“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt said it first, but I remember my mother saying it repeatedly throughout my life. I lived by that until my mother passed away; when she died I was left alone and devastated, she was my mentor and my best friend. Without her strength and encouragement not only were others allowed to make me feel inferior, I began to feel inferior.
After my mother’s death I tried a lot of different things to get over the pain, relationships seemed to be my favorite. I got married six months after she died, and divorced shortly thereafter. I got into another relationship; this relationship validated that I had completely submitted to allowing the men in my life to make me feel inferior, and would lead me to the lowest point in my life.
His name was Bo, he was amazing, but amazing didn’t last long soon it turned to fear and loathing. The relationship lasted six years total, and took abuse to levels that I had only heard about before - physical, emotional, verbal…by the time that I was able to finally escape my self-esteem, self worth and any sense of self importance was shattered. I relocated to a new town several hours away from anyone and everyone I had ever known, I couldn’t call or visit for fear that he would find me. I didn’t let anyone know where I was as I knew from the past that he was not beyond threatening or hurting people to find me and I refused to put anyone in that situation again.
So there I was in a new place, with three children, with a few personal items, and almost no money. I was an emotional wreck; I was alone and afraid. I had no means of being able to cope with all that had happened in my life. I thought this fresh start would be just what I needed. In this new place, I would be able to recreate myself as a strong independent woman; and that no one would ever see the broken shell that I had become. Unfortunately, I lacked the self confidence to do that. I needed something that would give me an edge. I quickly met all the wrong people and was introduced to a way of life that I felt gave me the courage to move forward. I was so far down emotionally that I easily lost control of any sensible way of living, yet living this way I felt on top of my game; I was confident and strong; I could talk to anyone; I had no fear. To coin a phrase “I was ten feet tall and bullet proof.” I thought this was the edge for which I had been looking. That this; would get me back in the mainstream. I could not have been more wrong.
My feelings of being invincible led me to make decisions that landed me in dangerous situations. On December 16, 2005 my world came crashing down. My children were placed in state custody and I was arrested for child endangerment. I had never been in any real trouble with the law, but this time things were different. Court proceedings followed, the judge and everyone involved told me I had a problem, I told them they were wrong, I was terrified; there was no way I could give up the one thing that made me feel I could finally function. I just wanted my kids back and to be left alone. The court battle would last almost three years. They wanted me to get myself together but I felt they had taken my only reason to live…
About two or three months into the battle it was suggested that I attend counseling and maybe some twelve step meetings. Perhaps I would hear something at one of those meetings that would help me. At first I was closed-minded I still didn’t think that I had a problem; I didn’t want to be there. But I could identify with others in the rooms, their feelings of being unlovable and unimportant to everyone including themselves. After nine months of struggling in and out of the rooms, I surrendered to the realization that I would probably wind up dead if things in my life didn’t change, and I didn’t want to die that way. That was November 5, 2006.
I got a sponsor and began working the 12 steps, I really got in touch with who I am, and learned how to deal with my feelings. With every step I gained a little more confidence, I got stronger, and began to like who I am. I was not the horrible person I believed myself to be, I had just made some really bad decisions. I also stopped blaming everyone else for my situation; I took responsibility for my actions and accepted my consequences with the grace of an adult and not the grief of a child. I started doing service work within the fellowship starting in my home group, and quickly moving up to the Area level today I am the Chairperson of the Area, I sponsor 8 women, and speak frequently at functions, conventions, and most recently at a local high school. I serve on the Hospitals and Institutions Sub-Committee and take a meeting into the women at the Randolph County Jail twice and month and I do a presentation quarterly to the Randolph County Drug Court.
After 20 years of wandering aimlessly, I went back to school; I realized I needed to do something, anything to give my life purpose; I started working on a degree in Criminal Justice. I wanted to understand the process, and I was in awe of my attorney. He knew what to do. After finishing my AAS in Criminal Justice I began to work on my BS in Legal Studies. Once I started learning about the law, I knew somehow, someway, I had to be a part of it. My good grades and excellent GPA helped to reinforce this decision for me.
At three months clean, I started working at McDonalds and was able to I put myself through school, I attended classes at night and somehow found the time to be a full-time mom as well. My children were returned to my custody on February 1st, 2008. I wanted to set an example for my children by going to college, and most days I think my children are as proud of me as I am of them. Through hard work, determination and my newly acquired education, I now work for the lawyer who represented me throughout this entire process.
What I realize is that while these experiences have changed my life forever, they have taught me that I have the power to be the change that I want to see in the world. As a lawyer, I am confident that I can make a difference in my community; just as my attorney made a difference in my life.
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