

Those methods of drug and alcohol abuse were already a crumbling facade and Tara’s death unmasked me. Looking back, I can see how God used Tara’s death as a tool to reach me during an otherwise unreachable time. He succeeded. After her death, I knew that I had to get my life right with God. I began to understand that I would not be on this earth forever and I longed to be a better person. I knew I had to stop drinking and using drugs and trust that God could save me from the tragedy of my past. I slowly disentangled myself from my former friends and I broke my bad habits easily. I had new strength in Christ. I am so grateful to God for His redemption. He never stopped calling me to Him, but in  the wake of a tragic loss, I was finally listening.

I will carry Tara with me forever. She holds a piece of my heart and will never be forgotten. I’ve always wanted to thank her family. Here is a letter I wrote to Tara’s family but have never been able to send:

Dear Tara’s Family,

I’ve started this letter a dozen times.  Each time I do, I delete it before its finished.  Every year at this time, I think about your family.  And I think about Tara.  This year, I hear God telling me that its time.  So I will complete this letter and send it to you and know that God is giving me the courage to tell you my thoughts at the exact time that you need to hear them.

I didn’t know Tara well.  We had common friends and were at the same gatherings, but we rarely had conversations just between the two of us.  We were both in choir.  One year, we shared a music folder, which means we sat right next to each other during countless practices.  She had the voice of an angel.  I can still hear it sometimes.

It was the beginning of my senior year and I was at my lowest low.  I had been sexually molested by a church youth group leader for over two years.  When I told my mother, she didn’t believe me.  I was alone, vulnerable, and without a single trustworthy person in my life.  I was drinking and doing drugs to numb my pain.  I hated my life and I wanted to die.

Then Tara died.  Though we weren’t close friends, her death affected me profoundly.  I halted my sinful behavior, detached myself from negative influences, and clung to the Savior of my soul.  My relationship with Jesus grew deeper and deeper.  Tara’s death was a turning point in my life.  If it had never occurred, my life would be drastically different than it is today.

Over the last years, I have heard countless sermons, studied numerous passages, and had many discussions about how God can bring good from a bad situation – beauty from ashes.  In each of these situations, I always think about Tara’s death.  I’ve seen so many people struggle with this concept, yet I never have.

Tara’s death was for me.  My fear, and what has kept me from sharing this with you for years, is that I might sound pretentious.  However, my intentions in saying that is to give you hope.  I’m sure her death was not only for me, as others were surely also affected, but it was a tool God used in my life.  I can’t begin to understand what it is like to be in your shoes, but from talking with others who have experienced great loss, I think maybe you struggle with why God lets bad things happen.  Maybe you often wonder – Why did she have to die?  Or what beauty has come from these ashes?  For a Christian, those are tough issues to deal with.  And perhaps you think you’ll never understand any of it this side of heaven.  I hope to give you a speck of God’s purpose while you are still on earth.  What I want you to know is that Tara’s death was not in vain.  At least not to me.  You see, my life is part of the beauty that came from her ashes.  I pray that brings you comfort.

I often visit Tara’s grave – usually in September and December and a few other scattered times when I’m in the area.  Sometimes when I’m there I weep and sometimes I smile.  But most of all, I am filled with immense gratitude.  Because her life was taken, my eternal soul was saved.  I will live a lifetime in awe of God’s wondrous ways.  And Tara’s memory will be alive in me always.

God Bless You!

  • And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God… Romans 8:28
  • We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.  We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.  2 Corinthians 5:8
  • For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation.  There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow.  2 Corinthians 7:10
 

Joy in the Morning September 14, 2012

Filed under: Healing,Hope,Jesus,Survivor — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 12:50 am
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One of  God’s most beautiful promises:

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

My new day is dawning and as God reveals more and more of it to me, He takes my breath away.

Beauty Will Rise

Steven Curtis Chapman

It was the day the world went wrong I screamed til my voice was gone

And watched through the tears as everything came crashing down

Slowly panic turns to pain as we awake to what remains and sift through the ashes that are left behind
But buried deep beneath all our broken dreams we have this hope:
Out of these ashes… beauty will rise and we will dance among the ruins. We will see Him with our own eyes. Out of these ashes… beauty will rise. For we know, joy is coming in the morning… in the morning, beauty will rise

So take another breath for now, and let the tears come washing down, and if you can’t believe I will believe for you.
Cuz I have seen the signs of spring! Just watch and see:
Out of these ashes… beauty will rise and we will dance among the ruins. We will see Him with our own eyes. Out of these ashes… beauty will rise. For we know, joy is coming in the morning… in the morning…

I can hear it in the distance and it’s not too far away. It’s the music and the laughter of a wedding and a feast. I can almost feel the hand of God reaching for my face to wipe the tears away, and say, “It’s time to make everything new.”
“Make it all new”
This is our hope. This is the promise. This is our hope. This is the promise. That it would take our breath away to see the beauty that’s been made out of the ashes… out of the ashes… That it would take our breath away to see the beauty that He’s made out of the ashes… out of the ashes…
Out of these ashes… beauty will rise and we will dance among the ruins. We will see Him with our own eyes. Out of this darkness… new life will shine and we’ll know the joy is coming in the morning… in the morning…beauty will rise!
Oh, Beauty will rise Oh, Beauty will rise Oh, oh, oh, Beauty will rise Oh, oh, oh, Beauty will rise Oh, oh, oh, Beauty will rise

 

Suicidal September 11, 2012

Filed under: Abuse,Depression,Emotional Pain,Suicide — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 7:25 pm
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As is the case with most abuse survivors, I went through a time in my life when I wanted my life to end. During this time period, I was being sexually abused and felt very alone in the world. I was also using drugs and alcohol to numb my pain. I thought that there would never be an end to my suffering if I did not bring about an end myself. I wrote many poems about my feelings during that time. I would like to share some of them here. I was approximately 14-17 when I wrote these. PLEASE NOTE these were written over 15 years ago and in no way reflect my current frame of mind.

Roses

I can smell the roses

Waiting at heaven’ gate

So close to me now.

The palace that I’ve longed for.

They feel my pain

And show me the love that awaits.

A different world full of happiness.

I’m not far from where I want to be.

Closer with each breath I take.

Nearing a chance to escape.

Look back at the things I’ve known,

Kiss them goodbye,

Wipe the tear from my eye.

No regrets.

Moved on to where I belong.

The angels sing me a song.

I’ve passed on to a better place.

I pluck the roses at the door.

This is what I’ve been waiting for.

I’ve found the sweetness I deserve.

 

Falling

I’m falling down into a hole,

I can’t seem to escape.

The further down I fall,

The more I get afraid.

I’m reaching out

For you to catch me,

But you don’t seem to care.

Your face disappears

Into the darkness.

I can’t find you anywhere.

I can’t fight for my life anymore.

I’ll give up instead.

I’m falling down into a hole,

And now I’ve fallen dead.

 

Escape

A quiet girl in a lonely town.

No where to turn, no one around.

Afraid of the feelings she has deep inside.

Searching for a dark place to hide.

Maybe they’ll miss her, maybe they won’t.

They watched her disappear.

She didn’t fit in here.

Wanting to leave this awful place.

Trying to conceal her face.

Looking for a reason to stay.

There are none. Time to depart.

Time to end the pain in her heart.

Just one moment and she’ll be gone.

A smile appears upon her face.

A shot rings out in song.

She’s escaped to where she belongs.

 

When I read these poems and reflect back on this time in my life, I am haunted by two primary thoughts and feelings.

The first are of frustration and disappointment. The notebook these poems were written in went with me everywhere – school, church, work, home. I even submitted Roses for a poetry contest and won. I was, in this way, subtly screaming for someone to notice how desperate I was to die. But no one did. And I just cannot fathom how every adult in my life managed to fail me by ignoring all of the signs. Sometimes I hate them for it.

The second is an incredible sadness that this was my adolescence. What should have been a time of discovering myself, having fun with friends, and preparing for independence, was instead a time during which I was preoccupied with death. It was almost the only thing I ever thought about. I was robbed of the joys of being a teenager. And multiple people are to blame for the theft. And no matter how sorry they are (and not all of them are), I will never be able to relive or rewrite that chapter of my life. My adolescence is etched in stone forever – filled with abuse, pain, trauma, suffering, and a longing for my life to end.

But I’m still here and I thank Jesus for His redemption from that chapter. He knew it wasn’t the final one in my story and now so do I.

 

Grad School September 9, 2012

I am in graduate school while working full time. Its been three weeks since the start of Fall Semester and admittedly I am overwhelmed and exhausted and not sure how I can maintain this pace. This blog is very important to me because it is something that God has been nudging me to do for a while and it is a way for me to live out my life’s purpose of helping and supporting others. I remain committed to this call but I also think its important to share what a struggle it is for me to find the time and energy to share my story with others. At the end of the day, when work and homework have sapped every bit of attention I have, the last thing I want to do is revisit the memories that cause me so much pain. In those moments, I remind myself that someone may benefit from what I have to share and somehow Jesus provides the strength that I do not have within myself. I love to write and so I shall write for anyone who cares to read. I choose to be a survivor.

Perhaps one of the reasons I am really feeling emotionally drained today is because I watched a video and read a chapter for my social work class that covered the topic of sexual abuse. This issue is very personal to me so seeing others suffer from the affects of sexual abuse causes me feelings of sadness and maybe even despair. Why on earth do we as a society allow this pervasive issue to continue eroding our children generation after generation? It baffles me and infuriates me. I hope that someday I can play a small part in changing the way the world responds to sexual perpetrators. Maybe I already have… more on that later. Now its time to sleep.

For those who are feeling exhausted like me, know that God is with you.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

 

Penny September 5, 2012

Filed under: Domestic Violence — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 12:06 am
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Most adults have pets as a part of their childhood memories. Unfortunately for me, each of my pets came with a traumatic experience. Our first dog, a collie named Dolly, was sent to a kennel while we went on a family vacation to Disney World. When we returned, my dad went to pick her up and came back claiming that she had run away from the kennel and was never found. At the age of 3, I was devastated. I still remember how hard I cried – burying my face in the couch as if the world had come to an end. I didn’t find out until I was in my 20s that Dolly had actually been put to sleep because she had bitten my sister. When it came up at dinner and this truth was revealed, my sister and father were both shocked that I had not figured that out by then. At the time, I thought to myself  “How many other lies have I been told in my life that I have foolishly believed?” Apparently, I take other people’s statements at face value, which I’m learning isn’t always a good attribute.

When I was older, approximately age 8, we had a toy poodle named Peaches. It was early in the morning on the day after Halloween and we were getting ready for school. My mom had let the dog outside to go to the bathroom and I heard her whining at the door. I let her inside and immediately realized that she was bleeding pretty severely. Turns out she had literally been bitten in half by a German Shepherd that lived in the home behind ours. She was rushed to the animal clinic where they barely saved her life. They had to remove a large portion of her intestines that had been damaged and suture her stomach back together, but she survived. She lived another 10 or 12 years after that, but those traumatic images of her bleeding profusely were forever lodged in my brain. Even seeing her with stitches after the fact was pretty traumatizing. Outside of this one incident, however, Peaches was the best dog I have ever had. She was present for all my growing up years and was the epitome of man’s best friend.

Between Dollie and Peaches we had Penny for a short time, who definitely carries the worst pet-related story of my childhood. That’s her in the picture above and its the only one that I have of her. We got her as a six week old puppy and only had her for two weeks. We had been keeping her in the laundry room because she was still being potty trained. I was playing in the playroom in the dormer upstairs and heard my father screaming. This was not out of the ordinary so I continued to play. It was only later when the police had arrived that I realized what had happened. Apparently, Penny nipped at my father (as puppies sometimes do) and drew blood. This enraged him and her threw Penny out the back door so hard that her neck snapped when she hit the cement. She died instantly. Yes, that’s right. My father killed my pet when I was just 4 years old. I have two lasting memories from that night. The first is of the police cars parked outside my home on the street. With this image of the police cars – lights glowing brightly – I came to the realization that my father’s fits of rage were not normal. The second memory is an image that is strongly imprinted in my brain. Its a single drip of blood running down the side of our 70s green clothes dryer. At the time, I thought it was Penny’s blood but learned as I got older and the incident was discussed with my mother that the blood belonged to my father. It was from the bite Penny made that caused my father to become so angry. To this day, those colors – that green and blood red – when together cause an anxious reaction in me. It helps that today as an adult I understand that she did not suffer.

The positive result of this incident was that my father was forced to enter a program for batterers. He successfully completed the program and even anonymously endorsed it in the local newspaper a few years later. He was quoted in that article stating that he realized when he killed Penny that he had a serious problem with his anger. And because of the treatment he received, things got better in my family for a long time after that – about six years actually.

Its interesting that with all my pet related trauma, I ended up marrying a lover of animals, a man who works in the veterinary field.

RKB

 

 
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