From Scars to Stars From Scars to Stars

My journey, which began in my childhood when I was scarred from physical and mental abuse from both parents, has brought me to the beautiful star-filled life that I enjoy today. It was not a "walk in the part", but breaking the cycle was worth all the pain and effort. Saying and meaning with all my heart, "I'll never be like my parents" or "I'll never lay a hand on my children" or "I'll never fight and argue" was not enough to break the cycle. It took me years to learn parenting skills and how to re-parent myself.

From my teen years on, I made a strong declaration to many people: "I will NEVER get married!" Well, along came a man who didn't drink alcohol or smoke and was a college graduate with a good job. As a pillar in the church, he portrayed his family as perfect. He possessed an amazing gift of salesmanship. Upon learning my future did not include a plan for marriage, he asked me why. He seemed trustworthy so I shared my experiences of living in constant fear with fighting and abuse in our house because my father's drinking and raging anger. Later that trust would be betrayed when he used it to shame me, so I never shared my story again for many years. I told him it was easier for me to take the beatings than to watch the beatings of family members so I stepped in trying to protect them. My dad would beat me until I cried and then say, "Now stop that crying or I will give you something to cry about". I learned to stifle my sobbing and steel my body so as not to feel the pain. The defense mechanism of dissociation became my blessing and curse. It worked for me when I needed it, but later I had to learn to feel again.

The "perfect man" who came from a "perfect family" conned me into marriage and I was blessed with four delightful children who became my teachers and grew up to be fine adults of whom I am very proud. The fairy tale ending, "they lived happily ever after", was not a reality in my world. As the veneer of perfection peeled off, behaviors were revealed that were as unhealthy as those of my family of origin because the emotional abuse was more harmful than the beatings.

I had experienced a very powerful, life changing conversation experience as a 16 year old and had a very close relationship with my creator, God, so to be subjected to such harmful behaviors from supposedly devout Christians was devastating. The workaholic behaviors that we both possessed were a serious dysfunction by themselves, but his spending of money that we didn't have and need for power and control were even bigger issues. I bailed him out of financial messes and enabled his unhealthy behaviors until the day came when I learned he had forged my name on a $60,000 loan. Enough! I also discovered his fascination with pornography and learned of other things he had done, for which he could have been charged and jailed, had he not had a good attorney.

I left the 25 year marriage with him taking what he wanted, which was everything of monetary value. My motto became, and still is, "Choose Life." After the divorce he stalked me so I had to file for a civil protection order and feared for my life. But I survived it all! Later, when I was out from under his influence, I thrived!

I vowed, "I will NEVER marry again!" It seems that God had other plans for me. I did marry the most wonderful man I've ever known. He is trustworthy, loving, and kind, and encourages me to be me. We laugh, cry, worship, and play together. I never dreamed that such a blessed life was possible. But thanks to God, it is!

Artist's Note: While I was working with this survivor, she explained to me how the domestic violence her mother and she and her siblings suffered were known in the community, but considered normal. "Spare the rod, spoil the child," was the type of parenting in her time. The child cupped in the hand of nurturing was taken from her baby picture. She is a testament of amazing personal power to control and manage her own personal worries about parenting and living the wonderful life she deserves.