Celebrate Recovery ~ a healing testimony

I am a believer who has struggled with rejection and acceptance. This is my story.

I was born in 1960 and grew up in Withington, a middle-class suburb of Manchester. I was born the eldest of three children. I had two younger brothers. I did not know it at the time but my family was totally dysfunctional.

My earliest recollections of my insane childhood are not happy. My mother was a compulsive gambler. My father was very quiet and wanted a quiet life. He disappeared each night at nine o clock to go to the pub. I only have one memory of my dad reading to me as I sat on his knee. My mother never held me or told me she loved me. In fact she often told me she had never wanted my brothers or me and always told me I was beyond redemption! My grandmother also told me many times that we were not my father’s children. This caused a lot of confusion and pain. I endured emotional and physical abuse from my mum constantly. Beatings and verbal abuse were normal. I don’t remember my father witnessing this much as he worked. By the time I was seven or eight years old I was cleaning the house, shopping and doing all kinds of housework. I was always trying to work out what kind of mood she was in. Fear of disappointing her drove me on. Nothing I ever did was right or pleased her.

At a very young age I became a victim of incest by both of my two brothers. I was their object of sexual games. One of my brothers betrayed me by telling the local kids what we did. I was made to feel cheap and dirty! I soon learned that growing up was no fun that people you love hurt you and TRUST became a word I never used.

One of my brothers was sent away to a boy’s home. He was about ten years old. I was informed that my mum could not control him. This broke my heart. I lived in constant fear that they would do this to me as well and yet I would find myself lying to friends and neighbours to defend my parents! They always told us “think about what the neighbours would say” about anything. It also meant I learnt that you must always wear a front so people don’t know what’s going on, everything had to be covered up, which of course is an utter lie.

At junior school I felt I was only liked for my funny stories and making people laugh. I learned to hide behind this facade all my life. I was rejected at school and by my local friends, I became very lonely and was hurting inside myself.

By the time I was ten my parent’s marriage was over. My mother arrived unexpectedly at school one day and announced she was taking me and leaving my father. We arrived in Blackpool, with no money and nowhere to sleep. We came across a room for rent in the home of a family. My mum lied her way into their home and we moved in.

My nightmare began.

That first night my mother began to sexually molest me. The man of the house also began to sexually abuse me on a daily basis. I dreaded coming home from school. I was too afraid of him to tell anyone. This eventually was discovered and became a Police matter. I was now on the run with my mum from this man and his family who wanted to kill me! We had to be safe-housed. We eventually fled back in Manchester a year later and we moved back home with my dad. However they slept in separate rooms and I knew life hadn’t changed at all. I was eleven years old.

I was desperate for love, affection and acceptance. I learnt that if a boy was allowed to have sex with you he would tell you he loved you and then would hold you, which was what I craved. I had become addicted to love and romance. I had become promiscuous. This went on until I got married.

During my time at high school I made friends with a girl who invited me on a weekend trip to a farm her friends had. Little did my parents or I know this was a set-up from a paedophile ring. Of course for the second time in my life I was in a police investigation and this time also in a major Sunday paper. Shame and humiliation refused to leave me now. Now what would the neighbours say? I was so angry and hurt. No one offered any support or love. I was very angry that my parents had not seen this coming. I began to beat myself up inside that it must be my fault all these things were happening to me. Before I was sixteen my best friend had also abused me sexually too.

I had always believed in God and knew deep in my heart that He was real. Even though I had been to Sunday school I had no idea how to reach him. I had become a very insecure, angry, emotional individual. Instead of turning to drugs or drink, my addiction became approval from people. I had to have acceptance. I had become a co-dependant. I got my fix from being needed by others.

When I had just had my seventeenth birthday my mother suddenly died. She was thirty nine. I spent the next seven years in a numbed mental state. I wanted so much for her to tell me she loved me. It was at this time I looked into spiritualism as my grandmother had brought us up to believe in it. This too proved to be lies.

I had got married eighteen months after our son Paul was born. This was my father’s total shame. He had always wanted me to be married before I had a baby and so I felt incredibly worthless letting him down this way. It was during this time I became a Christian. My brother (who had been sent away) suddenly committed suicide two weeks before the wedding, he was only twenty one. Nine years later my other brother was found dead by a drug overdose. Loneliness and fear of rejection were constant companions even as a Christian. I just had to be in control and never really put total trust in Jesus Christ as my higher power.

Without realising I took all this baggage into my marriage. For twenty years I would not believe in my heart that my husband loved me. Early on in the marriage I had suffered physical and mental abuse. Many walls were built. Verbal and emotional abuse continued and I felt myself being eaten away by the mental torment I had inside of me.

Suddenly in 1999 my father died after a short illness. I was devastated and before long had become angry and disappointed in God. After all, I now had NO biological family left. The next five years I spent as a hypocrite. As a Christian I had learnt to talk the right way and yet was not living the right way. I had no peace in my life; I was critical of everything and everyone and very lonely. My life was out of control. I was also living a lie that no one but God knew about. I had wanted to end my life and end the constant battle in my heart and mind. Suicide seemed the only way out.

I entered the Celebrate Recovery program not knowing what to expect but I am so blessed today to be able to say how much Jesus my higher power has done in me. I have come to know him as my CLOSEST friend who leaves me in no doubt of his love. Each step I worked through, God took me to deeper levels of my fears and pains, helped me face them and cleaned out the wounds. I want to share this scripture with you as it has made such a difference in my life. Isaiah 51:6 Behold, thou desires TRUTH in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shall make me to know wisdom.

One of the steps of the program helped me to identify things as they really were, to accept the reality of my life and accept responsibility for all the damage I had done. I accepted that I could not change on my own strength and so trusting God with a new understanding I embarked on the best journey of my Christian life. I came to understand the meaning of the following verse as I experienced my heart being set free. Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as EAGLES; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. A later step of the program taught me to forgive others and myself. I found release from all that had kept me weighed down. God is helping me to accept and love myself and I know it has made a difference how I relate to others and more importantly to Him.

If anyone would like to know more about this program please contact me via ChristianMums

Thank you to God, my lord and saviour Jesus Christ for loving me more than I dared believe and giving us this program. Thanks to my Sponsor, Eileen. For the sacrifices she made on my account many times. She has shown me what true friendship is and without her love, support and prayers I could not have done it. Also, to Lisa who has been a continual source of encouragement and example ship of Gods mercy and grace throughout and who would not let go of me!! To ALL in my support group who have borne with me every tear and loved me unconditionally. I love you all. I want to say Thank you Pastor Mike and Trini for believing in me and never giving up on me, Trini for your hand of friendship, your prayers and just knowing you were alongside of me as well as your pastoral care. I will always be grateful to you both. Last but definitely not least, my best friend and confidante, my husband Jon, who has always stood by me, loved and supported me throughout, giving me every reason not to give up.

Thank you for letting me share.

Maria