Into the light of birth and into a world of darkness. All our journeys begin from darkness into light at birth and we search for the light everyday of our lives. For some, that light doesn’t shine brightly or may flicker and dim.

My journey began on July 14th, 1967, when I was born. I have very few memories of my childhood or that covered me with a shine. My earliest memory was hiding behind a couch with my pillow against my chest next to my dog as my father’s drunkenness overcame the house and he raged at my mother. I was too young to understand what was happening and only felt alone and scared. This became a frequent chapter in my childhood and youth.

I remember my mom placing me and my sister in the car to drive for hours to escape the drunkenness and verbal abuse. As I got a bit older, I found myself being the savior to the chaos and sitting with my father while he drank playing cards and listening to Country music to keep the peace. In a way, I grew close to my father, but in another I learned that I had to be the protector. A child taking care of her mother and keeping her safe instead of her protecting me. My sister always escaped by leaving which left me to be the only person; child; that could calm the storm.

As I grew older, the alcoholism grew also and with more vengeance. At age nine, my grandparents visited for Easter and while in the room next to my grandfather, he passed away. My grandmother was blind and unable to walk. My mother and I took over care for her for the next nine years. Though she had 12 other children, most of the care fell on us. At age 14, I was diagnosed with Cancer and have remained on medicine for the entirety of my life. Can’t get worse, yes it can. At age 15, I was sexually assaulted by my friend’s brother, and no one came to help as I screamed out. No consequences for him, I was begged not to report it and I didn’t, that decision affected the rest of my life. I moved forward.

At age 18, I became pregnant with my first child and two years later married the father. At 21, I had my second child, and 23 had my third. I thought my life was going to be better and I would protect my children unlike my mother. Until one summer day when my second born; Justin; who was 2 years 4 months, and 18 days old fell into a pool. I was unaware what happened or where her was because he was playing in the backyard with his older brother, and I went to check on my youngest. He went up a ladder and down a slide into the pool and under a cover. No one knew he was there. After 2 hours and 4 county police search, he was found. Attempts at reviving him lasted over an hour as I watched his lifeless body lying there on the cart in the emergency room. I had to tell him it was ok to leave, and it would be selfish for me to ask him to stay. He would have had to quality of life if he did. I had to say goodbye forever to my little boy. They got him dressed and handed him to me and I rocked him. I clipped a piece of his hair because I needed to take home with me a part of him, the only thing left. How does a mother forgive herself for not being there when her child needed her the most? She doesn’t!

So much pain and suffering for years. I had 2 more children after his death with his father. He too was an alcoholic that was not only verbally, but physically abusive. I knew nothing but staying, that’s what I learned from my mom. But, finally, after my youngest was a year old I finally got the courage to leave him and never look back. And then he left, he left my children’s lives. They haven’t seen him in 26 years.

After a few years and getting back on my feet, I met a man, complete opposite of any male figure I knew. Someone I could feel safe and secure with. We married and then I was diagnosed with Cancer once again. This man had no children of his own and took on the responsibility of raising mine. He wanted his own child. Though medical advice was to not have any more children, I did, just one more and then had surgery. I was on bedrest with the pregnancy for 24 weeks and by faith and through Grace, my daughter was born, and I named her Grace. It was difficult for her father to be a ready-made dad to my older kids and a young baby. H e didn’t know how to be and he worked constantly. He didn’t show the love my children needed, and I couldn’t allow my children to feel unwanted or unloved so after 5 years we divorced. I still believe he’s a good man though.

A few years later, I met the next man I married. I thought I finally found the right man. Little did I know at the time, he was just love bombing me and he was a narcissist and an alcoholic. Years of betrayal, lies, manipulation, taking advantage of me, anger, and drunkenness. Through these years I tried to better myself attaining a nursing degree, then a Master’s degree, and now finishing my PhD.  I stayed married to him for 15 years. I finally stood up for myself and I divorced him. It was final only 2 weeks ago. During this marriage we became legal guardians to his grandson which was taken away from his parents due to drug use and abuse. The child was born addicted to drugs. The saddest thing to watch. His grandfather didn’t help much, and the child’s father harassed us for many years. Now we must co-parent this child. This child deserves a chance at a good future. He won’t get that with his father or grandfather. The struggle continues.

My ex-husband has triangulated family/children in my life and caused so much harm. One of my daughter’s bought me a Beautiful Disaster hoodie last year and it said so much about my life. Until this holiday season when my life completely collapsed, I hadn’t looked into the brand. Once I did, I knew it had to be my new sword to fight this battle. I bought them for all my girls in the family, each with a specific message to them and for them and for myself. I wear them daily to give me strength. To show that I am an overcomer. I can rise from these ashes. I am still on my healing journey, but with the messages of hope the BD gives and the community, I think the light may return. The light I really never truly saw. The days are harder than I would like to admit to, and each day is filled with pain and grief. But there is hope. I believe in every message BD has but I would have to say that “Broken” and “Phoenix” are my two favorites. I’ve been so broken most of my life but that’s what’s going to let the light shine in. The Phoenix is an obvious symbol of me rising from the ashes and I will burn brighter than the fire that surrounds me. I’m sorry if this got so long, this is really only a glimpse at my brokenness and a brief overview. I want to say how grateful I am to have found this Brand. It has helped me tremendously and if it can others by seeing and reading the words on my clothes, then it a WIN! Don’t stop providing hope, it’s truly a blessing. I have decided to get a tattoo that symbolizes all of this. 

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February 24, 2023