October 5, 2016

A New Dawn

My name is Dawn Armstrong. At a glance…I appear to be the typical “happy human” and I am. I love life, and have a deep passion for living every second of it. I have full heart, with lots of people I cherish gathered around me. Oh how I love being ALIVE!!

What you can’t tell from first glance, is that I, am a warrior. My beginnings were humble. I grew up extremely poor. I grew up without parents. I grew up without love or nurturing. I grew up watching and experiencing abuse and neglect in all forms. I grew up scared. Scared of everything that could and did happen to me. Scared of losing my mother to her habits or to her abusers, as she struggled to have 2 children at the age of 16. Her battles with addictions were a daily struggle. I come from a very long line of broken people. Generation after generation of women who had broken hearts and broken spirits, who were unable to see their way clear.

By the age of barely 15, I just wanted out. I wanted to breathe. I didn’t want to be scared anymore. The fear of homelessness and not having food seemed to be an easy trade off at the time.  For the next four years I didn’t realize I would trade one hell for another. I looked for love and acceptance in all the wrong places. I would make several bad choices. I would fall in love with a young man who came from an abusive home too, and I would let him continue that cycle on me.

At that time, I  had no concept of the value of life. Especially the value of my life. I took any treatment that he dished out, because I knew that I deserved it. I was nothing. I had never been special or important to anyone my whole life. I felt lucky that he loved me, or at least cared enough to stick around.

A month before my 16th birthday I became pregnant. I was homeless. I was lost. I had a baby I wasn’t ready for. I had to be a mother, not knowing what mothers do. It was terrifying.

Desperate to make our relationship work, I gave up more and more of myself trying to become what he wanted. A year later I would find myself pregnant again. I continued to deal with our consequences alone. I was too young to sign a lease for an apartment, so I had to face some tough choices. My baby needed a warm place to sleep and food in his tummy. Eventually I swallowed my pride and looked for help. We lived in a homeless shelter until my 18th birthday. That was the day I signed a lease for my first apartment. Man….I thought I had arrived!

During all that time, I never lost sight of what I wanted for Anthony. I just couldn’t find a way to change anything. My age was a problem and it kept me from being able to put more of my fate in my own hands. My 18th birthday felt like the shackles were off. I was going to make it, cause now I had control of what happens to me. I was hopeful that I the worst was over and I could finally be ok. I looked down at my little boy and thought, “We are going to be fine. I will never, ever let us be homeless again.” I was determined to make this a true statement. 

Five months later my boyfriend left us for good, and I would give birth to my second child, completely alone. 

My hard life was now even harder. The thought of being a lone in raising my sons was crippling. Little did I know, that I would have the hardest three months of my life and by the end of it, I would watch my child die right next to me. I grieved his death completely alone. 

That was the day any innocence I had left,  died too. Everything was spinning and I couldn’t stop the ride. I was devoid of all feeling, because if I let any of it in…I had to let all of it in.

The first feeling I let in was HATE. I hated myself. I hated God. I finally cried foul. I wondered where he was all my life, while I was down here in hell?

For a while…time stood still. When you hate everything and everyone, the world is grey with  no meaning, no hope. You stand still while everything else seems to fast forward around you, moving on to the business of the day. I was empty. I had no “try” left in me. Bitterness could not adequately describe the resentment that was my life. My heart closed. I distanced myself from my oldest son. I was so afraid to love anything knowing it could be snatched away.  I went through the motions of keeping my son alive, but it wasn’t motherhood. I was just trying to keep him breathing. To keep me breathing.

I didn’t want to live anymore. I prayed for God to let me die over and over. There was no escape from this grief and suffering. I resented him for not granting me this one wish after giving me a life time of nothing. I constantly questioned God’s existence at all, wondering what kind of God could let this happen to me? What kind of God would not love ALL of his children? 

Well, in the midst my commitment to hate and bitterness, God was working miracles. When you are in the dead center of your rock bottom, you can’t see anything but grief and sorrow. It’s thick and it’s suffocating.  Joy becomes completely unrecognizable. You are blind to all of the people and blessings God puts in your path to let you know that He sees, that He knows.

I wish I had the time to tell you all of it, but I can tell you this… God is the author of perfect love. 

If we put a dollar value to grief, rooms couldn’t hold our riches. Each struggle we face here in our mortal journey, no matter how painstaking…will become some of the most valuable currency there is.
We become liberated from grief and trauma when we allow ourselves to feel it and let it change us. That is what those experiences are meant to teach.

Sometimes, when we are in the midst of the healing process, just when we think we can’t fall any further….we find the strength to stand. We get up, and we LIVE. We LOVE. We solider on and get a vision of life that only warriors have.

We can do this!

Come stand with us on October 22nd as we discuss courage, hope, faith, and getting back to the life we have always dreamed of.

You can find more information at A Reason to Stand. Also check out our interview on Fresh Living

Dawn L. Armstrong is a highly sought after motivational & inspirational speaker for all venues. Audiences are captivated as she shares her incredible life experiences. She believes strongly in people’s ability to overcome anything that this life can throw at them. She treasures the opportunity to help other realize their potential, their power and the beauty that lies within all of us. As the Former Director of Bariatric and Weight Management Services at St. Mark’s Hospital she specialized in addiction recovery, motivational workshops, clinical care & sensitivity training. Dawn was the first to achieve several national awards for excellence in the State of Utah. She has also served as a mentor for the People Helping People foundation, who’s mission is to create opportunity and aid for young single mothers, bringing them out of statistics and back onto the road to success. She works with youth, men and women around the world helping them overcome their deepest pains. Dawn recently started a blog called lovedawn.com where she tackles life, one love letter at a time. Look for her book, “A New Dawn” due in stores next year. 

**You can also learn more about Dawn and her story on the movie Meet the Mormons that aired in theaters October 2014.


Brittany Lemmon Art said...

Yay go Dawn! I just want to hear more about your story.

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