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Changing our story

November 20, 2023

I grew up in Germany under difficult circumstances. My parents met post World War 2, and had several children, then in 1962 my mother contracted polio while being pregnant with twins. That started a roller coaster of a life for us. Living separated for a while during the hospitalization of my mother, moving back together and really not knowing each other and growing up in poverty and struggle made for a difficult childhood. On top of that my oldest brother was a psychopath and very abusive. Growing up in this dysfunction made life for all of us difficult. Everyone of us 6 surviving the trauma moved in different directions in life and tried to survive and regain some way of health. We were not closely connected as a family and really don’t have much contact with each other. The trauma of our childhood left deep scars. Science and research has caught up with the fact that trauma causes so many changes in our minds, our hearts, our bodies. On the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) scale I have a perfect score of 10!

Three weeks from now the living 6 siblings will get together for the first time in 40 years. I am looking forward to this visit with joy and trepidation. Joy, to be together, trepidation because our trauma has left deep scars and we don’t often talk about it, we all just coped in various ways.

When I was 16 living on the streets in Germany a young man introduced me to the God of the Bible, and for the first time in my life I found hope to survive. That started my path of counseling, healing, classes, more healing, trauma, more healing and for the past 50 years I have been recovering and growing.

When I speak to the ‘lifers’ at the Chowchilla prison they often ask if I have forgiven my brother. My answer is always the same: every day. Every day that I struggle through something, I have to forgive, Every day that I feel insecure, or have my walls up, or can’t comprehend things, I need to forgive. Not for my brother’s sake, but for my own. I am changing my story from being the victim of violent crimes, to being the best person I can be with the trauma that I have experienced. I am changing my story by using my trauma to help others. I am changing my story, learning to trust God more every day, and stand in the gap for others.

As we prepare to go to Germany, I recognize that not every family member has dealt with the trauma, and for some this is more than they can handle. But I also know that there is an invisible bond between us, and I am thankful for another opportunity to make this bond stronger.

While I am not thankful for the trauma I experienced, I am thankful for God’s grace in my life, and for the opportunities to help others through difficult times.

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