“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” If you share my faith, (or even if you do not – you are MORE than welcome here!), you may know that this is from Luke 12:48. But I believe that this can resonate with everyone, regardless of what you believe. If I have abundant love and joy in my heart, it is absolutely my responsibility to humbly share it with others. I want inspo&grace to be a place that you can come welcome, and leave feeling inspired and with resources to shine your light in your family, your community, and the world. I want it to be a counter-source for all of the sad, hard truths that we see day in and day out – the pain, the conflicts, the suffering, the injustice. I want this to be a place where you can find the good things in this life!
But I also want you to know, that you STILL have that light, even if you are broken. Friend, even if on your best day, that light is dim – it’s still used to fight against the darkness. Even if it gets close to completely going out, like mine once did, I am here to tell you that it can shine brighter than ever before again someday. I want you to know that there is hope. Hope that where you may be, or have been, doesn’t last forever. I am living, breathing truth that joy truly does come in the morning.
So I am here today to share a story about my life – a time when my light was very, very dim.
I was 15. A sophomore in high school, to be exact. And I loved my life! I had an incredible family, the greatest friends, I had already made varsity track by freshman year, played basketball, was getting straight A’s, crushed it on the drumline, was a decent enough singer to make the top choirs, spent long weekends at leadership and career-planning seminars, and was already on my way to becoming bilingual. You know, so that I could change the world by being able to help people in not one, but TWO languages. My heart was full and my dreams were big. And that was the year I met my first love.
He was a senior, was one of the best snare drummers I had ever seen (oh, the things we are attracted to in high school!), and he pursued me in a way most 15 year olds only dream of. He showed up at my house with flowers, he blindfolded me and took me to a beautiful local park where he had set up an entire picnic under the stars, he showed my parents the utmost respect, and he happily hung out with all of my friends. I fell as in love with him as anyone that age possibly could.
But the more “in love” we were, the more I started only ever wanting to hang out with just him. Alll of the time. 24/7. Anyone ever in a high school relationship? Sound familiar? I started hanging out with my friends less, and even my family less. It was all great, because I was so extremely happy – for the first year.
He went off to college an hour away, and I felt so special dating a “college boy” while finishing my last years in high school. But in a matter of 2-3 months, he snapped.
In hindsight, I had been somewhat forewarned by his ex that he had been controlling, but I thought this was different. The relationship and person she described was not who I knew at all. But I was in for a rude awakening. It started with comments like “Why do you wear your pants so tight? Are you trying to have guys look at your a**?” or “You know those guys (ie. my coworkers) only talk to you because they want to get with you. You need to stop leading them on.” He started making sure that we were completely isolating ourselves from the world. If we ever saw each other, he never wanted to be with either of our families or friends. He never came to anything I invited him to with other people….or if he did, he spent the entire time making snide comments quietly to me about how I was being too flirtatious with everyone I was talking to. When I visited him at his college, we never went out like normal college kids do. We sat in his dorm room and I watched him practice drumming, but was never really welcome to talk about how things were going in my life back home. He started giving me the silent treatment – the cold, hard, wouldn’t answer his phone or text me back for DAYS, silent treatment. And I would beg him to tell me what was wrong. Beg him to let me come visit him so we could talk and I could apologize for whatever I had done. One time…he didn’t talk to me for four days, which happened to fall right around our anniversary. I spent hours that weekend working on a picture collage with all of our memories and little notes beside them. But I cried the entire time I made it. Partly because he wasn’t talking to me, and partly desperately hoping that once he saw this collage, he would love me again. When he answered the phone on my 114th call, he said he hadn’t answered because his sister told him I was really good friends with another guy in band. That was it. He proceeded to call me a slut more times in our relationship than I can count.
But here are the worst details of it all. And I might need to warn you, this gets a little intense. After days of not speaking to me, then making me feel ashamed to a degree I pray I never feel again…he would drive the hour back, and show up at my door, and stay for hours. He would hold me as I cried and tell me how much he loved me and cared about me. How we would be together forever, and we would work any of our problems out. He made me forget how horrible he had just been. He would take us back through all of our best moments in our early relationship, and say how we can get those back, but only if I start behaving. You guys, I feel sick even writing that. Ugh.
I went through a few stages. When it first changed, I kept thinking it was temporary, and things would go back to “normal.” The second stage was acceptance of what had changed, but hoping that he would realize his wrongdoings and change for the better. The third was the darkest stage. It was the only time in my life when I felt true, dark, deep depression. I had succumbed to it all. I knew it was wrong, but I felt too far gone to get out. I was desperate to make a man who didn’t deserve an ounce of me, love me. So on top of the progressive emotional and psychological abuse, this the part of the story where the sexual abuse began. I will spare you, and especially my family who may read this, the details. But I fell for it. I gave in, because I felt like I had no other choice. I had completely shut out my family, I had distanced myself from all of my friends, I was faking smiles at school, and had a make-up bag in my purse for the never-ending days of needing to cover up my puffy, tear-filled eyes. Someone who barely knew me, later (after it all) told me, that she thought my “light was almost completely out,” when she saw me at school. My light was so dim. I felt so alone.
And finally, it happened.
He was berating me so badly in the car one day, that I had to slink down in my seat. I shudder at the memory, because I remember exactly which intersection we were at. We lived in a small town, and if anyone pulled up next to us and saw how hard I was crying, who knows what would have happened. He finally yelled at me, “If you don’t stop crying so much, I’m going to hit you!” …..
He didn’t. But I didn’t need to find out if he ever would. I know now that that moment was a gift from God. He was telling me to GET OUT NOW. And over the next month, I did. It took me a few weeks, but my backbone and my will grew stronger every passing hour. I finally had the strength to break up with him. I wish that was the end of the story, but hold tight in your seats for just a moment more. That first night, he told me he was going to kill himself. Over the next week, he stalked me. He missed a final to follow me home from school. One day I saw his car in my rearview mirror in town and decided I had had enough. He sat in my car and pulled out a seven-page letter that said everything he had ever done to hurt me, and how he would make it right. How he would never treat me like that again. Pardon my language, but I didn’t shed a damn tear. When he got done, I told him he needed to get back in his car and drive home; I’d had enough of this. When I drove away, he was slumped over his wheel, bawling his eyes out. I didn’t look back. But you guys, when I got home and my parents (who I had texted that I was safe and on my way back after seeing him) were standing in our doorway – I collapsed into their arms. I took my life back that week, but in that moment, all of my strength had been depleted. But they were there for me, they always had been. And I was finally ready to let them back into my heart again.
Back to the present. Just now, as I write these words, I feel so, so sad for that girl. That young, innocent girl who went through so much, all before even becoming a legal adult. But if I could write her a letter to warn her what was going to happen…I wouldn’t.
There was a plan for that girl’s life. And that pain was part of it. I LOVE who I am today. I heard this statement recently and I knew I had to say it in this post: That trial by fire did not burn me, it forged me. It prepared me to be molded into the woman I was meant to become. The strength I have, the morals, the compassion, the strong backbone but with the outstretched, humble hands – they came into existence because of experiences like that. As painful as they were, I wouldn’t change them for anything. And over time, as
I lost my bitterness, forgave him and closed that chapter of my life with peace, and saw the good that came from it all, I truly am thankful that it was part of my journey.
My life is an imperfect masterpiece. A masterpiece that through the pain, the trials, the joy, and the laughter, that I cannot wait to see continue to unfold.
So much love to you all, thank you for reading <3
XoXo Lindsey Sholtis