On March 11, 2011, I remember waking up with a drive to find something. That was the day I got on my knees and prayed for one answer…one miracle. Looking in from the outside you would have never known that for months I was living in panic mode. I knew something was wrong…I searched for hours while Emmett was at work, even started digging through his garbage and trying to hack his phone when he was in the shower… but never did find anything…until it was too late.
So what was I searching for? What did I pray for that morning? You see, I had this amazing life. I had just given birth to my fifth child. My husband, Emmett, had recently passed the bar and was already running a successful law firm. We had bought our dream house right out of law school. I could honestly say I had checked all my boxes (the ones we make in our head about everything we want to be) and I was only 28 years old. Family, success, faith, love…I was living my dream life. I never could have predicted the storm that was heading my way.
On that Friday night he left in a furry after I begged him to stay. He left anyway. About 10:00 I felt a panic unlike any I had felt before. I called and text him. No answer. I rocked our crying newborn baby for hours that night, promising him that everything was going to be ok. I know he felt it too, he had never cried like that before. Something was wrong.
17 hours after getting up off my knees that morning praying to find it…there it was, and it wasn’t just one answer…it was all of it, everything I had been spending so much time searching for.
In the dark of the night I sat across from 3 strangers on my black leather couch. They told a story about another woman, an affair, an angry husband, and a gun. Two bullets, one in his heart and one in his head. Emmett was gone, and he died fighting for another woman.
I often am asked what it felt like, sitting on the couch that night. It felt like an ending. It felt like a torture chamber. It felt like my breath was ripped out of my chest and for the next few years I was only allowed to breathe through a straw. It felt like being trapped in a fishbowl…with the whole world looking in watching to see me fail. It felt like darkness took over my body and my mind and I was trapped in a fog of words that only spoke of my insignificance and worthlessness.
That fog didn’t leave for a very long time. That voice in my head urged me to not only hate that other woman, her husband…and the man I created my life with…it beckoned me to hate myself and give up all faith.
They say your body doesn’t forget, it remembers those moments of trauma to try to keep you safe. I will never forget that moment on my sofa when the world caved in on me. I spent years fighting anxiety, depression, intense fear and extreme embarrassment. I dragged myself to a murder trial, this time with all the answers…all the while seeking one final one. Why wasn’t I enough? I lived in the fog of the voice in my head for years, never understanding a few simple things. Believing the lies…forgetting my truth. I was stuck.
When Dateline interviewed me after the trial, that was the first time I had said the whole story out loud. I thought it would be the last.
In 2014 I was given a miracle. God asked me to write my story. A blog was born and in a few short weeks a million people had read it. Writing my story would become the stepping stone of finding my pathway to healing. Owning who I was and finding grace in my story.
I used to think that healing was going to look like refusing to accept my story and getting back the person I was before that night—remembering who I was before the world tried to break me. Now I know that it is because of my story that I am who I am today.
After years of doing events—our nonprofit A Reason to Stand—I have loved watching this community of survivors stand and learn united together.
I am excited to bring that unity and knowledge to you through this website—with courses on topics that are in my heart. With tools that have carried me and strengthened my faith and trust in God, in my family…and in myself. Thank you for showing up here with me. I know these courses will help you on your healing journey and I am humbled to be apart of them. I pray you will see light on your path and see the role that grace can—and has—played in your story. I know you will see a new choice in forgiveness, a different way to show up as yourself, and have new tools to create and find joy.
Your story isn’t holding you back…the lies are. You have the power to change it…to choose a new story, to write a new chapter.
One day we will have all the answers…for now we must seek the light one day at a time. You aren’t alone. Today you get to do something—maybe for the first time—choose you. You are enough…you always were.
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