Shannon's Story: Hope and Survival
TW: SEXUAL ASSAULT
I am a Beautiful Disaster because I am strong enough and brave enough to rise through the ashes no matter what. I identify with the brand because of everything I have been through that should have completely broken me, yet I'm still here today, standing tall.
I was born with a multitude of health problems and I was constantly in and out of the hospital. I couldn't keep any food down, I had ear infections so bad that blood just drained in pools from my ears, I was born flat footed and didn't start walking until I was given special shoes when I was like 3 or 4 years old and the tunes in my throat were so small, that even when I was old enough to start eating solid foods, I couldn't eat meat or many other things including vegetables, because they would immediately get stuck in my throat and I would choke. That was just the beginning of the trauma of my life.
When I was very young, I was sexually abused by a close family member, my father was never around much and my mothers second husband used to spank me with a really thick, wood paddle that he found out on the street while he was at work one day. When I was around 11 years old, I got put in bifocals, around 13, I was sexually assaulted by a boy from school and shortly after that it was another family member who threatened to end my life if I told anyone. Around the age of 11, after my mother had been single and divorced for a while, she met a man out of state that she fell in love with and took us to go live with him. I had to watch him shoot up drugs, I saw him have sex with other women and every night I had to watch as he r@ped my mother at knife point and continuously told her if she moved or said anything, that would be the end of her life.
Then every morning, I would have to wake up to see my moms whole body black and blue, but mostly black. He ended up doing something that got them arrested and I was left with a total stranger for like 2 weeks, not knowing if my mother was dead or alive. My mother started having health problems when I was young, so she started making me take care of her when I was 8 years old. I was even going to school and working when I was 16, just to help pay the bills and as soon as I get my g.e.d. I began working 2 full time jobs just to make sure the bills got paid. I had a mom that was always taking my stuff to the pawn shop and when she didn't have the money to get it out, she would lie and tell people I dropped it and broke it or I lost it, which made people think I couldn't take care of stuff. Sometime between 16-18, I was inappropriately touched by another family member and then date r@ped by someone who knew one of my family members and called that person to laugh about what he had just done.
At 20 years old, I ended up in an extremely abusive relationship with a man who put me down and called me names every single day. He used to choke me, shove me into walls and stuff, tell me how worthless I was and how lucky I was to have him. He also use to offer me up sexually to other men and to women as well. If I said no to sex, he took it anyways. He would always force himself on me in the computer room. The computer monitor was always turned off, but I ended up finding out after it was too late, that he had been letting people watch him do this to me via Webcam shows for over a year, but I never knew because he would turn the screen monitor off before he pushed me into the room. This happened 5 or 6 days a week every week and he somehow got it set up to where like 40 people were watching every time.
We ended up married, only because he held a knife to my throat and threatened to end my life if I didn't marry him. I finally got lucky enough to divorce him in 2005. Since that time, I have lived in different states, been in a women's shelter, had multiple failed suicide attempts and been in the mental hospital a couple of times.
Unfortunately, I've also had to embrace my health problems in all of their never-ending glory. I now frequently battle depression and bi polar outbursts, being extremely hard of hearing, an injured tailbone, neuropathy, tendinitis, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. I started having to walk with a cane a long time ago, but now the cane isn't really helping. Due to these problems, I got put on disability and was considered permanently disabled when I was only 24 years old.
At the rate this stuff is progressing, I will be in a wheelchair in no time. I used to run a program I created called the Pick Me Up project where I hosted free giveaways and mailed out pick me ups in the mail to people to help them get through tough times or just to help make their day brighter. Unfortunately though, I had to stop it a few years ago because it was just too much work for me by myself and with my physical health problems, my hands got to where they couldn't write the pick me ups anymore without it being illegiblechicken scratch.
I have always thought of myself as a survivor and a warrior which I have even mentioned in one of the many poems I have written, but then one day, I saw an ad for this company "Beautiful Disaster" and I just felt like there was finally a name or title for me that just simply fit perfectly. So now, no matter how messed up my life gets, no matter how messed up I get, I will forever be a part of the smoke and ashes caused by the disaster, but I will also forever continue to rise higher and higher like a beautiful flame that can never truly be diminished.
I learned to stop accepting what isn't good and right for me and if I was in a bad place, I'd stick around just until I could find somewhere else to move to and then I would take off. That was my means of hope and survival.