I’m the Living Proof!

I’m the Living Proof!

My life has been a very difficult journey, but difficult in different ways than many others. I do not remember a time in my life, before the age of 13, without sexual abuse happening to me on a consistent basis. I lived in a home with four brothers and my two parents. Parents who had five children by their ages of 25 and 27. My parents were both the oldest children in their families and I believe got pregnant and married to be able to get out of their homes. My three older brothers, cousins, and brothers’ friends were my abusers. Eight in total. Life was difficult because I never knew when I would be abused or when I would be safe. I did learn to “read” people and their intentions because of these childhood events.
When I was in the 6th grade I became pregnant and within a few months I had a miscarriage. Finally when I was in the 7th grade I realized that this wasn’t the way my friends were living their lives and that this wasn’t how love was shown. I finally gained the strength to stop this from happening to me ever again. Although I did have a cousin who continued to try to abuse me after that I had the strength to stop him every time he tried.

Because of these events in my life I had a very difficult time with learning, specifically reading. I was at the beginning 2nd grade reading level when in the 5th grade, which made every subject difficult. Through some counseling I learned that the reading difficulty was possibly due to the fact that I had trouble comprehending what was happening in my life so how could I really comprehend words when my whole self was focused on staying alive. I did a one point attempt to commit suicide, but could not push the butcher knife through my skin.

My brothers always told me that I would end up dead, be a drug addict or a prostitute by the time I turned 20. I proved them wrong as I now have a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Development. I taught Adapted Physical Education for 31 years and am a national ranked power lifter at the age of 63 (64 in July). I also raised an amazing son who I had through donor insemination 31 years ago…I was a trend setter 🙂 I was able to stop the cycle of abuse and the physical abuse all of us kids endured at the hands of my father. I knew that I would never lay a hand on my child and he would grow up happy, healthy, and confident. My son is my number one biggest accomplishment in my life.

When in my undergraduate schooling, as a Physical Education Major I was required to write an autobiography. On my second attempt to write to autobiography, (I lied completely on the first one) I choose to write about my life in a series of poems. This was the first time I ever had written about my life or really took the time to try to understand my childhood. I realized then that being involved with sports saved my life. It gave me an outlet and a place that I could be without having to interact with men (no men were coaching women’s sports at that time). While in high school I played every sport I could, (six each year) so that I didn’t have to go home right after school and be there with my brothers. They found pleasure in tormenting me any way they could, shooting me with BB guns, throwing baseballs at me as fast as they could, and just any other behavior that caused me pain and fear.

Once out of the house I went to jr college just to be away from home. Again, I had difficulty with learning and graduated from jr college with a 2.0 grade average. I did also play sports in jr college and then in my university years . Although it took me another 6 years to finish my last two years of college I graduated with a 4.3 GPA, played on a nationally ranked field hockey team, was the Physical Education Grand Marshall and awarded the Tower Award, which was given to the student who demonstrated the highest degree of teaching potential.

Sports have always been a safe place for me and that continues to this day. I have always been athletic and involved in. Any sport I could find I enjoyed. Fast forward to two years ago when I tried CrossFit for the first time. I joined for a 6 week master’s trial program that would end three days before my scheduled hip replacement. Seven weeks later I was back at CrossFit and then started with power lifting at my gym. In August I will be competing in my first National level power lifting competition that I qualified for through other competitions. I now hold the Arizona State Records in the Back Squat, Bench Press and Dead lift. My hope is to be competitive at the National competition and I am training for that now.

I have never had confidence in myself, in my abilities, intelligence or physical appearance. This sport has been so good for me and has helped me gain the confidence in myself that I was always lacking. Although there are still times when my self talk isn’t positive I am so much stronger and more positive than I have ever been. It’s been a long hard journey, but I do believe that I am the living proof that one can overcome any struggles they have if they find a place to belong and feel safe in that environment.

This incredible story was shared by a human named Donna