My Hope

Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come…'tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.(from the hymn Amazing Grace)

I hope that my life's journey will be an encouragement to anyone who is needing to break free of the pains, regrets, and injuries of the past. I pray you will reach out for any help and support you need, and that you will make your "self-care" a priority!  

Let's start with data:  "Up to 2/3 of all those in substance abuse treatment report they were abused as children. Eighty percent of people referred to mental health services have a history of child abuse. More than half of adults who were abused as children experience domestic abuse in later life."  (While these statistics are from the Office for National Statistics in the UK, statistics in the U.S. and other countries are probably similar.)

 Loss and Grief

Adult Survivors experience loss and grief at an early age.  Navigating these emotions and experiences is often done alone, without the wisdom, guidance and consolation of caring adults.  It is an indescribably lonely experience.

  • From the time I was a little girl, I experienced daily loss that came from living in an unsafe home filled, not with love and safety, but with domestic violence.  In that hostile, angry environment, birthdays and holidays weren't celebrated, no family traditions or good memories were formed, and life’s basics were never assured. Feeling fearful, insignificant, powerless, and value-less” were the "norm."  Trying to intervene and protect my Mom only added to the physical and verbal abuse that was already being inflicted on me.  As a survivor, I know it was because of the love and protection of God, that, in my adult life, I was able to end the cycle of alcoholism and abuse that had been a multi-generational problem in the paternal gene-pool.  

  • Sadly, my best friend Caprice, who also lived in a violent, alcoholic home, took her life at the age of 17.  Her fourth suicide attempt was "successful" (the awful term that is used).  I was in the hospital with her before she died, and had just promised that when she was well, we would go to Carmel, a place she had always wanted to see.  However, minutes later, doctors and nurses were back in the room, trying to save her life again, but she died.  In high school, we had sung together, our young voices blending so beautifully.  With her death, her lovely lyric soprano voice was gone, my best friend was gone, and all the potential of her life was ended.

  • In that same year, Jim, my 20 year old high school friend, was drafted, went to Vietnam in July, and was shipped home in December for burial.  This fresh-from-boot-camp, handsome young Marine and I had lunch together after church on a beautiful Sunday afternoon the day before he was to report to his base for deployment; and that was the last time I saw him.  Just a few years ago, I went to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial on the National Mall in D.C. and found Jim's name.  In our hometown, his grave is about 50 feet from my girlfriend Caprice's grave, and every year I make the trip to freshen up their gravesites, and my Mother's, also.

  • I was with my dear Mother when she died at the age of 56, after her long battle with cancer, and I've missed her so much all of these past 32 years. She was a woman of strong Christian faith, whose last words were prayers for her children and grandchildren.  She had been orphaned during WWII, and was a "War Bride" who came to America.  She loved her children, her grandchildren, her friends, and her God, and in turn, she was loved by so many friends and people in her community.  This reserved, private, humble, unassuming, feisty, helpful and caring woman would have been shocked at the large turnout for her funeral service!  I am thankful that I never added to her sadness with unkind words said to her, or to others about her; and I never blamed her for what I had gone through.  She was a victim of domestic abuse who did the best she could with what she had. My only regret has been not having her in my life all these years.   

  • Throughout the years, I've experienced the loss of some of my dearest friends who were "family" to me.  One of my last gifts for these beloved friends and their families, has been to sing songs of comfort and hope at their bedsides, and at their memorial and funeral services.  

What I Have Learned

  • Life isn't easy for a lot of people.

  • Not everyone gets the same opportunities to grow and thrive.

  • Loss and grief hurt for a lifetime.

  • Life doesn't have to be perfect to be good.

  • There is always HOPE.

My Path

I realized that if I put my hope in people and relationships, they could or would let me down; or sadder still, death could take them away. If I put my hope in my health, that, too, could or would let me down.  If I put my hope in my finances, well, those definitely could change and let me down. So, instead, I "leaned into" the faith of my childhood that had been steadily growing as I grew older, and I put my hope in God (in Hebrew - Adonai, Elohim, El Shaddai).  Hoping is not the same as wishing, and it isn't just a positive feeling.  Hopefulness goes deep into our minds and hearts, and gives us courage and strength to believe that good outcomes can happen! I pray that you will be filled with hope, and that your courage and strength will grow!

"May God, the source of hope, fill you will all joy and peace…" (Bible Book of Romans)

"There is a hope that burns within my heart, that gives me strength for every passing day."

(There Is a Hope, songwriter Stuart Townend)

Some Helpful Resources:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:   www.ptsd.va.gov

  • Suicide Prevention:  www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

  • Domestic Violence:  www.thehotline.org

  • Child Abuse:  www.childhelp.org

  • Mental Health Conditions:  www.nami.org

  • National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse:  www.naasca.org

  • Vietnam Veterans of America:  vva.org  (for information about Education, Homelessness, PTSD, Substance Abuse, Legislation, Health Care)


© Copyright_Shirley Myers_March 2019