There’s no movie, tv, sports, or zombie story in it.
There’s no pop culture at all.
But I love stories and this is definitely a story worth sharing.
Carrie and I met Kelley and her (then) husband nearly 5 years ago. This Michigan couple met that Texas couple in California. We were all there as part of an assessment for church planting with an organization called Growing Healthy Churches Network. We became quick friends with them and kept in touch after returning home.
It wasn’t long after that we were introduced to Kelley’s health struggles but what came out over the next few months a years was a life story filled with abuse, betrayal, cancer, addiction, heartache, and somehow…grace.
I’ve asked Kelley to share her story on our blog because I believe in what God has done in and through her and believe that her story needs to be shared.
What you’re about to read is raw and I believe it is best that way.
The story will be published in 2 parts over the next two days.
My prayer is that regardless of your story you can get some hope from Kelley’s.
With that,hit the break for part 1.
Wow Adam, I am so honored that you asked me to be a guest blogger! I’m so glad that you understand and see why it is so important to talk about the things others only think about. The only way we can ever see real change is to bring whatever it is out into then light rather than live in darkness.
My life has been colored with tragedy. As I’ve been pondering and praying for direction on what to post about I realized how many different and wide ranges of people my testimony can help. So, with God’s help, I feel I should just start writing from my heart knowing and trusting that God will speak through me and that I would be able to touch the lives of many through my testimony.
Where it all began (Part one)
I sat on the bed so sad, but had no understanding of why, at such a young age I was this sad for another person. My mom was sitting on the edge of the bed, I was about 3 years old, and I just kept asking “What’s wrong mommy?” This is my earliest memory from my childhood. My mom and dad were getting a divorce. My brother, my sister, and I all lived with my mom in an apartment. Looking back now, I realize that my mom was so deeply hurt and wounded that my dad would leave our family and move in with another woman and her children after 15 years of marriage. Even at such a young age, I had such great respect for my mom. She was a fighter.
After my parents divorced, we would drive out to see my mom’s parents in Oklahoma. Every time we went, my mom’s dad would load us up with a bunch of meat and some vegetables from his garden so we didn’t go hungry. I had a cousin who was a few years older than me. She had three brothers and she was the only girl. So, when we came into town, we would be glued together because we were the only girls. Because of the situation, we ended up always sharing a bed. Unfortunately, this girl had been abused by her father and in turn did the same thing to me. This happened every single time we went to Oklahoma and no one had a clue what was happening to me. It truly amazes me how grown people can witness things and sit idly by without saying a word.
Every time I had to go see my father, I was alone during the day while he was at work. Well, I was a nosey kid, so I went snooping. I didn’t have to look far to find a bunch of Playboy magazines. As I thumbed through the pages it was like a light went off. Now the divorce all made sense. At that very young age the following was seared into my brain…
“My mom doesn’t look like these girls, she doesn’t dress like these girls, and I’m almost sure she didn’t act like these girls!!” No wonder dad left. When I grow up, I am going to look, dress and act just like the girls in these pictures and my husband will never leave me”
I held that belief in my mind for many, many years. When I started getting attention from older men, I liked it. It felt good to actually be wanted by a man. I never, ever felt “wanted” by my father. By the time I was 15 years old, I went on my first date and had sex that very night for the first time. I was too embarrassed to say no because then he would have known I was a virgin. Just a couple of months later I realized I was in a very bad situation and broke up with him. One week later, I found out I was pregnant. Back then, you just got married, it was the right thing to do. So, I did. The baby was born 12 weeks early and stayed in intensive care for about three weeks then he came home. He died from SIDS when he was four months old. It wasn’t long after that when I found myself desperately trying to escape my dysfunctional marriage.
Imagine at the precious age of 17 losing your first baby boy. I had NO idea how to cope with this. The only thing that made the pain lessen was when I did drugs. So, that was how I coped. I became not only a drug addict but at the age of 18 years old, I became a stripper. So there I was, doing drugs, drinking, and making all kinds of money. Such a terrible combination for a teenager. I knew I was living my life wrong but couldn’t stop. I did end up going to school and became a nail technician but that didn’t stop me. I just worked a full time job, got off work, went to clean up and change and went straight to the clubs. I woke up the next morning and did it all over again.
There were many, many mornings where I had spent all night doing drugs and when I saw the sun coming up I realized I had been up ALL night. On those mornings I would say to myself,
“Oh my gosh, not again. I’m out of money, I’m out of drugs, and what am I doing to myself? This is just stupid. I’ve got to stop. But how? What is it going to take to wake me up?! I really think the only thing that would be bad enough to make me quit is if mom died. What?!?!? What in the hell am I thinking?! I’ve got to stop, I’ve just got to stop.”
This went on for three years just getting worse by the day. I got a call at work and was told my mom had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. To make a very long story a little shorter, she ended up dying from it. As I looked at her in her casket I said out loud to her that I would never, ever touch drugs again, and I didn’t.
In part 2, the story gets more difficult before it gets better. Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story.