Noting how these Emotions Feel in my Body

Ending a Relationship with a Sociopath

In 1992 at the age of 15, I met a man who was a sociopath and married him when I was 18. I was a teen in a violent dating relationship.He was a known gang member, violent, aggressive, rule-breaker, a bully, explosive, stalker, and very popular. People feared him, and many still do. Fast forward, I am 45 years old and I am still dealing with the aftermath of being in an unsafe, unhealthy, and unstable relationship.

Not all Wounds are Visible

I have been in therapy for about two years, and finally through the help of my church, found a trauma therapist who is a Christian. I have learned alot through these sessions, and am so thankful that I am finally able to share my inner most thoughts with a therapist. Many years while I was married, I attempted counseling, but I was so ashamed of myself for being married to the man who harmed me so deeply. (It is important to note: I have forgiven him for all offenses, and hold no bitterness.) I could never be a wife to him because although my heart forgave him, my body remembered what he did to me. The body keeps count/memory of the trauma.

When I was 15, he stalked me for several years and shot me. At the time, I was living in Los Angeles. He was a menace to society, to me, and my family. I did not feel safe. I had nowhere to turn. What does survival look like at the age of 15? He threatened to hurt others if I didn’t come back to him. I believed him. Why would I not? After all, he hurt me. He hurt my step-dad. He hurt my family. He hurt several people. I remember seeing him drive down my dad’s street while my little brother was playing outside, and he drove by with a gun. This is after he shot me.

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” 
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

As an adult, I carried so much shame about being with someone who harmed me in such a significant way, and continued to hurt me. Some of my closest friends that I met in adulthood, had no clue about my past, or why I was unhappy. On the outside looking in, he appeared to be the perfect Christian husband. I protected his image, while slowly the little girl inside me was dying.

I broke away for about 7 years from 1999 and reconciled back in 2007. Leaving him in 1999 almost cost me my life, the 2nd time. Again, he did what he knew best, to stalk and be violent towards me. FACT: Leaving an abusive partner/husband is the most deadliest time for a victim. I went back to him because I was young and under the influence of false teachings. I really believed that I would be cursed because I divorced. Had I got proper mental health counseling/therapy, I would have learned this is false. One’s faith is never a reason to stay in a broken marriage. Its a lie from the pits of hell. Its damaging to children and future generations to stay in an unhealthy relationship for the sake of children and/or due to biblical convictions. Divorce is not an unforgivable sin.

As I began to grow and recognize he still was disrespectful, significantly lacked empathy, manipulative, and downright harsh, I made up in my mind to get out. I started memorializing the events that made me want to leave while I was married because I found myself minimizing his behaviors. And, I didn’t think it was acceptable to leave a marriage for emotional abuse alone. I was taught a woman could not leave a man, unless adultery was involved. My faith made my decision so much more complicated.

2021 Unpacking Trauma Bond

All I hoped for, was that we could be mature, respectful, and kind to one another for the sake of our children and grand-daughter. Yet, he has not changed. He is being tormented and has so much hate for me. I am still dealing with toxic text messages, phone calls, threats, and hate. He continues to drag my children in his toxicity, parentification and alienation. He uses Holy scripture to instill fear. And constantly tells me:

Death is upon me.

I am the reason my brother died.

I am the reason why my dog died.

I am the reason why Cooper misbehaves.

My back issue is because of my sin.

I am going to hell. I will be turned over to the tormenters.

He hates me.

Worst yet, when bad or unfortunate things happen, he’s the first to say, its because of my sin.

My sin has destroyed the family.

The text messages are so damaging. His words have assassinated my character as a woman and mother. He has modeled to my sons how to harass, humiliate, bible beat, stalk, and treat women. Sadly, my children believe he loves me. They are confused and manipulated by his behavior as well.

Unusual Grief

In 2020, as I began to shatter the fantasy of him changing, the pain was so overwhelming. The deep anguish I buried for so long, began to present. I am still hurting and healing. It is possible to hold joy, hurt, and hope in the same hand. Yes, I moved on with my life, but I still hurt, and remain hopeful.

I grieve for that young woman I was becoming before I met him. I grieve for my baby that I lost. I grieve for my children who are hurting. I grieve for my childhood that was taken away from me. I grieve over friendships I lost during the divorce. I grieve for the marriage I never had. I grieve over the relationship. I grieve for the person he never became, that I hoped he would through Christ.

As I close, I will often share a song that is meaningful to me. Remember, leave people in a better condition, then you’ve found them. In loving memory of Gabby Petito, Rest In Peace.

Grief Day by Day

Cannot go back to sleep. Fell asleep around 1:00 ish am and was awakened by a stupid balloon that somehow floated into the ceiling fan around 3:00 ish am. My dog and I were both startled because it sounded like gun shots.

Yesterday, I went to my garden that I’ve neglected. It was a divine appointment. One of the fellow gardeners poured into me, after she seen me sobbing. #gratitude

Sometimes I wonder

Where is my Protector?

Where is my King, my leader, my covering?

What will life look like 2 years and 5 years from now?

Is everyone wounded?

Where is my defender? My Superman, my hero?

Where is my encourager?

Will I experience a normal, healthy, and loving relationship?

For those who know me, you know how much I love listening to music. I recently stumbled across this song, called, “For You,” by Kenny Lattimore. It came out in 2009, way back then! Any whoo, I love it! It’s beautiful. It makes me think of what could be one day….keep hoping..anyways.

I’ve been sitting with my feelings, acknowledging how I feel, and realizing that I need to make some changes to protect my peace and health.

Today, I’m reminded, God is good all the time. ❤️Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” ❤️🙌🏽

One Year after the Pandemic Started

Late February, 2021, I was reflecting on how thankful I was that nobody in my immediate family caught COVID-19. A whole year and we all managed to not be a statistic, until I noticed my daughter was coughing a lot. I kept fussing at her, to cover her mouth, get out the kitchen, and stay away from me. I even urged her to get a COVID test. A couple days later, I start coughing, and then progressively declined. I immediately scheduled a test and got my results back the next day on March 4. Ironically, my vaccine appointment was scheduled the same day. I contemplated going if I did not get my test results back in time.

Thinking back, I believe now the symptoms started 5-7 days before. I normally go to the gym in the morning, and didn’t have the energy to go, not even for my normal walks. I decided to honor my body with rest and didn’t feel guilty about not exercising because I was truly fatigued. Hindsight, it was good I made that decision, to reduce the spread of COVID to others at the gym. I had body aches, and the fatigue was subtle. I did notice my upper back and shoulders were aching, but I thought it was work induced.

Once, I found out I was positive, fear was trying to set in. The logical part of my mind told me, many people survive COVID-19; however, it was hard to not think about the “what ifs.” What if I become a death statistic? I kept surfing the internet to see if my symptoms were normal. Nowhere does it mention symptoms about, having excruciating pain. My pain was severe.

On March 5, I noticed I have lost my sense of smell/taste. This is a few days after and not at the onset. These symptoms were far from “mild.” Having COVID was excruciating.

My Symptoms

I don’t know about what you’ve heard, but no one tells you about the excruciating systemic nerve pain. There were nights, I cried myself to sleep because the pain was so intense. I tossed and turned all night long because I was very uncomfortable, almost unbearable. My lips were chapped from inhaling and exhaling, thinking deep breathing would help ease the pain. I was suffering. If I had to describe COVID, I would say, it was as if I had a continuous migraine with a lodged kidney stone, nerve pain from a bulging and herniated disk coupled with labor pain and without relief in the middle of a cold forest. I have never been this sick in my life. I could feel the disease attack my spinal discs, joints and kidneys. My options for pain OTC pain relief was limited. I am severely allergic to ibuprofen.

Lessons Learned

I let my guard down and have children who bounce back and forth from my house to their dad’s house. Unfortunately, we failed to make a plan if someone was experiencing symptoms. The whole family had COVID, 2 households.

I struggled with deciding if I should take time off the first week and did not want to leave work with so much to do. I managed to get through the first week, but then took off the second week. It was my manager’s gentle prompting, that helped me make the decision. I think the COVID fog, made it more difficult to make simple decisions about what was best for me. The second week was worse.

Propel to Action

Look out for those who are single, have young children, or elderly. They may not have the strength to cook, or order food online, nor the support system to ask someone to pick up prescriptions or groceries for them. Experiencing COVID-19 can be very isolating and can make one feel as if their on a planet all by your yourself. One of my Deputy Director’s sent me a gift card via email. It was such a kind gesture, and needed. I was unable to do anything for my family.

Two weeks after I “recovered” from COVID, I received my 1st Moderna shot. Some people thought I should’ve waited, but I was so anxious because I thought we might run out of vaccine and didn’t want to experience COVID again. After the shot, I was ill for the weekend, the pains came back, but not as intense- thankfully. I’m due for my 2nd shot on Friday, April 16. I am so grateful for Governor Newsom and the administration! Our state has the lowest COVID positive rates! I’ve always had a conservative view on vaccines, and appreciate both perspectives. There is value in vaccines, this I do know.

Lingering Effects are Real

My symptoms range from headaches, runny nose, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest/heart pain- not sure which is it, heart flutters, and increased feelings of anxiousness. I tried going back to the gym and resuming walking the beginning of April, but I have not been consistent due to my energy levels and prioritizing my time.

COVID Thriver & Survivor

Today, I have a renewed appreciation and gratitude for my health. I am so thankful none of my family members had to be hospitalized or worse – expire. Surviving COVID should be celebrated!! Over a half million people have passed away from COVID in the United States, young and old.

Remember: Wash your hands. Wear a Mask. Watch your distance.

Keep Looking Up,

Chana

Sunday is my Day of Rest & Worship

There is so much value in identifying a day of rest and doing your best to honor that sacred time. Find it, reclaim it, and set aside dedicated space to allow God to replenish, renew, and strengthen your spirit. Each person has a Spirit inside their body. Resetting is crucial for health and well-being. This practice helps us to be better humans to others in our home with loved ones, in our relationships with friends, and even in workplace settings with colleagues and staff.

  1. Schedule
  2. Practice
  3. Do not do anything that feels like work or a chore

What does resetting look like for you? How does it make you feel? How do you reflect and prepare for the upcoming week?

A Time to Weep, a Time to Laugh, a Time to Exhale…

September 27, 2020

When I have a lot on my mind, I blog…

I woke up this morning and had to tell myself, “I am a daughter of the King, fix your crown.” I am worth far more than rubies. I just want to encourage my daughters, sisters, sons, friends, and brothers, this too shall pass. This season in your life, will pass. There are seasons of life that come and go. You’re not always going to be in a season of winning. It’s important to recognize what season of life you are in. Individuals have seasons. Marriages have seasons. Friendships have seasons. Relationships have seasons. Finances have seasons. Careers have seasons. There is a season of birth, re-birth, and death. Ecclesiastes 3, mentions there is a time for everything; beginnings and endings. In Genesis 8:22, there is time for preparation. A time for seedtime and harvest, summer and winter.

The Law of God is this: What you Sow, you will Reap. #FACTS

  1. Preparation. During the time of preparation you will not see fruits because it’s underneath the surface. Our culture only mentions producing, in other words, prosperity or winning.
  2. Producing. During the time of producing you should celebrate when you’re in a good season. The enemy never wants you to embrace the season you’re in. Rejoice with those who are happy!
  3. Pruning. During the time of pruning, allow God to prune relationships out of your life. God will cut some of those things out of your life, just like pruning a rose bush. Its not easy and can be painful. He’s shaking things up and OUT, its a violent shaking, and often times can be felt throughout all your senses. This is God putting us in a place to grow to another level. Being pruned, may be very uncomfortable, but its also productive. Sometimes, you don’t understand and can’t see, nor understand how or when you will see the production. Just know, God will never prune without your permission. He does not go against our will. Think about the potter in Jeremiah that jumps off the wheel.
  4. Perishing. Perishing is abnormal for us. We think it shouldn’t happen. We freeze. We question God. We doubt God. Friends, death is apart of the cycle, its apart of the life cycle of things that will happen. People die. Marriages end. Friendships end. Businesses end. Careers end. But, I want to encourage you and tell you, weeping endures for a moment. (As I blog, I’m rejoicing because God’s word is LIVING & ACTIVE, and– so, so good!)

My Season of Pruning & Perishing

I am embracing this season in my life and not running from it. We should be more concerned with what God thinks of us, than what others think of us. I am in a season of life, where I need to focus on what God thinks of me and how he sees me, not what others see, say, or think about my marriage ending. I don’t need man’s approval. If you’re focused on what Chana is doing or how someone else is living, your focus is in the wrong place. I encourage you to use this time to re-focus on your relationship with Christ. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. None of us are worth His forgiveness, but thank God for the blood of Jesus, right!

I hear what they’re saying on the streets and during family gatherings. But know, there are always 3 sides to the story. His truth. Her truth. The truth. Yes, I left my husband. Yes, I walked away. Yes, I committed adultery (still legally married). Yes, I sold my house. Yes, I ended friendships. Yes, I am angry. Yes, I drink alcohol. Yes, I listen to worldly music. Yes, I have friends who are not believers. Yes, I do yoga. Yes, I snapped. Yes, I am angry. Yes, I’m in grief. Yes, I hurt. But, what have you done?

Many people are looking in from the outside and don’t have knowledge of what happened in my life. You’re only able to see the external snippets of my life via Facebook/IG, all of which I chose to share. Not for one instance, did I make my decision lightly. I mulled and cried over my decisions. It’s one of the most difficult events I have endured, thus far and incredibly painful. The decision to leave was not an overnight thought. I was struggling for a couple of years. I prayed to God often, asking him to move and change my marriage. I tried everything, trust me. For so many years, I put my families needs above mine. I worked very hard at being a nurturer, provider, advocate, opened my heart and home to others, served, and encouraged my husband to be the BEST. I tried to be that Proverbs 31 woman in the midst of it all. Side note: I want to share with those who do not understand how Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) impact individuals later in life. Exposure to reoccurring traumatic events does have an impact neurologically, including the severity and frequency of events and the decisions individuals make. Some of you know my “story,” and others have only heard glimpses. I was attached through a wound and this is called trauma bond. Instead of judging, ask–what happened. As you mature, you grow in knowledge. I knew as a woman of faith that I did not have to continue to put up with certain events or behaviors simply because of my faith in God. That is absurd!

Sisters, You do not Have to be a Martyr for your Family.

As I reflect at this point in my life, I feel the sacrifices for my family were in vain. I sacrificed my own peace of mind and happiness for someone else’s happiness. Who said, I had to be a martyr for the sake of having “an intact family?” The societal pressures put on women are simply unfair. I don’t owe anyone, anything– anymore. I am tired and NOT confused. I did better than my parents, and I can only hope, my children will do better than I, with their children. They say it is supposed to get better each generation, right? The Word of God says, He will keep his promises from generation to generation. And I put my trust in the WORD of God, that even in my imperfect parenting or the decision to leave last year, that God will keep and sustain my children. I’m sick of people thinking they know what is best for me and judging why I left. Just know I left. I don’t have to answer to anyone, but GOD. But, GOD! Besides, you wouldn’t want to wear these shoes.

Learn to Know who God is and how He Sees you

God sees me as redeemed, and I was predestined as his child. He exchanged my sin for his righteousness. I may not be where others think I should be, and this is okay. Just know the good he started in me, will continue into completion. I was called at the age of 8 years old to serve Christ through my paternal grandmother. No man or no one can tell me differently or take that away from me! Friends, you are loved and valued by God. The enemy is defeated. No matter how far you’ve fallen, God is not far. He never leaves us. Don’t believe Satan’s lies. Satan will use God’s very own people to tear you down, condemn you, wear you out, and tell you that you’re worthless, and not saved. Remember, Satan is the father of lies. Get to know the voice of God. He never condemn us.

No One Can Take your Faith Away

Yes, I have my faith. Yes, God has me. Yes, I love God. Yes, I’m thriving. Yes, I’m healing. Yes, I’m pushing through. Yes, I’m moving forward towards the prize. Yes, I’m forgiven. Yes, I forgive him. Yes, I forgive her. Yes, I forgive them.

Reflect on Your season of Life.

What season of life are you in? What season of life is coming to an end? What does God want to end? How do you embrace these seasons? What is God teaching you? Do you embrace it through unhealthy coping mechanisms or do you seek God, focus on growing, and being your best version yet?

God is Good All the Time

Just know, God is good all the time, no matter what season of life we are in. He’s kept you this far. He will keep you in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Christ because your trust is in Him.

Like Whitney Houston sang, Exhale…Shoop, shoop, shoop, doop…Smile 😊 and be thankful. As, I’m writing this blog, I have to sign off because work is calling and there are fires in Napa.

In His Grip,

Daughter of a King, Chana

Author’s note: This has not been edited. Also, want to share this blog is in no way to put another person down. I believe in Christ’s redeeming power and hold no grudges or unforgiveness towards anyone. I also need to emphasize, just because individuals have strongholds, does not mean their walk is inauthentic, it just means they haven’t surrendered that area of their life to Christ.

Harassment Fatigue

June 13, 2020

Be a Good Human

I am writing this blog to appeal anyone who is associated with my estranged husband to please stay out of my business.  Please recuse yourself from the conversation or situation. You become part of the problem when you get in my business. It also doesn’t lend to true repentance and him receiving the help he needs to identify past trauma or childhood issues that have resulted in poor coping skills. Please stop peddling in my personal life.

Same Pattern.

In the 90s, he was able to find out my whereabouts, activities, and personal life through FAKE friends and his “soldiers.” Fast foward, its 2020, and he’s still doing the same thing. Its upsetting to me, the same scenerios are being repeated as during my high school years. I am being exposed to the same TRAUMA. Please stop, I am tired. Its unfortunate that I have to continue to defend my decisions and that he receives so much empathy. You hear 1 side, his version.

You are enabling him to continue harrassing me, and contributing to years of oppression when you do the following:

  • Lurk on mine or my friends’ social media and report back  my whereabout & activities.
  • Call me to quote scripture and/or convince me I’m making a bad decision. Just because you’ve tolerated similar behavior, doesn’t mean I need to do the same. Everybody has their own threshold. If you haven’t been in my life, please dont’ start calling me now.
  • Call and tell me, “he loves you.’ How do you know? Please go back to the bible and read about love. Love is patient, kind, PROTECTS, not SELF-SEEKING, not easily ANGRY, does not DISHONOR others,  does not DELIGHT in EVIl.
  • Tell my children, “he loves me and to talk some sense into your mother.” Encourage my children to ignore me and to take a side. They don’t need to take sides. Keep them out of it.
  • Let his behavior influence your relationship with me. Seriously, if you do,  its probably for the best anyway. You lose friendships, people take sides. I get it. I’ve lost a couple, but that’s because it was ingenuine from the start. God bless!
  • When he asks you to call my friends, please don’t get involved. There is just a whole lot of deceit and manipulation going on.  Its really not your business what I do or who I talk to, nor his business.  He doesn’t own me, I’ve been bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus.

The Bible is Based on Choice.

I have choices. God does not go against anyone’s will. Just because I have faith in Christ, doesn’t mean anyone can tell me what decision to make concerning my life. You haven’t lived my life, nor walked in my shoes.

I need healing and was unable to truly begin my healing process because I continued to live in it, albeit in a different way, but it persisted and I did the best I could under the circumstances. I’ve been unhappy for a few years now, but tried to be the “obedient Christian wife,” while denying and stuffing my own feelings, losing my identity, and ignoring my needs. I tried. I was transparent. I sought help. Nothing was a surprise or shock to him. There was plenty of warnings. I shared my feelings with him over the course of years. I tried to explain how the trauma from the past was impacting me now.  I learned its not my responsitiblity to help him understand how adverse childhood experiences or traumatic experiences impact’s a person’s inner-most being.

I actually wanted to save my marriage, but submission and love doesn’t change people. I prayed all the time and asked God to give him empathy, a wake up call, or raise up someone random to warn him. I’ve also learned, when someone is truly repentful for their actions, its demonstated in their behavior. I was dealing with the same demon, just different manifestation. He had the power to be the vessel for healing, yet he did not or was incapable. I still wonder about this part.

Three huge markers of toxic people

  • Controlling behavior is toxic. Our highest calling is to be God’s servant.  Controlling behavior is like asking for an allegiance to be God when you try to control people and tell them what they can and cannot do.
  • Murderous spirit. God is the author of life. Jesus is the way, truth, and life. Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy. Did he destory me? Almost.  He destoryed my joy. He destroyed my peace. He destoyed my self-confidence. He destroyed my self-worth. He destroyed my ability to trust others.  Its evil to destroy a person’s joy. The Word of God says, the joy of the Lord is my strength! When you destroy a person’s joy, its evil!! Its evil because its their strength. It was difficult to love others when I was being destroyed. Always hearing that I’m a pagan, jezebel (because I had a hard time submitting  and not believing in the same way), I’m mean, I don’t listen, I’m difficult, etc…it was far from building me up or encouraging me. Those words hurt.
  • Love to hate.  Anger, rage, malice. slander, filthy language and lying are symptoms of a toxic person. Resorting to violent communication and intimidating others shouldn’t be the go to. Being engergized and consumed with violent and wicked thougths is far from love.

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I am sorry that my decisions have hurt my children the most. I’m also sorry I wasn’t aware of how trauma bonding/love works and for going back. That decision was made from not having a full understanding, nor healing from all that I experienceded from the age of 15 and onwards. I never had a chance to heal or learn or just feel. I am now just beginning to feel and the pain is real. I have 25 plus years of pain I’m dealing with right now.  I admit, I haven’t coped in the healthiest way, but I’m working on it. I haven’t been perfect in my walk, far from it. My faith also made my past and future decisions very complex and difficult because of what I’ve been taught about the bible. As I read scripture more intently through a holistic view, I am finding that God abors all appearances of evil and that he is loving, forgiving, and merciful.

Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Healthy Christians are filled with gentleness, patience, kindess, and love and they build  each other up. Because of the trauma, my patience and tolerance is very low and my reactions are high. I am working on myself to be a healthy person for my children and grand-daughter.  I am a work in progress and God isn’t finished with me yet.

  • I am guilty of changing my own behavior to appease others.
  • I’ve made excuses or covered up his behavior.
  • Minimized the situation and did not require accountability. I did try, but it didn’t work. I had to remove myself from the situation.
  • I blamed myself for his behavior.

I have intentionally refrained from sharing the intimate and most personal details of my life out of respect for him. Its never my intent to bring shame, humiliation, or embarrassment to anyone. He’s the father of my children and I would never intentionally cause hurt. I also don’t question his love and relationship with Christ, nor, his walk with God. We all have strongholds and must surrender, before we can live eternally with Christ. Unfortunatly, we suffer due the sinful nature of mankind and from the choices we make.  Thankfully, God is near the broken-hearted, he restores, and forgives.

I believe in the sanctity of marriage. However, there is a difference when a person is being sanctified thorugh a difficult marriage.  This was not the case. I do believe God can heal every marriage, but its healed thorugh honesty and repentance with two willing participants. If someone is unwilling to repent (turn to God and change their behavior), then it will not work. The truth sets us free and God uses restoration through REPENTANCE. Humility leads to repentance. Both, individuals must be humble and honest. Evil can and does infiltrate the institiution of marriage, and all institutions for that matter. I certainly infiltrated mine. Husbands should never be harsh with their wives (don’t abuse your authority). Yes, God honors authority, but to abuse your authority has severe consequnces, and as a result, I departed. And I do believe God does has provisions for me. Divorce is not an inpardonable sin.  If you believe this, that’s fine, but I know who my FATHER is and ultimately this decision is between God and me.

I am responsible fo my part, enabling this behavior to persist which is not honoring to God.  I will no longer feel guilty for my decision. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made and yes, it does hurt. It hurts more than most people know. Just because I continue to move on, doesn’t mean that my heart doesn’t ache or grieve for the changes I wished and prayed would happen.

  •  Luke 18 vs 29. Sometimes, you have to leave to pursue the Kingdom of God. For me, I cannot allow one’s thoughts, actions, and opinons of me impact my relationship with God. I am reteaching, deprograming, and learning who God is for me and to me, not through someone else’s lens. My marriage impacted my relationship with Christ. He was a stumbling block in my faith.  I almost gave up my faith because of the opposition.  It was very difficult to reconcile how someone who LOVED Jesus, prayed constantly, read his word, led others to Christ, and ministered to other hurting people, could continue to treat me as the enemy.

Until recently, I always spoke good of him. Until, I began sharing my narrative, my story, my life from my raw perspective. Nevertheless, I still see the good in him. I still see his potential, his gift, his calling, and his pain. I made myself look foolish for him. I cutoff relationships/friendships for him. I remained silent for him. I carried shame for him. I chose mercy for him.

Today, I’m unapologetic about the choices I make. I understand I am legally married, but the relationship is dead and I have carried on while waiting for legal proceedings to run its course.  I realize divorce is not the popular choice with the church and with my fellow sisters and brothers and family.  However, I will no longer sacrifice my own peace or joy for someone else’s happiness and for those who have no regard for my well-being. I’ve suffered in silence long enough. Its unfortunate that people can be more bothered and upset about a relationship ending, instead of their behavior for the harm caused to another individual. 

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28).

In His Grip,

Chana

Rejoice in our Afflictions

I wrote this in December 2019, and didn’t publish until June 6, 2020.  Still stands true today.

Again, I say rejoice! Rejoicing during suffering is sooooo difficult. For me, rejoicing in the midst of suffering, means God will get me through all this messiness, heartache, anguish, deep sadness, and fear because I put my trust in HIM.

I can describe this emotion and experience as a constant gnawing and achy emptiness in the pit of my stomach with loneliness, fear, a deep sadness, and lack of clarity.

Everyday, I manage to adult, post my pics/snaps on IG, try to maintain a positive outlook, an attitude of gratitude, even though inside I feel like crumbling. I keep telling myself, I just need to get through today, this week, this month, this year and then…

I imagine myself, falling down and sobbing uncontrollably by myself at the feet of Jesus.

I’ve struggled with what LOVE really means in this world. I know what it means biblically and through Christ from my Savior. I understand the concept and vision for Love, through Christ’s example.

What does it mean for me?

What does it mean for me in marriage? What does it mean for me in relation to others?  I am learning, LOVE is a simple word, lacking true intent of its definition. Its tossed around in pleasantries, vocalized, written, repeated, but there is no weight behind it.

Love is ACTION. Love does not HURT. Love is not SELFISH. Love doesn’t seek its OWN. Love doesn’t ABANDON when needed the most. Love FEELS. Love EMPATHIZES. Love has NO expectations. Love gives FREELY. Love TRUSTS. Love is NOT easily angered. Love is PATIENT and KIND. Love FORGIVES. Love keeps NO record of wrongs.

The person I thought I could trust, failed me. The person I thought I could lean on, failed me. The person who should’ve protected me, failed me. The person who said, they loved me, failed me. The person who should’ve adored and cherished me, failed me. The parenting union, failed me.

Faith Never Failed Me

May 24, 2019

Through hard work, perseverance and a faith in God, you can live your dreams. -Ben Carson

I became a young mother at the age of 18. I faced many obstacles in my life. Ontonio is my 2kbaby (4th child). I went to college when he was an infant. I utilized the college labs  and Head Start for child care. These services made it possible for me to attend school, work, and study! I worked on campus as student help too, and gained valuable work skills from the EOPS/CARES office at Cosumnes River community college. I was a CalWORKs recipient while working and attending college full time as a single parent. I learned a lot of my parenting principles from my ECE courses at school. (I’m still learning and far from perfect.) School is where I learned how dysfunctional my childhood experience was. School also empowered me with the tools I needed to grow and mature.

I cannot recall a time when my parents or teachers talked to me about going to college. But, my brother Keith was an example for my sister and I. I admired everything about him because he worked very hard. He started at Sacramento City college and transferred to Long Beach state on a track scholarship. He is the reason why I participated in track and cross country. I wanted to be like him. ❤️ I’ve always loved learning and aspired to be a teacher from the time I was a little girl. I remember playing school with the children in my apartment complex. I had the opportunity to teach at a community college and it was a dream come true. There is something really special about community college. I have such fond memories of my community college days. 

I am a thriver, not a survivor.  I was a victim of GUN violence and abuse, stayed in a shelter briefly, lived in a 1 bedroom apartment with my kids, experienced parent abandonment, lost my son to incarceration, and suffered from PTSD and depression. My ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score is very high.  If you take a peek at my college transcripts, you will see the seasons where I struggled.  But, I believe life experience is invaluable for making connections, building relationships, and gaining a broader perspective. Through Christ’s strength I achieved all my goals except one, thus far, and its losing the trauma weight. I am working on this now.

God has NEVER failed me. He’s always been faithful and this is why I praise Him. 

Seeing Ontonio graduate this week reminded me of when I finally began to feel our lives take a turn for the better. I went from being a waitress at Denny’s and IHOPs while 9 months pregnant to building our house from the ground up. It took me 15 years to obtain my masters degree! I am a firm believer that education changes lives. Aside from accepting Christ, obtaining a higher education was the BEST thing I did for myself and children, while on this earth. You can’t compare the two because one is an eternal gift and education is an earthly gift. 

I’ve modeled to my children that life can throw you blows, but it’s how you respond to the blows that builds your faith and character. During all of this turmoil, I still had to  work even though sometimes I felt like I could barely breathe. There were many of times, I could barely pull myself out of bed when my children were younger. I remember praying and asking God,  please help me. I couldn’t tap out, my kids depended on me, literally.

I shared just enough for you to know why I advocate so strongly for my kids, for the powerless, marginalized, and voiceless. Jesus is just.

I would like to take a moment to say thank you to a few people:

Thank you to my sister Lisa for always being my protector.

Thank you to my case worker Christina Castillo at Department of Human Assistance.

Thank you to the Victim”s Witness Assistance program.

Thank you to my teachers at Cosumnes River and Sacramento City College who ignited a spark within me: Mrs. Silva, you gave me hope that one day I could be like you. It was so inspiring to have a teacher who was a black woman and  went to community college herself. Mr. Ly and Mr. Phillips you gave me the confidence to learn math and taught me more than high school. Ms. Miriam Beloglovsky- I learned so much from your cultural diversity class. I admired the strength and confidence you brought to the class.

Thank you to my friends I met at college: Irene- you taught me that children need consistency. Sam Lewis- you inspired me to continue in school. Kelly Merrell- you inspired me to be a better mother.

Thank you to the many random strangers that would see my kids and I eating out and pay for our food. Your random acts of kindness was proof to me God heard my prayers. To this day, I continue to pay it forward.

I write this in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month and for the many students who are graduating and overcoming.

If you’re a thriver, share your story.

-Chana