Christmas past, Christmas present
This Christmas reminds me of so many before; twinkle lights, green tree’s, tinsel, presents, family, all of it repeating every year. Yet this year I went back ten Christmas’s to walk back down a road that I haven’t walked in a very long time. I thought back on that one Christmas that really would define and change every Christmas for me going forward in life, the one where I realized I wasn’t a little girl any more.
It was 2005, and the longest, and most painful year of my life.
I had graduated in June.
Then I got back together with the one guy my parents begged to never into my life.
I moved out of the only home I had ever known and then Hell had begun.
No longer under the care and protection of my parents, I ventured into a dark and dangerous place with this guy that everyone in my life said not to be with. Of course I made excuses, like I could see something no one else could, or at the very least I could change all the bad places in him.
Those thoughts never pan out, in case you’re wondering. He was abusive, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
June turned into July which slowly crept into August and by September I wanted nothing more to do with him, but I couldn’t seem to free myself. My family couldn’t know because if they did, he of course promised to hurt them worse then he would ever hurt me. No they had to stay safe in their ignorance. I didn’t speak to them anymore anyway… I chose him and they couldn’t sit by and watch me throw my life away… I missed them nearly every day. All I wanted was to drive home and end all this silence; but he knew where I was, all the time. He knew my work schedule and would often wait in the parking lot for me. He was everywhere.
November came with its cold, bitter touch that now reflected more pieces of my heart then I wanted to admit.
I had tried so many times to break free, I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror any more.
What made matters worse was my sudden distaste for everything I ate, of course it was my nerves…it had to be. Everything made me sick.
It Was Positive!
Finally I broke down and I went to see a doctor, it was a freezing cold day and the office had just opened, so the heater hadn’t started working yet. They asked me to get into just a gown, they took blood, the whole nine yards.
I waited alone in the cold room for what felt like hours, which I am sure was merely minutes; then this woman with frizzy hair and large rimmed glasses whipped into the room like a hurricane. She flipped a chart and stated that I was pregnant, then she whipped out of the room.
It was positive!
I was eighteen, just barely graduated from high school, I had just started my first real job that week.
I couldn’t be having a child with that man..that monster…that’s not how this was supposed to go. I remember as a young girl thinking of when I would first find out I was having a child… I was married, wearing pearls with curled hair. I would keep it a secret until I had perfectly planned out the big reveal and my husband would scoop me up and we would laugh and cry. It was perfect…
This isn’t how it’s supposed to go
…I didn’t even realize I was crying until the tears hit my cold arms and the cold air brought me back to my dreary cold reality. I was alone and I was pregnant.
The next few weeks blurred together….I made the drive to see my family…not without incident sadly but I made it. I finally broke down and told them everything. All the months we were apart just melted together in this very shattered moment, where I told them the most devastating news a daughter can tell her parents. There was yelling and a little bit of shouting and the phone didn’t stop ringing… a nice little reminder that I wasn’t quite free yet.
Tensions were high, but after three weeks of nightmare I was free. This baby was my freedom, my life may not have been worth the freedom in my eyes, but hers certainly was. I packed everything I owned, threw it into a car, and lived on a futon for two weeks in my brothers house. I couldn’t lose my job and my parents just lived too far out of town. My brothers felt the pressure, the presence of my whole broken life all around them, the threatening phone calls, the flattened tires, the damaged cars, the broken doors. They felt it all. Yet they stood with me through it all.
Finally Christmas was upon us, just like every other year as a child, I was surrounded by my family. Christmas morning was quite, as we were all still processing the weight of the year, my step Dad went to read the Christmas story like he normally did, but my mother stopped him. She hinted towards something under the tree and told me there was a new story to read this year. I reached for this perfectly wrapped gift from under the tree, and a children’s book was revealed and on the inside cover written a note to my baby on her first Christmas, from her grandma and grandpa. It was the first gift my daughter received in her life, the first moment that I knew I could move forward from my past, the first moment of real healing between us, the first moment of restoration, the first moment of hope, and that this baby would be welcomed into my family. That she was wanted here.
Here I sit now ten years later, my Christmas tree is all lit up and ready for gifts, and under my tree this year will be that book, wrapped as a gift for my beautiful nine year old daughter to open and read to us all on Christmas morning, as a reminder of Gods goodness, his faithfulness, and his redemptive purposes to complete the good work he set out to do in us from the very beginning.
Be a voice so loud that it will echo into younger generations, be someone who stands for justice and for life and its pursuit of all people, the big and the small.
Story written by Ashley Munoz, PRC Director Assistant
Ashley’s story is not uncommon, all of the obstacles that she faced when she found out she was pregnant are the same obstacles that many of the women are facing when they walk through the doors of a pregnancy center. Your generous gift today is giving women the chance to write their own Christmas story with a happy ending.