I became serious about living a life of wellness following my horseback riding accident of May 6th 2012. I was being given a horseback riding lesson by a friend on the dunes to celebrate my birthday two weeks previous. I was riding the teacher's Arabian, who he had saddled for me before I got to the gathering point at Arroyo Grande Beach, California. The teacher put me in a three point standing stance and we started up the dunes. Unknown to me, I was on a broken pancake saddle that was split on the underneath part and we were headed to an area where the teacher allowed his horse to run free, unfettered by saddles. I was bucked off into the air about 20 feet high, while riding to the top of a sand dune. When I came down, I fell on the only tree branch around in the six miles of trail we had already ridden. To say my injuries were catastrophic would be accurate and I am extremely fortunate to be alive.
I had laid in bed for 7 weeks, as the first Ortho spine doctor at Sequoia Orthopedic & Spine in Visalia, California refused to treat me because of a professional snit he had with the neurosurgeon at the initial hospital 3 days after being sent back to the valley for follow-up and surgery. The appointment was confirmed beforehand, and when I told them I still had not gotten my cd with the scans on it, they said no problem. When my daughter and I got to the front desk a very rude office manager went to talk to the doctor and came back and told me and my daughter the doctor would not see me. I was in tears, told her I had confirmed the appointment and the Office manager threatened to have me escorted out by security. I was heartbroken, my daughter was livid. She wanted to pull that smirking rude office manager over the desk, but I put a hand on her shoulder and told her, this is not the kind of doctor I want working on me anyway. The second Ortho Spine doctor was at Sierra Pacific Orthopedics in Fresno, California. He let me know in no uncertain terms he would not do a surgery that would take more than four hours in one session and told me I could either go into a wheelchair and learn to live with it or have 4 surgeries to possibly repair my spine over a 1 year period. I was referred to him by my primary care doctor because I was having incontinence and losing my ability to stand. He told me only a university hospital could do that, then refused to refer me to one. I realized immediately my fate was in God's hands and mine and I had to advocate for myself. I prayed and cried. I was so very angry at both doctors for their professional incompetence and disregard. I had been abandoned at that point by the medical profession, who were the only ones with a possible solution. I heard in my heart to forgive them both, leave that to God and let my anger and unforgiveness go. I heard God sees it all, He will handle them. The moment I forgave and gave the situation to God, a series of events, or what I call miraculous whispering sparks, unfolded where I ended up with the best Neurospinal Surgeon on the west coast and the director of the department at Stanford, Dr. J Park. God was watching out for me in the midst of the storm. Within 6 days of seeing me, I was headed to pre-op. On the way to the hospital my daughter had a back injury while getting into the car and ended up in the emergency room as they processed me through to surgery My surgery was 10 1/2 hours, using three surgical specialty teams, with no promise I would ever walk again.
My life changed unbelievably, Finding hope, strength, healing, and ways to deal with chronic pain because of allergies to most pain medications led me to look at nutrition, relation of body, soul and spirit, emotional healing, spiritual renewal, alternative and complementary medicine.
It was during this intense recovery time that I really discovered who I was, who the God I serve is, what type of relationship I wanted as compared to what I had with Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and how much of my stuff I had stuffed down deep and not dealt with for years.
The past can affect us, it can affect our health and wellness. The past can help form who we are, but it can not define us without our permission. It is important to deal with the history, and put it in its appropriate place, not wrap it and stuff it.
Life is amazing, it is not over for me by any stretch of the imagination. I have many hopes and dreams still yet to fulfill. It is an honor to share my journey with you, in hopes that you will be encouraged.
We are not defined by what happened to us, but by what we do because of it:
My daddy died when I was 4, so there was no one to protect me, to be there as daddy's do for their little girls. I endured physical, verbal/mental and sexual abuse as a child after daddy died. A man my daddy knew from work promised he and his family would look out for us after he died. He did nothing when he found out his youngest son had been molesting me for a long time, except give me a beating and to warn me to keep my mouth shut as he was some big shot at church. This man, Bob, regularly physically, verbally and mentally abused myself, one of my older brothers and my little brother for years. He would tell my mom he and his family would watch over us while she worked and went to nursing school. His wife never knew as it always happened in our home. She would have stopped it immediately. Whenever we would say something to our mom, she would confront him. He would deny it and then the beatings with hoses, belts or boards with holes in them would become more frequent. If one of us got hurt badly during one of these correction sessions, he would make up a story mom believed. I entered my teens thinking life must get better, it didn’t.
I was pretty much a loner, a geek, and stayed to my corner of the world. I was sent to a private Christian school I did not want to be at, where the rich kids ruled and those of us that worked through the summers to be able to attend, were mere inconsequential insects. I can't tell you the number of times I contemplated suicide, just to not have to deal with the bullies, the self absorbed kids, and the snobby rich kids who made sure to not include me in any of their activities and let me know they were doing it. At the time, I figured who cared, my family had no money to participate in any of the activities anyway. I had come to accept that I must deserve this treatment, it was all I knew. Yet, I saw other kids at school whose families showed they really loved and cared for them. I was so jealous at first. When I realized that was not ever going to be my life I figured out ways to stay out of adults way.
I found myself looking for a father figure or anyone who would love me, support me and allow me to love them back. After years of rejection and abuse, I searched for anyone who would validate me. The longing, the need to be wanted, that void and emptiness I tried desperately to fill. I was prime pickings for narcissistic men who were controlling and abusive. It is true, what they say, someone says something enough and enforces it with pain, you begin to believe it. That search drove me on a journey that spanned over 40 years, years mostly full of heartache, disappointment, fear and abuse.
When I married the first time to my girl's daddy, we married for convenience. In 1976, in our small town, it was illegal to rent an apartment and just live together. We did not love each other, but we had no options, both our families abandoning us at 18. It is no surprise as we aged, we grew apart, we had no common ground, he could not fill the void of my need to be loved caused from all the years of rejection and abuse.
I survived the next relationship, to my unhusband husband, once waking up to a shotgun in my face, with him telling me I might be lucky to wake up the next morning, or another time having a pistol shoved in my car window, being threatened to be blown away if I didn't hand over my car keys to him as I was trying to leave him. He had sworn off drugs when I met him and promised me the world. After two affairs, violence and even more narcissistic treatment we split after 8 years, it is what you do when you find out your husband, a long distance truck driver, is married to two other women and had children with them while you are married at the same time. My marriage was annulled after 8 years based on bigamy. It was during my last six months in this relationship that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. He is who kept me alive and sane, and made a way for me out of this relationship.
I got involved with a very religious church for nearly five years as a community outreach and prison ministry coordinator and women's ministry leader and experienced some of the worst betrayal and pastoral spiritual, verbal and emotional abuse ever. Little did I know these shattering wounds would cause me to pull away from any semblance of a close church family for 22 years. I moved to another state and helped a national ministry, Cowboys for Christ, to take Jesus to the livestock industry and the prison system. It was there I answered the call to minister full time in 2003. In 2007 I was ordained through a non-denominational ministry.
I still believed in love, in spite of my past, but became impatient after waiting on God for 10 years to show me who was the husband He promised to me following my last violent marriage that ended in an annulment. I got so lonely and tired of waiting and told God, I'm not waiting anymore . That was one of the most foolish and dangerous decisions of my life. I reaped a whirlwind. Husband #3, was a sheriff's deputy, who was full of rage, unforgiveness and emotional/verbal abuse. All was well hidden during a year of dating, that is until the day we said I do. To me, I was there to be a helper. He did not want help. He wanted to control, to destroy, to abuse. He would get so angry and his eyes would roll back into his head, his voice would change for a moment to a very low, almost growl, then he would scream and yell and advance at me like he was going to hurt me, and I would cower in the corner of the couch crying, which made him madder. There were many occasions where he threatened to physically take us out, pointing to his gun on the couch by my side, like other public servants had been doing during that time in our communities. After two years of enduring his abuse, and finding out about his girlfriend on our 2nd anniversary, I got a call from him that he was again the subject of an upcoming IAD investigation. Each time one of these happened, his anger would increase and it was scary to even be around him. When I got this report, in fear for my life, I left in the middle of that very night, packing my car with what it would hold, leaving behind my new bike and so many other things. I drove 26 hours back to the state I was reared in, after stopping in AZ for a much needed night of rest.
My friends had invited me to stay at their home as a safe place. How I loved the special touches to the room they set up for me. Four months after filing my divorce, my friends told me I could not stay, they changed their minds, it was too much. I was devastated and felt so betrayed as three days before, after clearing it with them first to get the go ahead, I had paid my registration fees for school. I had asked them first, as I was also looking for a job so I could get my own place. They both were excited for, and encouraged me. In hindsight, after going through my surgery, I understand better when you have no more to give you just don't. Since I had no work or place to stay, I returned to Texas and went back to work with my previous employer.
After a couple of months in Texas, I was contacted by an ex-correctional officer, a city employee of Elk City, OK. He started emailing me and said all the right things for my lonely heart and my bruised self worth, that lined up with my conservative belief systems, my spiritual walk with God, everything. We spent 3 to 4 hours on the phone every night. He did and said all those things I had longed for my entire life. Well, let's just say he played a good game and fooled my pastor, friends, everyone. We married on Thanksgiving day, full of hope for a new chapter full of acceptance and love. Six months after we married, things drastically changed. He became very verbally/emotionally abusive, threatening to hit me. He was textbook narcissist. He completely controlled me separating me from my friends and family, renounced any belief in God, and his support of my conservative nature. After 8 months of marriage he was fired from his job as a box truck driver for running a woman off the road in Dallas on the freeway. Because of all this abuse I have been diagnosed with PTSD. There are lots of stories in this one too, about lessons learned, how to protect oneself, how to escape without losing yourself, how to recognize narcissists how to survive emotional/verbal trauma, how to depend on God when everything was on fire and I was hiding trying to survive. He fooled my pastor, my best friends in Texas, and so many others. He was skilled at deception, gaslighting and manipulation. More than anything it was three years of holding so tight to God. In the end, after physically and emotionally running out of gas, I stayed for 3 years, believing I took vows, whether I was deceived or not. When it was clear my life was severely at risk of being killed, I left. I knew I had to get out. I prayed and God moved the mountain , and I once again moved back to the state I was reared in.
I arrived back in California shaking my head trying to figure out how on earth was I so deceived to fall for another narcissist?
Reflection, Love & Freedom.
As I lay coffin still in my bed, staring at the ceiling during those 7+weeks following my horseback riding accident, I soon realized I was trying to fill the voids in me from all the rejection and abuse in my life through men and work. It was during this time of intense trial that I found the love, validation and acceptance I had yearned for all my life. I found it in the arms of Jesus, who died to set me free. Though I would never voluntarily go again through the trials and tribulations that encompassed my accident, I also would not trade that time developing my relationship with Jesus for anything in the world. It was in this crucible of suffering that I discovered the strength, comfort and fulfillment fully present in the love of God. I no longer search for someone or something to fill a perceived void, to validate or accept me.
I have all the acceptance I need from my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I have learned many important lessons on how to identify the red flags I should have seen, and those that were later defined. I learned that my Father in heaven loved me in spite of my mistakes and shortcomings and accepted me as I am. I learned that in the worst times of pain, agony, grief and loss He has been closer to me than my next breath. I have learned that Jesus is not only my Lord and Savior, He is my brother, my friend and my husband.
I found in the midst of trials and tribulation, One who would walk beside me and lead me in all truth, One who I love, the precious Holy Spirit, for He reveals the truth of Jesus and holds me close when life gets rough. Yes, I am learning much on my journey. I am still learning about Father God, as He has been the most difficult to wrap my head around, for I did not have a father growing up. I am excited to learn each day of my heavenly father's character and love and to grow in trust of Him and to grow every day more like Him. I am confident that He who began this good work in me will complete it.
Today, I am a great grandmother, I have two wonderful daughters, 6 grandchildren and one great grandson. These are my true treasures I love with all my heart. I am hopefully much wiser and kinder today. I believe I have been allowed to walk my particular path so that I can help others who may be walking along some of the same paths I did.