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Reflections

I Wish I’d Known


Stories of Hope for Women

and Young Women




Presented By:

Eraina Tinnin






Pearly Gates Publishing, LLC, Houston, Texas






Reflections: I Wish I’d Known

Stories of Hope for Women and Young Women




Copyright © 2018

Eraina Tinnin




All Rights Reserved.

No portion of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any electronic system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise) without written permission from the publisher. Brief quotations may be used in literary reviews.


Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.


Scripture references marked AMP, KJV, MSG, NIV, NLT, and NKJV are used with permission from Zondervan via Biblegateway.com.



Library of Congress Control Number: 2017962802





For information and bulk ordering, contact:

Pearly Gates Publishing, LLC

Angela Edwards, CEO

P.O. Box 62287

Houston, TX 77205

BestSeller@PearlyGatesPublishing.com



Published by Pearly Gates Publishing LLC at Smashwords.

This book is available in print at most online retailers.






Special Dedication


This book is dedicated to the STRONG women and young women who have survived what they thought they couldn’t. It’s for those warriors who didn’t allow their situation to make them bitter but make them better.






Acknowledgements


I would be remiss if I didn’t give God all the honor, glory, and praise for even the IDEA to compile this book. I had no desire to compile an anthology, but God gave me the idea for the book. For that, I am truly grateful. It enabled me to provide a platform for 15 AMAZING women to share their POWERFUL stories.


Always acknowledging my husband, Corey, and our children, Courtney and Jordan, who support ANY and EVERY thing I do. THANK YOU!


GIVING A SPECIAL THANK YOU to (in no special order) Sima Clark Torian, Nakia P. Evans, Stacey Simmons, Nikki Fisher, Renee Littles, Benita Spinner, Jenyfer Rogers, Lisa Reid Drayton, Tameeka Clark-McClain, Telicia Volter, Toni Freeney, Latia Fisher Ojo, Jekyll, Marcelle Boyd Pettis, and Marchella Blount for choosing MY book to share your story. It was truly a pleasure working with you. You made this project EASY. THANK YOU for meeting all deadlines and being such a joy to work with. THANK YOU for sharing your heart and your soul in this book. I am sure your stories will bless everyone who reads them.


Thanks to Jacques Jones. We were talking one day at work about writing, and he said something about ‘reflections’. I said, “That’s it! That’s the title to my collaboration!” So, the title came from him…and it fits! I appreciate you.


Thanks to all the ladies in my online ministry, S.I.S. (SistahsInSpirit). We’ve been rocking for 14 years now. I appreciate each one of you being in my life and for your constant support.


A BIG THANK YOU to all the people who will purchase and read this book. I am sure the stories will encourage, empower, and inspire you.






Introduction


“Bad things happen to good people.” Have you heard that saying before? Have bad things happened to you? Have you wondered why? Do you ask God why? At some point in our lives, something bad happens. We may lose a family member, job, or battle an illness. These types of “things” are more common than others. You may even know someone who ALWAYS has something going on or something bad happening to them. They just can’t seem to catch a break! This is all too common as well.


In the Bible in Romans 8:28 (NIV), it reads, “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”. This is a very powerful scripture, as it says ALL things work together for the good. ALL things means ALL—EVERYTHING! That means the death of a child, rape, molestation, etc., ALL work together for HIS GOOD. This is a scripture that is quoted often, yet I wonder if people really realize what it’s saying. ALL things work for HIS GOOD. In the midst of your trial, tribulation, or challenge, you may not see the good. However, at some point, God will reveal the purpose for your pain. Oftentimes, it is said that you go through something so that later on, you can help someone else. You never know who you may meet who is going through what you already MADE IT through. The purpose of your pain could be to help them so they can have hope that they, TOO, can make it through.


The 15 amazing stories in this book are powerful. These STRONG women MADE IT through. The stories will have you upset, mad, crying, and in total disbelief. I am sure when they were going through, they didn’t see THE GOOD. Some of their good is right here in this book! They are sharing their stories of pain and you will learn how they triumphed. The purpose of their pain is to HELP YOU. They are not VICTIMS; they are VICTORIOUS.


As you read through the pages of this book, I pray you are inspired, empowered, and encouraged by the testimonies shared. I pray the stories give you HOPE if you are currently going through something. They made it…and you can, too!






TABLE OF CONTENTS


Special Dedication

Acknowledgements

Introduction

“He Said He Loved Me” - By Benita Spinner

#MyHome - By Jekyll

The Optional Child - By Jenyfer Rogers

For the Love of Me - By Latia Fisher Ojo

From the Inside Out—Know You Are Worth It - By Lisa Reid-Drayton

I AM Enough - By Marcelle Boyd Pettis

Daddy’s Girl - By Marchella Blount

The Wounds Behind My Mask - By Nakia P. Evans

I Took My Power Back Over My Health - By Nikki Fisher

Beautifully and Wonderfully Made - By Renee Littles

After the Pressing…The Oil Comes - By Sima Clark Torian

Abandoned but Not Alone - By Stacey Simmons

The Invisible Fire - By Tameeka Clark-McClain

Royalty in the Rubble - By Telicia Volter

Putting in Work Isn’t Enough - By Toni Freeney

Words from the Presenter

Meet Eraina Tinnin








Benita Spinner is a published author and CEO and Co-Founder of the BMS Talent & Entertainment brand. The brand consists of BMSTE Radio Show, #empowerment Queens Rule, BMSTE Apparel, and BMS Talent & Entertainment.


Benita has been recognized by her peers as one the most influential people to know in the DMV area. She was featured in Vital Magazine where she earned the Entrepreneur of the Month Award. She is heavily-involved in several community service projects.


The driving force behind her creating a positive environment is family.


To keep in touch with Benita Spinner visit her website at benitaspinner.com.






“He Said He Loved Me”

By Benita Spinner



“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, before I’d even lived one day.”

(Psalm 139:13-16, MSG)






My Story


“But I love you!” “You are the only person for me!” “You are my everything!” “You are beautiful!” can quickly turn into “Nobody will want you but me!” “You are ugly!” “No, you can’t hang out with your friends. You only need me.”


How does that happen?


My first “boyfriend”—the first person I had sex with—was also the first person to hit me, rape me, destroy my self-confidence, and get me pregnant. My first experiences have been defining moments throughout my whole life.


I wish I could say that being raped by him was the first time I experienced a sexual assault, but it wasn’t. However, it was the first time I was actually raped.


As a child, I was depressed. “Back then”, it wasn’t acknowledged in that way. It was called “defiant”, “disrespectful”, or “out-of-control”. I was angry and hurt. This made it easy for a male to come into my life and make me feel special. I wanted to hold on to that feeling at all costs. Through the verbal and physical abuse, I was willing to stay and take it…because he “loved” me—and I wanted to be “loved”.


At the time, my mother was the enemy (in my eyes). She was trying to keep me from the only person who loved me. She found all his faults and could not see why I loved him so much. In hindsight, she was right. My mother had no idea what I was going through, but she knew he was not right. I fought her tooth and nail to prove she was wrong. As a teenager, you feel like you are invincible and that you can handle anything that comes your way. There is a consequence to that feeling of being invincible.


At the time, I was living in a world of chaos at home with my mother (who was doing her job as a parent), at school (with a bunch of kids I had very little in common with) and trying to maintain peace in an EXTREMELY dysfunctional relationship. All of these things occurred at the age of 16. They are a lot for an adult, let alone a 16-year-old child who felt like she had all the answers.


The first time my boyfriend slapped me, he told me, “You better not tell your mother, either. I want her to like me.” So, he would always ensure he hit me in areas she would never see. He had a craving for acceptance from her. I now know that was because of his own insecurities. The acceptance he craved from her I knew he would never get. The best he would get from her was tolerance.


The day I realized I had to figure out how to get out the relationship was the day he put a gun to my head and told me I better not ever leave him. At that point, a light bulb finally went off and I thought, “This is too much!” However, I was still unable to tell my mother what was going on in my world. Instead, I stayed angry and lashed out at her.


I did not realize the hell I would endure trying to get out of that relationship. I had yet to tell my mother what was going on with the relationship. I treated my biggest advocate like the enemy because she was making it so difficult for me to be in that relationship. She asked so many questions, gave me curfews, made him come to the door to pick me up, and did not allow me to be alone with him. She treated me like a child!


News Flash: I WAS A CHILD!


The day I told him I wanted to break up was the day I began to live in fear. He would show up at my school out of nowhere. I had to go in late or leave early so he would not know whether or not I was even in school that day.


I remember one day, he found out I was over a friend’s house. He came over there and chased me down with his car, then he jumped out and started choking me. My friends were yelling and trying to pull him off of me. He finally stopped. You guessed correctly if you thought, “Then she got in the car and left with him”. He drove me home and told me, “This is where you belong if I am not with you. Get out of my car”.


At that point, things got worse because my friends now knew what was going on—which added an additional layer of pressure to the situation.


After that public display of abuse, I became completely over it and told him in all finality to leave me alone. Somehow, he got the picture…but only for a few weeks. He came around and knocked on the door. My mom (unaware of what was going on) told me he was there. Reluctantly, I went to the door. He had called the house several times prior to just popping up on my doorstep. I kept hanging up on him. He knew I was not going to make a scene because of my mother.


He apologized and said he wanted to make our relationship work. I told him, “No. I am over it and think we should go our separate ways”. He became furious, pushed me into the back of his car, and raped me. I screamed, yelled, and fought—all to no avail. No one helped me. Afterwards, he tried to convince me that it wasn’t rape because we were boyfriend and girlfriend and that no one would believe me. I jumped out of his car and ran back into the house. I still didn’t say a word to my mother—my advocate and the one who loved me more than life itself. Instead, I blamed her for not stopping something she knew nothing about.


Even though he spent a lot of time trying to tell me he did nothing wrong, he told his friends he raped me. “That is what she gets for trying to leave me!” I stood there listening in shock. He kept coming around or finding me at other places. He made my life a living hell!


A few weeks later, he stopped coming around. I was finally at peace. I was having these pains in my stomach and felt so sick. My mother took me to the hospital where the doctor informed us I had a cyst on my ovary…and that I was pregnant. My mother was furious! In her eyes, I messed around and got pregnant. She had no idea the child was conceived due to rape. Yes, it was rape because I said “NO!”


My mother was not having it. I was four weeks pregnant and could not have the abortion my mother scheduled until I was a little over six weeks. Instead of me just moving on, I called and told my boyfriend. He came over and told me I was dumb for getting pregnant because now, my mother will hate him. He jumped up and kicked me in my stomach with both feet and jumped into his car, never to be seen again.


This from a man who “loved” me! This from a man who told me I was the only person for him! This from a man who said I was his EVERYTHING!






I Wish I’d Known


My mother was my advocate; not my enemy. I wish I’d known that real love was between my mother and I. Loving yourself is the most important gift you can give yourself.






Words of Inspiration


We have a choice to believe what we want to feel or hear. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the truth. Lies, hurt, and pain can come in all types of forms and appear real. My choices were not smart because I believed an illusion of truth. He told me he loved me. I believed it. I believed that the love he offered was pure and the love my mother offered was stopping me from achieving true happiness.


Ensure you have a great understanding of your choices, as they affect your past, present, and future. I no longer beat myself up for my choices; nor do I blame my mother. My choices were mine. I have had many struggles but am now a walking testimony that you can get through with prayer and by ensuring you have positive people in your corner.








Jekyll is an up-and-coming novelist. Raised in New Castle, Delaware; this writer makes a living as a Registered Nurse. She attended both University of Delaware and Helene Fuld School of Nursing.


An active member of the motorcycle community, this lady is an Administrator of a biker group with over 17,000 members. The group focuses on safe riding, community, and fellowship.


Trying her hand at acting, Jekyll is hopeful of landing that breakthrough role. She continues to write, enjoys cooking, working out, and, of course, catching wind on her bike while she waits.






#MyHome

By Jekyll






“But we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character;and character, hope.”

(Romans 5:3-4, NIV)






My Story


I had always been the proverbial “Black Sheep” of the family. It became obvious when I was 10 years old. I was standing outside of the bathroom door in my grandmother’s house. I remember knocking on the door, my mother opening it and then yelling, “It’s a shame to say that I hate my own child…but I hate you!” That’s the moment I realized: I didn’t fit in my family.


Every day, my mother’s words began to ring louder. I began to spend as little time as possible at ‘home’. By the time I was 13, I would sneak off regularly. Many nights, I would sneak out my bedroom window and run off to the local hangout. I would climb out of the window onto the roof with my sister. We’d then jump the fence and climb down to the ground. Eventually, we moved out of our grandmother’s house and into a one-story house—which made our nightly adventures even easier.


Shortly after moving, I met ‘Greg’—an up-and-coming basketball star in the neighborhood. I’m not sure if I was more interested in him or he in me. All I knew was that someone I liked, liked me! Until that point, I had lived in the shadows of my sisters. They were beautiful and I was (according to my mom) “bald-headed and big-eyed”. Greg and I quickly moved to an intimate relationship. In my head, in order to keep Greg’s attention, I had to have sex with him.


I loved kids and had a great relationship with my two-year-old niece. Wherever I was, she was not far behind. Even with this, I never wanted to have kids of my own. I never wanted any child to feel the way I did. Every child deserves to feel loved.


Armed with my determination to not get pregnant coupled with my resolve to stay with the boy who wanted me, I decided to sleep with Greg. I would wait exactly two weeks after my period so that it was “out of my system”, and then I would sleep with him. Being the tomboy that I was, my only sex talk was, “If you have sex when you start your period, you will get pregnant”.


Well, I missed one period…and then another. I knew I was pregnant. One day, I decided that this wasn’t the life I wanted. I went into the bathroom, opened the medicine cabinet, and grabbed the first thing I found. I swallowed a handful of pills. I remember walking into the kitchen and vomiting. My mom began yelling, “YOU’RE PREGNANT!” I ran back to the bathroom, with my dad close behind. I grabbed the bottle of pills again and took another handful. My father slapped both me and the bottle out of my hand. In the chaos, I was able to tell my mother I did not want to have a baby. Her response was, “What kind of person would kill their baby? Your sister never wanted to kill her baby!”


In my head, all I could hear were her echoes of,


“I hate you…I hate you…I hate you…”


When I was 15, our daughter was born. Greg never became the basketball star we once thought he would, so he turned to selling drugs. Our relationship ended within a year. My mother helped take care of my daughter until I finished high school and my first year of college.


During my senior year of high school, I met my high school sweetheart and his mother, Mrs. Brown. Mrs. Brown gave me a new perspective of what family looked like. She took me in and motivated and nurtured me as her own child. The two of them made me begin to feel like maybe there was something different out there for me. I was with her son until my sophomore year of college, but she remained a very important part of me and my daughter’s lives until the day she died some years later.


In 1989, I met the man I would marry. I was a college sophomore and he was months away from graduation. I never understood it, but he worshipped the ground I walked on. He and I moved in together, and I was finally away from “that house”. Shortly after, my mother died at the age of 38 from breast cancer.


My husband made me believe in fairytales. Two years into our marriage, I became pregnant with twins. After losing two babies, I couldn’t believe that God had blessed me with two babies at once! I became a stay-at-home mom and even home-schooled my kids for a while. My family had become my life. I finally did something that would have made my mother proud.


Fifteen years into my marriage, the fairytale ended. Infidelity made me realize that my life was a lie. The happy home in which I lived was a façade. Not only was I yearning for something more, so was he. I had failed at this, too. As I struggled to keep my family intact, I could hear my mother’s voice: “I hate you…”


I remained in the marriage for almost another five years. We went on with business as usual, even having a vow-renewal ceremony in Las Vegas. One day, I woke up and knew it was time to call it quits. For months, I would wake up early before the kids, sit at the top of the steps staring out the huge foyer window, and just cry. My spirit was crying for something else—and had been for years. The cries were so loud, I could no longer ignore them.


I was sitting at my cousin’s husband’s funeral surrounded by people I didn’t know, watching them cry for the loss of this man. My cries were different. I cried because I worried what my cousin’s life would become. I cried because of how much life he would miss. I cried because one day, that would be me. I cried because I wanted to feel loved the way she clearly loved him. I cried because I wanted my life to mean something.


That day, I left my husband.


Losing my family was devastating, yet I knew that in order to save ME, I had to let go. The next few years were hell. My kids hated me for leaving, and he constantly tried to get me to come back. This was one of the most difficult times in my life. Now, not only did I hear my mother’s “I hate you…”, I could also hear my kids screaming, “I HATE YOU!”


I had sunk so deep into a dark place that I became reckless in both my associations and behavior. I needed to pull myself up out of there or I would never recover. I had to find the silver lining. I asked myself, “What was one thing I always wanted to do but couldn’t because I was married?” My answer was, “Ride a motorcycle.” Within a week after that revelation, I purchased a motorcycle and was riding!


My husband had given me a life of luxury: a big, beautiful home, cars, vacations…anything that money could buy. Meanwhile, I had lost myself. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted anymore. I spent the next few years rediscovering myself on my motorcycle, riding up and down the East coast. I quickly realized: This is who I am! I am a biker! I had never felt freer and at home than when I was on my bike and in the biker community. This is the one place I fit in. I didn’t have to pretend. I could just be me!


The people and the bonds I formed became my family. I became very active in the biker community. I am an advocate for female bikers. In addition, I am an Administrator for a motorcycle group of over 17,000 members that promotes education and safe riding. We also emphasize brotherhood and sisterly-love.


This is what my spirit was screaming for. My passion led me to my purpose. My motorcycle has been the catalyst to many opportunities and has led me to places I would have never imagined for myself, including an acting career. I have found my home in people who love me. I tell my kids I love them every opportunity I get. I have a granddaughter who is my latest joy—and my ex-husband is still one of my best friends…and I haven’t heard my mother’s ‘voice’ in years.






I Wish I’d Known


To be truly happy, you must live authentically. You don’t have to fit into anyone else’s idea of who you should “be”. Not fitting in is what made me special.


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