My name is Julie and my story is not uncommon nor is it anything spectacular but it is through my story that I learned the strength I had within. And the strength we can all have if given the opportunity to dig deep.
My story starts out like most, I fell in love with a man and after only a few months we decided we were ready for the next step in life. We married and I was happier than I could've ever imagined. Growing up you dream of the day when you can find someone who will love and cherish you into the eternities, and that is exactly what I felt I got. He was a good man and although there were some signs that would cause issues later in the marriage I choose to overlook them. After all they were in the past.
After only a few months we became pregnant and we could not have been happier. Everything it seemed was going perfectly.
It wasn't long after I became pregnant that things started to change, he became more distant, more agitated, and something was off. I could feel it! But he refused to open up. I chalked it up to being a newlywed as well as the added stress of pregnancy. But things didn't improve and I didn't know why.
I can't tell you how much I pleaded with him and God to understand why he was refusing to tell me what I had done. Because in my mind it was my fault that our marriage was failing.
A few months later he admitted an addiction that I thought has been repented of was back and I admit I panicked. The next while was filled with hurtful words and even more painful was the feeling that it was me. And that I was never good enough. It doesn't matter what went on because ultimately I learned from it but at that the time my mind was numb. And I became a shell of who I really was.
This continued but finally I made the decision to leave. I went to my parents house at seven months pregnant and it was there that I began to feel whole again. I laughed, I read books, I gained weight finally, and overall I realized that abuse that I had endured without realizing it.
The reason I left? It was to give my daughter the opportunity to grow up in a home where she could feel safe. Where she could see her mother and father happy and come to understand that her family situation was not ideal but she was created from two people who had loved her deeply.
I gave birth a few months later and although there were nights that I cried myself to sleep because it all was too much there were more wonderful moments that cannot be expressed. My life felt full again and I knew that my baby was the reason I was healthy and happy. She was my rock. Deep down I knew that she was almost too perfect for the world but I ignored those feelings hoping that they were false.
After three and a half months with her and starting up the divorce documents we spent Christmas together. The next day she was fussy and I just knew, all mothers know the feeling, we always know when there is something terribly wrong. She had contracted bacterial meningitis and after a week and a half in the ICU with my beautiful baby we knew that it was time to let go. We took her off life support and she died two weeks later surrounded by family who loved her.
I was left with no marriage, no child, and no idea where to go from there. I pleaded to know why my life was so very different from where I meant it to go, and why at 22 I had endured all that I had. But slowly I realized that it shaped me into someone stronger then I could've ever imagined. Inside me was a person who knew pain and sorrow. But, there was also someone who has gone through everything and up into the last moment of my baby's life I had endured it well.
There were people who began to come to me for advice. And I learned that my experiences were to help others. Yes, the painful stuff is not ideal and not the mask I wanted to have, but I learned that I am wonderful and beautiful and everything I had hoped I would be. I also knew those who were going through similar experiences also needed to know that pain ends.
I feel I know too much sometimes and only being 25 I have much more to learn but looking back I would never take anything back. Nothing. It's part of who I am and without it I would not be me!
Through this experience I have learned to stand for what I know to be right. And I began a charity drive to celebrate my daughter at the local children's hospital. When I was inside with my baby I saw so many families who had been through so much more then me. And it hurt me to know that some of those precious children may never have a 'normal' Christmas with those families...when I did. Because I had felt a fraction of that pain I knew how hard it is to be in a hospital so the last three years I collect toys and gift cards to give to those families. I wanted them to know that there may be days when they feel no one cares. But I do. In a way I suppose that helped me to cope with my loss, knowing I was serving others lessened my pain immensely.
I suppose what I've learned is that things happen to you. To he honest you can't control it either. But when you turn outward there is so much more good you can do.
Pain never goes away. But it does dull if you let it :) My name is Julie. Even after divorce and the loss of my daughter I have found strength. I will stand.
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