May my story be a testament to the Lord’s amazing grace. May it remind my brothers and sisters of our Father’s greatness. May it show lost souls that there is a light in the darkness and give them a glimpse of God’s unconditional love. Dear Lord Jesus Christ, in your name I pray. Amen.
I was born the eldest child to a family of divided religions and beliefs. I was prematurely exposed to sin when, at the age of six, I was sexually abused. And although when you are so young, your mind blocks out such trauma, a psychological response usually manifests itself. I grew to develop an inferiority complex – constantly believing that I am the stupidest, ugliest, fattest, meanest, laziest, worthless and the most selfish being on earth. I became a perfectionist and came to loathe myself, believing that I could never do anything good enough, that I was a burden to everyone I knew. In middle school, I began cutting my wrists and smoking. I became extremely promiscuous and placed myself in extremely risky situations that often resembled the manner in which I was abused. Although plagued by powerful self-destructive thoughts and actions, somehow (Thank God!) I was able to perform well in my academic pursuits. My parents, though both loving and amazing individuals, believed that as long as I was getting good grades, everything else was perfectly normal. They were blind to my suffering as I was drowning in my darkness.
In seventh grade, I experienced another form of trauma that drove me even deeper in the pit of self-destruction. I began getting flashes of memories of the sexual abuse. Once I remembered what had happened to me, things began making sense. There was a reason why I was so messed up, a reason why I was such a screw up. I wrote about the incident in a hidden journal (that was meant for only me to read). I was beginning to work things out when my mom read my secret journal. After reading it, she asked me what was this crap I was writing. When I told her what had happened to me, she refused to believe me, claiming that such a thing never happened! That I was lying and making it all up! When a parent figure refuses to believe that you have suffered a terrible thing, claiming that you are a liar, it is a form of trauma. How could my mother not believe me?! She was supposed to protect me, to nurture me! I questioned my sanity for a while. Perhaps I had made it up. Maybe I was this terrible, sick freak who was just looking for attention. I was robbed of this idea when I went fact-hunting about my childhood and realized that it couldn’t have been a lie and also, if I cut and smoked and wrote in my journal for attention, why did I keep everything hidden?! It was true. The abuse had happened. But hey, if my mother, whom I loved with all my heart, would rather believe that such a terrible thing never happened to me while I was supposed to be under her care, why rob her of her innocence? So, I continued to suffer alone. Thoughts of suicide began to taunt me. I’m just a pain to everyone around me. Everyone would be better off if I was dead. Many times I almost overdosed to death, but something always stopped me. I was blessed with amazing friends all of my life and they kept me alive through middle school and high school.
Throughout high school, I continued to smoke, cut and be sexually promiscuous. I added drinking and even larger risks to the list of self-destructive pursuits. However, even then, (thank God) I persevered with my academics, studied and taught piano, studied art, dance and kung fu, took college classes and was an overachiever. My parents still thought that nothing was wrong with me. Until senior year…
Senior year, I found myself in an abusive relationship with an older man. He had isolated me from all of my friends and family. In my heart, I knew he was a terrible man, but I thought that at least if I loved him and he hurt me, he would not be hurting anyone else. I felt so worthless that the only good thing I could do was be abused so others would not be abused in my stead. After several months, (to make a long story short) my parents found out that I was sneaking off to New York (which is where he lived) during the weekends.
That week was the worst week of my life. As my father beat the truth out of me, my mother told me she no longer loved me. When my father learned the whole truth about everything, he told me that I had “ruined the family” and “destroyed him and the family honor.” Of everything that I had been through, to hear these words from my mother and father were the most traumatic. Although our relationship has never since been the same, my father had paid for all the medical and psychological attention that I needed. At the end of the year, my parents decided that despite everything I had done, I could still go to Case for college.
So… Freshman year at Case… A perfect time for a fresh start, right? WRONG! Plagued by all the guilt, remorse and regret, I continued with my self-destructive habits, now adding new even more icky ones to the mix. I never really had time to process everything that had happened to me senior year, and then, being thrown right away into a new environment threw me off. During my freshman year, there were a few brave Christian souls who reached out and tried to show me the light that Jesus could bring into my life… but I was too caught up in suffering to even dream that there was a way out of the despair.
In the beginning of sophomore year, I began to change my ways.
My sister was hospitalized the summer after my freshman year: at first the doctors could not figure out what was causing her illness. After several weeks in the ICU, they discovered the problem, but told us that the only thing that could be done was to feed her through an IV tube and flush the virus and toxins out of her kidney. SHE COULD HAVE DIED! All we could do was wait. (I never told you the story of my little sister. To make a long story short… My parents didn’t plan on having a second child, but when they saw me praying devotedly for two years to some God (when I was 7 and 8) for a younger sibling, God blessed our family with a second daughter.) The birth of my sister was a gift to me… and NOW SHE COULD DIE! I prayed fervently to whatever God was out there not to let that happen. I asked him to take me instead… I’m a terrible person, but my sister was still innocent and she could contribute greatly to the world. In desperation, I vowed that if God took away my sister, I would take my own life. She was the one person who loved me dearly. She was the one person I loved with all my heart and who loved me back with all of hers. I had seen to the fact that she had never been touched by anyone and that she grew up “normally.” She was the true child of my parents. I was just a screw-up. God couldn’t take her life. And thankfully, He didn’t. My sister was a trooper and regained her health. I think God took this opportunity to plant in my mind the seed that I needed to change my life.
First semester, sophomore year. I went cold turkey. I gave up drugs, drinking, smoking, sex and cutting. I hoped that if I had made it so far, there probably was a reason for my existence. Thinking back on all the risks I took and the terrible situations I put myself in, I realized it was a miracle I was alive and given the opportunity to study at an institution like Case Western. I joined a service fraternity and dedicated most of my free time to volunteering at the Children’s Museum, the Ronald MacDonald House and tutoring younger students. It was quite the turn-around! I can’t even believe it. I did not drink, smoke, cut or have sex all of last semester! I knew, even then, that some greater force was intervening in my life on my behalf.
Second semester, sophomore year, (almost there!): I began the semester again without partaking in any of the afore-mentioned self-destructive habits. This semester was particularly stressful for me, in terms of managing my rigorous study schedule with all of my extracurriculars. I gave in, one day, and cut my wrist. It was then that I realized that I could not do this alone. I could not do life alone. Tuesday March 16th 2010, I was sitting in my friend’s suite talking to him about God, and I realized that I was reluctant to submit my life to Jesus Christ because I was afraid. I was afraid that if I gave my life to Christ, he would make me go to a convent and become a nun. Then all my hard work to get me into Case, despite everything around me, was done in vain. When I went home that evening, I comprehended that this thought was one of fear and pride. I began conversing with myself (in my head) and realized that so far, I had tried life alone, and look at where it got me! I need help! I need guidance! I can’t do this alone! So what if Christ sends me to a convent! Worse things can happen. Worse things have happened. Plus, God knows what’s best for me, right? He loves me enough to have sacrificed his only son to rid us of our sin. I will trust in God.
I turned the lights off, sat on my bed and spoke to God. There I was on my bed, covered head-to-toe in sin and yet, when I said the words, “Jesus Christ, help me. I give to you my body, my soul, my life. Please help me. I can’t do this alone,” God accepted me (wretch that I was) and redeemed me. I felt the Holy Spirit entering my body. I felt God’s grace. At that moment, I was reborn. I went from seeing myself as the most worthless person in the world to being worthy in the eyes of our Glorious Father – the Lord of this Universe! I, who had never loved myself, was being loved by GOD!!!!!
The CRAZIEST thing is that, I would go through everything I had gone through to be where I am now, with God. I would bring the blade to my wrist, the poison to my lips, let my body be used all over again if I knew that this would bring me as close as I am to God. And that is saying something! It’s been 2 months since my rebirth, and I still feel the exact same way. God’s love is SO powerful that, after finding Him, I had no room left for remorse, regret and guilt. The Holy Spirit filled ALL of me and drove out my sins. For when Jesus died, I too died to sin.
Crazy, huh? Well that’s God for you: All-mighty, super-powerful with infinite mercy and unconditional love.