How Dina #redefinedcourage

Today we get to share a very vulnerable story. When Dina reached out to use to share her “Survivor” story we knew it was one to be shared. Sometimes we judge people on what we see of them through pictures, but today we hope you see a very brave woman whose faith is stronger than what anyone tried to take from her.

I came from a broken home and I had nothing! When I was three months old my mom and grandmother worked at a laundromat. There was a young couple in the laundromat that couldn't have children; My mother was going to sell me to them. They gave her a check my grandmother told them, “here's your check, my granddaughter is worth so much more than what you could pay!”

My father molested me from the ages of 3 to 14. When I was 19 he tried to kill me he was arrested in Hillsborough county. I grew up with a schizophrenic mother that verbally, emotionally and physically abused me. I did ask my mother why she didn't do anything to protect me from my dad, she told me I told your dad to leave you alone!

When I was 12 years old my parents were divorced the next day was Christmas my father called Badcock furniture and had them come take all of the furniture and bedroom furniture out of the house and he turned the electricity off! My mother went to various churches and found one fold-up cot and blankets she told my brother and I to double up on our clothes because it was going to be a cold night. I remember it being so cold that I could see my breath; Christmas came and went!

On my dad's deathbed he finally told all of my family in the room that he molested me and that I was telling the truth. I forgave my parents

Ever since I held our first son I've loved Christmas!!. I'm so thankful for my husband, Tommy Kimball, as well. He's never left my side, he is truly a blessing and we've been married for 27 years! He still spoils me and it surprises me! I'm a multiple trauma Survivor of sexual, verbal, emotional and physical abuse. My faith is unbreakable! Not once have I ever questioned my faith. When people hear the words mental illness they become judgmental and they lose their humanity. Ignorance is bliss. This may sound odd, but why call it an illness? I'm not sick at all those people in my past are the sick ones, I'm The Brave one! I'm a Survivor who turned all that into who I am today; alive and living and loving a way I learned on my own. I'm a hero I don't have an illness I have a STORY and a past and present and a future! I ended the chain of molestation when we had our three children! I made something of myself and it's been my unbreakable faith that has always kept me going! You're not a victim for sharing your story.

These are some of the things that define me and are a huge part of my life. Something else about me is that I have trauma-induced bipolar disorder, CPTSD and borderline personality disorder. Unlike the other things about myself that I mentioned, these things do not define me. They are just labels. They are part of my life, but they are not who I am.

As a child, I had a traumatic upbringing suffering all forms of abuse from the adults in my life who should have been my safe place. I was verbally, emotionally and physically abused by my mother and I was sexually abused by my father and my uncle. As a result, I have developed mental illnesses that affect me to this day. For example, I have a wonderful husband who I love so very much, yet if he goes to grab my hand in a loving way, I still jerk my hand away due to the past sexual abuse I endured as a child. Another result of the sexual abuse: it was only five years ago that I felt comfortable showering with the lights on having caught my father watching me undress from the attic above. Growing up being deprived of food and other necessities by my parents, being in a grocery store still causes me panic and anxiety, even though today I am blessed with a comfortable and wonderful life and know that I’ll never again go without. I am also hypersensitive in some situations. As you can see, the scars of abuse run deep and last long. But that doesn’t mean that my abusers have won.

I have fought hard for myself and for the woman I’ve become. Today, I no longer feel that I have to prove myself to anyone. Instead, I let myself and my words shine through. I know my worth.  Mental illness doesn’t define who I am – this is what defines who I am:

I am a survivor. I am a strong and intelligent woman. I am a good ol’ southern girl. I’m about God, family and the handful of true friends I have in my life. I’m a mother who has raised three beautiful children that love me unconditionally. I’m the PROUD grandmother of my granddaughter Chloe! I love decorating and picking out furniture for our dream farmhouse ranch home that my husband and I bought recently. I love DIY making things for our beautiful home. My favorite nights are the ones that involve snuggling and watching movies on the couch with family (especially Disney with Chloe!), snuggling and playing with my granddaughter, or having BBQ’s on our patio and bonfires in our back yard. My life is wonderful.

I know people will still judge me and that’s ok – I’ve already weathered the storm. I’ve survived more than many could ever handle.

I don’t say all this to toot my own horn – I say it to remind everyone that mental illness is just ONE part of my full life, and to remind others who are struggling, that their illnesses do not have to define them either.

There is no box that any that anyone fits in that defines them whether they have an illness or not. Some days are better than others, just like everyone else. If you are struggling, know that you're not alone. Know that there are supports out there for you. Know that the way you feel in this moment does not define your life. It does not define you and it sure as hell does not define me!

I have a mental illness and I'm strong successful woman. Yes -  I can be both at the same time and guess what? You can too.

“Don't judge my story by the chapter you walked in on.”

 “When you replace ‘I’ with ‘we’ ‘illness’ becomes ‘wellness’.”

You are a Survivor, setting the world on fire with your light. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage! GOD IS MY LIGHT!