I was two years old when my mother first abandoned me on my father’s doorstep, and five years old when I began to notice my mother’s abusive behavior.
She would ignore me for weeks, pushing me away from her when I tried to hug her. The abuse seemed to grow stronger as I grew older. She would steal drugs from the nursing home she worked at and combine them with Captain Morgan and Diet Coke.
There were nights when she would throw my belongings out in the yard and take her guns out of the cabinet. She described her plan to shoot me or drive me to the bridge and push me off before ending her own life. I would pray for her to pass out before she fulfilled her promise.
When she wasn’t black-out drunk, she was asleep. She never fed me unless she had a man to impress. I could visit my father once or twice a week, but she always made me feel guilty for leaving and would feed me lies in attempt to make me hate him. When I was twelve years old, she decided to move us out of the state. I hoped my dad would forgive me for leaving. I knew if I left her, she would hurt both of us.
I grew into my teenage years, learning to avoid her and mind my business to stay safe. I would wait to leave my room after she passed out in the bathroom almost every night. The guilt of leaving my father overwhelmed me. I knew at this point I had no one. People at school would say I looked anorexic because of how thin I was, and they weren’t wrong. I took comfort in wasting away and carving my thighs, feeling just as empty physically as I did emotionally. There was a time when I was in the shower, my vision grew dark and I fell to my hands and knees, unable to stand or see. I crawled down to the kitchen and felt for the fridge, drinking the first thing I grabbed and laying on the floor until I was revived. I knew I needed help.
When I was seventeen, I met a boy who was very family oriented. His mother adored me and his sisters would tell me I was beautiful. I spent every day after school in his home, longing for the feeling of having a family of my own.
After going to his house one evening, I went to my grandmother’s to help her with laundry. I laid on her couch to rest, and the next thing I know, I’m screaming for an ambulance. My brain felt like it was melting. I had no control of my body.
I learned that night that the boy I was seeing had drugged me, and I almost lost my life. The police told me they could not find him, and later decided they did not have enough evidence that he was the one who did this to me. My family told me to accept it and move on. I began to believe the world was full of evil people who wanted to hurt me, and no one cared. Not my family, not my friends. I was terrified to leave my room. I would lay in my bed for days without moving, terrified to live. I realized I was wasting away. I realized no one cared.
I noticed at times I had troubles breathing. I would lay down and feel my heart beating out of my chest. I had been visiting a doctor weekly to check my vitals after being drugged. He suggested that I was experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
At this point, I was so afraid to be alive that I didn’t know what to do with myself. Immediately after school, I would drive to my friends house out of fear that I would hurt myself if I was alone. I told my friend that I was afraid to continue living. I told him I couldn’t stop thinking about suicide. I asked him if he thought I would ever recover. He stopped answering his door.
With nowhere to turn, I was forced to be alone with my thoughts. The idea of leaving the world permanently scared me, but I had absolutely no one. Every object was now an instrument of death. Driving turned into a mental battle of convincing myself not to turn the wheel into a telephone pull. Trips into the city became a constant fight to not walk to the bridge. I had images of myself drowning in a bathtub filled with blood corrupting my thoughts. I desperately tried to avoid ropes and knives, sometimes slamming my head to the wall to quiet the constant pleas, begging for an end to the vessel of terror my body became. I could not trust anyone, not even myself.
It wasn’t long before I was hospitalized. I paced the hallways and sat in my bed, realizing even more how alone I was. No one came to see me. The pants I was given still had a drawstring. I broke plastic cutlery and jammed them into my arms. I considered collecting my medication that was given to me and attempting an overdose. I looked in the mirror and saw myself for what felt like the first time in years. I did not recognize myself.
It felt as though I had left my body and I was staring at a walking corpse. Her face was pale and bland. Her eyes were empty and hollow with dark circles around them. I wanted to be dead, but it seemed I already was.
A strong voice overcame my thoughts. “This is what the world has to offer you. This is what you are without me.”
It felt like the spirit I was lacking slammed into my body. I knew that I had no one, and no one could save me. I couldn’t trust anyone, not even myself. But in this moment, I realized God had never left me. He was the only one who could save me.
I met a woman named Brenda who also had PTSD, along with dissociative identity disorder. She would tell me how loving and sweet I was, and how I would do great things. She gave me a copy of the New Testament. I prayed that God would change my life.
A few months later, my mother had beat my sister into a bloody pulp. We both escaped into the snowy night with nothing but the clothes on our backs. We never returned.
My father picked me up the next morning. Like a refugee, I began a new life in his home. I started going to a church filled with loving people who treated me like their family. I knew that because I called upon God, he pulled me out of the fire and into loving arms.
I still struggle nearly every day with my diagnoses of major depressive disorder, PTSD, and social anxiety disorder. Now I know that I can get through absolutely everything, if I stay close to the Lord, my light in the dark. In a few months, I will turn twenty one. I was certain I wouldn’t live to see twenty. My life is beyond imperfect; it’s messy and stressful and I constantly make mistakes. There are still days when I don’t want to leave my bed. But my God delivered me from my darkest hour, and I know He will never give up on me, even if everyone else has. It took me eighteen years to learn to trust Him. No matter who you are, I can promise you it is never too late.
- Sabrina Copeman
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