Hey guys, I'm Rachel. This story is the beginning of molding me into who I am today. Its a hard story to tell, but its part of who i am. Im stronger because of it. Hopefully, if you have a broken heart, you can find strength in knowing others have gone through hard times too.
"We are all broken, that's how the light gets in" Earnest Hemingway
I remember driving to my aunt’s house with our luggage in the back of the car. The silence was piercing and the noise in my head was deafening. The thoughts echoing in my head on repeat were raw and full of fear. “I don’t have a home, or a Dad, or answers” I felt helpless and hopeless for the first time in my life. I was 16 and my life was shattered.
When I was a little girl I grew up in a happy home in Gilbert AZ. I was raised by my parents and was the middle of 5 kids. I had 2 older brothers, a younger sister and brother.
We moved from Gilbert to Mesa when I was 15 years old where I started high school as a sophomore.
That first year in Mesa is one I'll never forget. It was the end of the school year 2001, 2 weeks away from graduation when my whole world crumbled before me. I came home from school alone to an empty house. I was locked outside and my key no longer fit in the door knob. I stepped back to notice an odd site. Orange stickers, plastered over all the front windows of our home….“Pursuant to court order. This property has been seized by the Maricopa county constable’s office and the locks have been changed. You have no legal right to be in or about this premises.”
In shock and disbelief, I was reunited with my family shortly after the discovery of being kicked out of my home. Over a few day’s time I came to understand the whole truth and reality of my new life.
The day our house foreclosed, my father robbed two banks to get money for the house we were losing. Unbeknownst to my Mom, my fathers secret life started all because of an addiction to PORNOGRAPHY. His double life and addictions eventually took everything HE had. It took everything MY FAMILY had.
Pornography was the robber that day. It started the snowball of lies, addictions, betrayal and eventually prison. These choices left me and my family homeless and fatherless with an empty bank account. ALL IN ONE DAY.
My sweet aunt and uncle took us in and gave us a place to stay for a few weeks. The night our house was foreclosed, we were given the opportunity to get back into the house for 15 min to gather some belongings. My 18 year old brother and I had to ransack our house and gather the belongings for everyone. This included the jar of change found over the stove that was a specific item on the "unforgettable" list. We counted the change that night and there was $40 in that jar. That was all the money my mom had left to her name.
The next day I went back to school scared to death of my new reality. I knew people had heard the rumors and I was also aware that it had made the news. I couldn’t escape it. I felt as if I was a monster, walking the hallways of high school, just as nervous to say anything as everyone else was to say anything to me. It was the ugliest feeling I have ever felt.
Nobody really knew what the whole story was and nobody really knew my aching pain of hurt and abandonment. I was 16 years old and felt blamed and judged for someone else’s actions. I was truly lost.
I’m sure you could guess that my parents divorced. My dad ended up spending around 4 months in prison. When he robbed the banks, he used a threat note instead of a weapon. I was spared during the divorce settlement and didn’t have to have visits with my dad. I always had a hard relationship with him. I never trusted him, and it was then I really knew why. My oldest brother was married at the time of all this. My second older brother had graduated from high school and left to serve a 2 year mission for our church. This left me as the oldest in the house and the next adult. I had several responsibilities including watching my little brother and sister while my mom worked, driving them too and from school, make dinner, and be sure nobody lost their head. I had to grow up. I had lost the time to really be a kid anymore and I was mad about it.
There was no quick recovery or comeback after this disaster. Avalanches fell everyday like snow. Burying pieces of my old life and unloading a new one full of unknown circumstances.
My junior year of high school presented its own set of personal challenges. I felt exposed, imperfect, infected with problems and completely worthless. I rebelled and didn’t really care much about the consequences. I still had values but they seemed to be fading and the things that once were important to me, were falling by the way side. I often thought to myself, who was going to love me and accept me with this many issues? Who wants to date me or marry me with all this baggage?
Fast forward 16 years ...My husband and I have been married for 13 years now and we have three beautiful children. Back then, my reality of having a healthy family were slim to none. I had to change my mind about failing. I had to learn to be happy and figure out how to stay positive.
It was then, 16 years ago, I made the choice. I decided this would not define me. This time of my life was not going to pull me and my future down. It is and was not who I am. I made the choice to not be a victim of my fathers disaster. His poor decisions were not going to dictate what type of person I was supposed to be. He was not going to rob me of my strength. That was an incredibly difficult lesson to learn, and I'm so thankful God helped me through it.
Someone recently asked me “How did you make it through that? How did you come out stronger in the end?”
I didn't learn this overnight. Through the pain I chose to have FAITH. Faith that I knew God was watching over me. In my darkest moments, I chose hope. HOPE that I would learn and grow from this experience. In my clouded thoughts I held onto my knowledge. Knowledge that I had people around me that loved me and were praying for me.
I knew I had something to live for but didn’t realize it until I got married and became a mom. I lived for my future family. The family that I get to hold and love on every day. It was worth living for. I look at life a little different now. I’m so grateful for the example of my biological father. The lessons he taught me through his deceit are irreplaceable. I know what I don’t want and I know what is good and true. I know how to follow my gut and go with what I feel is right. It has served as a great blessing in my life. I am forever grateful for the challenges I have faced. They have made me stronger than I ever thought I could be.
"We find whatever it is we're looking for. Look for the good"-Al Fox Caraway