Even in a dysfunctional family, sometimes, children are exposed to people who impact them in a positive way. The influence of this person grows with the child the same as the memories of neglect and abuse. A sign of affection or a word of encouragement can be the only positive reinforcement they receive.
My childhood was dark and dismal, but I had that positive reinforcement from several people; none greater than my Aunt Susie. She was my bright shining Star! When I was little she made sure I knew how special I was to her. She would come by my grandmother’s house often just to check on me. She stayed on me about having manners and respect for others. Aunt Susie often reminded me that manners will take you where money won’t.
Aunt Susie saw potential in me long before I saw a future for myself. She would say, “You only went to the seventh grade, but you could have been a lawyer”. At that young age, I didn’t know what she meant, but I understood that she thought I was special.
I spent every summer at Aunt Susie’s. She would cook before going to work and remind her children to take good care of me as she went out the door. I always smile when I remember those days.
Like most children, every now and then, I would tell Aunt Susie a little white lie. She never got mad or fussed when I did. She would look me in the eye and say, “There’s something wrong with what you just said”. Then I would start the story over again – with the truth. She would nod, smile and keep moving.
Although Aunt Susie is gone, I cherish those memories and the contribution she made to my life. Abandoned at an early age, it seemed my life would always be dark and dismal, but she encouraged me and spoke a successful future into my life. Today, I share these stories with her daughters.
It is so important that we remember the influence we have over young people. We should never miss an opportunity to encourage and support them, regardless of their family or environment. Yours may be the only encouragement they receive.
My oldest daughter was sent to Haiti two days after the earthquake. She and her husband are in the military. They have three little boys ages 2, 6 and 8. Life as an enlisted couple has become increasingly difficult for them.
She was in tears when she called me to break the news. Although sympathetic to the victims in Haiti, she was particularly upset about leaving her family to go into such a dangerous situation. She was concerned about her safety and her desire to return alive and well to her children. As I listened to my daughter, tears began to roll down my face because I sincerely felt her pain. I prayed a silent prayer, while we were both sobbing, and asked God to give me words of comfort for her. He answered my prayer and I was able to calm her down and turn the conversation around. Afterwards, she told me that she loved me and thanked me for being there. I was relieved. When we don’t know what to say, God will be put the right words in our mouth.
My daughter has been in Haiti for three weeks now and problems started as soon as she left. Her husband was immediately overwhelmed with the care and attention needed for three young boys. His regular schedule was impacted by the need to get the children from child care and school at different times every day. In addition, the kids started misbehaving in school; which was unusual for my grandsons. One day, the oldest child burst into tears because he could not understand why his mother had to go where so many people were dying. His Dad explained she was there to help them and she would be home again soon. But he continued to act up in school.
I called the children often to reassure them of their mother’s safety and return. I told them that they could help her by behaving in school and making good grades while she was gone. I promised them I would write and let her know how good they had been. The next day, the oldest son received a good report from his teacher. His mother called to let him know how proud she was of her boys and that she hoped to be home soon.
Fortunately for everyone this entire episode should end very soon. My daughter is expected to come home within the next two weeks and hopefully, Haiti will be a little better because of the sacrifice she made.
Filed under Haiti, Military
I am eagerly writing my second book every day. It is a true story about the circumstances that led up to my abusive relationship. My childhood was crazy. I experienced things as a child that you would not believe. Not the “normal” wrong doing like sexual abuse, but much worse.
My mother was never there for me. My teeth were rotten and my hair was thick and bonded. She never did anything to take care of me. When my step-mother came along she combed my hair and put ear rings in my ears. She taught me all the things a little girl should know.
Although my dad stayed on me and my grandmother went out of her way to make me happy, something was still missing. I realized it was my mother. If she had been dead, it would have been different. But she didn’t die, she just walked away and it created a void in my life. It took years for me to come to grips with it. I go into much deeper details in my book because it is more than this blog can hold.
Sometimes things happen and you never understand why. I have learned to pray and search for understanding. Today I am a mother and a grandmother. I love being a mother and I never want my kids to feel the pain I felt. I want my children to know that they are loved.
My daughter is in a relationship that is so wrong for her. She needs to break free from her abuse, but she keeps going back. I don’t understand it. I have tried to help in every way I know but she won’t let me in. She turns the problem around and makes it about me. When I look at her, I see the old me that kept trying to hold on to a bad relationship. A relationship that I really needed to let go.
Regardless of what is going on in a relationship, you are not going to leave until you have had enough. But you only hurt yourself because it doesn’t get better, it gets worse.
My abuser robbed me of my self esteem and made me feel worthless. I felt no one loved me or cared about me, but the truth was I didn’t love myself. I see these things in my daughter also. I need her to see the abuser for who he is. She deserves to be happy and she has a son who needs her. I speak at the Shelter once a week to battered and abused women. They listen and understand, but I cannot reach my own daughter. Any suggestions?
Imagine a mother leaving her two year old daughter in the front yard frightened and lone, only to return years later. In the interim, the child’s Dad, notorious in his own right, becomes the responsible parent. This was the beginning of life for me, Sharon D. Johnson. Needless to say, I grew up fast. I dropped out of school and became a mother at age thirteen.
Fast forward ten years and I was a single mother with three beautiful little girls. But with limited resources and no place to live, I ended up at the home of mother that abandoned me. I was young, homeless with nowhere else to go. One day I went to work and left my girls with my mother, only to return home and find them sitting on the front porch in the cold because she had locked them out of the house. From there I found my way to the local Family Shelter.
Time spent at the shelter had a profound impact on my life. I learned how to survive on my own. I appreciated the safe haven the shelter provided women with children like me.
Fast forward again twenty years to the new mature, successful Sharon D. Johnson; published author, business owner and friend to women in transition. I am founder of YOU TOO, a support group for abused women living in shelters. We meet weekly and discuss topics such ending domestic abuse; moving forward after the breakup and living an independent life.
It wasn’t easy, but I moved on with my life but not without many mistakes and regrets. I know that I am not alone. Many women have outgrown partners or simply refused to take abuse anymore. We have proven that it can be done and we can live to tell the story. We can inspire others to do the same. That’s my story – I would love to hear yours.
If I only knew then what I know now, I could have saved myself from so much pain. I was so desperate for love that I gave myself totally to a man who said he love me. Hearing him tell me he loved me blew my mind. I couldn’t see past the words “I love you”. He had relationships with other women, and even slept with one of them in our bed. When I confronted him, he said that I was the only woman for him, and he loved only me. With that said I surrendered, there was nothing left to talk about. An excerpt from Chapter 2 of The Struggle of Love:
Just when I thought I was getting over the lies Tim told me about being with Kathy, I found out that he had a four month old daughter by a another woman named Tracy. When I played it back in my head and did the math, it was obvious that she got pregnant when he was with me. I asked Tim about this woman having his child he said “when I slept with Tracy you and I weren’t even in love, we were just dating. We were not close like we are now. “Is it your child?” I asked. He snapped back, “No! I don’t know, and I don’t want to talk about it. I think she’s lying; she doesn’t know whose baby it is.” For some reason he didn’t want to continue talking about it. I loved him and even though Tim was probably lying to me again, a part of me still wanted to believe him. Tim said I was letting mess that I was hearing about him get the best of me, and he wanted me to stop listening to it because he loved me and no one could change that. He was so good at telling me what I wanted to hear, but his actions always said something else.
Monday night at the shelter was so touching. I really enjoyed sharing my story of abuse with the new ladies in transition. The beauty of it all is the women there related to each other’s situation. They understood there is no shame in what you have been through. You can let your hair down at “YOU TOO” meetings and share your story. When one resident in the meeting took the floor and revealed her abuse and suffering every woman listening felt her pain. I was speechless; just when you think you’ve got it bad someone else has it worse. But it is all under the same dark cloud of abuse.
Seeking professional help was the best remedy for me. It gave me hope and I learned the difference between love and lust. I also learned how to love myself. I accepted the reality that I was powerless to change my abuser; he had to change himself. After meeting with my Mental Health physician weekly I learned how to reach out to people and ask for help. It was ok to talk abut the pain caused by the abuser because I had done nothing wrong. Certainly, I made bad choices in life, but nothing justifies abuse. My abuser always made me feel guilty – he made me the bad guy. He also mentally abused my daughters to the point that I thought they would never overcome such issues.
I have made amends with my three daughters. I let them know I love them and asked for their forgiveness. I have explained and they understand that during that low point in my life I was a very sick woman. I was forced to look back to my childhood again to find out why I was so attracted to an abusive man. If I can understand and overcome that destructive time in my life others can also. It is worth the time, pain and effort to gain a new life with renewed dreams.