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Welcome to Belovedgems, a blog about building a bridge between faith and mental health. The author rooted in her faith , her old-soul leads her into adventures to seek spreading hope into the world through a couple of written words.

I am a Survivor!

By: Maria Lourdes Castillo

My Story:
I am a Survivor.  I suffered from very low self-esteem and hatred.  Not hatred about life or people, but hatred of myself.  I never loved what I saw in the mirror.  I thought I was hideous, garbage, unworthy, unlovable, despicable, overweight, and pathetic.  Who in their right mind could love someone so ridiculously simple?  I hated myself!  I never once could face the fact that I never felt beautiful.  Then I met my soon to be ex-husband (don’t worry I’ll explain this).  For the sake of argument let’s call him Joe.  He made me feel like I could actually love myself.  I felt hot, attractive, sexy, appreciated, and loved.  He treated me like royalty (for a bit anyway).  Never wanted to share me with anyone but that’s how much he loved me. 
Joe during our courtship was very controlling.  But I didn't notice him being controlling, he loved me.  He isn’t controlling me, he just loves me so much he doesn’t want to share me with anyone.  When I met him he was on probation, but I was taught never to judge a book by its cover and people deserve second chances.  He didn't have a job, he didn’t go to school, he wasn't religious; actually he was everything my parents would never approve of.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?  I am sure everyone already sees the DON’T ENTER SIGN, right?  Well I didn't see these warnings or caution signs, all I saw “someone actually likes me”.  I finally was normal.  Joe was popular, he had so many friends.  I had “arrived”. Wrong I felt more out of place than ever and quickly was losing who I truly was. 
I was controlled by him our entire courtship and engagement but things didn’t get to the extreme till after we got married.  The thing I didn’t know was that this man I had chosen to spend the rest of my life with was a meth addict.  I knew nothing about meth besides the fact that it’s a drug.  I didn't know the changes it causes in a person both emotionally, mentally, and physically.  Joe started losing so much weight.  The worse was that he began to lose all sense of reality.  The control he once had escalated over night the moment he told me he smoked meth.  He informed me of his addiction 4 months after we got married and once I was informed, the world changed.  I was blind I didn’t tell him to stop or ask him more about the drug or even researched it.  I trusted that he wouldn’t do anything that would harm him or me.  I started becoming verbally abused daily, I had to report where I was daily, I had to call him during my lunch on time, I was tracked on my cell phone to ensure I was exactly at the location I had informed him I would be.  The one thing I was not prepared for was how quickly the verbal abuse took over everything I was. 
I became verbally abusive to myself; I began to hate myself even more than I had before.  He forbidden me to say the word God, do the sign of the cross, have a crucifix anywhere in our home, and I was forbidden to pray.  He constantly would accuse me of cheating on him and would threaten to kill my family and friends when I would disagree with him.  He had knives placed in every corner of our tiny house and would threaten to hurt anyone who came between us.  I lived in complete and utter fear.  I tried to kill myself eight times during my marriage.  What stopped me from going through with it?  It was God.  Every time I tried to hang myself, choke myself to death, or overdose on Tylenol, all I could think about is, will God forgive me?  I wanted a relationship now more with God than I had ever wanted it before. 
Being told you are forbidden to love our heavenly father is like a dagger to the heart.  I could not grasp life anymore.  I truly was lost.  I finally suffered physical violence in my marriage and I felt even more trapped and scared then I had ever felt before.  I begged God, to please end my misery and just let me pass away in my sleep.  I pleaded with Him to just let it all be over.  Dealing with someone who isn’t themselves is like breathing with no air.  I watched a show on television of a husband killing his wife because he thought she was being unfaithful.  All I could think about is will this be me?  February 14, was the last time he ever threatened me again or laid a hand on me.  God has a way of planning our escape perfectly.  His friend came over and we got in an argument and he told me to get out and cool off.  I went straight to the police department.  I filed a domestic violence report and was given two choices.  Choice number one was to go to a safe place and file a restraining order.  Choice number two end up in a body bag. 
What choice did I choose?   
I’m a survivor!  I went to church for the first time on February 15 and cried like I had never cried before.  This time my tears were not of fear, frustration, hatred, hopelessness, or anger.  This time I was crying out of joy, peace, love, and faith.  I was finally home.  I had survived the toughest trial I had ever encountered and I am alive.  I regret nothing that I have gone through and I am still getting the help I deserve.  I am receiving both spiritual and psychological help.  The toll mental and verbal abuse takes on a human being is unbearable but getting help is what has saved me.  The triggers are very real but my faith is much stronger than any bad memory.  I forgave Joe for everything I was went through, because I am stronger now than I ever thought I could be.  What do I see now when I look in the mirror?  I see a beautiful, strong, caring, loving, Godly woman.  I have been reborn.  My story is one of a survivor, but it’s also one of hope.  No matter what life throws at us our faith in God will always save us.  

God is not dead!  He is more alive now than ever.     

Maria Lourdes Castillo, but I prefer to call her a Lulu.  Lulu is a childhood friend, who has always had a kind heart and quiet spirit. She is a survivor as it has been clearly stated in her story.  A loving daughter and sister.  A caring woman of God, who now is sharing her story of hope in order to encourage other woman to escape Domestic Violence.  Not to mention she is a lover of baseball.  

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