I'm tired of hiding,
tired of wearing a mask,
of always being afraid,
and always looking behind me.
I've decided I want healing. I know it comes at a price, and I'm willing to pay. The emotional price of healing is quite high and that one no one can pay for except me; I've decided now, nearly 15 years after leaving the cult that I am ready to cleanse my soul and be free of my demons, but the monetary price tag is also high. I've decided to humble myself and ask for the help of my human brothers and sisters to look and me with love in their eyes and compassion in their hearts as I'm on this healing journey.
Let me start at the beginning so those who do not know me can catch up and those who know some can fill in the blanks. I will start with a poem and then move on with my story.
Who am I?
I am one of many.
I am often unheard.
Sometimes I have felt important.
More often invisible.
I am often told to “Speak Up!”
But when I do, I’m told to be honest and this is not how it happened.
Instead what they should say is
“Speak what you were Taught.”
Sometimes I’m allowed to talk about the past briefly
Then I’m reprimanded for letting my mind wander and reminded
“It’s not that way anymore”
No - They are right, But why do I still dream of it every night?
I’m told “Be bold, be true to yourself!”
How is this possible after being raised to hide my very thoughts and feelings?
To always act as if I understand exactly what is happening and smile regardless
Believing that “faking it” is in fact working, while in my head, I’m scrambling.
Alone people will be my friend, hold my hand
Together, my secrets are just too dark, the truths denied, I am alone.
I wrote this poem, trying to piece my life together without having to take the bold steps forward that I am now choosing to take. I have realized though, there is no other path towards a full, complete and productive life that does not include Food Stamps, SSI, Disability, etc without walking this path as uncomfortable as it is. I have decided that my life is worth it and that I want that life.
I did not have a "normal" childhood. I never had the opportunity to attend school, I didn't socialize with other children as adults were considered to be better for my intellect. I studied, memorized, and meditated on huge portions of the King James Bible "Day and Night." I had great respect (respect might be putting it mildly) for my parents because they demanded it. Physical, emotional, and mental punishments were all too common and being "broken" was considered a good thing.
While "living the life”, I had no contact with the outside world. I wore homemade clothes including ankle-length dresses and head-coverings. The only music I was allowed to listen to was classical and hymns, because as you know, beats are of the devil, as is contemporary Christian music and practically everything else.
By the time I was four my grandfather had sexually molested me, but this was hidden (although I'm not sure why, because he did end up going to jail for molesting some of his foster daughters). He continued to be touted as a "Godly" man until his dying days despite his never ending looks, touching and comments toward me (This wasn't the only sexual abuse I endured as a youngster, but I just don't really want to get into it here).
I was taught that having "friends" wasn't admirable. It was better to have "disciples" (students/admirers). I was also taught that their are few choices for a woman in life.
A). Sex object
E). Senior Care Provider
F). All of the above
My biological parents convinced me that the studies of midwifery were next to Godliness and that I could save the world one baby at a time. So I started attending deliveries and at the ripe old age of 17 and even I delivered my mother's 7th child at home under the scruntenious eye of my birth-father. (There is so much wrong with that I won't begin to untangle it for you).
By the time I was 22, I was severely depressed, convinced no prince in shining armor was ever coming (wasn't sure I wanted one, but I wanted to escape), I was sure I was an Old Maid by the cult standards, and I weighed about 100 pounds at 5'7" no thanks to the food control, manipulation, and mind games my parents had been playing. I had the emotional age of probably an 8-year old child, but was wise beyond my years; abuse will do that to you.
A fellow midwife came to help me with a few births and ultimately rescued me from the situation. She took me to New York to live with her and try to recover. The "tearing away" from my biological family was like a scene from a horror movie. It was severe and intense, no sweet goodbye. I literally left with the clothes on my back and my hairbrush. I left my whole life.
The next two years were filled with emotional abuse as my birth-parents tried to lure me back and didn't know how to let go. I can't say I benefited much from them.
Fast forward to now. I've mostly hidden and been afraid. I have some severe mental health disorders that have been caused by trauma. No kidding. Anyway, I've been told I can either live like I do and just survive, or I can pour my life into recovery and actually heal. I have decided to heal. I have been diagnosed with BPD, PTSD, DID, and now I have the emotional age of a 12-15 year old (I guess I'm improving).
Most recently my mental health issues have caused me to lose my full-time job with Disney, lose my apartment, and become very physically sick due to psychologically based reasons.
I have always and currently still am unsuccessful in developing relationships (especially intimate ones), maintaining stable housing, or keeping a job (even part-time). I struggle as ordinary items, sights, sounds, and smells will trigger me and send me into a “flight or fight” mode. I have night terrors that torment me nightly and cause me to greet the morning worn out both mentally and physically. The emotions I experience, I experience to a much greater intensity than most, causing pain to sear deeper and highs to be higher; these mountains and valleys make for a wild ride with an unwilling rider.
I’m one of the most caring, empathetic people I know, but I struggle with boundaries because of my past abuse and my feeling responsible for other’s feelings. This causes the lines between you and me to blur. I over analyze everything and assume you are mad at me or don’t want me around and to protect myself from forcing you to tell me these things, I create space between us, and pretty soon, I honestly don’t know if we are friends because we haven’t talked in months or years.
These are just the top layer of my many trauma-based issues. I still want to be the best version on myself, set goals and do everything I can to overcome, because, I know I can be an overcomer.
I’ve been battling my demons for over 20 years now and I’m so ready to put the past behind me and move on. While I have tried so hard on my own with a private counselor in a once a week out-patient setting, almost nothing has changed.
When I went to this facility (Pasadena Villa) last July for two months, I progressed, changed, learned more than I have the in rest of the last 20 years combined. So as you can imagine, being given the opportunity to go back is not something I want to miss. This is not an incredibly comfortable place to be and I work hard every day (Its much like being in college).
I have been strongly encouraged to move into the residential treatment program where they can work with me 24/7 and address a huge number of issues simultaneously. Previously I've paid a large amount of money for therapy and groups, but the time and space between them causes us to spend a lot of time catching back up from where we were, and recovering lost space. This is one of the reasons that this has been recommended. Also, they can help me eventually be able to move on toward getting normal work and being able to maintain an apartment (and find a roommate) and re-acclimate into traditional society.
I started treatment on Valentines Day (2/14/2018). I don't know how long it will take, but I know I'm in it for the long haul and it's not a quick process. It can take months, even a year to get on your feet, but I pledge to give it my all, my best effort and get out of bed every day trying my utmost to recover and be all I can.
The treatment isn't cheap, but it is necessary. Because of my financial situation, I am being charged a lower daily rate than usual. Treatment normally costing $1,950 a day is costing me “only” $700 a day, $21,000 a month. In addition to normal living arrangements, this also covers:
a weekly visit with a psychiatrist
two (or more) visits weekly with my Therapist
two (or more) visits weekly with my Therapist Intern
a visit every other week with a Physician's Assistant
Nursing care (medication management)
Also covered are groups from 10am-6pm Including:
Disordered Eating Groups
and ... So Much More including:
Gym Membership to the YMCA
Volunteer Opportunities to stay involved in the Community
I'm hoping within a month or so of staying at the Villa to progress enough to move to their "community housing" (which is still supervised housing but not considered “in-patient”). The cost will drop to between $515 and $585 a day. Everything except the housing situation will be the same except, and I will be responsible to provide my own breakfast and dinner.
The goal amount is based on one month of treatment with one month in the villa and 11 months in community housing. The first month has now been paid for, so I am looking to raise about $16,000 each month after that.
I feel bad talking about my money problems with friends and family, but I really don't know what else to do, where else to go. If you would like to contribute something I will be immensely grateful (honestly, no amount is too small).
I have set up donor reward levels and will honor you with small tokens of thanks through my "fan art" (The Disney Character art that has greatly been my joy and comfort through my healing process so far!)
If you want to mail me something, please mail to:
119 Pasadena Place
Orlando, Florida 32803
I’m done hiding in the shadows. Time does not heal all wounds.
I would love to hear from you.
I really appreciate ALL the support you give in so many ways. Thank you for being there. Whether that’s a one-time financial assistance, a monthly help while I’m in treatment, a letter or card with a word of encouragement, or even just your prayers or a positive thought in my direction. I truly am grateful for the role each of you had in my life so far and look forward to reuniting when we get the chance.
Feel free to forward this on if you think someone else may be interested in helping get my life back and reclaiming it as my own.
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- Bill Youhass
- Dianne Stengel
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