Hi, my name is Tasha. I’m 32 years old. I was born and raised in a two parent home in Knoxville, Tennessee with one younger brother. As far as outward appearances, I had a “normal” family life, but as I’ve gotten older, I realize it wasn’t the best environment. I believe in my heart, my parents did their best raising my brother and me, but due to past hurts and wounds of their own, they passed some of those same wounds down to me. My mother seemed very stressed all the time and yelled at us constantly. Things had to be perfect. Even our toys were many times not allowed because “we would make a mess.” This made me feel anger, fear, frustration and resentment towards her most of the time. We weren’t even allowed to get our play clothes dirty. Although to some this may not seem like much, over the years I realize that I developed a people pleasing perfectionist mentality. I felt as though if I performed well enough in school or sports, that my parents would be more proud of me.
My dad, on the other hand, was very laid back and loved me, at times, to a fault. He was my knight in shining armor. I loved him more than anything. He would often times say he made a mess so that I wouldn’t receive the brunt of my mother’s anger. I clung to him as much as possible. I believe she resented our relationship, and often times was worse when he wasn’t around to save us.
I grew up in a family where my mom’s side of the family were Baptist, and my dad’s side was Pentecostal with several ministers in the family. However, I didn’t have a steady Christian home. My mother took me to church at times, but never consistently. Although there were those on both sides of my family that were” good people”, I had just as many, or more, that we lived near that were drug addicts and alcoholics.
The older I got, the more I felt like I fit in with the dysfunctional part of the family that I lived around. They were only a short walk away and seemed to sympathize with me. Even though they were my mom’s brothers, they knew how my mother was and gave me an outlet away from her. I didn’t have to meet any expectation around them or walk on egg shells. As time went on, I witnessed more and more use of alcohol and drugs and saw how this group of family, and some of their friends seemed to have so much fun. When I was with them, I felt accepted. I wasn’t judged nor did I have to meet any standard. I felt free for the first time. So with this feeling of freedom, I decided I wanted to try alcohol and drugs at the age of 16. With my new friends and family around me, I took the plunge, and loved every minute. I couldn’t describe the feeling at the time, but it fulfilled a need inside me. I began craving that feeling as I marched thru my teen years. At home I had to please or dodge my mother. At school I had to dodge the mean kids who made fun of me because of my lack of money and name brand clothing. My frizzy hair and glasses added to this feeling of being a reject. So, this new life of drugs and alcohol were my escape. The more I used drugs and alcohol the less ambition I had for school. And by my senior year, I had all but abandoned my thoughts of college; even though I graduated in the top 10 % of my class and was offered a scholarship. Around this time, I also met a man much older than I at one of these family parties. I was smitten with the thought that this cute older guy found me attractive and wanted to be with me. Little did I realize the heart ache and baggage that I would open up through my relationship with him. He was a liar, manipulator, and a cheater. He was even married with 2 kids that I never knew about until much later. After an on again off again relationship with him, my naive heart was shredded to pieces which left even more room to see myself as a nobody that was never good enough. I remember asking myself, what is wrong with you? I sunk further and further into blaming myself for somehow causing these things. This left the door wide open for more drug use in an attempt to Band-Aid my emotions with the feeling of freedom I thought the drugs gave me.
One day my aunt invited me to a church homecoming and I decided to go with her. My thought was that it had to be better than the life I’d been living the last couple years. It was there that I met the man that would be my future husband. He was a young minister that could also play the piano and sing. I loved this about him because it reminded me of the good part of my childhood. My dad played guitar and I loved music from a very young age. This seemed right up my alley. He carried himself in a manner I hadn’t seen before. He had a passion for God and life that seemed amazing. Though I liked him, I threw out the idea that he could like me, thinking I was not good enough for him. The old feelings of inadequacy along with the fear of being rejected came in like a flood. However, as time went on, we became inseparable and our relationship grew. I fell in love with him and wanted to be involved in everything he loved to do. The problem was that I was going into with the wrong idea of thinking that he could make me better. I felt that performance and people pleasing, along with my association with