I’ve taken so much time deliberating the direction I wanted to go when it came to this blog. There were so many “stories” from which I could pull, but I finally came to the revelation…Minnie, simply tell YOUR story. It may not pretty or even what anyone would expect…but here goes nothing!
So, let’s start from the beginning, I was born the youngest of my mom and dad’s 13 children. Mommy always said she wanted 12 kids, so I was considered the bonus. The baby. And at times, the favorite. My childhood is sort of a blur but for good cause. I have little flashbacks here and there but that’s normally when I talk to my older siblings. The things that I don’t want to remember are the things that I remember most, however. I remember the nights of one of my older brothers coming into my room. I remember the sister who was only nine years older than me, bringing me into her room to try and protect me. She did her best. I remember leaving NY with my mom, dad, and 8 siblings, piling into one room in my aunt’s house until we were able to move into an apartment of our own. I remember us moving. So many times, we moved! I’m not exactly sure why, but we did. My last “memory” of my childhood? My mother’s sister’s grown son raping me repeatedly from the ages of 11 to 13.
So, that’s where the mental illness began. That’s when my grades started slipping. That’s where the suicidal thoughts initiated. I couldn’t tell anyone. If I said anything he’d kill my mom. That’s what he told me. And my mommy was my everything, So I kept it to myself. A burden that felt like the weight of the entire world on my shoulders, my back, in my head, on my heart. Even my knees, because that’s how I started sleeping…it was the only way I felt protected. It was too much but I held it in. Well, until the day my mom and I were heading to church, and she told me that my sister dropped off my two nieces there to play with their cousins. Three years later, I finally broke. I unraveled. Because the thought of him doing to them what he did to me…I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.
So, it was out. I finally told. My nieces were picked up. It was shared amongst the family. And that was that. Nothing else happened. I remember him showing up to our house one day when I was at school…he tried his best to “convince” my mom that it was a lie, but she told him that she could see right through him and put him out. Well, I thought, if you know he’s lying, why aren’t you doing anything? What’s that famous quote that’s shared in the black community? “What happens in the house, stays in the house.” Aaaaand that’s exactly where it stayed. Not for the lack of belief, but this is my mom’s sister’s son. And although she says it’s untrue, I felt as though my mom had a certain loyalty to her sister.
Well, in my attempt to block out the trauma, I blocked out a lot of my childhood. I made “friends” and we made poor choices. Things like skipping school. Or when I would go, I would show up drunk…falling down steps and just making a complete fool of myself. I began experimenting with drugs. Sneaking out of the house. Being promiscuous. You know, all the things you do when you are broken and don’t know how to put yourself back together. I didn’t realize then that I didn’t hold that power.
So, here's the thing. I am the daughter of a Pastor. I grew up in the church…from the time I was a young child, church was all that I knew! I knew the ins and outs. I knew the songs to sing to get the people going. I knew the right things to say to make the people “go in”. I knew “church”, but I didn’t know God. I didn’t know that He could take away all the pain that I was going through, all the trauma that I was holding onto. I graduated high school (by the skin of my teeth) and decided to keep going to church. Again, it’s all I knew. Plus, I was my mom’s golden child. She literally had no idea of any of my antics until a couple years ago when my siblings and I decided to have a tell all! She was so shocked, to say the least! She just knew that I was the one child who bypassed all the craziness and temptations that came with life…I was no exception. But I digress, I kept going to church. I became an ordained/licensed minister on my 19th birthday. I traveled up and down the east coast, the Mideast and Midwest, even as far as South America, preaching and singing about this God who I THOUGHT I knew. I was preaching to others about how He could heal them while I, myself was still very sick. I was telling others about a God who could fix them, yet I was still broken. I believed so hard for others to be set free and I was so bound!
So, I kept ‘doing church’ and all the while, I was falling deeper and deeper into depression. I didn’t know at the time that I was depressed…I just thought it was something that everyone went through. I thought everybody got sad, mine just happened to be worse. It was a continuous battle, but I couldn’t share it with anyone because I’m a minister. Surely a minister couldn’t preach about a God who delivers yet struggles with depression! And the thing about it, I always heard that depression was demonic. So, did that mean I had demons? Who could I talk to? Who wouldn’t judge me? The answer at the time was no one. There was no one for me to run to when I was in my deepest and darkest days. So, I attempted suicide, the first time. My mom found me; I was transported to a hospital a couple of hours away. Mommy and my pastor both came to visit me, but I couldn’t explain to them what I was feeling or why I did it. It made no sense to me so how could I ever find the words to tell them?
I moved away after almost 3 weeks in the mental hospital. Everyone at my church knew of what happened. A close friend of mine told me of a conversation that was had about me…whether I was stable enough to remain on the praise and worship team or even on the ministerial staff. How could I ever face them again? My fight or flight senses kicked in and I chose FLIGHT! Now that I think about it, flight has been my response for the better part of my life. I just wanted to be anywhere but there.
Well, let’s fast forward a few years. At this point, my daddy and grandmother have both passed away. I found out that I couldn’t have children due to the trauma. I had to undergo surgeries and get sterilized in order to save my life because there were tumors in my uterus, and I kept having miscarriages. I had more stays in more mental facilities than I care to count. I was still broken and still sick. I didn’t love me so that put me in many relationships and ‘situationships’ that were toxic and even dangerous. I had so many good people around me but still felt so lonely. But I couldn’t let them in. There was no way I was going to tell them how I felt because I didn’t want them to think I had demons too! So, I did what I did best…I faked it. Not necessarily until I made it because ‘making it’ was never my goal. My goal was literally to fake it enough to stay alive. And that’s exactly what I did…until I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore.
Which brings me to my final suicide attempt. This time I was determined to get it right! I had failed in the past and that bothered me even more! I mean, I couldn’t even end my life correctly! Who does that?! I wasn’t going to fail this time! I took a bottle and a half of Ambien - a strong sleeping pill. Well guess what, “something” prompted my mom, and she called my then boyfriend, now husband, to go to my house and check on me. By the time he got to me, I was laying in front of the door. He found the bottles and called 911 but instead of waiting, he and my brother loaded me in the car and drove me to the hospital. They pumped my stomach and guess what, that attempt failed too. Days later, I woke up in yet another mental hospital.
Ok, Minnie…no more running. This time, you have to deal with it! I tried to do it on my own. I tried to fix myself. I tried to face my past, my trauma…but no matter how hard I tried, it just wouldn’t work! So, I went back to faking it. Joined another church, started back preaching and singing, and pushed all the hurt down. I got married to a man who loves me so much. It took me years to accept or even understand his love because the only love I knew always came with pain. Something told me that it wasn’t real love when I was going through the hurt but it’s what I thought I deserved. It was my lot, if you will.
Well, let us fast forward some more. The pandemic happened and I completely gave up on church and seemingly on the idea of ever being healed. I would stay in the bed for days and days. I wouldn’t answer my phone to anyone…not even a text. My husband would try so hard to help me, to pray for me, to make me laugh. He literally went on like this for weeks but nothing he did worked. I was on the phone with mommy one Saturday night and I told her just how badly I didn’t want to live anymore. I was tired of being tired. That same night, I was scrolling on Instagram and saw a flyer that said, “Try Church Again” from a church I had never heard of. I told mommy that I would go but if it didn’t work, I didn’t know how much longer I could do it…meaning life. My husband, surprised that I wanted to leave the house, was so happy that we were finally going back to church. I now know that he was secretly praying this would be the thing that would get me out of the state I was in. We got there and it was like almost instantly, from the moment we walked through the door, I could breathe again. Praise and Worship ended and when the Pastor stood up to preach, he stopped and said, “Someone is here today feeling suicidal, and you said before you got here, ‘Lord, if this doesn’t work, I’m not going to do life anymore’. Know that God sees and hears you.” I was floored. I literally couldn’t believe my ears.
And THAT’S where my healing began. God saw me in my most broken state. He began putting me back together. I couldn’t do it on my own no matter how hard I tried. But I didn’t have to! Now, has it been a walk in the park since that day? Of course not! He was actually released from prison about 2 months ago and I thought it would completely break me. I spent a few days in the house. Or if I went out, I would be constantly looking over my shoulder. I almost ended up right back where I was a year ago. But I refused to give him anymore power. I allowed him to destroy me for years. My heart. My mind. Even my health. But not anymore! So, after I cried, prayed, and cried some more, I gave it to God and He picked me right back up. I could literally feel Him healing my heart…putting the pieces back together.
Healing is a journey! To be whole doesn’t mean that I act as if the trauma never happened, I just won’t be saddled with the weight of it any longer. I won’t let it control me. And you don’t have to either. Our stories may be different. We may not even believe in the same God. But there is one thing I believe to be true for anyone reading this: You don’t have to remain broken. ‘Stuck’ doesn’t have to be your permanent residence. I know what it’s like to be so deep in the cave of depression where you begin to decorate the walls and not allow any visitors. I understand what it’s like to feel as though you’re in a burning house and the only choices are to stay inside and burn or jump to your death. Whether it’s been weeks, months, or in my case YEARS…it’s never too late to make a decision to take your first step out of the cave. To pick up the rug that you’ve swept things under and sort through the mess. Sorting through the mess won’t be easy. Dealing with the trauma, the grief, the guilt…it hurts, and I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t. I’ve been there. However, if you take anything from this post, let it be this: You are worthy. You are enough. It may have happened to you but it’s not your identity. You are not damaged goods. You have a purpose. Healing is not linear. What worked for me may not necessarily work for you. But healing IS attainable.
“Some people see scars and it’s wounding they remember. To me, they are proof of the fact that there is healing.”