As my eyes popped open this morning, I had a thousand thoughts come rushing at me. It was as if a dam had just been broken, and the flooding waters of pent up thoughts had broken free to be analyzed. I’m so thankful they didn’t haunt me during the night. I was able to sleep undisturbed for the first time in almost a week. This morning I write. I pour out these thoughts so that I can find peace in my day, and enjoy precious time with my loved ones.
Many years ago my daddy owned an Amoco food shop and car wash that sat right off I75 in Michigan. As you exited the freeway if you turned one way there stood the Detroit Truck Stop, and if you turned the other there stood our Amoco. I grew up in that store. In the late seventies, it was a full-service station. Daddy and his brothers worked on automobiles and fully serviced gasoline. I played in the garage and pestered the workers as a small little girl would. My older brother and I would play with the hoist, laughing as we’d raise each other up, and bring each other down. Those were happy times.
In the mid-eighties, the old service station was torn down leaving a brand new convenience store in its place. I remember the excitement, yet the sadness of ending one chapter and beginning another. When I was thirteen I’d ran up a high telephone bill, so my daddy handed me a brush and bucket. He made me scrub every tire and lower panel of each car that came through to be washed. If you have ever been to Michigan you will understand that in the winter this is gruesome. Mucky salt sludge on the bottoms of each car, oh that wasn’t fun. I worked every day after school to pay off my phone bill. I loved working so much that daddy just kept me on the payroll. I worked hard every day, and when I became old enough to handle the responsibility of the register and tending the store, I was trained. I loved meeting the many people who were traveling from Florida to Canada, and Canada to Florida. We had so many new faces every day, but I found joy in meeting them. During those years this was my freedom from dealing with the abuse, and the horrific things that were happening to me. This was truly my happy place. I loved the week long training session my friend and co-worker and I went to. We learned a brand new register system, that in the late eighties was considered high tech. Our store was beyond busy. We only worked six-hour shifts because of the high volume of sales. This kept the employees from becoming overly stressed.
One powerful memory that dad and I reflect on often is in the late eightees we had all of our employees quit at the same time leaving just dad and I. We tag teamed to keep our store open. I would go home and sleep a couple of hours, dad would come and relieve me, then I’d come back and work a double shift. Dad and I barely slept those few weeks while he trained new employees. This is where I gained the strongest part of my work ethic today. I learned so much during those few weeks, the struggles and pains of trying to keep a business going, but not only going but solid and strong. We did. Dad always commends me on this. Even though it was hard, I would do it all over again.
I’d do it all over again because I could escape. I could get away from the horrible things that were happening to me, and the memories of those that had already happened. I was able to be strong even when I wasn’t. I always say that working so hard during those years until I met my husband was my lifeline. I was drowning, and no one around me could see it. God did, and I know He placed everything in my path that I needed to get me to where I am today. I am sure of that. My testimony is raw but real.
What released the tidal wave of memories this morning? The passing of an uncle. When we lose people we love it causes memories to break free. I remembered all the happy times that I’d spent with my cousins in their home. He was a single father doing the best he could to raise his two children. He always treated me as if I were the third child when I was there. We had fun times filled with laughter. My cousin found old photos of my mother and uncles during these years and then the held back memories were set free. So here I am writing. Remembering. Aching. Crying.
I don’t want to go back. In the middle of those years were some of the most painful I’d ever endured, but if I could weed out those horrific years, and keep all the good ones I would. I think this is what healing is. When you can see how far God has brought you, and laugh at the good times, and then when you look at those painful years and the pain doesn’t overtake you, then you realize just how much God has done inside of you. How when you share your story (testimony) with others it’s as if you are telling a story of someone else’s life, even though it was unmistakably yours. This is why I share my story with others who have suffered abuse. I will always be an advocate for abuse victims. I will always be here to help them and encourage them in finding their way to healing and restoration. This is my heart’s desire, and burning passion inside of me.