strength

‘They’re calling rain today.’ My husband starts his motorcycle. ‘I love you. I’ll be fine!’ He walks out for the last time.’: Woman’s husband ‘paralyzed from the armpit down,’ learns to appreciate ‘the beautiful moments’ 

“At 6:45 a.m., I text, ‘You safe?’ No response. I hit snooze. I wake at 7:10 a.m. to a voicemail from Derek’s phone. I hit play. My heart goes to my throat. ‘Mrs. Lavender, this is David from hospital. We need you here as soon as possible.’ When I get there, they pass me a black motorcycle helmet. The glass is smashed. I watch a tooth bounce to the floor. Shock hits.”

‘At 15, I became pregnant with my daughter. I had to raise a child while still growing up myself. I received hate and rumors spread.’ Teen mom beats the odds to graduate college and ‘reach success’

“Everyone recognized me by pregnant belly, rather than by my face. I dealt with dirty looks and whispers in the hallways. In college, I got pregnant with my son. It wasn’t easy. I have been in abusive relationships, been days away from planning a wedding, only to find out I was ‘only an option.’ I wanted to give up, on everything. But I was strong for my children.”

‘I made the decision to cut my mom out of my life. Now that I’m a mom, I wish she was there to guide me. I wish my children knew her. But I know she won’t change.’ Mom explains heartbreaking decision to protect her kids

“There were no I love you’s. I remember her spending a lot of time in bed, flying off the handle easily, expecting a lot out of everyone while she gave the minimum. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Was she a drug addict? Or was she just a bad person? I vow to give my children everything my mom could not give me.”

‘It was a long time ago. Get over it!’ I was the victim. I thought my family would hold me. Instead, I was blamed.’: Woman admits brother’s sexual abuse, ‘forgiveness doesn’t mean you must have a relationship with your abuser’

“I sent my brother an email. ‘I was a wake last night.’ He never came into my bedroom at night again. When it came time for my wedding years later, my mom insisted I do things ‘her way.’ She wanted my brother to stand beside my husband. We danced around it, but nothing worked. I had to tell her what my brother did to me. ‘How could you do this to us? You’re tearing our family apart,’ I was told. For years, I tried to navigate this deep, dark pit and find light. She threw me back into the dirt.”

‘He lit my insides on fire. So, I did it. I married him. My body signaled that something was off. I pegged it as nerves. I didn’t know about the pools of women.’ Woman breaks free from abusive relationship 

“It was the same with everyone. The same love songs, the same pet names, the same date night spots, the same EVERYTHING. In a ten-day period, he cheated with 3 people. He played it off as him being drunk and stupid. I believed it at the time. I didn’t tell friends or family. ‘If I can’t even make a marriage work, what else will I fail at?!’ I kept it private, until things began to boil.”

‘Come feel this,’ the doctor said. I put my hand on her belly. My heart sank.’ Mom recalls daughter’s rare cancer diagnosis after thinking it was just an ‘umbilical cord hernia’

“I snapped the traditional well-check picture of my daughter sitting on the exam table, bragging about our healthy girl. We were about to walk out with a good bill of health when the doctor asked me if I had any concerns. That’s when I remembered her large tummy. He laid her down on the exam table, and his face quickly changed to reflect my concern.”

‘Mom, my hip really hurts.’ She spiked a fever. I went to bed that night screaming, ‘Please don’t take my baby!’: 16-year-old girl diagnosed with Bone cancer, shows up to prom ‘proud, bald, and beautiful’

“Mattie complained pain was radiating down the back of her leg. ‘Welcome to the club. You’ve inherited our family hip problems!’ I really didn’t think much of it. Then, a light bulb went off. ‘Don’t you think it’s strange she’s just 16 and has this much pain?’ After blood work and an x-ray, we learned the fateful news. I looked at my sweet, beautiful girl and could not believe it.”

‘You’re an angel,’ he said to me after a night of being told I was worthless. The sun started to shine through the window, it reeked of booze and I had yet to sleep. I wanted to be that ‘angel.’

“My grandma passed away, and everything came crumbling down around me. I was alone. I needed him more than anything now. I needed his support, I needed him to hold me and listen to the speech I had prepared for her funeral. Instead, he did the exact opposite. ‘I need space,’ he said. SPACE?!”

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