I grew up in a typical middle class home. Every thing seemed perfect on the outside, but on the inside it was a house full of unheard tears. Physically, I was fine, but emotionally I felt damaged. I learned at a young age that my tears made the yelling worse. In an attempt to please the people around me, I taught myself to wear a smile and stuff my emotions inside. When I was alone, the pain would overwhelm me and I didn’t know how to deal with it. At the age of eight, I discovered that if I cut my skin open, all of the emotional pain would go away and I could feel numb again. When my feelings became unbearable, I would resort to the agonizing ecstasy of cutting.
I felt rejected both at home and at school. Even my elementary school teachers were mean to me because I learned differently than the other kids. It seemed that nothing I did was ever good enough. All I ever needed was acceptance and love, but dysfunction was all I found. So, as I grew older that was what I was attracted to. As far as I knew, if you pushed me away and pulled me close and pushed me away again, you loved me. This is the kind of relationship I became comfortable with. I chased after the people who rejected me, and I was unable to understand those who accepted me, so I ran from them. Over time, I learned to hate men and in my search for love and acceptance, I turned to a relationship with a girl. For a time it felt right, but I kept feeling God pulling at me. Even though I thought I could see a future with this girl, deep inside, I knew that something was missing. Something was always missing. Soon I gave up, and decided that no one could ever love me. Why should they? I didn’t even love myself.
As a child I had always fantasized about being a stripper. They seemed so beautiful and desirable. They were everyone’s fantasy. As I grew older, stripping seemed like the perfect solution to all of my problems. I could pay my way through school and I wouldn’t have to rely on anyone else to help me.
I started at a smaller club and learned what I could from the best money makers. Then, I went to one of the top clubs in LA to make big money. And that I did. But the money never filled the void inside of me. No matter how much money I made, I still felt empty and unsatisfied. I thought that the “glamorous” lifestyle would make me feel better about myself, but stripping only made me feel even more worthless. Stripping gave me a false feeling of glamour, but deep down under my skin, I knew that I was far from what true glamour is. But still, the attention and the spotlight lured me. It was like a drug. I became addicted to being pornography. I knew it wasn’t reality, but in some ways, it was easier than reality. At the club, I could be whoever I wanted to be. I put on mask and I did everything I could to escape. Some girls drink or use drugs, but I escaped in a different way. I went into my head and detached. Physically I was there, but emotionally, I wasn’t. I would forget the men’s faces the moment I looked away.
No matter how hard I tried to run from myself and from God, I couldn’t. All along, I could feel God pulling at me. I did my best to ignore Him. Afterall, I was only doing what I thought I had to do to survive. But He kept saying, “Trust me. I will take care of you. I love you and that should mean everything to you”. But I still didn’t love me and I didn’t think I deserved to be loved. I felt worthless and change always seemed too hard.
There finally came a point where the desire to quit stripping became an uncontrollable urge. As I grew closer to God, the pain of staying the same became greater than the pain of change, so I finally chose change. Since then, God has worked things out for me better than I could have ever imagined trying to do on my own.
As I have grown to trust God, change is easier because I don’t worry about what will happen next. Instead, I give that worry to Him. Today, I welcome change because without it, there is no growth. I am not the same person anymore because I am constantly growing. I know that God has so many good things in store for me and now I am free to experience them.
For a while after I quit, it was a struggle. I had to make a choice every day not to go back. At first it was hard, but with time, God and prayer, every day got easier and the thoughts of going back became less and less.
Since I have begun this journey, God has never let me down. Financially I have been completely taken care of. All of my needs have been provided for. I am learning to love myself and I now know that I am worth more. Because of the love God has shown me, I want to share it with others who feel the way I once did. I have learned how to forgive; not only myself but those who have hurt me along the way. Even my relationship with my family has improved. We have all put our faith and trust in God, and we have learned to forgive and move on. Whereas, spending time with them was once hard, painful and full of bitterness, now I look forward our visits and all of the wonderful new memories we will make. God is good. The transformation has felt like stepping out of a world of darkness and stepping into a world of color. I am learning how to experience life all over again.