A few weeks ago when Laura White and I drove to Dallas to film another I Have a Voice video I was immeasurably blessed by the amount of hope and fortitude this woman sitting next to me exuded. So many times we can take the struggles in our lives, focus on the annoyance and irritation of the circumstance and soon the struggle turns into a life-destroying tragedy.
Here is a woman who has miraculously lived through an unimaginable tragedy which has left her to face numerous daily struggles that could easily suck the second chance of life right out of her. Instead, she focuses on the beauty in the simple things and though her struggles are both an annoyance and irritation she realizes the fact she can feel these emotions is a gift.
I asked Laura to update us on how she is three years after the incident:
Life for Me today after Domestic Violence
My life today for the most part is very rewarding and full of surprises. I find that my eyes are wide open to all that is going on around me daily. I watch people to see if I see troubled looks on their faces. I will glance at the sunset or sunrise and look above to thank God that I am still here to see that beauty displayed. I watch to see how men are treating women where ever I am, at the grocery store, in restaurants, at the gas station, etc. I smile when I see an elderly couple holding hands or quietly sitting somewhere talking to each other as they are still best friends. I listen with joy when my 6 year old grandson tells me about his day at school or the next greatest thing he has seen advertised on a commercial. I sit back quietly to watch and listen to my 2 children when they are together and feel my heart swell with love and pride for the adults they have become.
I still have so many unanswered questions about what I went through. I wonder how I could have ever have let myself be treated in such cruel ways. I look back and realize I do not know who that person was. There are many days that as I am performing simple tasks such as doing laundry, taking out the trash or trimming the bushes in my front yard that my abuser will enter my thoughts. I will re-enter those memories by thinking about how I lived in such fear if I didn’t perform such simple tasks correctly. And then I will remember that how I was supposed to perform a task would change without warning and therefore invoke a barrage of verbal abuse usually followed by condemnation, extreme hatred and anger. A good example of this was when I was first with my abuser I did some laundry and somehow managed to turn some of his socks pink. Then another time I did laundry I accidentally threw a tee-shirt of his into the dryer therefore resulting in it shrinking. My abuser verbally attacked me for weeks on end by saying I was out to get him and that I did it on purpose. My punishment from there on out was I was not allowed to go anywhere near the washer or the dryer. I was not even allowed to do my own laundry for 4 years. If I so much as went out to the garage without stating my purpose beforehand, he would jump up and follow me to make sure I wasn’t touching the washer or dryer. The good news about my life today is I can do my own laundry or other simple daily tasks without fear. I enjoy the freedom to do my laundry and if I do turn my socks pink, I laugh because I love pink socks!!!
Anger will re-surface from time to time around the consequences I am faced with because my abuser tried to kill me which resulted in him shooting me. I so long for my body to feel normal again, but as time passes, the body I have now is beginning to feel normal to me for the most part. I can walk despite the weakness I have in my left leg due to the permanent nerve damage. I can handle the stairs in a movie theater now. I can’t run, hop or jump which leaves me wondering what I will ever do if faced with a situation where I have to flee due to impending danger. The trauma my body suffered has left me with only 30% function in my kidneys which translates into Chronic Kidney Disease Stage 3. The next level down would put me in danger of having to do dialysis or even worse, a kidney transplant. When I first heard this from my doctor, the anger that came to the surface took me by surprise. I have been able to forgive my abuser for his actions, but I am still very angry deep down about the results of his actions. I do not sleep at night for more than 2-3 hours at a time. This is not because I have bad dreams or nightmares about what I went through, it is because due to the loss of 80% of my digestive system, I am dehydrated at all times. My body has to receive water constantly to keep me out of the hospital. I naturally wake up every couple of hours to drink water. I have adjusted to the schedule and will relish the few times I actually sleep for 4-6 hours, but then I have to really work hard to catch up on my water intake.
I will end this with how I started this. My life to today is full of rewards and surprises. I have such a feeling of peace and serenity to know that I am not in that abusive relationship today. I have the courage and determination to never let myself be controlled by another person again. I can stand up for myself and say no today if it doesn’t feel right and I strive to stand up for others who have experienced abuse firsthand. I love my body as it is today even with its weaknesses and medical issues. I can look in the mirror today and when I see my 15 inch scar and notice that I no longer have a belly button I smile and say this is my normal.
If you are struggling, offer it up to the Lord and take a look at your day, recognizing the many blessings you’ve been given.
“They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.” Isaiah 40:41
** If you or someone you know is in a domestic abuse situation and needs help please go to the Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233)**