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Up until the time I was eight years old, I was the most blissful, content, and happy little girl.  My mom and dad were divorced by the time I was two, but they always remained respectable and decent to one another.  I had an older and a younger sister as well, but for some reason the bond that my father and I had was undeniable and indestructible.  By the age of eight, my innocence, purity, and the simplicity of my life had shattered into millions of jagged, serrated ruins; my father, my whole world, committed suicide.

The tranquility and peace I had once felt was gone and the loneliness, sorrow, and undeniable grief that I felt were overwhelming.  I had no idea how to express, verbalize, or alleviate any of the pain that was built up inside of me.  My thoughts were so random and misguided, but maybe that is how every eight-year-old girl’s thoughts are when she finds out that her daddy, the only one that she loved and trusted for all the years of her life, had died and by his own hand.  In that moment, I do not think anything could have prepared or even helped me to comprehend the endless pain that moment would cause me for the rest of my life.  At the viewing I just waited.  Waited for him to open his eyes.  To look at me and realize that he had forgotten me.  He never did.

When I look in the mirror, I see his face.  All his distinct features right there in front of me, gazing back.  The deep, dark eyes; the high cheekbones.  Sometimes I see the belt buckled around my neck, cutting off my circulation, my breath, my everything. The sadness is in my eyes, just like his used to have.  Even his laugh couldn’t hide the despondency and dejection in his eyes. By the age of ten, I began to cut and self-mutilate my once flawless flesh.  When the blood would boil to the surface I would exhale, center myself, and regain my composure.  I faded into darkness; it consumed me.  I was the shadow of a broken child.

By the age of thirty I had seen many psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists.  I, inescapably, ended up with severe mental illness and depression.  I was married and had two small children under the age of four by this time.  I, however, was still lost in my past and was not living in the present.  The abuse and the tragedies that plagued my life swirled around my brain like a horrific typhoon; the inability to let go or let anyone in, scared to trust, scared not to, and the thought of abandonment was engraved into my heart and soul.

As my husband and my family became more and more concerned and very aware that I was withering away and on the same dreadful path as my father; they decided to secretively perform an intervention.  As I entered the living room of my mom’s house, I saw them all there.  The tension in the room actually stunk.  It was a real smell that I couldn’t seem to place.  I wanted to hold my breath so that I couldn’t smell it anymore, but I couldn’t.  I could breathe, but I couldn’t. Their faces looked worried, pathetic, and they all looked as if I could bolt at any minute so they watched my mannerisms very closely.  The saying “all eyes are on me” resonated through my head.  In that moment my scars, inside and out, were on display for the world’s eyes to see.  I was ripped from my children and placed under the care of my older sister for a period of two weeks.

beach-323454_640I wept every day.  I was lost without my children.  I wanted to run away with them.  To hold them in my arms and never let go but I couldn’t.  At the same time, I wanted to die.  I wanted the pain and anguish to end forever.  I honestly don’t know how I made it through the two weeks but I did.  I felt betrayed by my husband.  He threatened to divorce me if I didn’t follow through with the rules of the intervention and he took my already vulnerable soul and promised he would take my kids away.  I kept replaying his lies, deceit, and infidelity in my mind and it cut through my heart and soul like a jagged knife.  We started to participate in therapy together which was part of the terms.  He admitted his own mistakes.  He knew he had hurt me in the past and was sorry.  I remembered I took him to my dad’s grave and he looked at the sky and promised to always love, take care of me, and replace the heartbreak that I felt with the possibility to end it indefinitely.  He was my first everything.  I had given him my virginity and when he cheated on me it felt like a colossal slap in my face.  I felt raped; by him, by my abusers, by my creator.

It takes a strong heart to forgive.  It takes an even stronger heart to overcome and move forward and past all the indiscretions.  To put love first and to accept the flawed body and open your heart even though it is wounded.  We are imperfect people but to make the choice to realize we all are is crucial to any successful relationship.  I chose not to give up.  I chose not to give in.  I chose unconditional love over my agony and tender, fragile heart.

When I look back on how far I’ve come, I know that the only reason I am still here to tell my story is because of my husband’s unwavering attempts to save me and the beautiful, innocent sweet eyes that look to me every day for guidance, for love, for hope; my children.  I have chosen to be a survivor.  I have chosen not to be the victim and that is the first step in self-recovery.  It’s easier to be the victim, to wallow in self-pity, to feel sorry for yourself but it is so much more gratifying to overcome and conquer the demons inside and become a warrior.

Cheryl Lynn

Cheryl Lynn Author Website