Yesterday I was Abused, Today I’m Good and Empowered!

IMG_0384Charlene Jimerson

By Charlene Jimerson

All praises to God who strengthens me to fight the fight to maintain mental wellness in spiritual harmony.

There was a time when I didn’t know the importance of wellness of the mind, body, and spirit. I allowed people, places, and things to measure the degree of the importance of my self-worth, my ability to achieve goals and my right to make decisions concerning my well-being.

The physical abuse from my ex-husband left scars and bruises that hurt if touched and pained my heart to look at in the mirror.  But I had no idea of the spiritual bruising and permanent scars that was taking place inside me. I had no idea of trauma!

As time passed in this abusive relationship, I found I had difficulty in maintaining a nurturing, loving relationship with my children.  I struggled taking care of them. The more I struggled , the more my husband made himself unavailable in the home and in supporting me and the children.  This made the pain seek in deep.  I cried for hours hearing my husband’s words, “If you just did what I wanted you to do , you could avoid putting yourself through this pain. You must like the pain”. I didn’t like the pain and I didn’t like being the one who never benefitted from doing what he wanted me to do.

I ended up separating from my abusive husband, but I never expected the separation from my spirit. I disconnected from my inspirations, my dreams, my values and my beliefs. My will power had a short-circuit.  I let the abuse and pain that had been applied so effectively take over, and I embraced what I had been exposed to for so long.  I didn’t exist anymore, the abuse did. It took on a life of its own.

I am a survivor of domestic violence. I was abused with my newborn in my arms, just out of the hospital, up until and during the time my children attended school. My abuser hurt me because according to him, I was too hard-headed to be worthy of receiving love. A wife is supposed to obey what her husband tells her to do. I tried to obey my husband but there was always something that I didn’t do correctly. The worst part is, I couldn’t handle the trauma it caused me. Even after divorce my ex-husband would stalk me, break into my apartment and assault me with the children present. I was a fighter and he wanted to drain me of any strength I might have to survive. I began to experience highs and lows, and happiness short-lived before bitterness reared its ugly head. It became more difficult to cope, to hold everything together, still I had to be strong for my children.

I was using drugs to control the anger, the confusion of the after shocks of abuse(reliving the abuse or the onset of sadness and hopelessness). I lost my apartment and everything in it, my administrative position that I had gained through working as a temp in San Leandro. I lost my children’s clothes and all their awards. I lost all the family photo albums of myself my mom and dad and of the children. I was in denial. I didn’t accept what had happened. All my children stayed with other families except my 5 year old. He and I stayed with a woman named Teressa in a rented room. I left my son with Teressa for a while and then I came and got him even though I was homeless, and suicidal. Eventually I abandoned my son. But my daughter at age 21 was strong and intelligent enough to convince CPS to give her custody. This is good because she had to learn at an early age from me, to protect the love of family. It showed for most of their life I had not been an unfit mother.

In a court-ordered duel diagnosis program in San Leandro, I became part of a support group. What inspired me was the realization that I wasn’t the only one who had experienced this type of trauma. When I heard another person describing the scenario of feelings, thoughts, reactions, and behavior that I had experienced–it was good. It helped me to understand what happened with me. There was good in recovery from trauma! The group of listeners, like myself, connected with the person who was talking; they didn’t judge the person. It felt good and  safe to be accepted in revealing the pain, and confusion of why in feeling ashamed I connected the person my abuser said I was to the person responsible for losing everything. They cheered the person for being hopeful in some things, overcoming obstacles, and the validity of knowing yourself better than anyone. They supported the person in areas still in need of hope. It was made clear in my mind becoming empowered again, was a learning process.

I had to let go of all the bad things that had happened to me in order to begin to live again.  I had to forgive myself first for what I had done to my children and myself to heal. I had to let go of the anger and hate I felt toward  my ex-husband.

You see I had taken onto myself the harmful behavior of my ex.  I had to replace my harmful behavior with positive, loving behavior towards myself and my children. The process was long and painful at times but I knew it was for the good in returning the love for myself and my children.

I now accept only the things that give me hope and promote empowerment within myself to be at peace even in difficult times.  I now know how to use wellness tools and positive affirmations in thoughts and speaking. This is good in building my strengths to diminish my weaknesses.  I try to be around people who motivate me to be assertive in mind, body and spirit. I am now a certified WRAP facilitator because it’s good to use my experiences as an example in how I maintain wellness.

I attended mental health conferences such as Wellness Recovery, Trauma, Healing Trauma, Change Agents for Co-Occurring consumers and Spiritually.  The wellness workshops included exercise, relaxation techniques to reduce stress, nutrition, positive thinking and affirmations, peer support, self-advocacy, changing behavior, setting and achieving goals.  I learned about consumer service and housing providers.  I established a support  network which is POCC, PEERS, CIL , DISABILITY  RIGHTS  OF CALIFORNIA, MHA,  DOR,  BACS, ACBHCS,  PATIENT RIGHTS,  BERKELEY DROP-IN,  AND ACCESS.

I have used all these for mental health wellness recovery and healing trauma.  The only way I truly feel I am making a difference is by sharing what I have acquired in lived experience with those who are still struggling without hope, unconditional love and acceptance.  I am a consumer advocate and  I am good when I advocate against someone or something that may be harmful in my right to be empowered.

I AM GOOD!

 

Read Charlene’s awesome poem here

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Categories: Peer support, Stigma, Wellness Tools

Author:PEERS

We are innovators who continue to overcome adversity and defy the status quo. We offer new solutions for wellness and lead by example that mental health recovery is possible.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. I’m Good | I'm Good: A Blog Campaign for Mental Health Recovery - May 9, 2014

    […] Read Charlene’s inspirational story here.  […]

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