I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with co-dependency and with love and relationship addiction.
My childhood was filled with rejection, abandonment, and abuse. My biological mom left my sister and me with our dad when I was 8 months old. Growing up, I was physically abused by my stepmom and sexually molested by a step-sibling from the age of 6 until I was 12. The molestation stopped when a relative alerted authorities, but no charges were pressed because someone said it was untrue. I was taught not to talk about it, to act like those six years never happened. Putting on a mask, I tried to be “normal.”
At 19, I married a seemingly charming man. My husband soon showed that he was a verbally abusive and controlling alcoholic. Degrading insults, getting drunk, and punching holes through walls were common events. After 14 months of marriage, I got the courage to say that I wanted out.
Four years later, I married Joe, whom I’d met online. After two years of infertility, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. Around that same time, we went to church with relatives although we struggled with our spiritual beliefs. We ended up accepting Christ together that very day! Five weeks later, the fertility nurse called and said I was pregnant, and we later determined that conception happened the very same week that we accepted Christ! We joyfully welcomed twin sons in July 1999 — and later a daughter, in November 2007.
Sadly, my dad passed away just two days before my 35th birthday. Previously, he’d apologized for not having done more to protect my sister and me as children. He loved and believed in Jesus, so our family had comfort knowing we would see him again in Heaven.
After our daughter was born, life for my husband became busy, and I made poor choices that led to an eight-month affair. I thought I could live this double life without consequences. In 2009, our church community group visited Celebrate Recovery. Joe began attending, but I said it wasn’t for me.
Mark 4:22 says, “For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light” (NLT). My actions came to light when my husband discovered emails, exposing my double life. Our marriage counselor said I would need to make hard choices if I wanted a chance at saving my marriage. Later, I collapsed and sobbed, seeing the reality of what I had done. Joe lovingly took me in his arms and said, “If you’re willing to do the work, we will get through this together.”
On June 11, 2010, I went to Celebrate Recovery and took my first blue chip. God was with me, and I knew I was in the right place! Open Share was scary, but with God’s help, I shared honestly. The other ladies never judged me. I joined a Step Study two months later. It wasn’t easy, but I stayed with it and dug deep, never giving up HOPE! Over time, I met some great accountability partners and a sponsor. I graduated from my first Step Study eager to give back. After training, I became a leader, too. I also help lead worship and serve as Encourager Coach on our CR Ministry TEAM. I love what 1 Timothy 1:12 says: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him” (NLT).
Joe and I celebrated 21 years of marriage last June! God has put his hand on our marriage and healed us. My biological mom made amends, and before my stepmom went to be with Jesus in March 2015 she also made amends. Joel 2:25 says, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” (NIV). Forgiving was not for them—it was for me, to move me forward in my recovery so that I could give back and glorify God. I’ve been loved and adored by God all along and strive to show this truth to others for the rest of my life.