YET I RISE – RHONDA A. THOMPSON
Have you ever wondered why you are here? You have endured so much pain and it’s as if pain was your first name and suffering was your middle. Well friend then I think you and I will get along quite well.
I have been through the fire and the rain. I have been called names that would bring many to shame. The most recent is doll however I think I can live with that one. The truth of the matter is there was a time I hated myself so much and crying was easier than laughing because at least I felt something, right? My life has not been easy I have overcome child abuse, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, three suicide attempts and I joined the sex trade at the age of 17.
Every little girl fashions their life after how their mom gave them love, showed them how to grow up into an upstanding woman and learn things to stay away from. Just image your mom being your abuser. My mom suffered undiagnosed mental illness and was physically abusive to me until I became a teenager when I fought back. I will never forget the first time I noticed something different from my mom. There was time when we went to visit her friend out of town while they were getting ready to leave out, I rubbed my hands on my mom’s hip and she roughly shoved my hand away. The tears began to puddle in my eyes and her friend said “no, don’t do that she thinks you’re pretty”. As being a mother myself I will never forget that moment. Although today I understand her sickness I can never understand that type of confusion to a child. I was torn. I even adopted Diane Ross as my mother because she was my idea of what a mother would have been to me.
My mom displayed multiple personalities therefore I never knew who she was on any given day so bringing my friends home would not be ideal. There were so many times I was scared to go home from school out of fear of been beaten. My grandparents did the best they could to rescue me. I can remember one time after been beaten I went to school and the teacher put a band aide on my face because I had a raw sore on my cheek. When I made it home from school I recall walking in the door and my mom snatched the band aide off my face. I stood there in shock as tears ran down my face burning the scar, what now? If I keep crying it’s going to hurt worse and I will cry more only making her even more angry, therefore I quickly stopped crying. During the time of the abuse with my mom I would often visit my dad. This was supposed to be a fun place to go and get away. Mind you my dad didn’t know what mom was doing or what her mental state was. My father was a heavy drinker. During one of his episodes he took me to bed like any normal night, but something was different in his eyes than before. This is the night my innocence was taken, and I was so confused about the interaction that I experienced. I knew it was wrong because it made me sick. I still can smell the alcohol on his breathe; I will never forget his prickly mustache. What do I do? Who do I tell? Will this happen again? The answer is “no” to all those questions. I can’t tell anyone because no one can replace mom and although others loved me she was the person to tell. So silently I died to myself. My soul was torn FOREVER!
Because of the abuse from my mom and dad it left me exceptionally vulnerable to toxic relationships. I began dating very early without guidance of what a healthy relationship looks like even though my grandparents loved me and had a healthy life. I began a journey of abusive relationships starting with physical and emotional with multiple men. My problem with abusive men wasn’t me staying in that relationship but leaving only to find yet another one like the very one I left. As you can imagine I was completely lost for many years. I masked my pain the best way I knew how and tried to reduce the amount of abandonment from people by becoming a yes girl or people pleaser. That didn’t help, men continued to crush my spirit. Being strangled or slapped was just freaking normal to me!
The first time I tried to kill myself I was 13 years old. I just had my first miscarriage; two more pregnancies came after that; one being an abortion and then the other being my 26th year old son today. After I healed from that miscarriage, I found out that my boyfriend was cheating on me. I was too young to even know what commitment was supposed to look like, but I learned quickly what betrayal would feel like. I cried for days and just didn’t understand what I did wrong. At the tender age of 13 the average healthy young girl was playing with dolls and yet my stomach was being pumped and found myself in a mentally institution for teens. To be honest although I have forgiven everyone, I still remember the feeling of betrayal and the sound of the doors slamming in that institution. That was no place for a child! As I ponder back at the innocent age of 13, my father had violated me, my mom scarred me and both parents abandoned me, I entered the first among many domestic violence relationships, I learned not to trust men; this has lasted for majority of my life. I recall going in my mom’s medicine cabinet grabbing her sleeping pills and counting them. I came up with 23 pills and I took them ALL. Shortly thereafter, I laid in bed and fell asleep. I was carrying a lot but thought I had no other choice.
For whatever reason my boyfriend came over unannounced, found me and he called the ambulance. I was so scared when they rushed me into the emergency room but Thank God, I am here to tell the story today. He hurt me so bad and yet he was the one who saved my life. I give thanks.
By the time I was a young adult I had so many masks for pain and men was my outlet.
One day I thought having a lot of money would fix the hurt, so I began a life of stripping and the sex trade. This was a very dangerous lifestyle, but I didn’t love myself to know any better. I traveled the air ways without telling anyone where I was going or what I was doing and sold my body for money. Many times, I woke up in strange places with no sense of God. I pushed the envelope to the edge until one day, the guy I spent the night with was doing heroin. I quickly remembered the “don’t do drugs campaign in school”. I was afraid that if I didn’t leave I would be forced to do drugs. Alcohol was my drug of choice not street drugs. The next morning when he went in the bathroom I grabbed my things and ran out of his house. I did not live in his city and therefore I had no clue where I was but only knew I was not safe and needed to get out. My eyes became open and I knew this was not the life for me. I needed to change.
Reflecting as a mature woman of God, I can understand why so many girls are lost today. I was a mess in the streets of Milwaukee, WI. I was hurt, confused with no guidance and no peace. I ran from myself only to find that no one would rescue me. I had to do that for myself; I heard God’s voice and was redeemed.
Don’t feel sad for me…I live life with NO regrets. I suffered in silence and didn’t speak up for many years until I went through my second divorce. I found my spirit yet again in a fetal position dying inside from feeling abandoned, abused and utter failure. Was I just not capable of making right choices? Was my life doomed before it even started? Of course NOT!! I have turned my pain into purpose. I realize that there is NO uniqueness of my story. Many women reading this today can identify with a part of my story and as we go through life we manage the best way we know how, and we triumph over it.
Yet I Rise!!! Finding my voice was my salvation in this 2nd half of my life. The work on myself continues. Maybe you too have experienced abuse, low self-esteem and lack of love. Find strength in your voice and live again. Reclaim your life as I did. It is a process but so worth the fight.
Through forgiveness I have experienced more peace and has taught me that I am a real BOSS (Built Out of Survival Situations). I AM a Real Atlanta Woman and I survived to tell the story! What didn’t kill me has made me a beast for my purpose.
Today I help women to find their own rebirth experience. I am an international empowerment speaker, Life Coach, founder of a domestic violence organization Rose of Sharon, author of an amazing book “Don’t Spill the Tea” One Women’s Journey from Abuse to Abundance.