I grew up in a little city here in MI and was raised by simple parents from the South and I’m a coal miner’s daughter to be specific. My parents left the mountains and treachery of the mines to come here to the Motor City in order to build a better life in the 50’s. First came my sister and the old black and white family photos reveal a “Leave It To Beaver” type of life that was soon to change when I came along thirteen years later in the 60’s. When I was born my father was deep into his alcoholism and our home was an unpredictable nightmare filled with everything from watching my mother being beaten down in front of us, to a vast array of other graphic images and inappropriate behaviors that we had to endure. I realized later in life that I suffered from chronic anxiety as a child, as there were many late night emergency room visits often times by ambulance. I would awaken from sleep unable to breathe or swallow and was eventually told by a doctor there was nothing wrong with me so I must be faking. When one doctor finally thought to bring the idea of abuse into question, my parents quickly smoothed it over and the subject was tucked back away safely behind closed doors where it would continue to breed.
Fast forward now to my teen years in the 70’s. My sister being 13 years older had already been on her own for many years, so I struggled in that house alone with the belief that I was unlovable, feeling desperate to be free from the ongoing stress and confusion of living in such depths of dysfunction. It seemed like I went from playing with baby dolls and Barbies right into sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. In my early teens I already had an insatiable appetite for almost any drug I could get my hands on and was swept away by the first guy who gave me any attention and was quite a bit older than me. He spent most of his younger years in some sort of juvenile lockdown and was very heavily into PCP . So I ran away from home and moved around a lot and was basically a street kid crashing with my boyfriend wherever we could. It was during this time that he pressured me to give up my virginity to him with the threat of leaving me if I didn’t, so naturally I did. This was the first of many sick, unfulfilling relationships that would follow for many years.
Fast forward to my 20’s in the 80’s. At this point I had my first unwanted pregnancy that I immediately terminated and I was involved in criminal activities with another convict. Back then we “rolled guys” which meant I lead them on and ripped them off. My boyfriend and I would enter strip clubs separately and I’d zero in on a target. Then pretending to be intoxicated and very interested in him, we’d leave together with my boyfriend near by. I’d grab his wallet containing cash, credit cards, and pictures of his wife and kids and took off with my boyfriend. Eventually we were busted for another scam we had going at a major department store so I was cuffed, stuffed, booked, and had my first police record. I was so sick of my life at that point that I decided to do something different so I joined the Army. I was an active Army Medic for 3 years which proved to be a good experience that gave me an opportunity to see another side of life, and to have some unique experiences that allowed me to begin to grow at least a little. Unfortunately I was still using drugs and had my second unwanted pregnancy that I dealt with the same as first. After spending most of my tour in Germany, I finished my time in service here in the States where I met Steve, the man I would marry after knowing him only 4 months and we moved to CA where he’s originally from to begin our life together.
The first few years of our marriage were turbulent as we had no true foundation of any kind to spring from. Sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll do not a marriage make! Not to mention the fact that our parents never modeled any kind of successful relationship behavior for either of us, so we were living out the only things we knew. Things escalated to the point of physical violence between us followed by numbness which caused us to feel hopeless. It was around this time that I starting working at a Christian school which enticed my curiosity about God. My parents were believers so I had been exposed to faith as a child, but my concept of God was connected to my sick father whom I feared and distrusted. And Steve was raised in an abusive cult so we both had a completely warped understanding of God. But this time we were learning some things about God we had never known, so my husband and I prayed for God to come into our lives and we were baptized. Unfortunately we did not yet have the tools to know how to apply any of God’s truths to our lives so we continued to drown in our circumstances. Steve and I separated and Steve began to delve deeply into a crystal-meth addiction.
When I left Steve, I told myself that this was my chance to be free. I’d get back on the scene and would be the one in control of relationships with men and in control of my life! I started going to school and working out and even returned to the sport of skating which was a rare source of sanity for me as a child, and I thought I had it goin on. But since I no longer had a partner to share expenses with, finances were now a deeper concern. So I decided it was time to reach outside of the box and see what I could do to start making more money. I saw an ad for a “Hostess Club” where I wouldn’t be required to take off my clothes. Little did I know that God’s hand was on me even then. I cannot put into words what I went through to find that club. It was as if I were in some kind of crazy vortex preventing me from getting there. I drove in circles for hours and my car even broke down, but I was determined so eventually I got there. It was amazing to me that during the day this little place in the heart of Los Angeles, looked like a broken down abandoned building in the middle of a vacant lot surrounded by a rickety metal fence. But when the sun went down, neon lights flashed illuminating a packed parking lot with limos lined up and patrons going in and out until late into the night.
It seemed harmless enough. I sat with a group of girls hoping to get picked out of the crowd and escorted to the dance floor. After some conversation and a dance or two I’d be delivered back into the pool until I was picked to go with another. But it was definitely not as simple as that. There’s a dark variety of behaviors, activities, and deals being made in locations all over those clubs. Men take advantage of the “new girls” in some very disgusting ways and the goal of the girls is to quickly learn the ropes in order to take advantage of the men and score the big bucks. I left early that first night feeling overwhelmed by men’s cologne and women’s perfume, cigarette smoke and the reality of what I was getting myself into, and I literally vomited from my car as I drove away from the club. But as the night wore on I just told myself that if those girls could do it then I could do it too and I returned the very next night.
In a short period of time I learned a lot about the dynamics between the girls and the clients and found it to be both disturbing and fascinating, and I finally found myself in the situation I had been hoping for. After interviewing with some business men, I was assigned to a particular man to be his private “travel companion”. I had an appointment to meet with him at the club the following week and was told to bring all my information to include my address, social security number, and all of my bills for them to pay off for me. But the day before I was to meet with this man, a friend of mine from the Christian school came to see me. She was never crazy about the choices I was making but she never judged me and just continued being my friend. But on this day she sat on my bed next to me and through tears she literally begged me not to go to that appointment. I laid awake all night thinking about all I had gone through to score this gig and how I didn’t want to pass it up. But my friend’s pleas kept penetrating my thoughts and eventually shook me to my senses! I could’ve easily ended up a sex slave in Bangkok or God knows where. I did not go to that appointment and I never again returned to that club. As brief as my involvement in the business was, its negative impact further chipped away at my soul and to this day I have a strong aversion to a particular scent that was worn by one of my regulars.
THANKFULLY my story doesn’t end there! Fast forward to my 30’s in the 90’s when my husband and I got back together. The destructive lives we had returned to during our separation had finally burned us out after a year, so we decided to give what we started a chance. But we knew if we were going to make it this time, we had to do things completely different and really learn how to be married. So ANOTHER friend from the same Christian school, recommended an intense marriage ministry that teaches God’s blue print from the bible for marriage, which gave us the opportunity to begin building the foundation we never had. God provided us with the coolest mentors; People who were willing to walk along side of us as difficult as we were to deal with, who made an eternal difference in our lives. We also started attending an awesome church that was a wonderful fit for us.
Finally, fast forward to the new millennium to where we are today….Steve and I are happily married 26 years now and have returned to MI near the little town where I was raised. We’ve not been perfect, not even close, but because of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us we don’t have to be! We’ve come to realize how God’s heart breaks for all we go through! He never stops trying to get our attention so that we’ll learn to turn to Him and will come to know His love, acceptance, and his purpose for our lives. God is so gentle and patient and He’s there for us even smack in the middle of our sin. My life today has it’s ups and downs but I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that I now live a life of purpose and dignity, and my passion is to show other women that there is more to life than pain, disappointment, addiction, and the desperate search for love and control.
So please know that YOU are one of God’s precious daughters and if you do not yet know where you fit into the bigger eternal picture, please hear me when I tell you that YOU DO FIT!! Just as you are right now! I don’t care where you are on the spectrum….Weather your story is not as severe as mine or if you think you’re off the charts, God loves you and wants good things for you! You have a story that matters to Him and your story is a song that has the potential to impact others in ways that you may not yet be able to grasp. There is a scripture in the bible from Psalm 40:1-3 that says:
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and be awe struck and will put their trust in the Lord.
And here are a few more words from God, just for you!
(Jeremiah 29:11-13) "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
(Proverbs 31:10) She is worth far more than rubies.
(Jeremiah 31:3) "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."
(Jeremiah 33:3) "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."
And this is my prayer for you!
(Ephesians 1:17-23) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
That’s a lotta power girlfriend!! So please remember that YOU matter and you have a story that matters! We’re all on the journey together! I love you my sister.