In 2006, I was a junior in high school. I was a good student, pretty, and had various friends. However, deep down I was insecure, lonely, and holding a family secret. A family secret I couldn’t share with anyone, a family secret known as addiction. Both my parents enjoyed parting a bit too much, but little did I know my father was using methamphetamines for over ten years. He was a functional man, providing a life full of vacations, recreational toys, and a wealth of knowledge. My father was a smart man, but underneath the surface, he was burdened with sadness and carrying around a secret demon that nobody but his using friends knew about.
It was not until one snowy day in 2006, this demon showed itself to our family (my mother, my brother Zachary, and I). My father was busted by police, spent the weekend in jail, and forever became sober. As an adolescent, it was a difficult time for me. I always felt like I knew my father, but now I learned people can present themselves one way and be a totally different person underneath the surface. I learned this skill and perfected it. I too, learned to mask my pain and pretend everything in my life was “fine.”
I went off to college. I had absolutely no skills to live on my own. I became depressed and turned to alcohol. I started skipping classes, stopped dressing myself, and lost all my friends. I eventually failed out of the University. I was a mess and had no one to turn to.
Then one evening, in one of my darkest nights, a gentleman I was sharing conversation with told me to take his hands. I hesitated, but with his insistence I took his hands. I closed my eyes, and as I was holding his hands, I felt a rush of adrenaline; I felt free, I felt a rush, I saw light… I was sucked into something beautiful, something miraculous. There are no words to describe this intense moment, but God. God had shown the Divine Light to me. My life was forever changed.
My dad living sober, he planned a trip to Guatemala. My father, mother, younger brother Zachary, and I were going to work with Choice Humanitarian and build a school house in the village. I was depressed, abusing alcohol, and had just failed out of college. Guatemala was a chance for me to redeem myself; learn about the Guatemalan culture, and most of all, learn about myself. I was excited for this new chapter in my life.
Unfortunately, we never made it to the village. Our airplane had crashed in the mountains of Guatemala – leaving eleven of the fourteen passengers’ dead, including my father and brother. My mother was severely burned. I, on the other hand, walked out of airplane. I had no serious physical injuries.
While already experiencing a deep depression and alcohol abuse, I was now faced with the tragedy of loss, trauma, survival’s guilt, and PTSD. I was living in hell. I was living in a nightmare. I felt like there was no hope for me…
With my father and brother dead, my mother in a coma in the hospital, I was in a state of shock. I was in denial. My reality was surreal. I could not believe what had happened to me and this life I was living. I could not believe my life was turned upside down.
I turned to alcohol, once again, and started drinking daily. I stopped eating. I was taking care of the “business of death” while still trying to understand what had happened to me. I questioned God’s intentions, but always leaned on the hope I had “survived for a reason.” God was the only Thing that got me through that difficult time in my life…
One day, while I was at the hospital visiting my mother, a nurse approached me and asked if I was “getting help.” I was confused and unclear of what she was talking about. She was referring to a therapist. I had no intentions of starting therapy, but to my surprise, the nurse scheduled me an appointment with a Grief & Trauma Therapist in the Twin Cities. The nurse drove me to the therapy office.
Twice a week, for months, I saw this therapist. She processed my trauma, my loss, and allowed me to grieve my “old life.” She encouraged me to get into outpatient treatment, go back to school, and Soul Search. I began accepting this new way of life and moving forward with it. I was still sad, but I accepted my airplane crash and deaths of my father and brother as Divine necessities. There was a purpose, and although it was unclear to me, there was a purpose and reason for everything in my life. This faith in God and my spiritual purpose were motivation for me to live a full, happy life. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to be the best person I could be; for God, for myself, for my father & brother, and for my mother.
Today, nearly seven years later, I am married with two children. I will be graduating this fall with a Master’s Degree in Marriage & Family Therapy. I recently published a book, Life is Beautiful: How a Lost Girl Became a True Confident Child of God. I am happy, self-motivated, and devoting my life to healing; healing myself and healing others. Life can always be better, and life can always be worse.
God has blessed me with an amazing family. My husband has seen me at my worst. He has provided me with love and tenderness. He has supported me and pushed me to be the best. The moment I gave birth to my daughter, my world changed. It was at that moment, I realized life is beautiful. Then, after my son was born, my family felt complete. My husband and children have taught me to slow down and enjoy the little things. It is truly the little things that matter in this world. As my husband says, “There are three things in life that matter, milk, eggs, and family!”
Although my life is beautiful right now, I wouldn’t be who I am today without my tragic start. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for my father’s drug addiction; the horrific airplane crash I experienced that took the lives of my father and brother; and the ambiguous loss I experienced with my mother. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for my depression and extreme alcohol abuse. These particular adversities have given me strength, courage, and perseverance. I thank God for the Light he has shown me, the hope He has instilled in me, and the power He has given me.
Adversity builds hope. We are hope. I thank God every day for His blessings. I have turned tragedy into triumph. I have lived to not only share my story of hope and inspiration, but to guide others on their healing journeys.
My story is beautiful… life is beautiful.
To learn more, go to http://lifeisbeautifulbook.com/.