“Mama, I think you should go.” These were the words spoken by my eight year old daughter and the only reason why I even considered going. I had already made up my mind I was not going.
I had been able to fake happiness my whole life but the charade had gotten harder as my children began to grow older and wiser. Their little voices on the other side of my bedroom door asking if I was okay made the anguish I was feeling much harder to bear. I tried to muffle the crying noises as best I could but they knew their mama was not okay. I needed help.
When my husband asked me what was wrong, I couldn’t answer. I didn’t know. I was just very sad. I managed to work a full time job but would come home each afternoon, take some cold medicine because it made me drowsy and go to sleep. I did have a headache almost every day but sleep was my best friend.
My husband didn’t know how to help me. He encouraged me to see a doctor. After all it could be hormonal and maybe if they prescribed medication I would feel better.
I was the oldest of seven children. From an early age there was a lot of responsibility put on me from both my parents. At twelve years old they would leave me in charge of my younger siblings. If anything went wrong while they were gone it was my fault. One day two of my brothers got in a scuffle and broke a lamp. Sure enough when they got home dad scolded me because after all I was in charge. Their was a problem however, I was not in charge because my younger siblings didn’t think they needed to listen to me, let alone mind me.
Some of my earliest memories were ones of being whipped with a belt by my dad and I never knew why. He would tell me to lie across the bed and I would start begging and crying because I knew what was coming. If I didn’t he said it would only be much worse on me. He would then remove his leather belt and whip me leaving belt marks on my back.
My mother would come to the door begging him to stop but he would remind her if she didn’t leave he was going to whip her too. I was left alone screaming, writhing and crying on the bed. I don’t know if he was drunk. I never knew why I was getting a beating.
Besides the physical abuse, I suffered mental and emotional abuse also. Neither one of my parents ever hugged me, kissed me, praised me or told me they loved me…never. In fact, just the opposite was true. My dad loved to remind me almost on a daily basis that they just had me to clean the house. He would say it with a grin on his face. He would also say things like…”you’re not worth the salt that goes in your bread” or “can’t you do anything right?” My Saturdays consisted of always cleaning house. We never played family games together, went on a family picnic or outing together.
I was a smart kid. I always made the honor roll and the teacher displayed my papers on the bulletin board with a large sticker because of my handwriting. I was chosen to be in Student Council in the third grade but I’m not sure my parents even knew that. If they were, they never said anything about it. My third grade teacher stood at our classroom door each morning and gave me a hug before I entered the room. She may have hugged every student but that was the only hug I ever received as a child.
One afternoon I came home with a Parent letter about the Bluebird Club. I wanted to be a Bluebird. I didn’t know exactly what they did but I wanted to join. My mother glanced quickly at the letter and then let me know I couldn’t join because it was on Wednesday afternoons and we had church that night. I begged a little but she said I couldn’t join, end of discussion.
I couldn’t wait to leave home. I thought when I got out on my own I would be happy.
I got married and left home but my problems went with me. I was sad and didn’t know how to enjoy life. I wasn’t happy unless I was busy working. I didn’t know how to relax and have fun. I felt responsible for everyone else’s happiness. If I saw other women with their mothers shopping or eating lunch together, I was jealous. I longed to have that kind of relationship with my mother. I felt isolated and alone.
After marriage I also earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education and graduated with honors. My husband and two children attended my graduation ceremony but neither one of my Parents came. My husband and children were very proud of me and we celebrated with dinner after the ceremony at a nice restaurant. My family was very supportive of me and I knew they loved me. I felt so blessed to have them and was proud of them also.
After I landed a teaching position my life became very stressful I worked a full time job, took care of two children, did all the household chores, helped take care of my husband’s elderly mother, plus we Pastored a small church in another county.
Life was becoming more and more difficult and I spent more and more time alone in my bedroom crying. The depression was closing in on me. I began to have headaches, stomach problems, back aches, high blood pressure, joint pain and significant weight gain. I was going to the doctor and chiropractor more and more often for medication and relief.
One day my husband sat me down and told me I couldn’t change what happened to me as a child. He told me I couldn’t change my Parents either. He told me I would just have to accept things the way they were. He told me I couldn’t change my situation but I could change my reaction to it.
I knew he was right. I was wishing and longing for something that would never be and I was meditating on that fact. This was the root problem of my depression and I knew it. I needed to see my worth as a person and that I was valuable and lovable in God’s eyes.
I didn’t know it at the time but a phone call came one afternoon that would literally change my life! A friend of mine called inviting me to attend a Ladies Conference with her. Within minutes of our conversation I had already mentally decided I was not going but I told her I would thing about it and call her back.
I had no intentions of going until my daughter spoke those words, “Mama, I think you should go.” Somehow, I knew she was right. I didn’t know why but I knew it. I later called my friend back and told her I would go.
I did go and when I got there imagine my surprise when I found out the guest speaker was a licensed Clinical Psychologist who spoke that evening about the symptoms of depression. I identified with everything she was saying. She had my undivided attention.
That weekend proved to be a major turning point in my life! I learned by listening to her talk and through prayer that it was possible to be free from the debilitating grip of that demon called, depression.
The last day of that Conference, the Director came down off the stage touched my head and immediately I felt that dark cloud of depression lift off me. I felt free for the first time since I was a child. I began to laugh with uncontrollable joy. It bubbled like a fountain from deep with my belly. I laughed all the way home.
When my husband and children saw me they knew there was a difference in my demeanor. I hugged them with joy. Our home was now a happy home!
I was now able to function and be with my family instead of hiding in my bedroom from them and the rest of the world. I was no longer a prisoner to sadness. I was no longer captive but was like a prisoner set free! Jesus set me free!
I’m so happy to this day that I listened to my little daughter and went to this conference even though I didn’t want to go.
Sometimes miracles happen when we least expect them! I know!